Saturday, October 16, 2010

Newspaper Crossbow


We don't watch much television, but there are a few shows that appeal to our family. One of these is Mythbusters. Dad and Kirk especially enjoy the experiments to prove or disprove a myth and the explosions that seem to always result.

Recently Kirk saw an episode in which the Mythbusters created crossbows from newspaper. He decided to try his own version. With a few sections of a newspaper, some tape, and rubberbands he came up with this crossbow:



 We headed outside and Kirk shot the arrow numerous times, adjusting the tension of the rubber bands as needed. He stepped off the distance and we measured his steps to get a rough idea of the distance the arrow was flying. The longest flight was over 110 feet!


FRitW & MT also measured the distance with their footsteps, but came up with much higher numbers (they also counted outloud, which means most of Kirk's attempts to count were confused!)


The best part about shooting an arrow with a newspaper crossbow? Getting to go get the arrow - especially if it goes across the fence!



So…If you are ever under attack and have only a newspaper, tape, rubberbands, and an arrow… you can save the day!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Read, Write, and Type by Talking Fingers

PhotobucketRead, Write, and Type is a fantastic learning game from Talking Fingers. I received a one year online subscription to Read, Write, and Type for the purpose of reviewing it and sharing my thoughts here on my blog.

Read, Write, and Type is aimed at children learning to read or struggling readers. Read, Write, and Type is not just a reading program though, it is also a Typing program, teaching children to type using proper hand position, instead of hunt and peck.

PhotobucketRead, Write, & Type is in a game format. The premise is that the letters in the keyboard are taken by “Vexor the Virus” who does not like stories and decides to steal the letters to keep them from creating stories. Two talking hands, Lefty LaDee and Rightway McKay need your help to type and rescue the letters from Vexor. Vexor offers one letter or blend at a time and you must beat him at a game to win the letter back. The games encourage you to position your hands correctly on the keyboard and type the letter or letters used to make the sound that is at the beginning, middle, or end of a word.
I used RW&T primarily with FRitW. FRitW recently turned 6 and is quite good at math, but has very little interest in letters and their sounds. We have spent some time discussing that letters have sounds and that those sounds combine to make words, but he has not really retained much of that information.

As I am not a huge fan of our children using the computer I probably wouldn’t have looked at this program had I not received it to review, but FRitW loves computers and electronics and he was very excited to have a “computer game” to play. We began using Read, Write, and Type the day we received access.

FRitW wanted to play everyday until he reached a level that was too difficult for him. We spent some time working with the activity book that was provided by Talking Fingers and then returned to the game. I found that we could go back and play some of the games he had already played and worked to improve his score.

What I liked about this program:

  • FRitW has retained much of what he learned playing this game. I am sure of that because these are some letters we have not worked on outside of this game. We were at a restaurant and he pointed out several letters he recognized and knew their sounds.
  • The letters are usually identified by their sounds and the name of the letter is only mentioned occasionally.
  • There is some repetition in teaching the sounds, but the variety of games makes this fun and interesting, not boring.

Things I did not like:

  • My internet is not the fastest and the pauses in the game were frustrating and discouraging to me and the children. There is a CD version of the game that should overcome this issue if you have dial up or a poor internet signal. 
  • The game moved very quickly into words that were above FRitW’s level. He made it easily through the first 4 levels, but struggled in the second set of 4 levels. By the time he passed the 8th level with Maggie’s help, he was unable to play at all. 
  • FRitW was distracted by having to place his fingers on the proper keys. Since this is not something that can be detected by the program it does not affect game play so I allowed him to use one finger. I do think that an older child with some phonetic skill would benefit from the typing.  

Overall I was very happy with the game and will continue to use it for FRitW for the year I have access to it. In addition I was given a second free spot and plan to use it for Maggie to improve her typing skills.

PhotobucketRead, Write, and Type is available from the Talking Fingers website. You can purchase it in CD format for $79.00 which includes the program, an activity book, 18 stories (available online) and stickers and a practice keyboard card. This would be the best deal for a family with 3 or more children using the program. I received the online access which is offered at $35 for one child, $55 for two, or $70 for three children. The online access is a five year subscription and includes downloadable activity book and stories. Stories to reinforce the letters learned are available on the website and we also received an e-copy of the activity book.


See what other TOS Homeschool Bloggers thought of this project here.


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**Any products reviewed by me as a member of the 2010-2011 TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.