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Category: Other Products

David and I are sharing this new toy. So far our favorite apps are: Scrabble, Rush Hour, Plants vs. Zombies, iBird Pro and Kindle. Once I get more used to the iPad, I’ll list all of our favorite educational apps!

Unfortunately, we did give up our iPhones. (I think we’ll be lazy and sell them on a service that makes it super easy to send it in for cash.) We’re not phone users and I never really used mine as a phone, only for email, so I’m not going to miss it too much.

The entire family played Plants vs. Zombies tonight! We kicked zombie butt.

We’ve taken a step back in our handwriting progress, but it should help out in the long run. This year I’ve noticed that Satori doesn’t have extremely neat handwriting, especially at a point where I thought she’d be improving. This became apparent to me after having local girls her age over, who demonstrated very neat and in control handwriting. Then I saw in one of the photos I took that Satori’s grip was all wonky.

I then discovered that I myself had an incorrect grip! Actually I have two different grips, both not good. I’m not too worried about myself, as I mostly use the keyboard now and the little handwriting I do is still neat and legible. But this is an opportunity to correct Satori’s grip. She is really working hard at it now. We used all of Handwriting Without Tears tips on using a correct grip. It got a little frustrating trying to get everything right. Poor girl might get turned off of writing at this stage if I push too hard though.

A few months ago I believed that pencil grips were unnecessary, but we need some kind of help! So I found these colorful pencil grips and got a bag of 6 – The Pencil Grip Crossover Grip Ergonomic Writing Aid. They have little flaps so your thumb and index finger stay in the right place. There’s a comfy spot for your middle finger to rest, and together, it all promotes a proper tripod grip. It is ergonomically correct for both right- or left-handed people.

Both Satori and I are using them. For me, my fingers just fall right into perfect place. My thumb won’t cross over anymore. For Satori, all I have to remind her is to keep her middle finger tucked under, as she used to keep it up on top. We’ve been using them for just over a week now, and they are fun and feel good! Time will tell if Satori can get this new grip ingrained in her head and use a correct tripod grip from now on.

We’re also working on tilting our paper up on the right side while writing. Here she is doing some copywork for Writing With Ease, a program we are growing to love.

Last week we put up a World Map Shower Curtain. I only regret that we hadn’t done this sooner! You can find this shower curtain at Target for just $14.99 or online on Amazon (ships from Target). Here’s our view while sitting on the toilet, it is such a great tool to catch up on some geography when you’re sitting captive. 🙂

It’s very easy to read and it doubles as a huge write-on/wipe-off map of the world! We can use our dry erase markers to highlight sections of the world we are studying, and they wipe off super easily. Here’s a closeup of Egypt and the Fertile Crescent area we are reading about this spring.

People looking for an inexpensive map might like to mount this on a few large poster board pieces and have the perfect dry erase map.

Right now we’ll be using it as a shower curtain in the bathroom next to our Learning Loft.

If you are studying Ancient Egypt, I highly recommend the National Geographic Classic Science Archaeology: Pyramid kit by Thames and Kosmos. It ties all of Satori’s interests together: archaeology, hieroglyphs, mummies, and of course pyramids.

It comes well-protected in a perfectly designed box and you’ll find your pyramid and treasures within, archaeologist tools (hammer, chisel, brush, peg), protective goggles, full-color manual, and a 3D paper cross section model. Satori fondly remembers her “paleontologist days” when studying prehistory, so she was so excited to begin excavating!

*READ THE DIRECTIONS* first, or you might miss out on some of the clever surprises! (You may not wish to read further if you want your own kit to be a surprise.)

Click on the image above to get the full detail and you’ll notice hieroglyphs on a certain level of each side of the pyramid. Satori quickly wrote down a translation, she needed no manual, she already had them memorized! These hieroglyphs of course had a few vowels and other letters that used the same translation, so once Satori wrote down the letters, Mama still had to help translate. But overall, this was a very cool puzzle. Satori was so happy that she basically solved it herself. Each side gave a message to tell you if this side was the entrance. Our first side said “TRY AGAIN”.

