Planet 316: A TOS Review Crew Review

Planet 316 Daily Bible Jigsaw by Planet 316Our household is always trying to find a balance with technology. My husband and I enjoy playing games in the evenings as we wind down and we allow our girls a limited amount of time each day just for fun on their tablets. We live in a technological society and we feel it is beneficial for our kids to learn to navigate some of this now while they are young. We do place very strict parameters on the games they play and are more restrictive in this area than most families we know. When I heard about Planet 316 I was intrigued because of the inclusion of Bible verses in their app Daily Bible Jigsaw.  I enjoy playing this game in the evenings. I’m very busy during the day between homeschool, the English class I teach, and teaching piano lessons. I feel like I have to engage and interact constantly throughout the day, so being the introvert that I am having a little time to play gentle games that are not intense and don’t involve a lot of strategy. I enjoy puzzle type games but had never tried a puzzle building app. This was a lot of fun for me personally as I enjoy building puzzles in real life.   Daily Bible Jigsaw by Planet 316 Daily Bible Jigsaw  is available in multiple formats. You can find this app via Facebook, the App Store, or Google Play. I appreciate it when apps are available in different places because I use an iPad and my girls use Android platform tablets. For this review we all used  the iPad. You simply drag pieces together in order to have them click into place. Pieces are easily rotated by tapping. Once you get some pieces connected you also can rotate these connected pieces if you need. There are also extra helps you can use at the top of the screen which cost coins from within the app.  

 Everyday there is a new puzzle available. You can go back and play previous puzzles from each month, but this does cost you puzzle coins. You can earn these coins throughout completion of the puzzle, by watching advertisements for other apps, or through payment. (I would caution allowing your children to earn the coins through watching advertisements without supervision.) You can use the coins to buy helps during the puzzle play, but this was not something I cared to do. I like the challenge of figuring it out on my own. I preferred to use the coins for completing previous puzzles.   Daily Bible Jigsaw by Planet 316 My girls also enjoyed playing! The fun of this game is the challenge of completing the puzzles. Once you complete the puzzles you are rewarded with a beautiful picture and an encouraging verse from Scripture. The inclusion of encouraging Scripture is a unique aspect for this app. It is rare to find an app of any sort, short of Bible study helps, which includes anything Bible related. After enjoying this app I’m intrigued by what other games Planet 316 has created.  Here is an excellent view of what this app has to offer!   Don’t forget to see what my Crewmates have to say! Daily Bible Jigsaw {Planet 316 Reviews} Crew Disclaimer

Homeschool Helper Review and Giveaway!

I’m so excited to hold a giveaway for one of my favorite homeschooling tools, the Homeschool Helper App! This app does everything I need it to and more! I used it last year, but this year feel more prepared to utilize all aspects I need to fit my needs. (You can read my original review here)

There are just sooooo many features in this app, many options that I think it will work for absolutely every family now matter how you homeschool or what curriculum you use. I’m going to highlight some of my favorites…

I absolutely love the attendance feature. Our state has minimal requirements, but one of those requirements is attendance. I have a form I am required to fill out, but it is a pain to take it out every day. I already keep my iPad handy, so I take attendance here and then update my required form every few months. You have the options for a full-day, a half-day, and absent.

I love how I dictate what courses we are studying and how grades are calculated. I can give percentage amounts and change how the letter grades are separated numerically. I prefer a 10 point grading system and only grade for classwork and tests for the few subjects I give. On the summary page for each student you can see not only their overall average at a glance, but also attendance records (just in case I forget to click that button one day!), upcoming field trips, and upcoming tasks. I don’t utilize the task function yet, but I like the idea of having it available. 

Grading is probably my least favorite part of homeschool. It is funny how I used to pretend school as a kid and I thought this was the most fun! Now it is just a tedious necessity. Homeschool Helper has taken out much of the hassle. I already mentioned the ability to calculate grades as you want, but the actual inputting of grades is so easy. There is a little calculator to the side where you can input the number correct, the number possible, and it will calculate a percentage grade for you! I have been doing a much better job of keeping grades this year because of this app. I do take the time to input the lesson because if one of my girls struggles in an area I need to know what it was. This also lets me see how they are doing overall quickly at a glance. My total grading time if I do it all together in the afternoons is right around 15-20 minutes. I grade grammar, spelling, vocabulary, and math in the traditional way and the other subjects as a participation type grade.

Sweet little Grace is still officially in preschool, so I am not required to do any of this for her, but you had better not tell her this! She wants her report card just as much as her sisters and she isn’t shy about telling me this. For her I use an effort based grading system which is an option I love. She’s doing great so all of those E‘s mean excellent. I also love how I can add as many subjects for each student as I need. The most you can include is 14, but I seriously can’t imagine needing all 14 ever.

The last really neat feature is the field trip planner. I have several field trips in mind, and I am currently using this list for my own use. However, once we take a trip, it will pop up on their summary and report cards, which is really cool. I do give my girls report cards because as much as I know grades are not everything, it is a good teaching tool. They can see where they are growing and learning and I think they deserve a chance to feel good about their hard work. It is also fun for them to show this to their grandparents which they heartily do!

 I think this is one of the best valued apps for the price I’ve ever come across. The current cost in the app stores is $4.99. It is well worth the price and it is available for Android users, iPad, Kindle Fire, and Nook color!

And now what you have been waiting for!!!! Your very own chance to win this app! I wish everyone could win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Timeline App from Knowledge Quest: Review

One of the wonderful blessings of homeschooling is having the opportunity to focus on history in the younger grades. Our curriculum is already based this way, but I’ve come to appreciate it even more as I find out how little time is spent on history in most traditional schools. Part of our curriculum includes a timeline which the kids create. While I still like the idea of my kids creating a timeline they draw themselves, I was intrigued by the idea of building a timeline with the iPad.
Knowledge Quest has created a lovely iPad app called Timeline Builder which is simple to use and has multiple applications. I love how beautiful the opening screen is and the lively music is incredibly fun! The multicolored tabs are easy to use and navigate with.

