Archives For Educational

child using e-reader on iPad

It is Summer! An extra good time to relax and learn while having a good time…

As a home educator and a mom, I really count on technology to provide my kids with all kinds of resources and activities.

The tech resource getting the most use lately in our homeschool and home is my our iPad.

From using safari for quick research, to watching documentaries, to reviewing apps with whiteboards and algebra, my teens get a lot out of the iPad. My youngest really likes the iPad most for watching shows and playing games. I am okay with that, but I try to find at least educational games and things for her on there.

A new e-reading platform launched by Ruckus Media Group called the Ruckus Reader turned our iPad into a fun e-Reader for my baby!

The Ruckus Reader IS the main technology. Within that, there are loads of digital storybooks you can download for your children. Right now, I think there are about 30 titles that work with this format. The titles range from the storybooks to interactive readers (iReaders and eReaders) that have both the story and then games and maybe video as well, and also some of my favorites — the video books, great stories narrated by celebrities.

The titles are basically for kids 3 to 8. You will see old favorites like My Little Pony, Curious George, Crayola. Many publishers are working with Ruckus Reader, so there are many ebooks so far, and more are being added all the time. I just got a notice to go update and get a new ebook that was just added, in fact.

I like that there is a real variety of fiction and non-fiction, and the videos and such. My daughter is already a good reader, so I am not using the app to teach reading so much, but for the younger children, many of the titles are designed to build upon each other and help children learn to read, while the included games actually measure the child’s progress.

You can download Ruckus Reader titles individually, but it is great to download the whole library! The price is very reasonable at $24.99 for six months, as you get access to over 25 titles. OR, you can get the first title in a series for free, then pay $3.99 each or 2 for $5.99. My daughter and I loved getting the entire library, it felt like Christmas downloading like crazy!

Our favorite titles in this Ruckus Reader?

I love, love the SeaWorld Bookshelf. This includes Sharks, Penguins and Whales.

My daughters favorites include My Little Pony and Transformers.

We are both looking forward to one that is coming: Cyberchase!

There is a nice twist on this App, as it keeps track of my child’s progress and emails me updates, called the Reader Meter, weekly.

So what are the Cons?

  1. I worry that I will lose all the ebooks we have if I do not get this again in six months.
  2. I wish all the ebooks would stay under one main icon on my iPad (I hate having lots of icons all over the screen)
  3. Although the technology for the reading is designed around state standards, it is still a new technology. So far, my meter reader is a little off and doesn’t “know” that my child is a good reader. I have seen this with several of our technologies that keep track of childrens progress. It is still a developing technology.

What are the Pros?

  1. I have tons of really well designed eReaders, iReaders and Videos right on my iPad desktop.
  2. With the six month subscription, I have almost 30 ebooks already, o that is less than .99 cents an eReader, iReader or video. And, I will continue to get more.
  3. All are educational in nature and suitable for her age. She does not get frustrated and need help, but sits and plays.
  4. The titles include tons of characters she knows like Curious George and My Little Pony, plus old classic stories that she enjoys.
  5. Most of these titles have options so they can read the book to the child and they lead the child in the games
  6. The reader meter does keep track of what my child spends time on and I can eve email that info to her dad and grandparents (you can set it to email to up to four email accounts)
  7. The App notifies me when new titles are available.
  8. I love the little library shelves in the App. Adorable setup

All in all, I really recommend the Ruckus Reader App. Go take a look! You can connect with Ruckus Reader:



*I received a trial membership for Ruckus Reader in order to do this review. I have given my honest opinion.

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Ok. This is the first online site I have become REALLY excited about in a long time. I think it must be because the site is founded by parents of five children, Swenja and Johannes Ziegler, co-founders of Yes, with five children comes wisdom!

Em and I got a chance to review Always Ice Cream, an online community and educational site for girls ages k-8. Several weeks later, she is still enjoying the site tremendously.

As you know, I do review lots of virtual games and educational sites. It is funny what clicks sometimes. Some sites I will love and my kids really could care less. Or, the kids love a site and I have concerns about site security or lack of educational content…or we all like something but their servers more so slowly that we give up on them.

So what is working about Always Ice Cream?

Well for Em, the site is very specific. It is geared to elementary and middle school girls. The artwork is adorable and well-drawn, there is plenty of pink and purple, cute animals, lots of friends and content relevant to girls, and the servers are super fast. There is a selection of music to choose from while you play, or you can play with no sound.

