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Cracked

That hard slapping noise.  <<cringe>>

We’d heard it before.  <<wince>>

With 3 iPads, 2 iPhones and two old iPhones being used as iPods.  We’ve heard it before.

With 2 parents, 2 kids, a dog, and two cats who like to play with cords.  We’ve heard it before.

Usually, what we hear after is a relieved child (or parent!) saying, “It’s OK.”

But not this time…

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Boy stood there, iPad in hand, not sure what to say.  Dad & Mom arrive to assess the damage.  It’s immediately apparent that this is not a minor blemish or a hairline crack along the edge.  There is a chunk of glass missing, the frame is bent, and the fissures reach well into the screen portion of the iPad.  It still works.  As a matter of fact, the friend he was Skyping with is still there.

So we ask Boy to the end the call.  Mom grabs her iPad and begins to feverishly search for options.   We thought we’d try C-NET and found this super-helpful video on how to do it ourselves:

Ummmm…no.

We post to our personal and blog Facebook pages.  Seeking wisdom from friends and followers.  While waiting, we go back to searching more online.  We’re horrified to see how many articles say that Apple does not care ~ even if you are under warranty or an Apple + member.  We are doomed to use a service or face the wrath of Apple and shell out full cost for a new iPad.  Then, we realize these “articles” we found weren’t actually articles.  They were thinly veiled attempts at advertising fix-it services.

Back to our Facebook pages, we hear stories galore.  Some people shared that they went to one of “those places” in the mall that will repair the screen.  Spending anywhere from $80-$150 on repair.  Unfortunately, some are still having issues with the screens, portions are non-responsive or black/fuzzy.   We hear a story of how just weeks after purchase, Apple replaced a crack iPad ~ FOR FREE!  Ours are over 2 years old, what type of options will we have?  Determined to seek mercy from Apple, and knowing that there is a “Fix-it” Kiosk just outside the store, we load into the car and head for the mall.

As always, the Apple store is busy ~ but smiling people with blue shirts, radio ear buds, and iPads of their own greet us.  We show the first employee.  Blue Shirt #1 has never encountered this before (seemed kind of new, though very nice) and calls over another blue shirt.  I’m impressed that Blue Shirt #1 asks to listen in so he knows for the future.  Blue Shirt #2 asks us a few questions:

Is is under warranty?

No.  <<knotinthepitofstomach>>

Do you have AppleCare+?

No.  <<hangingheadinshame>>

OK.  So here’s what we can do…

We inquire about Blue Shirt #2′s thoughts as to the “guys in the mall” who will repair for $99.  Basically they crack open the unit (see C-NET video above ~ we really did post it for a reason!) and just replace the glass “top”.  Nothing inside is repaired.  Then, they seal it with super glue.  If anything else is wrong internally, there is nothing they can do.  The case is forever compromised.

Ummmm…no.

He proceeds to tell us that Apple is willing to replace it for $249.

Yup, a brand-new-never-been-touched-before iPad for $249!

A refurbished wifi+3G 32GB iPad2 is $480!  This is an amazing deal.  Especially for something that, while an accident, was completely of our own doing.

Blue Shirt #2 sets us up with an appointment with a Genius.  Genius takes some info, heads to the back, and returns with the new iPad.  So, we hand over the shattered iPad (and our debit card!) and walk out the store moments later with Boy’s new one.  Seriously, we were in and out in less than 30 minutes.

We then head to WalMart and pick up an OtterBox for Boy AND Girl.  But that is a post for another day…

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Falling asleep to Pandora radio

Position Your iPad…or the Player

After a friend shared this picture of her son playing on their iPad:

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I thought ~ that’s a lot of fun!  I bet other people have pictures of their children playing on iPads, iPhones, and smart devices.  So, I asked people to share on the iPadHomeschooling Facebook Page.

Doing calculations with her toes!

Doing calculations with her toes!

Gaius from "These Temporary Tents"

Gaius from “These Temporary Tents”

Why bother using fingers?

Why bother using fingers?

Falling asleep to Pandora radio

Falling asleep to Pandora radio

Have you snapped a picture of your kids in funny and adorable positions lately.  Feel free to share it on our Facebook Page and we’ll add it to a post like this one in the future.  (If you are a blogger, feel free to include your blog information as well!)

Thank you to our followers and to Boy: Noise Covered in Dirt and These Temporary Tents for sharing!

