Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Roman Town by Dig-It! games - TOS Review

 I don't think my girls have ever been as excited for a review as when I told them we were doing another from Dig-It! Games. We did their Mayan Mysteries game last year and the girls loved it. This year we got the Roman Town (iOS App) which is a investigative game-based learning app for the ipad that requires iOS 8.0 or later to run.

Dig-It! games is the brainchild of Suzi Wilczynski who has a background in Mediterranean archaeology and teaching. She has managed to create an amazing series of archaeology games that my kids love.

Once I downloaded the app, I let the girls loose - Lilly and Sunflower both started playing individually but soon had a helper each with Tulip and Rose joining in.

Roman Town starts with the discovery that Ladrone, the master thief, is at it again and It is up to you to track the villain whilst exploring and learning about Roman culture. You start playing (as either Charlie or Fiona) by visiting with tourists in Pompeii. Each time you talk to a different character there is a pop-up voice bubble that shares information and sends you off to complete tasks (games and puzzles) and gain clues. There are 4 different scenes in Pompeii; the Street, House of the Vettii, the Baths and Temple of Jupiter. 

There are various mini games or challenges which include identifying artifacts, translating Roman numerals, memory games, pipe puzzles, Calculi (a Roman board game), code breaking, knuckle bones, jigsaw games, dots and boxes, mazes etc. The great thing is you can try each game as many times as you need until you have 'won' and got the clue.

I loved that the mini games were great for developing problem solving and critical thinking skills but my favourite aspect was 
how historically accurate the information is and how much knowledge the girls have gained just by playing   : )

I felt the game was brilliantly designed and provides a great depth of knowledge as it is packed full of historical facts and information. It is a fun way to encourage a love of history and I can see most children really enjoying this method of learning through play.

The app provided the girls with several hours worth of fun learning and they seem to have retained loads of information. Lilly's favourite game was the artifact match and code cracking activities while Rose really enjoyed converting Roman numerals into numbers and playing 'five in a row' otherwise known as Calculi.

Rose even said it was the best game she had played this summer and she would happily play this again (always a good sign that it went down well).

Roman Town is designed for ages 9-11 but Rose (6) and Tulip (8) both enjoyed playing with a bit of help. The best news is the app is free although there are some in app purchases.

You can see what my crew mates thought of this and some of the other Dig It games over at the TOS Blog

Friday, 21 August 2015

Entrepreneurship and Practical Life for upper elementary

One of my favourite aspects of Montessori is the emphasis on practical life. Seeing children gain the confidence to do for themselves really makes me happy.

I've been wondering how to include more practical life into lessons for the older girls (they've kind of outgrown pouring, lacing and pegging) when I realised I just needed to get them doing practical things they loved (I'm sure chores count but they don't love those).

I stuck on the idea of making frames for their honey bees,

they plan to sell extra queens and honey so will need as many hives and brood boxes as possible and the carpentry skills they develop will work nicely alongside having to design labels and a web page to sell their honey and spare bees from.

So I get entrepreneurship, art and design, carpentry, web design and math lessons all in one hobby : )

Monday, 17 August 2015

Clay Fruit

A big hole we were digging for foundations revealed clay in our garden.

clay = happy kids

needless to say they got very muddy digging up loads of clay, then spent a few hours washing it and making clay fruit and bowls.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Summer Education

I don't know about you but we try to keep some form of education going over the summer - not as formal or structured as normal but we do look for opportunities to learn. 

Art and drawing skills seem to be worked on more.

It's always the perfect time for history projects that we always meant to do but never got around to,

or just to do an unusual geometry lesson

while maths becomes a group effort.

How do you keep the learning spirit alive over summer?

Thursday, 6 August 2015

TOS Review - Funtastic

We love science, anything hands-on and fun is a big hit here so I was very excited to get the chance to review Science Unit Studies For Homeschoolers and Teachers by Funtastic Unit Studies.

This was created by Susan Kilbride, a homeschooling mum with a degree in biology. When teaching her son, she noticed a lack of fun science activities for kids and decided to created this resource so that its super easy to teach kids science in a fun and engaging way - she also designed it so you don't have to spend loads of time doing the research to teach science.

Science Unit Studies For Homeschoolers and Teachers is a large paperback book of approximately 200 pages in length. It's split into 20 unit studies, the first ten units are designed for younger children and the second half is geared towards 8+. The younger units include stories, songs, games and fun hands-on activities like making a model of the chest cavity, musical bottles, taste testing etc. whilst the activities for the older group are more in depth and include writing reports, using a microscope, comparing mixtures and solutions, splitting light etc.

Each unit study starts with a list of materials needed for that topic - most are common household items, so there is no expensive materials costs. 

Then it's broken into subtopics for the unit. For instance, we started with Chapter 17: Forces and Motion (just because that is what we were studying when the book arrived). This unit is broken down into:

Part 1: Force and Friction
Part 2: Gravity
Part 3: Newton's First Law of Motion
Part 4: Newton's Second Law of Motion
Part 5: Newton's Third Law of Motion
Part 6: Centripetal Force
Part 7: Magnetic Force
Test for Force and Motion 

Each parts has diagrams, teaching information and the fun, hands-on activities that cement the concepts in their minds. There is often a number of activities for each part and sometimes they are placed in sequential order where they build on the knowledge of the previous activity in the unit. A good example for this was in the activities for Centripetal force where the second activity (excuse the funny face - she didn't like the water flying out at her)

builds on the knowledge gained from the first. 

These unit studies have been lots of fun - we've used it as a group lesson for all of my girls (6, 8, 10 & 12) and while some of the younger lessons were easy for my older two, they still enjoyed them (especially as there was no end of unit test). I liked how easy it was to pull the activities together (it takes mere minutes - especially if I collect the materials from the list before hand) and how little time it took me to "prepare" a memorable science lesson using this. We spent about two weeks completing each unit but you could stretch them out over a longer period or move through them faster depending on your kids. This book is packed full of hands-on activities and experiments that could easily keep my girls busy all year.

It's really nice to see them requesting these 'lessons' even though its officially their summer holidays and their workload was only supposed to be math and reading. Lilly said 'they were the best science shes done in ages', while Sunflower has kidnapped the book (I found it under her pillow) so she could look for activities she wanted to do this week : )

I loved how versatile this book was, you couldn either work through the units in order or pick and choose single units or even single activities. It can stand as a complete science curriculum or it can provide one off activities to keep kids entertained - I think this would also be perfect for our homeschool group days and can see myself using lots of these activities for our group.

I would say that if you are looking for fun ideas to teaching science, then this book is for you - you can even check out their two free unit studies you can download to see how they work for your family.

Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers is available for $16.95 and is aimed at children aged 4-13 years.

You can see what my crew mates thought of this over at the TOS Blog.

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