Saturday, 30 July 2016

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tangletree - TOS Reveiw

We loved reviewing Orphs of the Woodlands by Star Toaster so when we were offered the chance to review their new product, an interactive app called Orphs of the Woodlands at Tangletree I had some very excited girls.

This new game is designed for elementary children so I signed up Tulip and Rose (9 & 7). Both have really loved this but I am getting ahead of myself.

The Orphs of the Woodlands at Tangletree is an app designed to look like a book that teaches as you read, during the story you are introduced to various concepts (usually highlighted words or phrases) that link to explanations, new pages of examples or video lessons.

The story focuses on Abba and Hatta's rescue and subsequent care of the baby Orphs, all the while trying to help those effected by a flood and solve a few mysteries. The plot is engaging and really sparked the girls imagination.

As you read and learn from the interactive story, you are offered jobs / tasks in town, these jobs earn you stars which provide you with supplies you use to feed and clothe the Orph babies you have rescued from the flood. 

The set up is really easy as is the navigation - there are four icons at the bottom of the screen; the compass takes you to a map, the book takes your current place in the story, the tree shows you what you need to buy to provide a safe haven for the Orphs 
and the star takes you to town where you earn your stars. Pages in the book are turned using the green arrows on the page and you can move forward or backwards.

When you visit Stumptown, all the shops have a little number above that indicate the numbers of jobs available. 

Clicking on the building takes you to the jobs they have available and also offers some job training (it's just a repeat of the things they learnt in the story and the videos but the repetition really helped cement the facts). There were loads of topics covered which included vocabulary, zoology, morals, character, grammar, science and more.

I have loved this app, I enjoyed it so much that I sat alongside them as they were reading it however this is a product they could easily have used unsupervised, they even have a section where you can view their progress and work so you can keep track of what they are doing.

I'm also impressed by how much it has taught them, they have even started identifying and using similes in their normal conversations (and taking great pride in telling people what a simile is) and that they were willing to give up other game privileges to play this.

The girls have really taken to the story and Rose was so impressed by Abba that she spent 3 days dressed as a flying squirrel (although she wasn't happy that she didn't have a green cape).

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tangletree is available for $1.99.

You can see what my crewmates thought over at the TOS Blog.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Bugs and Camping

Camping season continues and we just got back from a homeschool camp that was full of learning activities (paper making, stomp planes, metal mobile making, bathbombs, weaving, knitting, wild walks etc) but the activity that appealed most to my girls was of their own creation - bug hunting.

They spent days with their group catching moths, butterflies, grasshoppers, beetles and even tadpoles (I know they aren't a bug but they still were super excited to catch them). Their favourite was a grasshopper who only had one of his big legs (called sir hop a lot) who they observed for hours before releasing him - we even had to look up grasshopper diets so they could feed him before his release. I love when they teach themselves :)

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

You gotta smile when....

.... discussing how some children's elbows work differently when they hold their arm straight, Lilly says 'it's because of evolution' and my reply 'how ?' results in me being told 'their environment is altering them cause they have to put their hands up so much at school, you know to ask to go to the toilet and stuff'

Her reasoning is sound apparently because all the kids she knows who go to school have weird elbows (I fall into that category too because I went to school) but her homeschool friends don't.

Monday, 11 July 2016

ArtAchieve - TOS Review

Art is not my strength but the girls love it. I've always struggled to come up with any lesson plans so I was very happy (and so were the girls) when the chance came up to review Entire Level ll  from ArtAchieve.
ArtAchieve is a complete homeschool art curriculum providing drawing lessons for kids (and adults), it was created by John Hofland (a veteran homeschooler) who firmly believes that anyone can learn to draw, that drawing is essential skill and that like math, that skill can be taught. Puling on his combined experiences of teaching in school, homeschooling and studying with the masters he has created a hassle free on line curriculum that does the teaching for you.

We received a years access to the Entire Level ll for review. Its so simple to use - you literally create an account and the lessons are all on line and available once you have logged in.

There are 14 lessons in level 2. You can opt to print a pdf of the lesson or watch a video (approx 25 mins) outlining it step by step. Each lesson starts with some tips on how to relax and prepare yourself mentally and physically for art - my favourite tip was when he said to paint/draw without talking to improve concentration and to see the girls take this on board while I sat enjoying the silence while they worked (Sunflower even told her sisters "please be quiet, I need to concentrate"). Next comes a  'warm up' which is a grid with some of the squares containing elements from the picture for you to copy, then it moves on to discussing different aspects of art like types of lines, motifs etc before showing you how to draw. Lessons also include elements of geography, history or literature which are a great addition (I love sneaking in extra lessons) and he even has a play list of inspirational music to help you.

The lessons are professional, engaging and memorable (I've spotted Rose using one of his relaxation techniques when her sisters were annoying her) - they are so easy to use and I was really impressed with how someone with no historical art skills (me) could even produce an amazing piece of art and enjoy doing it.

This really has been so simple to incorporate into our schedule, the girls have loved this and it has fast become a firm favourite in our house. Lilly has spent hours working on minute detail within her pictures and has adopted a couple of his techniques in her various doodles. Sunflower said that this was the best lesson of the week while Rose has requested to do more. Tulip summed it all up nicely when she said 'I never knew that art was so much fun - can you get me some more paints'

I loved the confidence it gave me to include art in our weekly schedule and I loved the impact it had on the girls. I was also impressed by how varied their work was even though they were working from the same instructions.

ArtAchieve Entire Level ll is available for $53 and there are various different options to buy (including single lessons).

You can see what my crew mates thought over at the TOS Blog


Sunday, 10 July 2016

Tis that time of year....

.... when we go on the home ed camps, our first this year was the craft group camp where we worked on some Viking weaving.

These are the instructions for Viking Cord Weaving 

The girls loved it and were to be found weaving all weekend - except when they made some time to practice their photography

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