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Phonics and Reading with McGuffey by Literacy Soft: A Schoolhouse Crew Review

Phonics and Reading with McGuffey by Literacy Soft: A Schoolhouse Crew Review

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Sacha’s<25: This app teaches children as young as 4 phonics and reading.  However, it is also perfect for people with reading difficulties as well.

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Home in the Trenches Product Rating (out of 10 stars)

Is it worth our time? 7 stars
Did it help us learn? 7 stars
Is it worth the money? 5 stars
Is it useful to me? 6 stars
Practicality- 7 stars
Quality- 9 stars
Kid Rating- 6 stars

We received (to review) from the makers of the McGuffey readers, LiteracySoft, a reading app for ages 4 and up.  Phonics and Reading with McGuffey  is a complete phonics and reading curriculum for beginners.  It was designed for use on the iPad, but can also be used on the iPhone and iPod.  It has over 52 hours of lessons…beginning with letter sounds and moving all the way to reading complete stories.  Grace (4) and Faith (6) both worked with this app.  This app has enough spaces for up to 10 different students on one iPad or iPhone.  It is designed to work for non-readers all the way to a first grade reading level.
This app is flexible enough to meet the needs of a wide range of reading levels, including:
• Adult learners
• Homeschoolers
• Dyslexic readers
• ESOL students

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Both of my girls really enjoyed “playing on it” (as they called it).  They could each work at their own pace on this program since they each have their own “sign in”.  Letter recognition begins right from the beginning.  My 4 year old learned a few more letters quickly using this program (she already knew some of them).  My 6 year old started at the beginning of the program but we quickly realized that she knew a lot of what was being taught.
It is very easy to skip ahead to what she needed to work on. It is also very easy to move back if your child needs to work on a lesson again. There is a screen within the program that allows you to click to any of the 52 lessons available and then even within the level to pick which activity you would like to work on.  Also, you are able to see what level your child is currently working on.  The only problem I found with being able to choose the level is that my 4 year old would just randomly skip to different levels.  By doing this it would tell me that she was currently working on a level much harder than the one she really should have been doing.
One of my favorite parts of the program was the Reading Practice.  Your student can touch on the word and it will  sound out the word as well as read it for them.  Faith liked reading the sentence out loud and then running her finger over the words to have it read the sentence back to her.
Literacy Soft
When I asked Faith (6) about this app this is what she had to say:

“I like the pictures.  I also like most of the games. I think that it is the same thing over and over again. There’s no variety between the lessons.”

I found it a bit interesting that this program introduces the TH sound in lesson 2. It seems a little early for non-readers.  I thought the word choice they used to be a bit random….the word is “thud” and they show a picture of a rock. A little bit confusing for even my 6 year old.

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What I liked:

  • For a student who thrives on repetition or gets easily flustered trying to learn a new concept and a new activity at the same time this app is perfect.  The activities are very similar, if not identical in each level.
  • Starts right at the beginning with letter recognition and moves all the way to a first grade reading level.  This app/program really packs a lot of content into it!
  • Loved the reading practice portion of the program.  It was something very different than I have seen in other reading programs we have reviewed.
  • The graphics are really good.

What I didn’t like:

  • The app was crashing on my first-generation iPad. I’m having no problems with it on my iPad mini though.
  • It is very easy for your student to skip ahead to different lessons, or parts of lessons, without really understanding what is going on.  I especially found this with my 4 year old. She spent a lot of time clicking around all of the lessons rather than just working through them in order.  I would have liked the program to unlock different levels as a student completes the previous one.
  • Faith thought the activities we too repetitious.
  • The price seems high for an app.  I needed to get it out of my head that it is an app and remember that it has the content of a complete reading program.
  • Some of the words for the letter sounds were different.  TH-thud with a rock.  I-Italy…why not inchworm or something a little more common for a 4 or 5 year old phonics based program?

To sum it up: Take a moment and try out the first 10 lessons free with the lite version of Phonics and Reading with McGuffey. This might  be a good fit for your student.  While it wasn’t a favorite of my 2 girls they did enjoy using it and didn’t complain when I asked them to spend time working on it.

 

The important information:

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Phonics and Reading with McGuffey app

Order from:

Get Phonics and Reading With McGuffey from the Apple App Store

Price: $19.99

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

 

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Kinderbach App: A Schoolhouse Crew Review

Kinderbach App: A Schoolhouse Crew Review

Sacha’s<25: The Kinderbach App contains video lessons, games, and activities for beginning learners ages 3-7 to get a music education and learn some beginning piano.