For me, I am impressed by the planning to make this a safe online spot for children. For starters, the communication is moderated, there are no advertisements and parents control the choices for community involvement (ie you can turn on/off the social features as you see fit). Also, parents receive emails letting them know what their child is doing on the site and are able to interact with their child by giving them game rewards.

On top of that, the educational content looks good. They are adding content all the time, and content includes games and videos in Language Arts, Math, Math drills, Geography, History, Science,Music and Art, Computer Skills, Foreign Language. Emma actually wants to play the learning games, rather than me asking her to. They are doing something right!

While the girls play they earn “$coops,” an in-game currency. They can use $coops to take care of pets or decorate homes. There are medals and awards…and the social aspect of chatting with other girls about how they liked a game or lesson, and they can also help take care of one another’s pets and compete for certain things.

I want to share my report about what she has been doing on Always Ice Cream Lately:

Your Daughter’s Recent Learning Progress

During the last 90 days, Emma made progress in the following learning games:

  • Math Quiz – Adding from level 4 to 5, earning a Bronze Medal
  • Health Quiz from level 1 to 4, earning a Gold Medal
  • Bible Quiz from level 1 to 4, earning a Gold Medal
  • Word Confusion from level 1 to 6, earning a Silver Medal
  • State Shapes Quiz from level 1 to 6, earning a Bronze Medal
  • Basic Anatomy from level 1 to 25, earning a Silver Medal
  • Internet Quiz from level 1 to 5, earning a Diamond Girl Trophy
  • New Testament Bible Quiz from level 1 to 4, earning a Bronze Medal
  • Cooking School from level 3 to 10, earning a Diamond Girl Trophy
  • Dog Breeds Quiz from level 1 to 3, earning a Bronze Medal
  • States of the USA from level 8 to 22, earning a Silver Medal
  • Classical Music Quiz from level 1 to 11, earning a Bronze Medal

Moderated Communication

In the last 90 days, Emma received a message from, or wrote a message to (edited)

Educational Videos Watched

During the last three months Emma watched the following videos:

  • Basic Addition – (c)
  • How To Make Baby Rattle Cupcakes
  • Baking: Decorate Jungle Birthday Cupcakes
  • How To Make a Princess Castle Birthday Cake
  • How To Make a Train Cake – Birthday Cake Decorating Ideas
  • How to Draw a Cartoon Cat
  • Pool Safely Educational Video

Artwork Created

She created the following artwork:

  • 10 art piece(s)
  • 14 piece(s) of furniture for her house

I love that I can get these stats!

Always Ice Cream is available for $4.99 per month or annually for $29.99. You can also get a lifetime membership for $99.99.

This would make a fun Gift for a special little girl! Do go see the FREE trial!

Go take a look for yourself at and, you can also find them on Facebook.

See what my crewmates have to say about Always Ice Cream!


I received a lifetime membership to Always Ice Cream through the TOS Crew for review purposes. I have given my honest opinion.

Wordy Querty Review

Heather —  May 20, 2011

Wordy Querty supports reading and writing fluency for young readers, through fun computer gaming. The software is a part of the Talking Fingers program.

Although Wordy Querty was new to us, I am familiar with the Talking Fingers website and program, as we have used Read, Write & Type, the first component of the program, for a bit over a year now. My daughter enjoys working with that program. You can read my Read, Write & Type review to find out more about that level of Talking Fingers.

As we like RW&T, I was pleased to try out Wordy Querty. We played the games (lessons) online and it was easy to just go online and login. The program picks up where RW&T ends and offers 20 lessons, with 6 activities per lesson. The lessons are based upon developing reading fluency in students ages 7-10, by understanding and using these core concepts:

  1. Some sounds can be represented in several different ways.
  2. Most words follow about 20 easy spelling rules.
  3. There are many word families, (words that sound the same, or rhyme). By changing the first letter(s), you can make hundreds of words.
  4. Some words are “outlaws”. They don’t follow the rules. They must be recognized quickly and automatically.
  5. Writing to dictation develops vocabulary, comprehension and fluency as well as spelling skills.
  6. Reading (and filling in missing words) develops vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency skills.

There are six types of games and then the overall “game” in which the kids eventually complete a music machine with the help of their friendly robots.

Take a look at the website to see the games and how each one improves reading fluency. My favorite was the Recycler, but Em likes the Pop-a-Word best.

The Recycler:

I thought the games were great, silly and useful and colorful….and I was disappointed that at times they were too challenging for my little one. However, she is not at the recommended age level, so I suppose that could have been expected.

I will definitely continue to let her play the games she enjoys as we finish up RW&T. I do think Wordy Querty is a great way to let kids play around with spelling and just become more familiar with how words work in a fun way. Parents may enjoy the fact that students can work on this completely independently.

