Monday, August 31, 2015

Dig-It! Games Roman Town (iOS App) - TOS Review

Both of my child love electronic games. I love when I find electronic games that are also educational. That is a win for both of us. I was excited and J was as well to have an opportunity recently to review Dig-it! Games Roman Town.

Dig It! Games Review

Roman Town is the adventure of two children Fiona and Charlie as they explore Pompeii. You can pick which character but need to use both characters to play. All the time you are trying to find the clues. To find the clues you need to play mini-games to earn the clue.

Dig It! Games Review

The mini-games could be fun but also involved critical thinking like the game Code Breaker or Jigsaw puzzles. Some of the mini-games were similar to games from ancient Rome like Calculi which was like five in a row. Some of the games taught bits about ancient Rome like Artifact Identification or a Roman Numerals game.  J said, "even if you know Roman numerals this game is good if you already know them but also if you are just learning about them."

J has spent some time over the past few weeks playing this and trying to get all the clues. In order to get all the clues you need to ask the tourists and play the mini-games. At one point he thought he had finished it but discovered that he still needed to gather some more clues. He spent some more time and then to find the last of the clues it was completing sliding puzzles. I was impressed with how he stuck with the puzzles and worked on getting everything to slide into place so he could finish it.

J said it is good for those who do not know much about Rome. We have read numerous books and after our holiday trip this year I think J has a good understanding of ancient Rome. He didn't think there was much new for him.

J did like the way that the mini-games teach about ancient Rome. He will probably tell you that Knucklebones was his least favourite game and that is probably because it was just a chance game. He did say that this game was challenging. He did say that Pipes was his favourite game. Pipes is a game where you had to twist and turn the pipe segments so that it would all be connected. I played a number of the games as well. I like Concentration with the artefacts and it has a simple one and then a more difficult one.

I liked the critical thinking involved in some of the mini-games. I liked the brain building and memory that comes from playing Concentration. I like the bits of information about ancient Rome. This is a great way to learn and have fun at the same time.

Dig It! Games Review
Code Breaker was one of J's favourite games.

Roman Town is an iOS App for an iPad. It requires iOS 8.0 or later in order to play the game. It is geared towards 9-13 age children. The game is free with the option for in-app purchases. Dig-It Games also has a computer based game, Mayan Mysteries.

Dig-It! Games Review

Crew Disclaimer

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

A Day in our School

In my perfect world we would start on time in the morning and quickly, diligently work through our learning. Pause mid-morning for hot drinks -- coffee, tea, or hot chocolate depending on what you prefer. Then finish and move on to quiet play, some chores, and just enjoy our day. Well, that perfect world does not exist but the world that does exist is the one I am trying to live in. A day in that world looks a bit like.

Miss K is an early riser so she is up when the sun comes up. I am thankful that the sun no longer comes up at 5:00. She is happy to play in her room. J is a teenager and would sleep until noon if allowed which he is not.

After breakfast and clean-up, we begin out time together. We do art today. One of the reasons for doing art first is that it gives the kids something to do while I read. Then on we read Bible and History together. I have Miss K listen in to both of these. It is interesting the things that she remembers. I have lowered her requirement. While J write a history sentence, she just writes the lesson title and something she remembers.

Usually by the time we are done with that Miss K is ready for a break. I pushed her a bit long the other day and she was falling apart and needed that break. I am learning that she needs breaks. So I am trying to plan breaks. Breaks could be something physical like jumping or stretching or just some time to work on a game or puzzle or just allow her to go on her own.

J keeps busy working on his things and often during Miss K's break he and I are reviewing things.

Maths is very hands on -- using coins, cubes, bears or treats. I have a variety of math manipulative and try to vary them to keep her interested. Maths is her struggle and so anything that I can do to help her learn maths is worth it.

Often after maths she is ready for another break. I wish we could just push through and be done but that doesn't work with her.

After that break, we work on reading, spelling, handwriting, and then finally science. Reading is a strong subject for her.

That about ends her learning time. I try to do some sort of therapy or art with her.

I have learned that working with her special needs, I need to be flexible, adaptable, give her lots of breaks, and have lots of variety. It does sometimes make it difficult for me and a long day but I love seeing her learn.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Educational Trips - Learning while Travelling

We enjoy travelling whether it is a day trip, an afternoon out, or a big family excursion. I love how the world is our classroom whether is a walk to deliver newspapers and seeing various slugs along the way or a climb along the Great Wall or a stroll through the alleys of Venice. So many places to visit and so many things to learn along the way.