Home in the Trenches Product Rating (out of 10 stars)

Is it worth our time? 5 stars
Did it help us learn? 6 stars
Is it worth the money? 6 stars
Is it useful to me? 5 stars
Practicality- 5 stars
Quality- 7 stars
Kid Rating- 5 stars

Last January I had the opportunity of reviewing the online version of Kinderbach.  You can see my review here.  Since that time they have now come out with an iPad/iPhone/iPod touch version of this popular music program.  I was very eager to get to review this product since we love our iPads and I would love to have more educational type apps for my kids to use.  I planned on using this app for my 3 and 5 year olds. We were given Classroom Kinderbach:School Version to review.  This meant that we received all the content of the entire app at one time for one price.  Then there were no in app purchases that needed to be made.  You also have the option of download the app for free (gives you just the first 2 lessons and 1 game) and then you are able to do in-app purchases to buy more lessons or levels at a time.

My 5 year old has been begging to learn piano because her 3 older siblings play and take private lessons.  I am not ready to pay for lessons for her quite yet.  I figured this would be a great way for her to get some music education to get her ready for lessons.  This program includes so much!  From the Kinderbach website:

KinderBach’s App for iPad or iPhone brings the teachings of Karri Gregor to your device. The KB App features Levels 1, 2 & 3 and offers a year’s worth of entertaining music education for 3 to 7 year old children through video, interactive coloring pages and games. Miss Karri introduces preschoolers to the keyboard characters with stories and fun tunes. Kids will enjoy playing simple songs, identifying music direction and pitch, learning rhythm notes and their beat value. Levels 1 to 3 cover proper hand and finger position, as well as note reading by pattern for voice, and keyboard. 

While we found that there is great content included in this app we found it was not quite as simple/quick to use as we thought.  Videos have to load individually the first time they are clicked on.  I had downloaded the app before leaving for the night with the girls, thinking they would use it while we had to wait places.  This wasn’t the case and a bit disheartening for them.  If you don’t have internet or 3G connected to your iPad the videos won’t play until they have been loaded the first time.

The program has 3 levels to complete and each level has 10 lessons in it.  Each Lesson is supposed to take a week for your child to work on.  Within the lesson there is a game, print out, and then an intro video and 4 more videos.  The videos are perfect for short attention spans.  Each video seemed to span between 2-4 minutes.  The videos are filled with fun cartoon characters, catchy music and a very nice teacher!

There are 6 games include in the app.  2 games are introduced in each level.  However, your child can also click on the game button at the opening of the program and see all of the games.  The Train game has a glitch that they are currently working on.  Unfortunately, right now it shuts down the entire app. No problem, it isn’t one you need right away when you start the program and customer service has been so great in dealing with the issue. We found that some of the games really couldn’t be played until you had reached certain levels in the program simply because you wouldn’t have enough information to know how to play them.  We found it was best just to click on the game button within the individual lessons to make sure you were playing the right game for where you were in the program.  The first game is adorable and helps your child learn the numbers of their fingers…a must in beginning piano lessons!  They put their hands on the screen and tap the correct fingers on special characters when the game tells them to do so!

The print button is to airprint any printables that you needed for that individual lesson.  We weren’t able to use this feature because we don’t have a printer that is compatible.  Very cool idea though!  We would have needed to purchase the pdf’s to go with each level.  They are available on the Kinderbach website for $1.99 each.

 

What I liked:

  • Same content that we were getting in the online program, but at a fraction of the cost.
  • The music is super kid friendly, along with the videos.  My 3 year old sees a picture Dodi (the dog from the program) and immediately says, “Dodi” with a huge smile on her face.
  • There is a keyboard that they can use with on the bottom of the screen! Perfect size for their fingers!
  • You can download the app for free and try out the first 2 lessons and first game for free.  Once you decide you like it you can either purchase the entire program at one time ($26.99) or purchase individual lessons for $.99 or individual levels for $8.99.
  • Great customer service.  Karri (the founder of Kinderbach) has always been quick to respond to me when I have had a question.

What I didn’t like:

  • The videos seemed to take a long time to load.  This was really frustrating to my girls.  They did not have the patience to wait for them. (I found it best to click on each of them and let the load while they weren’t with me, then they would be loaded for the next time they were going to work on this program….a bit time consuming for me)
  • I figured the games would be stand alone games….there was really no way to play the Musical Memory game without doing the lessons first as you were to match a character to special letter they each represented. The games are very integrated into the progression of the lessons.  No biggie, but important to know!
  • My Ipad doesn’t airprint.  There are activity pages to go with the lessons.  Unfortunately the only way to get these pages if you can’t get them to airprint is to purchase the pdf books.  Not a huge deal, priced at $1.99 per level, but a bit of an inconvenience.
  • Unfortunately, I don’t have 3G on my iPad.  This means that in order for my kids to use this app I either have to preload the individual videos or have to be on wireless for them to load.  Just takes a little more forethought in planning!
  • I couldn’t find a way to “mark” or keep track of the lessons that we were on.  Every time you open the app you have to remember where you were and click on it.

