Monday, August 21, 2017

Phonics Museum App {Review}

I have a precocious four year old that loves to "do school" like her big brothers.  She also loves to have some play time on the iPad.  When we were offered the opportunity to review the Phonics Museum App from Veritas Press, I had a feeling she would enjoy it!  It is certainly my preference to offer substantial or educational apps for her play time, so this was a win-win for us!

Veritas Press Phonics Museum

Veritas Press approaches education from a classical Christian perspective, and as such, has created a variety of curricula to help other parents educate their children in this way.  Their reading program Phonics Museum now has a companion app that can complement the curriculum or stand on its own!  The premise of the program is that your child is in an art museum, the Phonics Museum, engaged in art and learning to read at the same time!  

The child chooses an avatar and begins their journey.  Miss Biddle is the museum curator, and she's kind of eccentric and silly.  Percival the Knight is their guide, taking them on their exploration.  It's very "edutainment" in presentation - the child is guided through play-based learning exercises that include videos, tracing letters, listening to music and playing games.  The games are things like animals catching their food, which you help them do by touching the screen when you hear a word that starts with the designated letter or finding the target letter by visual recognition.  As they work through the activities, learning letters by sight and sound, they complete levels and earn virtual awards, and this is a fun incentive for young children!

Veritas Press Phonics Museum

The app starts at the beginning and assumes no prior knowledge.  My four year old knows her letters and sounds, so it's been a little below her level, but that doesn't deter her from playing.  By about the 3rd time through their unique alphabet song, she was starting to sing along with it, and she seems to enjoy the app overall.  However, I noticed there were times she was asking me to sit with her.  I'm always in the same room when she plays the iPad, but she was wanting me to help because she was having a hard time hearing and distinguishing between some letters, and I believe it's because they carry the consonant sound, making them sound as if they had an /uh/ at the end.  That /uh/ was all she was hearing.  Once I taught her to isolate the beginning of the "buh" or "duh" sounds she was able to distinguish between the correct/incorrect answers and play the games independently.  She also had to figure out how to trace the letters with *her* finger, and not try to touch the shadow finger, but once she mastered that, she could do the letter writing easily.

The only other thing of concern was some of the initial language.  Upon starting the first video I was shocked to find one character was somewhat rude and disrespectful.  He used words and phrases like "ugh," "die of boredom" and "dumb."  I find this inappropriate and unnecessary, especially for the target age range.  After that, I haven't particularly noticed anything concerning, but I was taken aback by that.

Overall, I believe this is a nice supplemental program for my preschooler.  She really enjoys the app, and it has many great features.  I get an email from Miss Biddle every time she completes a lesson.  Although I am always aware of when and what she plays on the iPad, I don't always sit over her, so the email lets me know how quickly she is progressing through the app.  I also love that ART is woven in naturally in a fun and relevant way for this age.  Phonics Museum App is great review for her at this point, and we will continue to keep it in her "Preschool" folder to choose from during her iPad time.  The app is for ages 3-7, beginning readers, and I find that an accurate age range.

The Phonics Museum App is available through iTunes, and you can do the trial first to see how it works.  Also, be sure to check out the rest of the crew reviews!

Veritas Press

Phonics Museum App {Veritas Press Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Family Studies: The Enrichment Studies

In the past, I have not been the best at doing Enrichment Studies.  Well, some things I did regularly, some were hit and miss, and some I have never even attempted.  I felt like we were missing out on so many chances to imprint beautiful images and words onto our hearts and minds, so much of the broad feast that a Charlotte Mason education offers.  So this year, as I'm really trying to swing back towards a Charlotte Mason approach, I just decided to dive in head first!

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I'm working really hard at doing short lessons and really mixing up subjects, and having these enrichment subjects has already helped break up the heavier core subjects.  All of this is on a loop schedule, and some of the quicker activities are being done over snack or lunch while I have their attention, so we're not even extending our day much by adding them.  However, this means since everyone is present, I'm trying to choose a variety to appeal to wider ages (2, 4, 8, 10) and interests.  I do try to squeeze the more hands-on, involved activities during the toddler's nap when I can!