Here are some ways that we have made the most from our learning.

1. Learning before the trip - Learning before the trip can be a detailed as a unit study or as simple as reading a book based on that location. In 2010 we took a big family trip to China. So before our trip we spent some time studying China. I remember reading Little Pear to J and then the fun that he had eating a tang hulu just like Little Pear enjoyed.

I am glad that we took some time to study a bit about ancient Rome before our trip this summer. Miss K was able to recognise a "water duck". Of course, it took us a bit of time to realise that it was an aqueduct that she saw.

So read a book, do a unit study, watch some videos, look at maps be ready to learn while you travel.

Sometimes learning just doesn't happen before a trip. It could be that there isn't much information about the destination or there just isn't much time. Don't worry learning can still happen. Sometimes you have no idea what you will find on the outing until you are there. I had no idea that we would see the house that inspired Jane Erye when we went on our walk the other week.

2. Learning during the trip - Tour guides can help you learning through my son really doesn't like joining Chinese tour groups and I don't blame him that much. We have used tour guides at other times and that has been helpful in learning about what we are seeing. We took a free walking tour of York and learned so much about the city so not all tours have to cost money.

Take lots of photos. We took over 2,000 photos while we were in Italy. I have deleted the blurry ones as well as redundant.

Take about what you are seeing. We talked about tides as we were at Lindisfarne. If you have questions, look up information or ask a local.

Buy a book as a souvenir. We received a free book at Lindisfarne when we were.

3. Learning after the trip - I have found that often the trip can pique our curiosity and so we go home and learn a bit more. We have read books when we returned. After Florence and Rome, I read Michelanglo by Diane Stanley. That was a simple book to read but helped to fill in so many bit of knowledge.

Organise your photos so you can pull them out when you study a place later. As we have studied Justinian, I pulled photos from our time in Istanbul for reference.

Not everything has to involve long travel times. We have learned from things locally as well.

A day at Valley Forge

I realise that we are blessed in being able to travel. I know that not everyone is able to do so. I trust that you find ways to learn in the area where you live.

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Monday, August 17, 2015

A Walk on the Moor

On Saturday afternoon we went for a walk with some friends from church. It was just a short drive and then a long walk. I love the area where we live with the sheep in the fields. We walk through the fields just next to the sheep. Miss K was trying to scare the sheep and was told to yell, "mint sauce". 

There was a goose wandering along as well.

This might not be the best photo and you are probably looking at it wondering why I even bothered to include it but it has some meaning. This is North Lees which is the inspiration for Thornfield Hall, Mr. Rochester's house in Jane Eyre.

I discovered that there is a literary tour in that area from Jane Eyre to a scene in Pride and Prejudice to Robin Hood.

Here is the view of the church as we walked that way. We started up in the field and the village was the halfway point of our walk.

We were getting closer to the church and that meant closer to the cafe for our tea or coffee and some flapjack.

Before the cafe we stopped by Little John's grave. Little John is buried here.

We had our snack and then walked back to the car. We drove home and had to avoid the sheep in the road.

I live in the most beautiful part of England. I love being so close to places where we can go for walks and enjoy the beauty around us.

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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Week 2 - 14 August 2014

This is week 2 of school. It was a bit of a different week in that Miss K had football camp for three mornings. Yes, Miss K was at football camp. (Remember here soccer is called football.) I know you were picturing sweet petite Miss K with shoulder pads and a helmet going out there and tackling someone. No, it wasn't that kind of football.

I did walk to pick her up on Thursday and we enjoyed a nice walk home. Well, I did, she needed a few breaks along the way and a drink from the shop.

For some reason (I think it might be from Mary Poppins) seeing chimneys feels like England. This was one of the views as we walked home.

We wandered past the pharmacy and looked in the window. They had a display of old things.

We have been home while various others go on holiday so we have gotten the mail, watered a garden, cropped and allotment, and next week we will feed a cat. We went on holiday before the schools were out. Here are the beans that I got from the allotment. I also got some red currants, raspberries, a few black berries and courgettes also known as zucchini.

I have been walking with J as he delivered newspapers filling in for others on holiday. We had to avoid the slugs one morning.

