Category Archives: Apps

5 Apps That Keep Us Connected


Life is busy! I know, that isn’t news to anyone but every once in a while I think we just need to admit it. Everything tells us to be more productive and quit wasting time but life is busy, period. So staying connected as a family and couple if very important to NerdDad and I.

Staying connected is so important! Some of it is sharing information so that when er are together we aren’t wasting time sharing basic information. Some of it is just having fun and communicating! I have 5 apps that help NerdDad and I stay connected and communicating.

1) Google Calendar: Ok, this is a basic thing but it is a great tool. I have a calendar for me, the kids, and NerdDad. Then a lot of organizations we are part of also share Google Calendars or sent invites and when I accept them it will place it on my calendar. Having it all right there means I don’t have to constantly update everyone what is coming up.

2) Google Hangout: I know that more people use Messenger but NerdDad and I don’t;). His work actually uses Google Hangouts too so it was a natural fit for us to use. It is on the phone and the desktop and just pops up when used! You can mark statuses (away, busy, available, etc) so if you are busy don’t worry about it! One benefit of using Google Hangout over Messenger is that you don’t fall into the Facebook trap!

3) Google Keep: Yes, more Google;). This is a catch all for notes. Those notes can be lists, sentences, pictures and audio recording. You can share specific notes with specific people. So we have grocery lists and other random notes shared between us. We have even done phone messages that way!

4) Cloud Storage: Google Drive, One Drive, Dropbox, etc. They are pretty much all the same in function and in share ability. NerdDad and I actually just have a folder in Dropbox we share. When you share a folder we don’t have to set each document to share, just drop it in the folder. Looking for old address lists? Pictures of the kids? Dump them all in a shared folder!

5) Trivia Crack: What is a relationship and connection without a little fun? Trivia Crack is this great trivia game! NerdDad and I always have a couple of games going! It is trivia in a variety of areas and is a ton of fun! There is a free version and an ad free version.

What apps do you use to keep connected with your spouse or loved ones? These are some that work for us and I hope they work for you!

(Verizon gave me my phone that I use for all these apps! Other than a phone to use, I haven’t received any compensation. Thanks #VZWBuzz)

iTooch Math and Language Arts Apps

itoochapp *This piece brought to you as part of the #VZEducation Campaign and is compensated. But the thoughts and opinions are mine.*

Apps. By this point we all know and believe that apps can be more than mindless time wasters. They can be informative and educational and broaden our minds. But it seems that most of the “learning” apps are either aimed at young learners or aimed at much older. There are also all the reference apps like the ones I shared with my 5 Apps to Start the School Year With post. But where are all the learning games and apps for older kids, say about junior high?

Well, with the Verizon Educational Tools helped me to find some great learning apps for my junior high students. I found this line call iTooch that has all kinds of apps for different grades and even the TOEFL test. We tried the free (or “lite”) versions of the 7th grade Math and Language Arts.

This are not game but more quiz like. They have practice and test modes. In the practice mode you get questions to answer and it is not timed. If you need help on a question then just go to the lesson and it will be queued up right to the information you need. Where as test is timed and counts your questions (and score).

I absolutely love the whole lesson aspect of these apps! It is my favorite part. I know, that sounds weird. But by having the lesson with every question I don’t have to help;). I set one of my kids down with my phone and told her to start playing. She quickly stopped  and said she couldn’t play any more because she didn’t know what the indirect voice was. I told her to read the lesson and she was back on her way. She knew what indirect voice was but didn’t know that was what it was called.  And the math app was set up the same way! 

With the “lite” version there are still lots to do. There are different subjects for kids to do but they can only do the first chapter. But the full app is pretty affordable. You can buy them by the small subject (like 7th grade math) or by the grade. The whole grade level app is $9.99 normally at Amazon. They also offer free chapters if you will rate the game on Google Play. 

I really liked this line of apps but to be completely honest, my daughter wished it was more game like. So if you are looking for a real game… this isn’t it. But if you are looking for a study tool and quiz, this is for you!

Thanks to the #VZEducation campaign for compensating me for this piece. But I chose the app and all thoughts are mine! 

A Look at the Alphabet Song Game & a Critical Thinking Company Coupon!

Alphabet Song

I was recently asked (and compensated with a Critical Thinking Company product) to take a look at the Critical Thinking Company’s Alphabet Song Game.