Photo Credit: Knowledge Quest

I really like that it comes with a sample timeline to play around with. This gave me lots of experience so when I was ready to make my own I knew exactly what to do. I decided to make our Heart of Dakota timelines with the app to go along with our studies. It was very easy to create what I wanted for both Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory as well as Preparing Hearts for His Glory. I did accidentally put the wrong dates in at first, but editing your timeline after it is created is just as easy as making it. With just a couple of clicks I was back on track.

Beth working on her timeline

I really love how easy it is to add a picture to each entry. The app is linked directly to Wikipedia so you have immediate access to royalty free photos. You can also use photos from my iPad which is a neat way to incorporate the girls’ created timelines. All I have to do is snap a quick photo of their entry for the week and use it on the timeline. My pictures are small right now because we are going to fill this very quickly. With the ability to resize the photos as well as move the pictures around on the screen to find the best layout, this app is very functional and just so easy even for a newbie at the iPad and apps like me!

These are images from Rose’s timeline

I also really like how this timeline is applicable to so many different things whether your are studying history, science, a novel, or even your own family. I have plans to map out our family history using this app. You can access photos easily from any online source, so pairing this with an ancestry site would make creating a family history very easy. I can’t think of a more unique or fun way to teach my girls about their past.

My father and a fellow seminary professor
visited our class for the unit

As an English teacher I also see the opportunity to apply this to any novel. I teach 13 junior high homeschoolers writing and literature every Monday. We recently studied the novel Across Five Aprils. If you haven’t read it yet, this classic novel centers around the five years of the Civil War from the perspective of a young boy who was not old enough to go to war. His unique perspective is a wonderful way to study this tumultuous time in history. The app helped easily show my students where events in the novel fit alongside the actual events of the Civil War which are mentioned throughout the story.

Whether or not history is an integral part of your studies yet, this is a resource you won’t want to miss. You can keep track of so many things with this app in an interactive way which your kids will enjoy and can review for years to come.

Disclaimer: I received this app from Knowledge Quest to review for free in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and these are my own opinions. 

Homeschool Helper App: Review and Giveaway!

Record keeping for homeschooling isn’t always easy. Although I live in a state with minimal requirements regarding record keeping, I keep lesson plans, grades, field trips, and attendance in a notebook so I can easily see where we are. My main reason is to help me stay on track and know where my girls are at in their learning. In the past I was spending a good hour or so at the end of the week grading and recording grades. Bleh…not my favorite part of homeschooling, but definitely something I felt was necessary. 

When I purchased my iPad one of the first apps I wanted to download was the Homeschool Helper App. I had heard of it about a year ago and really liked what I saw. This very functional app is available for iPad, Android tablets, Nook Color, and in the Amazon store for Kindle. The $4.99 cost is well-worth it once you realize all this app can do! In addition this is a one-time purchase with no need to pay for updates. 

The first thing I noticed about this app after installing it is just how pretty it is. Many of the life-management apps I have looked at are very functional, but also very sterile. I love the look of the opening screen for this app because it feels so personal. I quite often have my steaming cup of tea by my side as I work on record upkeep and I’m very much a pencil and paper kind of girl for the most part. Using this app makes me feel happy and not like I’m turning into a technology zombie. I appreciate the effort that the creators put into making this eye-pleasing in addition to being extremely functional. 

As for the features, wow there are just so many! As I began to use this app I would find myself enjoying features I never thought would have been included. One I particularly like is the inclusion of field trips. We try to take 1-2 field trips a month as a family. I kept a mental list of what we did, but now we have a formal list. I do not have to report at the end of the year to our state or create a portfolio, but it is really nice to be able to look back and see some of the fun we’ve had. 

I can add as many students as I want which is a nice feature for families with lots of kids. My three girls were very easy to setup. My oldest two are receiving letter grads and my youngest daughter receives effort based grades. I like being able to have it both ways and that I have the ability to set how the grades are calculated. I can also enter up to 14 subjects. I thought that was more than I could ever need, but I ended up using all of them for my oldest daughter because I included things like art and computer.

The lesson planning feature allows you to input lessons for each day and every subject. You can also track what lessons have been taught and which ones are still waiting to be covered. This would be very nice for families who create their own curriculum and lesson plans. Since we follow a pre-planned curriculum this has not proved as useful for me. I do make a weekly checklist but it is still fast for me to do this as a pencil and paper project than it is to type into my iPad.

I really like the grade calculator because I prefer a points based system and the grade calculator allows me to do that and then quickly input the number onto the subject page. I would prefer a points only system as and option since that is what I’m most comfortable with using, but this is working out fine. 

I printed report cards for my girls last week and they were so beautiful! I easily sent them to my e-mail and now have a lovely printed record of my girls grade including their school name, attendance record, and exact grades.They are attractively designed and look as formal as traditional report cards. 
A lot of thought and time has been put into the creation of this to make it as user-friendly as possibly for homeschooling families. It was intentionally created as self-contained with no need for the internet so that it can be used 100% of the time. This is nice for us since we do not have 3G capability on our device. The only feature I could think of that I would like is to be able to set quarters and semesters at the beginning of the setup. Right now I can print grades from any date range and create my own quarters/semester. 
Take a moment to also learn a little about the family who created the Homeschool Helper App! They are homeschoolers and I think this is very evident from how easy and functional this little app is.
Now for the giveaway!!!! One of my readers will be blessed with a code to receive this for free for the iPad app!

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

Disclaimer: I was provided with this app for my iPad for free for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review. No other compensation was received.