There is lots of road resurfacing in our area. When it is finished the roads are nice and smooth and until then we are dealing with roads closed, diversions, and loud noises.

I am enjoying the flowers on our walks. The gardens are beautiful.

We did a bit of school. J kept up with most of his things this week. We are still getting the feel for the new things we are doing this year. J is doing some high school work and so it is an adjustment. He is using DIVE for two classes. I like it for him but I don't know how much he is enjoying it. We have moved up in our writing and that is a bit of a challenge as we get the flow of the new book.

Another sign of where we live -- a Mini. It looks like an older one.

That wraps up our week.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I Corinthians 13 for Homeschool Moms

As we begin our school year, I was thinking about love and how important that is in all aspects of our school days. I pondered that thinking about I Corinthians 13. Here is my own version of I Corinthians 13 just for homeschool moms.

I Corinthians 13 for Homeschool Moms

If teach French in kindergarten and Greek in first grade and my children speak Latin fluently but have not love, I am a linguistic genius.

And if I have each day perfectly scheduled and art planned for each day, and time to read the classics, listen to classical music, but have not love, I am wasting my day.

If I create worksheets and schedules to share on my blog, and if I sacrifice my free time to take the children to music lessons, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient even when you have taught the same lesson for five days because the child still does understand and kind even when the science DVD is lost for the third day in a row; love does not envy the school room of another or boast of the accomplishments of her children; it is not arrogant but understands that each has unique abilities or rude in responses to children when for the hundredth time she is telling them to focus on their work.

It does not insist on its own way but understands that children have different learning styles; it is not irritable when the schedule gets changed or resentful that math is taking four hours; it does not rejoice at wrongdoings like the child having to redo the whole lesson, but rejoices with the character qualities developed and godly truth instilled.

Love bears all things -- long days, messy dining room table, scattered books, and more, believes all things can be done with God's help as you can homeschool your children, hopes all things knowing that this is good and right to do, and endures all things so that God can be glorified.

Love never ends. As for homeschooling, it will end someday; as for grammar and reading it will be no more; as for knowledge it will pass away but when eternity comes, the learning from homeschool will end. When I was a homeschool mom, I spoke like one, thought like ones, reasoned and planned like one. But in eternity what will matter is love.

So now faith that you are doing the right thing, that you are following God' leading for this time of your life, hope that comes knowing that God is with you each day, and love for God and all he has done for you abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love.

Fill your days with love. Love your children. Remember that God loves you.

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Week in Review - Back to School

Let's pretend it is Friday, 7 August. Forget the fact that the weekend past too quickly and I needn't get a chance to reflect on our week.

We began our school year this week. That would be the book part of our year. J did three days of gymnastics in July which will count towards school time. I also consider our time in Edinburgh as school time. This week we got out the books and started our year.

Here is my Plan Book all nice and neat at the beginning of the year. I am sure it will have rips and stains by the end of the year. I still love the feel of my paper planner.

I make it pretty inside with washi and using my markers. Miss K brought me some flowers at the end of the day.

We are slowly getting back into our books. We started Mystery of History Volume IV beginning with Bach and Handel. It is interesting the details Miss K remembers. She remembered that Bach had 20 children.

After our summer holiday and seeing some of the artwork along the way, I was inspired to spend some time studying art history. We started this week with cave painting. I will share more of that later. At this time it is just a learn and discover together course.

J spent some time building a marble course. He said that the hot glue gun worked fine for this. It is quite an impressive marble run. I remember a marble track I had growing up. It was a small one that my dad had made. My grandparents had a much larger one.

It was a beginning and we took it slow this week. We will add some more things into our days over the next few weeks.

I am cropping a friend's allotment so we are enjoying red currants, raspberries, courgettes, beans, and the black berries are just beginning to ripen.

We are enjoying the bits of summer. The kids had water balloons out the other day. We had ice cream at the park.

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So Tired

The other day was one of the "I am tired of special needs" days. It wasn't anything specific just a number of little things that caused me to be tired and weary of dealing with special needs. It must have been some other things that day as well because that morning while it was still quiet and before there were many issues to deal with I had sat enjoying my sunny chair with a cup of coffee and my Bible. I was reading Matthew and came to chapter 11. I needed to read and ponder those words.

"Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV).