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The Lazy List

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Taking pictures & screen shots as well writing things out with great detail what that we want to share about apps takes a LOT of time.  Often people say to us “Just give me a list of your favorites”.  So, I’m dubbing this the “Lazy List”.  It’s just a list with links of our “most played” apps that we haven’t reviewed up to this point.  ;-)

In no particular order or coherent train of thought…

(I love this for searching for a particular verse, having a handy concordance/interlinear, I can bookmark & take notes, switch between translations or have translations side-by-side)
 Apologia ~ This is really just like quizzes.  A little to “schooly” for our taste.  :-D
(these take up a MASSIVE amount of space ~ so I’d keep them in your cloud & only download the one you need when you need it)
(If you’ve never heard of it, here’s some cool info on why Minecraft is educational  )
(we find them to be a little too “schooly” for our taste, but if you like fun ways to “skill drill” they’re good)
(Boy said “cannon” one was good, he really didn’t care for the “sodabomb” one)
(There are “lite” versions for both of these that are free.  The full version for 99cents is well worth it.)
NASA
 Also, consider “word games”.  We really enjoy:
 (the “with friends” games have free & paid versions.  At one point, “Hanging” was running condom advertisements.  So, we paid the 99 cents)
This is just fun to goof off with.  And yes, we can see Grandma’s car parked in the driveway!  ;-)
 Lego has numerous apps in a variety of age & interest levels.  If you just search Lego in the app store ~ you’ll find tons of options.
This only works well if the kids playing are basically at the same level.  It is designed for “classroom” use and is not intuitive to give players specialized levels of difficulty.
(younger kids PreK-early elem)
 TED
(really more for adults or upper teens)
 If you have Netflixthey have an app.  We watch a lot of documentaries, PBS-ish shows, etc.  You need to be paying for the monthly service though.
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Technology is great, but it’s making us dumb…

On our Facebook page, we just shared an article about a new app for calculating fractions created by a 12-year-old girl and her father.  After sharing, I reread it and then moved on to the comments and was a little surprised to see the backlash:

Technology is great, but it’s making us dumb

and

Her father might be a FORMER computer geek, but he’s definitely NOT a good educator.

and my favorite

If you go to some were other than the doller store to buy a caculator you can find a half dozen differant modles that do this allready. That being said this kid needs to learn how to do fractions the old way with pencil and paper.

I’m not one to nitpick spelling errors ~ but I’m pretty sure that’s more than just typos.

Just because we were subjected to hours of times tables, flash cards, scan-tron testing, and strictly forbidden a calculator during math ~ does that make us “superior” to the current generation?  Does it make them “dumb” for utilizing calculators or creating apps that reduce the amount time spent on increasingly complex calculations?  We all know that our 4th grade teacher lied when he or she said that we had to memorize because we wouldn’t always have a calculator with us:

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If using a calculator is “dumbing us down” ~ then why does the word “Neanderthal” carry such a negative connotation?  Here’s a guy who fashioned tools, hunted/processed/cooked his own food, made his own shelter, and defended his home with weapons ~ all by hand.  Wouldn’t every innovation that came after be considered “dumbing us down”?  Are automobiles, grocery stores, and clothing shoppes contributing the severe decline in mental prowess?  Perhaps a case should be made for embracing technology and it’s ability to establish new means of interaction, saving time, and expanding ways to be creative.

I applaud this father and recognize him as a “good educator”.  What a fortunate girl to have someone in her life encourage her ingenuity.  Apparently, I’m not the only one to think so ~ the app has over a million downloads and is the second highest rated app in all categories.

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LEGO Friends

LEGOs are incredibly popular in this house.  For the longest time, Girl was perfectly content to play with Boy’s (and Dad’s from when he was young) “masculine” LEGO sets.  Recently LEGO designed a line targeted specifically to girls.  Pink & purple blocks, fashion, and cute pets punctuate the LEGO Friends branding.

It wasn’t long before the release of the LEGO Friends app.  This FREE app offers a lot including not requiring internet access to play.  Girl helped me write this review as Boy hasn’t been particularly interested in it.

How it works:  In the bottom right hand corner there is a “play” button.  This begins a matching game.  It shows a girl walking up a path that you need to “match” ~ hair, clothing, & shoes.  Tapping the check mark gives Girl a quick glimpse of the places in the room to visit in order to change the original character into the “match”.   The vanity allows for changing hair style & color, shirts/tops are in the wardrobe, skirt/shorts are found in the dresser, and shoes are under the bed.

