Wednesday, July 27, 2016

{Review} Orphs of the Woodlands at Tangletree

Last school year, one of Amber's favorite reviews was an online learning tool and game from Star Toaster. This summer she jumped at chance to review their brand new app, Orphs of the Woodlands at Tangletree.

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate a fun and educational app!

I'll tell you right up front that Amber is a little older than the suggested age for the app, however after having used their original online product she wanted to try out the app too. It was a nice review for her and fun to revisit the orphs. Still, she completely finished the app in just an hour or two (over two days).

What exactly is this app all about?

Star Toaster creates interactive books that not only include engaging stories, but lessons on a wide array of subjects interspersed throughout the story. A fun game where your child can care for the orphs (orphaned woodland creatures) is the reward for completing lessons.

The new app, Orphs of the Woodlands at Tangletree, is available on iTunes for Apple devices only. It works equally well on an iPhone and iPad, and requires iOS 8.0 as a minimum.  On iTunes the app is listed as targeting children ages 9 to 11, and I'd agree that those children will receive the most benefit. However, for children who are earlier readers, like Amber was, it would be easy to use as early as age 7.  Amber is 14 and has started her 9th grade year. She definitely felt it was a little young for her and rather easy, but it was still fun to read the story, complete the jobs (lessons), and help the orphs.

The app is a prequel story to the original Star Toaster book on their website, The Treasure of HighTower.  It includes:
The main story, a 122 page interactive book about Abba the Flying Squirrel and his friends in their fort tree house, named TangleTree. Since this is an interactive book various words are highlighted and clickable providing access to definitions and job training pages on vocabulary, grammar, science, and more.
Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate a fun and educational app!

75 lessons on a wide array of topics such as math, science, grammar, vocabulary, thinking skills, character, life skills, and the arts.  These lessons are accessed through the story or through Stumptown.

Over 130 jobs that correspond to the lessons can be accessed through Stumptown and will earn starts for your child to help the orphs.  Lessons and jobs become available the further into the story your child progresses.
Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate a fun and educational app!

The menu system provides easy access to reports for you, the parent, to check up on your child's progress. A summary report tells you how far into the book your child has read along with how many lessons and jobs completed. A second report details exactly which lessons have been read and jobs completed - either correctly or incorrectly.
Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate a fun and educational app!

The goals of the orphanage encourage the user to earn their stars and help guide them in providing for the orphs who live in Tangletree. It is a very visual way to see the needs of the orphs and make selections to help them.

Along with such a fantastically fun and EASY to navigate app, the people at Star Toaster provide quick and pleasant customer service. This is definitely not one of those apps where you will be left in the dark after purchasing. If you have any questions, the friendly Star Toaster people will be there to help.

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate a fun and educational app!

I think this would be a great on-the-go app for kids to use when they need to be occupied, but you'd rather it be educational instead of mindless games. Just be sure to take along headphones if you will be in a quiet area, since sound is an important part of the game!

Connect with Star Toaster on social media:
Twitter @StarToaster

Visit other members of the Review Crew to read their experiences with this unique app!

Orphs of the Woodlands at Tanglegate Review

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, July 25, 2016

2016-2017 (9th Grade) Curricula

Here's Amber selected course of study for her first official year of high school. Unbelievably, we are just about ready to start school the first of August, despite a little anxiousness on both of our parts.

This may look like an overzealous amount of credits or topics when you add it all up. However the entire last section, Electives and Non-core Subjects, are simply part of our regular life or homeschool co-op classes that do not take up our scheduled school hours. It's just an added bonus when co-op classes are eligible for credit too.

Unexpected Homeschoo: 9th Grade Course of Study


(1 Credit each)
Life of Fred - Finish Advanced Algebra (algebra 2) and start Geometry.
These have been a life saver for Amber and she no longer dreads math or has panic attacks over math assignments. Amber is off schedule with math though, and most likely won't finish Geometry until sometime in early 10th Grade.

Language Arts:

(1 Credit for English I)
Writing: IEW SICC-B. This is the continuation course from SWI-B that she used in 8th grade.

Literature: Excellence In Literature - Introduction to Literature.  We plan to use the whole series and, as the author lists as a possibility, move some of the modules around from the different study guides. So Amber will not use all of Introduction to Literature, but will add some modules from their other levels. We hope to use the majority of all five levels in four years of high school.

Memoria Press - Poetry & Short Stories: American Literature. We planned this for 8th grade, but other things came up. Amber still wants to work through it during high school.

Grammar: IEW Fix It! Grammar - Amber has started somewhere in the upper levels of this and will hopefully continue until she finishes the series. It will be incorporated in her English credits throughout high school until she finishes the series.

Vocabulary: Latin Morphemes Lessons (Latin and Loving It) - Amber already completed the Greek morphemes lessons from this same publisher. She will work on the Latin lessons until finished.

(1 Credit over two years for Creative Writing Elective)
Creative Writing: One Year Adventure Novel - Amber's goal is to become a writer, so naturally one of her electives is creative writing. However, she may take two years to complete this entire elective credit, and then work on a second creative writing elective for her last two years of high school.
(1 Credit Foreign Language)
German: We will continue to work through Prima! German, along with more advanced reading and creative writing.

History & Government

(1/2 Credit U.S. History & 1/2 Western Civilization)
History: Tapestry of Grace Year 3 Plan - Amber is using the rhetoric level of TOG Year 3 to complete a portion of her U.S. History credit and a portion of her Western Civilization credit.  Next year she will use the TOG Year 4 plan to complete both of those credits.  