Software and apps for toddlers and preschoolers is always a hard thing. You want to engage the children, yet make sure it isn’t to challenging for them to run. You also want them to learn something and not just turn off mentally. I find the Alphabet Song Game to be a great balance of language learning, entertainment, and fine motor skills development. I evaluated this software on my PC but it also comes as a free app on iOS, Android and Windows 8.

Alphabet Song in gameThis really is built upon the Alphabet Song and is quite precious. At the beginning of every lesson they sing the Alphabet Song. Then the lesson takes the child through the Alphabet Song again by singing along to their action, and each lesson has a different call to action. It starts with choosing the capitol letters in the alphabet where they choose the next letter by clicking on it and there is a choice between 2 capitol letters. The lessons get harder by going from capital letters to lower case and then they increase the number to choose from. The advanced lessons even have them choose among letters going the right and wrong directions. 

I love this! It is cute and just really gets to the alphabet! Understanding letters is the first key to reading and really helps start them down the path of logic. And anything that requires consistent mouse movement and clicking helps work on those fine motor skills. 

I highly recommend the Alphabet Song Game for anyone who wants to have a fun learning activity for their non-reading child on their computer, phone or tablet.

Once again the Critical Thinking Company has come up with a fabulous product. If you want more of their products (like ones they are charging for;) they have given me a coupon to share with you all!!! Use code BLOGR814 by October 31, 2014 to get 15% off your entire order! 

(Remember that while the Critical Thinking Company may have compensated me to write about this software the thoughts and opinions are still mine!)


A Look at the Verizon Educational Tools App

Verizon Education Tools App
Devices, homework, education and apps. There is so much of all of them and so many choices to make! What is a person to do? Kids love technology and playing so that is a tool we want to use to its fullest with our kids. Verizon wants to help parents out when it comes to apps and education with the Verizon Educational Tools App. The Verizon Educational Tools is an app that helps parents find educational apps based that are best suited to your child’s needs and age. And I am stoked that they have asked me to write about it!
The Verizon Educational Tools app is set up to make it easy to find specific apps to work on specific subjects based on their grade level. After you choose a grade level you are given options between apps and videos. And in each of those categories you can choose between searching by category or common core. Under category you can pick apps by subject and sub-subject! Under Common Core you can choose by each section of the codes.
The apps that you find have all been reviewed and recommended a board of experts. So you can take faith that these aren’t just random apps found by a search engine. In addition to just giving an overview of the app, the panel breaks down and gives you a detailed look at every aspect of the apps. But some of the apps listed will be not be free and all costs for the apps and all that are completely separate from the Verizon Educational Tools App.
There are also a couple of other areas of the app that parents might find helpful. Common Core is a really big deal in schools now (not so much for my homeschool;). So to help parents with this there is a free Common Core for Dummies that comes with the app. But in addition to guide they have the actual Common Core standards by state. So there are no more questions when teachers shrug their shoulders about it, you can get it yourself!
There are also some great discounts and offers available. This is the only place that companies can buy placement in the app at all (and it doesn’t influence being listed anywhere else). There are deals on BrainPop, magazines and a bunch of other things.
Verizon Educational Tools seems to be a fabulous tool that makes finding subject and grade level appropriate apps extremely easy! This is an add on service so it is $2 a month per device. But if you have a More Everything plan you can get this free if you download and activate it by September 30, 2014. Then it will be free for the life of your More Everything plan! If you have multiple devices on the More Everything plan you must install and activate the Verizon Educational Tools App on each device. But remember, you must get this by September 30, 2014 for it to be free (or wait for another promotion).
So go grab Verizon Educational Tools and get this school year off to a great start!

(Disclosure: I am an Ambassador for Verizon Educational Tools and have been compensated for this post. But while Verizon picked the subject, all thoughts and opinions are mine alone!)

Dora Let’s Play Backpack for iPad Giveaway

It is shocking but even when you have 4 kids you still can get 1 that is left out. At this point the one who can get left out the most is my baby, NerdPud. The older kids will all be in science classes or have homework. Since she is in Kindergarten all of her schooling is one on one and all fun. Which is great but it means I need to find ways to engage her while the older kids are busy! I also need to get this kid to read!!! She has been sort of doing it since she was 4 but she doesn’t have any interest in reading fluently.