Tapping on each “spot” in the bedroom gives the player the opportunity to select portions of the outfit.  If you forgot, you can tap the heart with the question mark (top left corner) and it will show the outfit to be matched.  After selecting the piece, click the check mark in the bottom right.  This dresses the player’s character.  After choosing hair, top, bottom, & shoes ~ tap the check mark in the bottom right hand corner of the bedroom.  If correct ~ the game awards money.  If incorrect, it plays a little tone and the player does not have another opportunity on that match.IMG_7293

The game is timed.  There is a little timer in the top right hand corner in the shape of a little flower.  As time runs down the flower petals turn a color.  The limit is 1 minute.  While this might seem like minimal time, it’s proven to be plenty for Girl to accomplish the task.  The “x” in the bottom right hand corner exits the game.

IMG_8870From the main screen ~ there is a button on the bottom left corner with a girl’s silhouette.  Tapping will take you into the same bedroom as the game.  Girl chooses whichever outfit she pleases.  Again, from the dresser, bed, & wardrobe.  Money earned during the game allows Girl to purchase more clothing options.  While dressing her character there are rounded arrows on either side of the LEGO girl that turns her to the left or right to have a better view of the ensemble.  The turned arrow on the bottom left returns to the room.  As a bonus, from the vanity Girl can not only customize her LEGO doll with various hair styles but also eye & skin color.  When finished, tap the check in the bottom right corner.  The newly dressed & styled character appears in the yard.  Girl wanted to make sure you know that if you push the “x” on the bottom right, the new style will not be saved.

Educational Value: Observation skills, matching, color recognition, and money skills all come to play in gentle and IMG_5877imaginative ways.

Drawbacks:  Girl let me know that if she didn’t play with it for a while, it seemed to reset.  She lost all money earned and outfits purchased in between   It didn’t seem to bother Girl ~ but I thought it would be nice, if an outfit was built incorrectly, it would give the opportunity to make corrections.

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Scribblenauts Remix

Released by Warner Brothers on various platforms Scribblenauts Remix has quickly become one of our family’s favorite apps.  For 99 cents, this app is an exceptional value.

Bear with me (Mom) ~ Boy & Girl were so excited about reviewing this app that they talked furiously and I could hardly type fast enough to keep up.

How it works: You’re Maxwell, running around the world trying to help people.  The opening area is Maxwell’s Playground.  This is a free building area where players can free build: do whatever they want, build whatever they want, destroy whatever they want.  Selecting “Start” at the bottom of the screen opens a screen allowing players to select their levels, adjust their avatar (only 2 are available, more can be obtained through in-app purchases), as well as view achievements and leaderboards through Game Center.  There’s also a mortarboard icon that opens a tutorial, gear icon for choosing settings, and WB icon to explore more available apps.

Tapping the “Level Select” icon is the direct route to start playing.  If you keep doing enough levels and you beat them it will give you new worlds with completely new tasks.  There are 5 worlds and in each world there are 10 levels.  Additional worlds are available as in-app purchases.  While players don’t have to complete every previous level to move on, some are required.

Users can create anything in any level to help you complete your tasks.  There’s a question mark in the top right hand corner and it will tell you what your tasks are and give you clues as to how to solve the problem.  On the top right hand corner is also an icon that looks like a binder with a pencil on it.  When you click on that a new screen opens allowing you to type words.  In the “typing screen” there is a button with two circling arrows which allows you to flip through previously typed words.  Whatever is typed will be inserted into Maxwell’s world.

Objects can be moved with your finger sliding on the screen.  Only Maxwell and created objects can be controlled by the player.  If you pick up an object that has an associated action (ie. ball/throwing, gun/shooting, shovel/dig, etc.) and set it on Maxwell he will hold it.  You can also move Maxwell close to the object and tap the object causing a “pick up” option to display on-screen.  Once he’s holding the object, tap Maxwell and options will appear to use or remove the item.

There’s a magnifying glass at the top left hand corner.  Tapping on it switches to a mode allowing players to identify characters and objects by tapping on them.  Also on the upper left is an icon of Maxwell’s head.  This will “recenter” the screen on Maxwell if you’ve managed to lose him.  The camera icon brings up a a lower menu that allows players to adjust the user interface as well as post via Facebook & Twitter.

