Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Funexpected Math App Review

 With my wide age gaps, we've been doing early education activities for about 12 years now. In that time I have always sought out recommendations for great educational apps that my kids actually like using. We tried many and really liked several. When I was given the opportunity for a free trial of a new one, Funexpected, I jumped at it!

Now, while I was given the free trial of Funexpected, I was not asked to write a review. I just liked it so much, I felt compelled to write one. Therefore, my opinions here are entirely my own.

The app is geared towards kids ages 3-7. We have been using it with my 4 year old for a couple of weeks now. He can be pretty picky about games and apps (there's another pretty prominent math app that he does not care for at all), but he took to this one right away. In fact, I had it open trying to take some pictures for this post and he came up and stole the iPad from me so he could play. He loves world geography, so it helps that the main menu area is a globe and he goes to various "countries" to play the different games.

First and foremost, what struck me about Funexpected is the variety of both skills and games. Even some of our favorite math games seem to focus on one type of skill, whereas Funexpected tackles math and number sense with a variety of games broken into the following categories:

 Number Sense, Geometry, Algorithms and Logic

Each category has multiple games, so even in a couple of weeks of play, it still feels fresh to him. Because I tend to decide purchases based on examples, I have included pictures of several of the games. I like that a lot of the skills are more abstract than straight counting, adding, etc. to give him a more rounded math experience.

He really likes this flower geometry game that involves stacking shapes in the correct order and orientation to match the picture.
This game has him selecting grids of snowballs to reach a target number, teaching him multiplication without him knowing that is what he's doing.

While my 4 year old doesn't love this game, probably because the iPad is a touch heavy for him, my older son and I think it is neat. On the left is a 2D shape and the right has an augmented reality 3D shape. You have to "walk around" the 3D shape manipulating your device until the pictures match. What a great game for visual spatial skills! Maybe someday they will let you choose whether to use the augmented reality or manipulate it on the screen.
This is the algorithm game he likes the best. You have a little ninja that you have to code to get to the cat. The levels get harder, adding in tasks or obstacles.
This is a little balancing game, where you have to get both sides of the iceberg to equal one another. It started with even numbers, but then progressed to odd numbers where you have to put one bird in a nest.

The parents portal has information broken down into the various categories. You can see how many questions they have tried, how fast they are and what their level is. Because the app is adaptive, it adjusts the difficulty level as the child plays and can be different for the different categories.
The results can also be broken down even more specifically to each module.

In addition to the math, Funexpected has also included bonus content, like a special event for Hanami, the Japanese holiday of cherry blossom viewing. My son got to learn about sakura trees and locations in Japan. He enjoyed it enough to want to do it again even after he had completed the challenge.

One downside is that like with any game, it cannot control what the child chooses to do, so not every skill will be targeted equally. My son tends to gravitate towards the games that are easier for him and not play the more challenging games as often. He spends the most time than I think he should on counting games, which is where he needs the least amount of enrichment. None of this is the app's fault. In fact, some of the modules that show up when he first signs on seem to encourage him to work on a variety of games.

Funexpected is a subscription rather than a onetime purchase and seems to be $35 for 6 months. While I prefer the one and done purchases, I will say, I feel this is a good price compared to some of the other math subscriptions we have tried. It also feels more "worth it" because they seem to keep updating and adding new content, which you would not get with a one time purchase. As of right now, I plan to renew. I am, however, curious to see how quickly he progresses through the levels. Since it says it is geared towards ages 3-7 and he's doing 1st grade level math workbooks, I'm not sure if and when he will max it out. On the other hand, since a lot of the skills are more abstract, it may last a lot longer than an app focusing on adding and subtracting. I will definitely renew when baby girl is old enough to use it.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Homophone Matching Activity

Because my 4 year old is such a great reader, it is something hard to find age appropriate language arts activities for him. Here is a hands on ELA activity I made to talk about homophones. While it was pretty easy, it was a great way to introduce the idea and keep building his vocabulary.
We started off by reading Dear Deer and How Much can a Bare Bear Bear? (We're big fans of the Brian Cleary books. We have several and there are tons on the Kindle Unlimited app). Archer was intrigued and wanted to talk about the words a lot.
Then we did this quick little matching activity. To make them more durable, you could easily laminate the little pictures and print the template on cardstock.
Elementary Language Arts

Thursday, February 16, 2023

8 Month Update

Miss Juniper (the reason things have been quiet around the blog for a while) is now 8 months old! I thought it was time to do a quick update. It is so fascinating to see how uniquely each baby develops!

Physically, Juniper has wanted to walk since birth. She was footling breech and has always tried to push up to standing instead of sitting. She prefers to play standing up against a couch or our play foam than to play sitting. Honestly, her drive to stand probably delayed her sitting and crawling by a little bit. She's already pulling herself up on things and starting to cruise.