Enter in Dora Let’s Play Backpack! It is a great new iPad accessory from Discovery Bay Games. It is in their Duo line of iPad games and accessories. You buy the backpack and then download the free app from iTunes. The backpack itself sits over the iPad and interactively with the app. There are 4 different types of adventures: ‘Let’s Listen,’ ‘Let’s Pack,’ ‘Let’s Match,’ and ‘Say It Two Ways’. Both players have tokens and place them on the spot that corresponds with their answer. The correct answer’s spot will open and the tokens will go into the backpack. The first person out of tokens wins!

I need to declare something up front. My kids are NOT allowed free access to my iPad. But they can earn access or when I am waiting for some kids, I use it as a bonding activity with them. That is where the Dora’s Let’s Play Backpack comes into the picture. Not only is it giving me a way to engage with her and have that valuable bonding time but it also serves as a great reward for reading. She doesn’t even notice that she is actually learning;). She loves it so much that she asks if she can read to me so she can play with Dora’s Backpack;).

The one and only problem I have had (everything can’t be hearts and flowers people) is using it outside. The first time I was using it she and I were outside under shade. We couldn’t get the backpack to interact with the app. But as soon as we went inside it worked perfectly!

You can pick up a Dora Let’s Play Backpack from Amazon for $39.99 or win one here for free!!!! Discovery Bay Games has graciously offered to give 1 away to one of my readers (In the US only, sorry)!

Mandatory Entry:

Leave a comment on this post answering this question from the NerdPud(yes, it really is what she wanted to know;): “How old were you when you learned how to read?”

Extra Entries (leave a comment for each thing you do):

-Subscribe to my rss feed
-Follow me on twitter and tweet about this giveaway!
-Subscribe to my site by email
-Post about this giveaway

This giveaway will close October 1, 2012!

(Disclosure: I was given a Dora Let’s Play Backpack to review by Discovery Bay Games)


Who?Comics App

Thank you to who?Comics for sponsoring this post and encouraging my child to read biographies in comic book form! Please click here to learn more about the app. And follow who? Comics on Twitter for updates

As you all know, I am a big fan of reading and an even bigger fan of learning! So you can just imagine how excited I was to  receive the opportunity to use the who?Comics app on my iPad with my kids!

Who?Comics is a free app and it comes with 2 books. There are 27 other books available for purchase. Some are sold individually but there are also packs available.  Which of course, are a better deal;). So I got the Scientists pack (surprise, surprise;).  Right off we checked out Marie Curie and Thomas Edison!

Here is a little detail you should know going in. These comics are not the super quick, over view type comics. There are 150 pages of details about the subject’s personal life. Which means it isn’t a quick read! I was very familiar with Marie Curie and I learned so much! NerdPie and I even cried at 2 different spots.

So what is my overall feel? Well, I love the idea of having these on the iPad for easy access! The art is clear and the story line moves at a good clip. This isn’t going to be a situation where you can read the whole thing in the doctor’s waiting room and that can be a good thing. This app was developed over seas and so there are a few translation issues. Due to that and the fact that these really deal with real life situations, I would make sure you child is near you when they read them. I had to explain about certain illnesses and certain historical events that were mentioned in the books we read. There was an assumption that the kids understood everything but mine had quite gotten there yet. (For example, why and how Poland was being occupied By Russia and how they weren’t supposed to speak Polish.)

My kids thoroughly enjoyed these comics! My kids are even asking for books from the library so they can learn even more! Both about the people in the stories and the science they discovered!

Thank you again to who? Comics for sponsoring my post. Please click here to learn more about the app. Visit who? Comics for updates. I was selected for this opportunity by the Clever Girls Collective. All opinions expressed here are my own. #CleverWhoComics #spon

Make Phone Calls on Your iPad


I just got my brand new iPad 2 and am loving checking out all the cool apps that are making my life better! My most recent free find is Talk a Tone.

This is a great utility for utilizing you free Google voice! It is super easy to use where you just input your Google voice info. Then you can both make and receive calls! Your a given different compression choices and the sound is pretty good. Depending on your connection there may be just a little lag buy I haven’t found it to be a problem at all.

So go, talk and enjoy! All for free!