I thought about the cause for my weariness and most of it is a result of living in a fallen world. Just another reminder that this is not the way God created us to live.

Jesus understands that we will be tired and weary. Some of that is just the physical tiredness and some if the fallen world. These words are an invitation and a bit of a command. Jesus is telling us to go to him and he promises to give rest. The ultimate rest is eternity.

So the other day and other days as I face the tiredness. I go to Jesus, he gives the rest for the day. I look forward to the ultimate rest.

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Sunday, August 9, 2015

July in Review

I know it is August 9th and I am now writing July in Review. I wrote May late because we had just returned from a trip. I didn't write one in June because we had just returned from a trip. I could use the same excuse in July but I think I might just need to do one even if it is late.

Our outing for July was Edinburgh and Lindisfarne. We enjoyed those family times together and the opportunity to see new and historical places. We also went to the church with the crooked spire.

I didn't finish any sewing projects in July. I still have 9 unfinished projects. I did start a new one yesterday but we will talk about that in August.

I had the goal of knitting once a month. I am afraid that has not happened. I need to find my needles.

I have been working on scrapbooking. I finished all the photos I have so it is time to order more. After I order the photos, I will keep busy. I need to print photos from Christmas to now. I did a Shutterfly book for Italy so I will just include a few photos in our books.

I was able to sell some of the homeschool things that we are finished with. That was part of cleaning out and having less things at the end of 2015. I still have two boxes here of things to get rid of. One of the things that I did buy this month was The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It might take a bit of courage to read the book. I also realise that there are some inner heart issues that need to change as I continue the reducing the amount of things that we have.

July was full of recovering from our family holiday, finishing the school year, sorting through school things, and traveling to see our friends. We didn't have time to have friends over for a meal. We are making plans for August.

We have been enjoying the long days and summer weather. We have done a few walks but not been hiking.

As we begin August, we are back to school. We need to get our days and finish our books before next summer so we can enjoy our home assignment.  Miss K has a week of football and a week of dance camp. J has house party with the youth from church. Pray it is a good social and spiritual time for him.

That is about all that happened in July.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Edinburgh, Scotland

The entrance to Endinburgh Castle

Two years ago when we were in Singapore one of the workers for the kids program was from Switzerland. We have kept in touch with him and visited him last year. He and his wife were going to be in Scotland for two weeks with a choir. They had a free day so we decided to go visit them in Edinburgh.

We drove there which according to Google Maps is about 4.5 hours but according to actual road time is about 5.5. We did stop for coffee and to eat our packed lunch plus some of the roads are single lane not dual carriageway.

We arrived in the afternoon and stayed at a hotel near the zoo. The next day we took the bus into the city and went to Edinburgh Castle. We got there early. If you plan to go there, buy your tickets online. The line can be long. I thought it was long when we got there but it was much longer when we were leaving.

The view looking from the castle.

Here we are in the Great Hall. Miss K really wanted to take a photo. That is how we look from her view.

Trust me if she wants to take your photo you better do it or else she will find a weapon in the Great Hall (just kidding).

This is St. Margaret's Chapel which is not that big.

You can see the city and the sea from here.

These guards were friendly.

The castle has some children's pages that the kids can look for things and learn as you wander through. We didn't have much time so we opted not to focus on that while we were there.

This is what the castle looks like from the outside of the walls. It just looks like it is coming up from the rocks.

We met our friends and then wandered the old part of the city. We went to St. Giles Cathedral. It was lovely and there was someone playing the piano while we were there so we quietly wandered about looking at the stained glass windows.

We found the statue of John Knox, another one of our Veritas Press timeline cards.

I think after some of our travels this summer I would enjoy architecture appreciation. Don't tell the kids we might add some of that into our learning this year.

We wandered a bit heading to the museum and found this cute dog. This is Greyfriars Bobby. "The bronze statue of the terrier who faithfully guarded the grave of his master, the policemen John Gray, at Greyfriars Kirk for 14 years until his own death in 1872."

One last view of the castle. It was rainy and we joined a crowd of people waiting for the rain to stop. It was good to see our friends. We have met them in Singapore, Switzerland, and Scotland. Next year we will find another country that begins with S. (just kidding)

We drove down towards Lindisfarne and stopped along the way to look at the view of the North Sea.

We had a short stay in Scotland. I feel like we only scratched the surface things you can do there. Maybe we will need to find some time to go back.

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