(There are more pictures, but I don’t want to spoil this kit for the people who want it to be a surprise!) Click “continue reading…” link below.

continue reading…

Family night tonight! On the agenda – Tacos for dinner, reading a few science books aloud, then doing a fun science activity, and finally family games! This post covers the “fun science activity”.

To tie in with this week’s science lesson which introduced electricity, we pulled out Snap Circuits Jr. With this kit and a pair of AA batteries, you can build over 100 projects (101 to be exact). You may notice by the picture that this was designed for ages 8 to 108, but don’t let that stop you if your child is a few years younger. 🙂 In our case, we know our 5 year old girl would benefit from this cool learning kit with the assistance of Mom and Dad. She understands the basics of electricity, that it is produced in power plants, travels to our homes via wires, and through switches, we complete the circuit for the flow of electricity to give energy to power appliances and such.

Be sure to read the instructions first, so you don’t inadvertently create a “short circuit” and damage your kit! I handed this project over to Daddy. The instructions though, are above her reading level, so Daddy would read and call out the little items needed – L1, #2 snap wire, etc… Here Satori is impatiently waiting, I overhead her grumbling a flippant comment.

Our first project was “Electric Light & Switch”. This consisted of 4 main items – power source (battery holder), lamp socket, slide switch and a few blue snap wires to connect. Once it’s complete, and the switch is turned on, the light goes on! It also finally piqued her curiosity.

The instruction manual tells you in what order and where on the grid to snap each item, so Satori was soon snapping away. Satori got a kick out of the next one, which converts the electricity to mechanical power and powers a little fan! We did one more – Sound Activated Switch. Snap Away Satori!

This one is powered by sound, so Satori would clap to play the song!

We only did these 3 activities tonight, and the next few lessons we’ll have Satori try to figure them out herself by looking at the pictures (with adult guidance of course). We’ll be working on all 101 over the next few years, and eventually upgrade to more advanced kits!

If you read our blog posts from late yesterday, you may have noticed we did some initial reading practice on a website ( and our LeapFrog Letter Factory and Talking Words Factory DVDs. A few weeks ago she learned all the basic letter sounds and has them down pretty well. I thought the next step would be a hurdle, but she understood the blending concept with the two tools we used last night. When we went to bed, I pulled in write-on board and went over a few easy 3 letter words. She read many of them all on her own, and not only that, she started spelling her own words too!

This is our third screenful, but you can see she was writing “rat”, “pot” and “lip”.  (We were laying on our tummies in bed, otherwise her handwriting is getting a bit neater, hehe.) She read the other words that I wrote on the screen.


Speaking of which, this Workbook Window rocks. I just got it last week – the Starter Bundle for $29.95 -  and it has the benefits of a whiteboard with the easy write on, wipe off feature. In addition, you can slip a workbook or paper underneath it and write “on” the workbook, saving the actual workbook pages to do over again another time! And the back is a felt board, which I’ve been meaning to get anyway.


We were both so excited I pulled out our Bob Books Set 1 which she totally ignored a month ago, and she actually could read it! We only went over a few pages, it can take a lot of effort to read when you’re just starting.


So today we started our first lesson out of  Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. More about this later, I still haven’t read its lengthy intro for the parents, but we went over the sounds of ‘m’ and ‘s’ and how to write them.


Today was our very last day of Spanish class, the event that started the homeschooling idea just 10 weeks ago. Satori was so interested in learning Spanish that I thought she might be ready to learn a bit more, and so I pulled her out of daycare to just 1-2 days a week and started learning/playing at home. 🙂 She surprised us all today by spelling out our teacher’s name – Alma! I had to purposely sound out the a’s like the short a sound though, but otherwise in front of all our eyes, she cranked out the word ALMA very fast.

Thank you thank you thank you David! (He unexpectedly splurged on this for Valentine’s day.)

Amazon’s Kindle 2 (latest link to Kindle) was released just yesterday, February 24, and I already got it today! What a total surprise!!!


It arrived in the fanciest custom Amazon cardboard box I’ve seen:


For those of you who have no clue what a Kindle is, it is a book reading device. Its wireless, so I can download Amazon books, magazines, etc… instantly. I can catch up on my favorite blogs too!

Now, I’m off to see what Kindle books I can buy!