To sum it up: 

My overall feeling is that this app would be really a great thing to have if you are wanting to introduce your child to basic music education.  Also, you can’t look at the price of this as an expensive app.  This is just like their online program content but at the fraction of the cost!  If you are looking for something to learn piano, this is not the app you would use.  It doesn’t go over technique and the onscreen keyboard is nothing like a real keyboard. Better go find a living breathing piano teacher for that!

The important information:

Kinderbach App

Order from: the iTunes store! or Kinderbach site will take you there!

Price: The Classroom:School Version-$26.99, You can also download the app for free with the first 2 lessons.  Then purchase individual lessons for $.99 or individual levels for $8.99.

To read other Schoolhouse Crew reviews of this product click here.

 

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Disclosure/Disclaimer:  I received the above product free of charge for review purposes.  I am only expected to give an honest review.

Mobile Education App-Rainbow Sentences: A Schoolhouse Crew Review

Mobile Education App-Rainbow Sentences: A Schoolhouse Crew Review

Mobile Education App-Rainbow Sentences: A Schoolhouse Crew Review

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Sacha’s<25: Rainbow sentences is an app designed to help students ages 3-10 improve their ability to construct grammatically correct sentences.

Home in the Trenches Product Rating (out of 10 stars)

Is it worth our time?  8 stars
Did it help us learn?  7 stars
Is it worth the money? 7 stars
Is it useful to me? 8 stars
Practicality-  8 stars
Quality- 10 stars
Kid Rating- 10 stars

We received Rainbow Sentences to review for the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  I watched the 10 minute video tutorial on the iTunes app store before I began.  This really helped to know what we were going to be doing with the app.  There are a lot of different features and things you can turn on and off depending on the level of the child working with this app.  The video tutorial was a great place to start before we jumped in!

The basic premise is that students will learn how to recognize the parts of sentences such as nouns, verbs, and prepositions, and improve their understanding go how combinations of these parts create basic sentence structure.  This is done through 3 different levels of this app.  Each level has 55 sentences to work with.

Level 1 has students building sentences describing who the sentences is about and what they are doing. (This is what we worked on with my 5 year old)

Level 2 students are building sentences that are doing the above but are adding in where they are doing the activity.

Level 3 includes the above and why they are doing the activity.

Here is a screen shot to give you an idea from Level 2.

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Students touch the iPad screen and move the words or group of words to the correct spot in the sentence to match the picture shown.  These can be color-coded and read to the student as they touch the words.  These features can also be turned off to make it harder.  Once students arrange the sentence correctly  they have the opportunity to read the sentence out loud and record it to hear later.

Students earn puzzle pieces as they play.  Once they have collected all of their puzzle pieces the puzzle will come to life.

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If students give the wrong answer  it allows them to try one more time.  If they are wrong a second time it gives them instructions on how to build the sentence correctly.

For the parent there is a stats page which tells you # of attempts your student made…this can also be emailed to you.

What I liked:

  • My 5 year old enjoyed using the program. She especially loved recording the sentences she had put together and then listening to them over and over.
  • It is colorful and fun plus easy to use!
  • You can have multiple users with their own levels etc.

What I didn’t like:

  • In my opinion it takes too long for a 5 year old to finish the puzzle.  They earn their first piece after 1 attempt but after that it is every 5 correct sentences.   There are 12 puzzle pieces to be earned. I would prefer to have them earn the pieces more quickly and have multiple puzzles they could finish.
  • My 5 year old still needed an older sibling or parent to sit with her to help her record her voice….She had to name the media files and didn’t know how to do that on her own.
  • No biggie–but the lessons never actually use the words noun, verb, prepositional phrase etc.

To sum it up: This app is a great low-key way to approach grammar and sentence introduction.  It will grow with your child.  I think it would be great for children with special needs but is still very useful to others as well.

 

The important information:

Mobile Education: Rainbow Sentences

Order from: iTunes store

Price: $7.99

To read other Schoolhouse Crew reviews of this product click here.