As far as learning activities go, she's very different from her brothers. She's been the least interested in looking at words of all my kids. Both the boys LOVED Your Baby Can Read. She will watch it for small bursts, but often not the whole thing. She is more likely to watch a whole Tweedlewink video, but those are much shorter. (She does LOVE Sparkabilities, but those are not word focused). Since it was a struggle to get her to sit still long enough to pay attention to three word flashing sessions a day, we're taking a little break from them. I had to take occasional breaks with the boys as well, just when they were a bit older and wanting to focus on movement. Since teaching a baby has to be joyful, we'll try again when I feel like she might be more interested. I'm not going to force anything!

Juniper likes books, but is a bit pickier than the boys. I'm guessing all of this is because the boys were far enough in age to be home alone with me. Juniper has Archer home, so is exposed to more screens and distractions during the day. We've recently started doing one Little Reader lesson a day and she seems to be liking it (when I can keep Archer from being distracting). You can read about how I implement these resources and teach my babies to read here)
She's is very smiley. She loves her brother to pieces, frequently wanting to grab them, particularly their hair. She already has an independent streak, much preferring foods she can feed herself to ones I feed her. She wants to be with the big kids doing what they're doing and going where they're going. 

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Seven Tips To Help Your Child Grow Into A Well-Rounded Individual

 When you become a parent, you want to strive to be the best version you can be for your children so they too can grow up to be the best that they can be in life. Of course, we’re all human and so making mistakes is part of the process. 

However, a child in their childhood is something you want to tread carefully in so that they have the best opportunities and knowledge to become well-rounded human beings at both this point and in their own adult life.

With that being said, here are several tips to help your child grow into a well-rounded individual.

Image Source

Teach them some helpful life lessons for the future

To help them grow into a responsible adult, life lessons are important. These life lessons come in all shapes and sizes. Some will be taught to them by you, their parents, others by others they look up to whether that’s teachers, other family members, and friends.

Some life lessons are fairly obvious and need to be taught to help keep children safe, like not to talk to or go with strangers when left alone. Other life lessons are often not clear until they make a mistake and they learn from that mistake.

As a parent, there are plenty of life lessons you can teach them when they’re young and perhaps could have helped you when you were their age. 

Involve them in table discussions on social and economical issues

To help them get involved with the world around them as they get older and to show an interest in it all, involve them in table discussions. These discussions might take place at the dinner table and in a variety of other environments whether that’s after watching the news or listening to a radio show on the way to school.

Talking about social and economical issues, as well as general topics that warrant healthy discussion, is a good trait and skill for your children to have. Everyone is entitled to their own viewpoints and opinions but they should also be aware of other opinions and perhaps have their own opinions questioned.

Get them interested in extra-curricular activities or hobbies

Extra-curricular activities or hobbies outside of school hours are healthy and should be taken full advantage of as a parent. From swimming lessons to comic conventions, there’s an abundance of interests that children will likely have and these interests can change. 

As a parent, it’s exciting to see your child explore their passions and anything that could potentially result in a career in the future. Make sure you’re encouraging them to take part in these activities where possible.

Offer them additional learning resources online

There are plenty of additional learning resources online that are worth making use of as a parent. It’s a struggle to find local classes and in-person teaching opportunities that are affordable, which is what makes online learning resources so appealing to many.

A platform like Generation Genius is a great way to provide your child with all of the learning materials required for their Science and Maths knowledge. It’s these helpful resources that make all the difference in what they come away with when leaving education.

Praise them and reward their achievements

When it comes to the achievements they make in their life, always look to reward them for it. Praising, at the very least, is important because it shows them that with hard work, they’ll reap the benefits of it. Of course, it’s also important to show that even with achievements, rewards might not always follow - though many of us wish constant rewards were true.

Try to create a home environment that’s always praising and rewarding for the most part, when it comes to progress in life.

Don’t punish or create negativity when they fail at something

Talking of accomplishments, we’re all human and therefore we fail from time to time. Some of us are more so than others but that doesn’t take away from the progress they do make in life. Try to avoid punishing them or creating negativity towards failure because failure is in fact an opportunity for growth.

Provide unconditional love in the home

Lastly, make sure that your love in the home is present and unconditional. The home environment is one that’s safe and a place to come back to, should the outside world get too much. 

With all these tips in hand, you’re giving your child or children the best chance of living life to the fullest and achieving great things in life.

*This is a contributed post

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Winter Cuisenaire Templates

Winter Math

 As part of trying to incorporate hands on math activities, I have been making Cuisenaire Rod Templates. Archer always enjoys matching the rods and then really enjoys counting up each color at the end. These are some wintery templates I made.

There are color and black and white versions of the four images.

Print the Winter Cuisenaire Templates Here

You might also like my other Winter Resources

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