Top Ten Educational Apps for Preschoolers and One I Avoidl

Top Ten iPad Educational Apps for Preschoolers and One I Avoid

1. Starfall- This is a great app with both a free and pay version. We have only used the free one, but my son loves the phonics “books” which also come with little songs about letter sounds that can be played beforehand. This app has done so much to encourage his reading. I love it. The phonics section also includes letter and sound games that he really enjoys. There is also a little tiny bit of math available, but it isn’t nearly as good as the phonics.

2. Khan Academy- Holy Addition, Batman…this app is awesome. It’s not as flashy and colorful as something like Starfall or the PBS apps, but it has great content. The math videos alone are worth the download. I also like how structured and orderly it is. The math section goes from preschool- calculus which is amazing. This has been very valuable to me since I am not a math fan, and my son loves it. I had taught him a few things on my own, but this lays it out in logical steps and covers things that I would not have thought of like the inverse addition property and place value. My son also really likes the competitive part of earning points as he completes task, and the fact that you can click on the squiggle symbol to us “scratch paper” for each problem.

The app covers other things such as different sciences and humanities, but we have stuck with math since the other things are not offered at his level. We will likely try some of the humanities offerings soon since they are mostly connected with major museums and institutions. I love the idea of a virtual field trip even if he is just enjoying the pictures at this point.

3. PBS Measure Up App- This is such a fun app. PBS has done a great job. It features a lot of kid’s favorite characters like Pegg + Cat and The Dinosaurs Train crew. There are learning video clips and multiple measuring games. The app takes you to a map with three sections. Kids can pick from a volcano which has games a videos about capacity, a forest which features height and length games and videos, and a cave area dealing with weight.

4. The Nick Jr. App- This app isn’t as directly educational as many of the others, but it does offer a lot of room for creativity. There are episodes of your kid’s favorite Nick Jr. shows, games, coloring sheets, and sticker pages. It is a lot of fun and your kids will be engaged. I like the Rusty Rivets games because they allow my son to “design” his own vehicles or robots. I wouldn’t want him to spend all day on it, but it has some value.

5. The Sesame Street App- This app is ok for my five year old, but he is starting to outgrow it. My 18 month old loves the Elmo clips; it is the only way she will sit still to get her hair done. All of the main characters have their own video “channel”. There are also a few games. You can visit Elmo’s room which has a train set that can be changed, a radio for you to have a dance party with Elmo, and a few other cute shape games. This would be a good app for younger Preschoolers like two or early three year olds.

6. Paper- This is an art app with sketch books that kids can fill up. The free version comes with a full color wheel, calligraphy pen, marker, pencil, water color, and eraser. The upgrade seems to allow cutting and a paint roller. My son really likes this app, and I like how the tools seem to produce more authentic lines. The water color behaves like real water color and so on. This is great because I don’t think kids spend as much time creating as they used to.

7. Pixel- My son calls this his robot game, and he isn’t far off. It’s actually a beginner coding game. He loves to play around with it and see what the face on the screen will do. I love that he is working through cause and effect, and becoming comfortable with coding.

8. Planet Geo- The free version offers a world map with major world monuments. You click on a continent and try to pin the monument to its location. Your score is based on how close you get. It’s cute and reminds me of my childhood watching Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego. Harrison likes looking at places that he would enjoy visiting, and we talk about them. We are hoping to see some of the closer attractions at some point.

9. My Math App- This is lower on the list because the graphics are not great. It is basically digital flash cards. I do like that it offers addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. You can also set it to work on a specific number. I do wish that you could set a number range instead. It is a nice app, and will likely be more useful as he moves on in school.

10. The Lego jr. App- Harrison loves this, but I was considering not adding it as an educational game. I put it at ten because it has some value because there is counting and some creativity in design involved. I would rather him play this than Fluffy Fall, but I don’t want him to spend all of his time on it. He loves all things lego so it’s a hit in his eyes.

The App that I don’t recommend is Kids YouTube. I had high hopes for this app when I first downloaded it. My son is always full of questions, and we had looked on regular YouTube together to find videos of things like bees building hives and robotic surgery. I thought that the voice input and parental controls would allow him to find those types of videos and answer his questions. This did not happen. The app blocked things that I would not have had a problem with him seeing like how a kidney stone is formed. He was curious because he heard that knew someone had one. However it allowed him to watch endless toy openings which have no value beyond being extended commercials. I wish the parental controls allowed more flexibility. I ended up removing the app.