Educational Value: This game is a fun way to encourage spelling and reading.  While Boy is fairly comfortable reading all that is presented, using his creativity has challenged him to spell new words.  Girl is still an emerging reader and needs help understanding some of Maxwell’s requests.  Even though Dad and Mom are happy to spell whatever word is called out to them, Girl has been known to sit down with her “Big Book of Words” to look up the spelling of what she’s trying to give Maxwell.  If a player misspells a word, Scribblenauts suggests words they possibly meant ~ allowing Boy & Girl to self-correct.  Additionally, some words have multiple meanings and the game will ask which the player would like to give Maxwell.  For example, if they type “chicken” the game will ask “chicken (bird)” or “chicken (food)”.  Selecting the bird will place a living chicken to roam Maxwell’s world.  Selecting food will place a cooked leg for Maxwell (or other person/animal) to eat.

Probably one of the best features of the game is the flexibility of the “right” answer.  For example: In Word 1, Level 1 ~ Maxwell needs to cut down a tree and grab the star from the top.  In addition to “saw”, you can give Maxwell a drill (pictured) & he can cut it down, you can give him a bomb to blow it up (don’t stand too close or Maxwell will be blown up too!), you can place a beaver next to the tree that will chew it down, etc.  Boy & Girl often go back to previous levels to find new and creative ways to complete tasks.  The cover photo for this post is Girl’s favorite thing to provide Maxwell with: “flying socks”.

Drawbacks: The only issues we’ve had is one or two times we have not been able to crack what Maxwell needs to complete his task.  In those instances, we have used this walk through.  We encourage you only to use it as a last resort as sometimes seeing “solutions” dampens creativity.

Need more Scribblenauts?  Be sure to check out the review of Scribblenauts for Wii U as part of These Temporary Tents’ Five Tech Gadgets We Purchased in 2012.

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Apple Field Trip ~ iMovie Class

While at Apple Camp this Summer, Mom struck up a conversation with an employee who also happens to be one of the Field Trip coordinators for the store.  The coordinator explained that during the school year Apple Stores offer FREE customized field trips for public, private, & home schools as well as for Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and any other group serving children ages 6-13.  Like camp, field trips are free.  As Mom is the Field Trip coordinator for her homeschool group and Boy’s Den Leader in Cub Scouts, this is amazing news.  We immediately registered to receive notification on Apple’s “Youth Programs” page.

Due to the September release of the iPhone 5 and the November release of the iPad Mini ~ the Fall field trip availability was relegated to a few select dates in October.  Many local stores opted not to hold classes at all.  Mom snatched the latest date available to allow plenty of time for others in the group to register.*  It was simple to set up online.  From the “Youth Programs” (or the specific store’s) page, Mom selected the location, date, and provided information about our group and the goals of the class.  Mom immediately received an e-mail confirming registration.  Within 24 hours one of the store’s coordinators called back to confirm our field trip.

We were given the option to focus on iPads or Macs.  As many of the families who would be registering own iPads, that was the direction we chose.  Now, as with all things homeschooling ~ our approach can be quite different.  Unlike most of the trips Apple sets up, our students are not all the same age and we aren’t studying the same subjects at the same time.  We opted for the iMovie app** to give them the greatest flexibility.  A week before the class, Mom called in with the number of students and their shirt sizes.  We were pleased that they were willing to accommodate a late registration the Friday before our Monday class.  On Saturday, the gentleman who was actually leading the class called to confirm details.

We arrived Monday morning before the store even opened.  Our class of 10 students sat around the table as the instructor introduced himself & another employee who was assisting.  He demonstrated a few basic features of the iPad and spent about 15 minutes covering the iMovie app itself: loading pictures, visual effects, music, sound effects, editing, etc.  Then, he handed each student an iPad pre-loaded with pictures of various historical figures, a 10+ song playlist to choose from, and a plethora of sound effects.  Like any great teacher, he was there to facilitate and answer questions while the students learned from exploring the product.

Students went right to work, occasionally asking how to work a certain feature or if a certain vision was possible.  They were also free to film themselves and their friends.  After about 40 minutes all of the students had finished with their creations.  The instructor collected the iPads and gathered the students around a large screen TV.  The iPads were then individually docked and each student’s movie was shown.  Just as we found with camp, it was interesting to see the child’s personality come out in their work.  Some were serious, others humorous, some focused on the visual features while others enjoyed toying with the music and sound effects.  They enjoyed having their work displayed and watching what their friends had created.  Each student received a T-shirt and Mom received a disk containing their movies.

This was an excellent experience and we hope to go again in the Spring.  The registration process was simple, communication with the store was excellent, and the students not only enjoyed themselves, they left with new skills.  We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Apple Field Trips to any group.

*To clarify, our homeschool group has a registration system for classes and field trips.  Individual attendees registered with the group NOT with the Apple store directly.