First Term is already underway, but the rest of the year is still subject to change.  I'll expand more on the individual subjects and how this is going for us as we get further into it, but for now, I'm pleasantly surprised with their responses so far!

Ergermeier's Bible Story Book - I read to all kids together
AWANA - Each child is in age-appropriate classes, and I work one-on-one with them reading passages, studying and memorizing verses.
We aren't using a "curriculum" during school time right now, but we have in the past and I'm not opposed to something appropriate.  

Picture Study
Term I:     Monet
Term II:    Leonardo da Vinci (we're studying him in science this year)
Term III:  Rubens

A Midsummer Night's Dream
   Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb
   A Midsummer Night's Dream from Folger Digital Texts
   How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig

Term I:  AA Milne When We Were Very Young and possibly Now We are Six
Term II:  Shel Silverstein  A Light in the Attic or Falling Up
Term III:  undecided - perhaps Rudyard Kipling or Emily Dickinson

Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization
This will help us work on imprinting quality language into our minds, as well as give us broader exposure to poetry.

Folk Songs - Ambleside Online
Hymns - Ambleside Online

The works are already chosen and playlists created!  

Composer Studies
Term 1:  Mozert (Emory's request)
Term 2: Beethoven
Term 3:  Handel

Foreign Language
Husband wants to learn a foreign language together, and picked French, though I still think Spanish is more practical.  This is the only thing I haven't actually worked into our schedule yet.

Art & Handicrafts
Okay, so I haven't fully implemented handicrafts either.  This is going to be kind of a crossover area, but we'll be focusing on drawing, as that will be beneficial for art, nature journaling, book of centuries, etc.  We'll primarily use See the Light Art Class, though we'll occasionally use ArtAchieve (review) or ARTistic Pursuits (reviews: book 1, book 2, and book 3) to correlate some geography or history.  I also have a few ideas for handicrafts during the holidays.

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

First Day of School: 2017

Even though we do some gentle learning most of the summer, we've had some downtime recently, so I wanted to have an official transition into our new school year, to declare new "grades" and to make it clear we're transitioning back into a regular schedule!  We had our First Day this week, and we're easing our way back into a traditional schedule.  I fully admit, however, that I don't do spectacular or over the top activities (not my style) but we did do a few little things.

We had Star Wars pancakes for breakfast, then they had some free time.  I started walking them through our schedule, showing them the grid I made for the routine I would like to put into place.  During the first block we did our First Day of School pictures (two days before haircuts lol!) and they did a First Day of School Questionnaire.  It included things like height, weight, how they write their name, and a lot of favorite questions for them to fill in.  Here are a few of their answers.

Elliott is our analytical thinker that loves all things technology.  I asked him what he meant by "a builder" but he just shrugged and gave me nothing.  He's casually mentioned being a LEGO master builder and an architect in the past, so I can only guess it's some reference to one of those.

Emory is definitely our imaginative, outside-the-box thinker!  He's the type that asks for "antique" toys that daddy played with as a kid or a "worm house" for his birthday.  He usually says he wants to be a zoologist, but apparently he currently wants to explore the jungle and look for exotic plants and animals!

Eleanor is our spunky, fun princess.  My husband asked her why she wanted to be a mom, "So I can be like momma and take care of kids."  The boys asked her how many kids she wanted, and she said "Four, like us!"  Of course, in the past she has also said she wants to grow up to be an old lady and have a bunch of cats.

Eloise is our spirited, wild child!  She's full of energy and laughs and loves "muddy puddles" and purple nail polish.  We obviously aren't doing anything formal with her, but she insisted on being in on the action, and I expect she'll tag along with Eleanor most of the time.

Then a few more random pictures, just because I can!

An honorable mention for our day was when we stopped to watch a helicopter trim trees.  We've had a lot of tree and brush clearing out here this summer, but this is the first time we've ever seen something like this.  Apparently it wasn't just my kids who enjoyed watching it - I could see the neighbors watching and it made an appearance on Facebook too!

We'll have to continue to smooth out kinks as we work back up to a full schedule, but I am excited to see their interest in "new" subjects, and I'm hopeful for the new year!

First Day of School Signs
First Day of School Signs
First Day of School Questionnaire

©2011-2017 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.