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My Top Five Read Aloud Books for Preschool Boys

My Top Five Read Aloud Books for Preschool Boys

1.The Boxcar Children– I read this to Harrison two years ago when he was three, and it was one of the few books that didn’t have a lot of pictures that he could sit through at the time. It is about four orphaned children that make their home in an abandoned boxcar. This is actually the first in a series of mystery books. I plan to read a few more of them to him. This book series has a special place in my heart anyway since it is the series that turned me from a non reader to a lover of books.

2.My Father’s Dragon– This is a great adventure book for preschoolers. Harrison loved the vivid description and adventure. It is about a boy that runs away to a far away island to save a dragon.

3.Farmer Boy– Harrison enjoyed this book, but it can be a little slow in spots. We often had to divide the chapters in half. We visited a living history farm that reenacted the same time period on the Outer Banks of NC shortly after reading about half of the book. This trip really fired up his interest because it allowed him to visualize some of what he was hearing about. If you aren’t familiar with the book, it was written by Laura Ingalls Wilder about her husband’s childhood in upstate New York in the mid 1800s.

4.Big Max and the Mystery of the Missing Moose– Harrison loved this book! It is the shortest on the list at under seventy pages, and he was so riveted that it only took use a few days to read. I do think the book is out of print, but apparently there are other Big Max books still available. I would write a summary, but the title pretty much covers it.

5.Winnie-the-Pooh – This is a great classic that most kids can enjoy. I love how this book takes you back to a peaceful time and place. My husbandj normally reads from this series because he is much better at all of the voices.

Quick, Cheap, and Easy American Girl Doll Play Dresses for the Beginning Seamstress

After being cooped up with the flu for several days, I had to try and do something productive. I looked through the baby clothes that had been slated for Goodwill, and pulled out two things I thought would work to refashion for my American Girl doll which will be passed down to Lola once she’s old enough to play with it properly. I have been wanting to add clothes to my collection for awhile because what’s the fun of having a nice doll if you don’t have anything to dress her up in. The clothes are freaking expensive though, so I had to find an alternative anyway. I think I got both of the original outfits from Goodwill which means they were probably 1.50 each.

I thought it would be fun to do a step-by-step guide to refashioning baby clothes into American Girl Doll clothes. This is a great project for a beginner which is what I am. It’s also cheap because you can use what you have on hand or pick up something cute at a thrift store.

Here are the two items. The white dress with the flower was actually part of a set with leggings I think. The yellow is an infant sundress. Just make sure you try them on the doll to see if they will work. Make sure that fasteners and any decorative elements you want to keep won’t be in the portion which will be removed.

I did the white dress first since it didn’t require working around ruffles!

Step one was trying it on the doll to see exactly what needed to be done. As you can see the only major issues were that the dress was too big on the doll, and then arm holes needed to be made smaller.

I then took the dress off of the doll, and I turned it inside out. I put the dress back on the doll, and pinned it to fit. I pinned the arm holes to be smaller and then just down the sides with a slight flare out to keep the flouncy shape.

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I threaded my machine and just sewed down either side removing the pins as I went. I made sure to back stitch at the beginning and end of each side. I then tried the dress back on the doll to check the fit. Once I was sure I wouldn’t have to break out my seam ripper, I used my pinking shears to cut off the excess fabric.

If this had been a real dress, then I would have ironed the seams, but it’s to be played with on a doll, so I let my type B nature win that battle. I think it turned out well. I may go back at some point and make the neck a little smaller, but I think it works for now, and will be easier for little hands to put on and take off the doll when the time comes.  Here is the finished product.

The yellow dress turned out to be easier in some ways. I again tried it on the doll. In this case the sides didn’t need to be cut down, so I just had to shorten the straps and make the arm holes smaller.

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I shortened the straps by cutting them and crossing them. I pulled them down a little more and pinned them where they looked like they would fit.

I the tried to decide how to shrink the arm holes. I didn’t want to do a lot of cutting and such since I was starting to get tired again at this point. ( I had the flu remember.) Anyway I ended up just folding under a bit under the arm hole to make it tighter. I pinned this too. I had to hand sew the folded bit under the arms due to the thickness of the fabric. This didn’t take long, and I wasn’t a perfectionist about it.

I used my machine to sew the straps back on. (Sorry, I forgot to take a picture!) This would be easy to do by hand as well.

I tried the finished dress back on the doll. I think it worked well.

