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Monday, July 25, 2016

52 Lists: Favorite Games/Apps

List your favorite games or apps.  This should be easy, because I've written a lot about homeschooling with games.  Then I remembered, this isn't about the best games to enhance homeschooling or sneak in learning, or the kids favorite games.  It's part of the 52 List Challenge, and the operative word is "your" which really means MY favorite games.  Oh.  I don't particularly love games, but here are a few I don't mind playing . . .

Board/Card Games
Mad Gab
Shut the Box
Ring It!
Pengaloo (with the 3 year old)
Memory - it's something they can all play

Apps:  WordBrain, Ruzzle and other wordy apps on my phone

52 lists with Chasing Slow

©2011-2016 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Tiggly Words toys and app {Timberdoodle Review}

Learning to read is such an important task, but I personally believe it should only be an informal experience in the preschool years.  I'm sure I've made it perfectly clear that I don't do formal lessons during preschool, because I feel that these early years should be used for instilling good habits, nurturing a love of learning, and approaching "early academic skills" through fun, natural activities.  For preschoolers in today's technological society, the iPad (or any tablet) is an activity that naturally attracts and interests them, which is why I'm really excited to share this review of Tiggly Words as a fun alternative for developing phonological awareness.

Tiggly Words Review

Tiggly Words

Tiggly Words consists of five vowel manipulatives with silicone touch points, a carrying bag and access to four free learning apps designed for the Tiggly Word toys.  The toys and apps are compatible with most iPads and Kindle devices.  Access to the apps is included in the package.  I just shared our review of Tiggly Math, and it was a great experience for my preschooler.  Tiggly Words was no different!  

Tiggly words is designed for children 4-8 years old.  I've been using them with Eleanor (3) who knows her letters and their primary sounds but isn't ready for actual reading instruction.  Emory (6) is an emerging reader and uses it occasionally.  Timberdoodle describes Tiggly Words as being able to help children recognize phonemes, construct sounds and learn words, and I find this accurate.

Tiggly Doctor - Act like a doctor and learn short and long vowel sounds
Tiggly Submarine - Explore words and spelling patterns undersea
Tiggly Tales - compose stories by completing words
Sesame Street Alphabet Kitchen - Bake letter and word cookies with Elmo and Cookie Monster

The focus, obviously, is on vowels, their sounds and their relationship with words.  This helps children focus on the most challenging aspect of reading, and I suspect also because it is the simplest way to create this types of toy for tablets.

Right from the start, Eleanor was enamored with Sesame Street and baking cookies.  Bake with Elmo, and you can create letter cookies to decorate.  If you work with Cookie Monster, you are given consonants and you spell the word with a vowel.  Then you add food coloring, mix it up and it turns into a picture representation, or a cookie word.  Cookie Monster starts out with CVC words, but they do get more complex.

Tiggly Words Review

Eleanor really enjoys the Tiggly toys, and requests them fairly frequently.  Her favorite Tiggly Word apps are Sesame Street, probably because it's the "easiest" for her, and Tiggly Doctor, because she gets to take care of patients.  I like that she pays careful attention to which way she places the letters, though the apps don't seem to require the correct orientation in order to recognize the letter.  I think it should, but I also noticed that it occasionally reads a letter incorrectly, apparently dependent upon how the touch points are pressed to the screen.  Eleanor already knows her letters/sounds so she recognizes when it reads wrong, but it might be confusing to young children, and I think it's important that parents are involved in the process to help explain anything like this.  Even with this rare snafu, it doesn't negate the awesomeness of these apps.

Tiggly Words Review

The apps are too easy for Emory, but he thinks Tiggly Tales is funny.  You are given the consonants for CVC words and fill them in with the vowels.  He can make silly pictures like mermaid pigs (a pig with a fin), or use a fan to blow things around, and other goofy things that make little boys giggle.  Even though it's not really challenging for him, I do think the apps are good reinforcement for young readers.  Especially when you interchange vowels to make words like cub or cob or cab, but see nonsense words like cib get bounced out.  These apps help children see the influence of vowels and the relationship between words in a fun way, without the formality of lessons or workbooks.