(1-2 total Credits over 4 years)
Government: Tapestry of Grace Year 3 Plan - We;re also using Tapestry of Grace over the four years of high school to complete a course we've titled U.S. Government & Comparative Political System. It will include government studies from ancient times through modern day.

Logic & Philosophy

(1/2 Credit - Elective)
Formal Logic: Traditional Logic I - Instead of trying to finish this in one semester, our current schedule has Amber working on it a couple of days a week for the whole year to earn her half credit. She will probably try for half a credit of logic most years of high school.

(1/4 to 1/2 Credit - Elective)
19th Century Philosophy: Tapestry of Grace Year 3 plan - We plan for Amber to follow the philosophy electives in TOG all years of high school. If time allows she will do enough work to earn 1/2 credit each year, otherwise she will total a single credit over all 4 years through her philosophy study.


(1/2 Credit)
Botany: Inspired by the botany course at Guest Hollow, we have created our own course for Amber to study her first semester. It utilizes both physical texts, online videos (, experiments, and for narrations.

(1/2 Credit)
Genetics: Amber does not desire to take an entire course on anatomy & physiology, however she is extremely interested in studying genetics in more depth, so we will work on a semester course dedicated to human genetics. I'm still finalizing our curriculum options for this course, but the front runner for our main lessons is Science Shepherd Biology.  We will bridge between the botany and genetics courses with the fast plants genetics experiment.

Electives and Non-Core Subjects

(Fine Arts Credit)
Drama: A year long co-op drama class, but will probably only amount to enough hours for 1/4 to 1/2 credit.

Art: A year long co-op art class that will also only have enough hours for 1/4 to 1/2 credit.

Music: Continue weekly private flute lessons and practice. We only count her 45 minute lessons as school hours. So between 1/4 and 1/2 credit of music too.

(1/2 Health Credit)
Health: A year long co-op health class, worth 1/2 credit with homework included. I'm actually teaching the class, so I know exactly how to credit this.  Amber also works on learning about her connective tissue disease and how her body responds differently than the average person.

(Practical Arts Credit)
Embroidery & Sewing: This includes a year long co-op advanced embroidery class that I'm teaching, plus sewing service projects. Probably 1/2 credit between the two.

Cooking: Amber will still be taking cooking lessons from my mom and practicing at home. Probably 1/4 to 1/2 credit.

(1 Physical Education Credit)
Phys. Ed: Amber has weekly physical therapy sessions where she works on strengthening the muscles around her joints and learns how to care for her body. She also has daily cardio exercises to help with her dysautonomia, along with her daily home physical therapy program to keep her muscles toned and her joints safe.  Amber can easily earn a full credit of physical education every year of high school because of her therapies (occupational therapy as well) and her prescribed home care.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Summer - Week 8

We are winding down our summer school / break and nearly ready for high school. The mail carrier quite possibly thinks we have an online shopping addiction given the number of school related packages that arrived this week.

It's been swelteringly hot here, like in other parts of the country. We've had an Excessive Heat Warning since Monday morning and it goes through at least Sunday evening. Our actual temperatures have been close to 100, if not over, with heat indices (how it feels outside from the combination of air temperature and humidity) over 110 degrees. So if you can manage to handle the heat, you still need gills to breathe. 

Given the temperature we haven't left the house for any fun activities - nor did I take many pictures. There were scheduled therapies, Amber's flute lesson, Project Write, haircuts, and annual vet appointments for all three cats. I appear to have pushed my luck in the heat too, since sensor in my car seems to have freaked out when the poor car was parked in the sun for 3 hours. Now I have an appointment next week at the Volvo dealership to decide if there is a problem or not.

Milori and Rosetta were very much out of character at the vet during their joint checkup. Milori was grumpy and hissy (he NEVER hisses), and Rosie was shy and docile. Have you ever met a calico cat? They are not normally shy or docile, and neither is "Princess Ro-Ro", normally.
The next school year for Amber is basically planned, thankfully. I still need to enter some of the lesson plans into Homeschool Tracker, but otherwise we might be ready. We even bought new folders and pencil lead. That was essentially all we needed in school supplies. I still haven't cleaned out her school storage areas from 8th grade, which means this coming week I'm organizing and cleaning. It's a bit nerve wracking when I push all of this too close to the start of school.

I have the post detailing Amber's 9th grade curriculum written and ready to go for Monday. If you're interested to see how we've decided to structure the first year of high school, come back on Monday to check it out.

For summer school this week, Amber has continued to push through physical science in hopes of completing it within the first week (fingers crossed) of 9th grade. There has also been plenty of fun reading, flute practice, and working on her Project Write "stuff".  Amber has been fairly puny after any period outside, so her productive time has occured before any appointments each day. After leaving the cool house, she's been sickly.  I don't doubt it though, because I've felt pretty crummy after being out in the heat for just a few minutes too.

Biscotti goes to the vet by himself. He's too heavy to carry with the others being a large breed cat, and he's less than pleased with the whole ordeal. The vet has to give him sleepy gas to even examine him, much less give him shots. -- Here he was waiting to go back for some gas, and then at home wondering why Amber was posing like him.

This weekend we are deep-ish cleaning the house... I'm cleaning carpets and Amber is doing her deep dusting job. We want a nice fresh, tidy start to the new school year and we can't do anything outside anyway.

ONE week until High School officially starts! (super meep!)

Happy Oppressively Hot Weekend!

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