 

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Disclosure/Disclaimer:  I received the above product free of charge for review purposes.  I am only expected to give an honest review.

Letters Make Words: A TOS App Review

Letters Make Words: A TOS App Review

Letters Make Words: A TOS App Review

Sacha’s<25: An app for your iPad to help your child learn handwriting using the Barchowsky Fluent Handwriting method.

Home in the Trenches Product Rating (out of 10 stars)

Is it worth our time? 5 stars
Did it help us learn? 5 stars
Is it worth the money? 6 stars
Is it useful to me? 5 stars
Practicality- 5 stars
Quality- 5 stars
Kid Rating- 5 stars

From the Letters Make Words App on iTunes: 
The user can select any letter. Each one comprises a complete unit of instruction for that letter, a warmup pattern, the letter and a word to trace and to sound out. When a letter has a different sound depending on its usage in words, choose from either of two words. The next screen has three words to sound out with a silly sentence for the child to write on paper.

A friendly voice coaches the child to finger trace with the index finger, thereby encouraging good pencil/pen hold when actually writing. It’s the index finger that should push a pen to make marks with the greatest ease of movement.

Lowercase letters are featured. An app for capitals and numerals will follow soon. Lowercase are the ones we most need when we write, and are the easiest to form.

Letter-related warmup patterns start each unit to help the child with formations.
Starting points and directions for strokes are clearly defined, graphically and by the audio that guides a child through all finger tracing and pronunciation.

Letters are designed for ease of writing and legibility. Reversals (b for d, etc.) are never an issue with the formations used in this app.

Our Experience:

We were really excited to try out this app.  I have a child just learning proper handwriting techniques.  Unfortunately, we found this app to be extremely frustrating….while it states that the color changes as the child traces the letter it isn’t what we thought.  The whole letter slowly gets darker, not just where the child has traced. There is no way of “seeing” where their finger has actually been.  As long as she started where the “hole” was at at the beginning of the letter and ended at the end of the letter (she could have scribbled all over the middle of the screen) it would ding like she had completed it correctly.  Also if she traced a word faster than it spoke her through it would continue talking even though she was finished and she would have to wait for it to finish talking.


What I liked:

  • I could see this app helping with fluidity of motion and as a child was getting ready to learn cursive.  It would actually make the transition to cursive much easier.
  • Technology just takes some of the stress out of learning….it is a different way to learn and can make it fun for kids.
  • The audio help while learning letter formation is helpful.

What I didn’t like:

  •  This style of handwriting is so different than what she has already been working on, it was a bit confusing.
  • As you can read from “Our Experience” section there were a few things that were frustrating, which I won’t go into again.
  • After they practice a letter the app follows up with words and then a sentence for the student to write on paper.  This is really way to much for a new to handwriting student.
  • It really isn’t a substitute for good old pencil and paper learning. (While it doesn’t claim to be, I still feel the need to mention this.  It could be a good supplement however)


To sum it up: I would recommend this to families who are looking for extra handwriting help or who are getting ready to make the transition to cursive handwriting.  While it doesn’t take the place of a parent or teacher teaching how to properly do handwriting this could be a supplement for those students who are intimidated by using a pencil and paper or need more review.

 

The important information:

Letters Make Words

By Swansbury, Inc.

Order from: iTunes

Price: introductory price $2.99

To read other TOS Crew reviews of this product click here.

 

Disclosure/Disclaimer:  I received the above product free of charge for review purposes.  I am only expected to give an honest review.

Technology and Homeschooling

Technology and Homeschooling

 

I used to hate technology… it wasn’t easy to learn… I would have to write down each step to be able to do something a second time.  This has changed since I have been converted to Apple products!

I love my iPhone, iPad, and our Apple computers.  Right now I think everyone in our family (besides the sleeping 2 year old) is using something with Apple technology.  Even our 4 yr old is watching a movie streaming from Netflix through our AppleTV. Our other 3 kids are filming and editing a movie with a camera, iPod touch and iMovie.

However, as you know from other posts, I don’t like the kids on screens all that often!  It is such a struggle to find balance. I am pretty sure that technology, the internet, and such won’t be going away anytime soon!

I ran across a website the other day that listed great apps for homeschoolers.  Wow, how cool is that?  Thought I would post it here for you to click on and check out. I have quite a few of the apps, but there a a few that I REALLY want to look into!

I love being able to teach not-so-fun topics using something fun!  Besides having teaching apps there are ones to help you grade, teach reading, look up craft projects etc.  The great thing is that many are free or very cheap! And they are for all different ages!

Do you have an iPad and what is your favorite educational app?