Tiggly Words Review

Final Thoughts

Timberdoodle has chosen wisely by including Tiggly Words in their Pre-K Curriculum.  It is an excellent tool for mixing play (the iPad) with informal academics (pre-reading skills) in a fun and engaging way.  Tiggly apps are unique with their combined use of the touch-screen and manipulatives, and while I wouldn't consider them a primary tool for teaching, they are great for allowing children to explore concepts in a creative way.  If you are selective about the screen time you allow your preschoolers, I think the Tiggly apps are a good choice.  They go beyond early learning skills, and allow children to to work on fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, critical thinking, and so much more.  I mentioned this in my Tiggly Math review, and I'll say it here too--I'm so pleased with these tablet toys and their corresponding apps, that I'm adding these to our regular Preschool Curriculum choices {I don't require "school" at this age--I give her choices from a variety of developmentally appropriate activities} and we want Tiggly Shapes too! 

Tiggly Words Review

Links to Explore

Now that you're more interested in learning more about Tiggly and Timberdoodle, here are a few links to check out!

This graphic contains my FTC statement.

©2011-2016 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Beric the Briton {TOS Review}

In case you didn't already know, I am a huge fan of Heirloom Audio Productions and their exceptional historical series The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty.  This time we were given the privilege of reviewing Beric the Briton.

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review

Beric the Briton

Heirloom Audio Productions has a way of adapting Henty's writing and making it more than just an audio book.  They turn them into a first class listening experience.  Beric the Briton contains an all-star cast, as usual, and the music and sound effects make it exciting, daring and truly adventurous to listen to with the kids.  It is the story of the Roman invasion of ancient Britannia.  Beric, our protagonist, along with his best friend Bodouc, just as in every Henty novel, live out adventures almost too wild to believe.  Beric becomes a chief, they are captured by Romans, trained to be gladiators, and even serve Emperor Nero.  It is when they are confronted with their pagan past that we see the true theme of forgiveness come to light.  Heirloom Audio Productions strives to make history accessible to families, but they also bring out the noble themes in Henty's writing.

What's Included?

Along with the physical two-disc CD set, with over two hours of audio, I also received multiple digital components that are available with different purchase options.  These include the following:

  • MP3 set of the audio
  • original book in e-book version with new illustrations
  • MP3 soundtrack
  • printable posters
  • study guide
  • behind the scenes footage

The study guide is the heart of the extras.  Just like previous study guides, it is of excellent quality.  It's beautifully illustrated, though not very print friendly.  It's perfect for pulling up on a tablet.  I like to use the study guide to familiarize myself with the vocabulary, themes and overall story.  It's helpful for introducing unfamiliar words or interesting topics beforehand and being prepared for topics that might arouse questions from the kids.  I can also use these questions in a more natural way during conversations by going over it beforehand, rather than doing the Q&A approach.  If my kids were older, I'd use it more thoroughly as intended and have them complete the work on paper.  This is the first guide that I've noticed recipes, which is an awesome touch!  Additionally, the study guide includes three distinct Bible Study guides, so you can truly get a well-rounded study from Beric the Briton and the digital study guide.

Final Thoughts

As always, Heirloom Audio Productions has done a superb job.  If you close your eyes, you can easily immerse yourself right into the action thanks to the quality acting and superb sound effects and music.

I do think there can be intense scenes and conversations (for instance, Beric the Briton mentions sparing no man, woman or child) and if you have sensitive children, I suggest listening to the full story before allowing your children to listen to it and being prepared for potentially difficult conversations.  Overall I think middle-upper elementary is the ideal starting point, with teens definitely getting more out of the stories.  Young children can certainly listen in and enjoy it, but the stories are often fast-paced and the names and places can sometimes get confusing.  My boys are still on the young side (6 and 9) and I just use these for more exposure to history, in an attempt to make it more than just "a battle" but to show there were real people who lived and died by their morals, convictions and faith.  The boys enjoy the fast-paced action and inherently adventurous nature of the stories, but as they get older and we continue to use these alongside our history studies as unique resources, they will appreciate the development of the characters and the historical aspect along with me much more than they can now.

The one thing I still don't understand is why Heirloom Audio Productions has a separate website for each title they've produced.  The individual websites feel very infomercial and visually cluttered to me, and I would much prefer one standard website with everything available together.  If I was a regular consumer, I might be on the Beric the Briton website and not realize they even have other titles for purchase.  I truly think it should be consolidated under one banner, even if the individual web addresses redirect to one primary website.  (I feel the same way about their multiple social media accounts.)

More History

If you're interested in learning more about the other fabulous titles produced by Heirloom Audio Productions, feel free to check out my other reviews.
Under Drake's Flag
In Freedom's Cause
With Lee in Virginia
The Dragon and the Raven

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review

Crew Disclaimer

©2011-2016 Mom’s Heart.  All rights reserved.  All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.