If you have a beginning reader—whether a quick or slow learner—this may be a great way to improve their reading and spelling fluency through a bit of daily gaming! I think the price is very reasonable with Wordy Qwerty available as an online subscription of $25 for one subscription, or $35 for the Home CD version. There are other pricing options, see here.

Curious? You can try out an online demo. Also, you can save 20% by signing up for their email newsletter.

See what my crewmates have to say about Wordy Querty.

I received an online subscription to Wordy Querty through the TOS Crew for review purposes. I have given my honest opinion.

Talking Fingers TOS Review

Heather —  October 11, 2010

She is concentrating on keeping her fingers in the correct typing position!

Talking Fingers is described as “Revolutionary reading software that includes phonics, spelling, keyboarding and word processing.”

To be honest, when I first logged my five year old into the program, I was a bit put off by the talking hands.

BUT, after working through the program and seeing how it actually works, how interactive it is and how appealing it is to my daughter, I have to say, this program is a winner.

Last year, I reviewed a few great programs. One was a typing program. One was a phonics program. They were both good. But, I want to say that this is different, better. This program manages to effectively teach several things at the same time.

With this program, my daughter is learning to type, and learning phonics, reading…spelling. AND, she wants to do all these difficult things, mainly because she is involved in the story.

talking fingers1

What story? Well, the program for Talking Fingers incorporates a storyline. Your child will be fighting off a bad little green guy, and making plenty of friends (one for each letter of the alphabet) while working through all their lessons.

I was surprised how into the lessons/game my daughter got! The plot and experience definitely appeal to a 5 year old.
From time to time, she has gotten a bit frustrated—mainly because this work is not easy—this is a serious learning program. She has to use the correct fingers for typing, and listen and sound out things…and she is in the beginning levels.

Yesterday, just when she was the most frustrated, she managed to pass a “level” and then got an award certificate to print out. This certificate had a couple of her favorite characters, and she was so proud!

If you have a child about 5 or older, I recommend trying out this program. You can find a link to try 8 free lessons or just a sample here:

After poking around a little, I found out that Talking Fingers was “Founded in 1982 by neuropsychologist Dr. Jeannine Herron, Talking Fingers has based its software development on many years of research on how the young brain learns. In addition, the software is field-tested extensively in California schools.”

The Talking Fingers program is also correlated to State Standards.

Also, If you join their mailing list, you can get 20% off of your order.

You can also find info about Talking Fingers here:

See what my crewmates have to say about Talking Fingers

I received Talking Fingers online lessons for review purposes. I have given my honest opinion.

Go Play!

Heather —  October 8, 2010

It’s Cool! Time to Get Outside and Play!

I love Fall. We live in the Shenandoah Valley and we have so many great opportunities to do things like camping, cycling and hiking as a family. With many of our children in their teens, they are always coming and going…participating in sports, getting dirty, having fun.

As a homeschool mom who loves field trips and learns so much herself, I know play is an integral part of learning. I see my children learning while they run around on a nature hike—I love to watch their delight when they first see a butterfly close up, or wade through a creek and learn about tadpoles.

Play helps develop so many skills, and allows children to develop at their own pace, working through problems, learning to cope with setbacks, learning how to get along with one another. And, yes, good play can get messy–it seems to be almost a mathematical formula–the more fun they have, the dirtier my kids can get!

When my children were younger, I used to worry about them getting hurt and their clothes getting ruined–now that I realize how fast they grow up and how easy it is to clean up–well, now, I am much more relaxed.

So what got me thinking about this? Well, the cooler weather gets me outside more. And, I received a fun “Go Play” pack provided by Shout.

In honor of “Go Play,” Shout and Growing Tree Toys partnered on the pack. Growing Tree Toys offers many great learning toys, and the 52 Nature Activities card set is a perfect fit for Fall activities. We also got some great clean-up supplies, with products to handle our messiest play clothes. Personally, I had not heard of the color catcher and I like that, and I can always use the advanced stain remover.

When I took my daughter on a nature hike—she brought along her Nature cards and set to work making a Nature Crown. To be honest, she’s just not as messy as her brothers!

After a day of hiking and collecting flowers, she is tired and happy. Here is her finished product. She is so proud!

I think it is great that Shout has a Go Play initiative. Check out their facebook page to get some great play ideas for your family! I agree that “play can get messy” and parents should not have to worry about their clothes!

Thanks to Shout and Growing Tree Toys. I received an assortment of Shout products, along with the card set “52 Activities is Nature” from Shout for this review post.