**While there is no cost for the class and iPads are provided for students to use, users wishing to download iMovie on their personal iPad/iPhone/iPod will need to pay for the app.  Currently, it is $4.99.

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Bible Wordfind

Dad & Mom were excited to find an app that would incorporate Scripture vocabulary and the fun of a word search.  Currently priced at $1.99, Bible Wordfind is the creation of Portegno Apps.

How it works:  First, select the level of difficulty.  A grid of letters will pop up flanked by words to search.  Easy includes 8 words hidden in 64 letter grid.  Medium is 12 words in a 144 letter grid.  Hard is 16 words hidden in a 196 letter grid.  Each word has a simple animated picture associated with it.  Players use their finger to drag across the letters selecting the word.  The app makes a little “bubbling” sound as you’re sliding your finger.  If the word is correctly selected the app follows the letter with a star, says the word and then a positive note is played.  If a word is misspelled or a word that isn’t in the wordlist is selected, the letters briefly turn pink and a gentle deep tone is played to indicate the error.  All words run either top to bottom or left to right.  There are no diagonal or inverted placements.  Words never intersect.

Educational Value:  This is a gentle way to teach spelling skills.  Boy or Girl observes the word and then searches for it in the list.  Dad & Mom have had a little fun on the “Hard” level.  Words range from proper nouns like Jesus, David, Goliath, Egypt, and Babel to basic words such as sheep, sandals, heart, and clay.  Boy & Girl have enjoyed connecting specific Bible Stories they know to words like Bethlehem, serpent, lion, and parable.

Drawbacks:  We really wanted to love this game, but given the price there are multiple issues that give us pause to recommend it:

  • The app overrides the sound on the iPad.  Even if the iPad’s main volume is turned to off, if the game’s is on ~ you’ll hear the noises and pronunciation.  Within each game players can tap the “Sound is On” button in the bottom left corner to turn it to “Sound if Off”.  However, in the very next game the sound is back on again.
  • The pronunciation of words is not always correct.  For example it pronounces “sower” as “sour”.
  • The word “cloak” is misspelled “cloark” and it’s incorrect in the word field as well.
  • Difficulty levels denote the number of words and the size of the field ~ but not the difficulty of the words being searched for.  The same words rotate through all levels.  “Minister” and “Egyptian” are quite lengthy.

Something we’d love to see is the option to select a word search based on specific stories.  It would be a lot of fun to read a parable and then hunt key words to reinforce what we just heard.

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Apple Camp ~ Making Movies Day 3

For more on our experiences with Apple Camp, please see Day 1 and Day 2.

Probably the most exciting thing about Day 3 for Boy & Girl was the fact that Dad was able to join us.  We could smell the popcorn before we even entered the store.  Staff had set up a projector and there was a giant screen covering the Genius Bar.

After everyone settled in with their popcorn, we sat down to watch some incredibly creative productions.  The staff had strung them together into a single showing that included their names introducing their films.  Boy and Girl were delighted to see their names across the screen.  Dad & Mom were impressed by the wide variety of topics and effects used by all the kids. Some of them had an excellent sense of humor.

After the showing, each child was called up and handed a certificate showing they completed the class.  Dad & Mom were blown away by what Boy & Girl received ~ not only in “goodies”, but in experience, knowledge, and encouragement.  We could not have been more impressed with the staff.  We would strongly encourage anyone with children aged 8-12 to consider Apple Camp.

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Apple Camp ~ Making Movies Day 2

Check out the 1st post in this series explaining signing up for Apple Camp as well as our experiences on the first day.

We arrived on Day 2, iPads in hand with footage of monsters & Minecraft.  Our leader gave an overview to the students of iMovie.  We then headed to the Macs to upload our footage.  The store had increased the staff ratio to assist with this, but it did take a little additional time for those with non-Apple products to move their footage onto the Macs.

Girl basically left her footage intact and just created an opening & closing scene.  Boy enjoyed the opportunity to add the music he created utilizing Garage Band as well as editing the footage with special effects.  Mom was impressed with how well the staff worked with the kids and encouraged them throughout the process.  They also gave the kids plenty of time to be creative and work through all their options.  

While they were editing another staff member gave the parents a demonstration on the “Parental Controls” for the Macs.  Mom was quite impressed with all the options available: restrictions can be placed on length of time, time of day, websites, activities, etc.

The day closed with very child being given their finished iMovie on a flash drive wristband.  Boy & Girl thought this was a fabulous bonus.  We were invited to return on Saturday for a showing of all the movies.

Click here to see Day 3 where Boy & Girl show off their creations.