The key to this was starting with pieces that wouldn’t require a lot of extra work. This is a lot easier than making a dress from scratch, but much less expensive than spending between 10-30 dollars for one dress. I think it will be nice for Lola to have a few changes for the doll, and then we will be able to get nicer things as she gets older and has birthdays and special occasions. Let me know what you think, and post your refashion photos if you have any.

This article is from Fusion, and I thought it was worth sharing.

Getty ImagesMore than 60 million people had been forcibly displaced from their homes at the end of 2015, the highest number of displaced people since World War II. And most of them remain in their own countries, rather than seeking asylum elsewhere, according to Pew data newly compiled from the United Nations. The data show…

via There are more displaced people in the world than at any point since World War II — Fusion

Black Lives Matter or After Dallas I’m Terrified for My Husband in Blue

I may be too emotionally close to this to write objectively, and I’m also flooded with some serious pregnancy hormones on top of everything here. If I’m missing something major, please feel free to point it out in a kind manner. Please note that all of this is mostly a rambling of me trying to make sense of the cognitive dissonance that has become my life!

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Christian Anger or What Did Jesus Do

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Our pastor spoke about Jesus’ anger at the Pharisees in church on Sunday, and while he was talking I thought back over what I knew of Scripture, and I couldn’t think of an example of Jesus ever being angry at anyone but the religious elite of his day. He did express occasional frustration at the thickheadedness of his own disciples as well. However, he seemed to reserve his hot anger for those that claimed to have religious authority over people and then abused that power. He flipped tables in the temple, got angry over their “test” of him healing the man with a withered hand, and called them a brood of vipers.

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Mother’s Day- Joy and Sadness

Mother’s Day always brings mixed feelings for me. I am incredibly blessed with a wonderful mother, a beautiful little boy, and a baby girl on the way. All of which cause me to feel very thankful. I’ve had a lovely Mother’s Day weekend so far aside from being sick. My husband graduated with his Master’s degree, my in-laws were able to come down for a visit, so we had a lovely time with family.

However, It is hard to forget a time not so long ago when Mother’s Day was one of the hardest days of the year for me. There was a three year period where we struggled with infertility. When we finally did manage to get pregnant, we ended up having two miscarriages before Harrison was born.

For years I avoided this day. Of course I bought my mom something and tried to spend time with her, but the hurt of those losses always hung over the day. I say all of this because I want to remind everyone to pray for and encourage those that have lost mothers, children, suffer from infertility, or have a strained relationship with their mother or child.

You don’t know what a kind word may mean to someone that ‘s really hurting during what should be a time of celebration. Send that card to your friend that lost a loved one. Don’t question why the middle aged couple with out children aren’t in church that Sunday. Take a meal to the mom with a sick kid. Take cookies to the older lady next door that you know doesn’t get any visitors. Do something. Celebrate by going out and being the hands and feet of Jesus. Your mom will be proud of you if you do.

Teaching Little Ones to Make Amends

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Harrison had a rough day at school today. It was a seriously bad day. He hit three friends and kicked another one. He also struggled to listen to his teacher about other matters. Now my child is by no means perfect, in fact I would say that he can be a handful, but this was beyond the pale.

When I found out what had happened, I tried to come up with a way both to impress upon him the seriousness of his offenses while also helping him try to “fix” what he had broken. We had a long talk about friendship, using gentle hands, and treating people how we want to be treated. I also reminded him that Jesus wants us to be kind to each other. Then I tried to remind him of times when he was on the receiving end of bad treatment.

My issue wasn’t with how to punish him, but with how I could make the punishment fit the crime so to speak. I decided that after supper he would not get any play time or tv time. He was instead required to write an apology note to each student he had hurt and his teacher. He and I discussed what he should say ,and I wrote the notes in highlighter so that he  could trace the letters. This took him over a half an hour to complete, but he seemed to understand why it was important to show that he really was sorry for hurting others.  After he finished his cards, it was bed time, so he did not get any play time.

It remains to be seen rather this activity will make enough of an impression to curb any of this type of behavior tomorrow or in the future. I hope to speak with him more tomorrow and to use this as a lesson in the future about not only making good choices but also offering forgiveness to others since we all need forgiveness ourselves sometimes.

I think that our next Bible memory verse will be:

Ephesians 4:32King James Version (KJV)

32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

How do you encourage your children to apologize? Do you sometimes require that they go beyond an apology and do some sort of work to restore a broken relationship? How can we show our children their individual need for Christ when they’ve made poor choices?