Kids Academy App

Disclosure: I have been compensated to write an honest review but all opinions expressed are my own.

If you are looking for educational apps to entertain your preschool age child try checking out the apps by Kids Academy Company. One of their apps, which can be found here on iTunes, incorporates many different activities to keep kids entertained.

The app is very easy for kids to navigate on their own. There is also a section for parents where you can add profiles for each child as well as change the sound settings.

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JT’s favorite part of the app was the alphabet section. I really liked this section as well. Your child gets to see and hear the letter and they can interact with the picture. For example for A there is an alligator and if you touch the alligator it animates and you get to see and hear the word alligator as well. I thought the animations on this were really cute.

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I also found that the tracing portions of this app work a little easier than other apps we’ve tried. JT gets frustrated when he keeps getting told that he hasn’t gotten it correctly over and over. I’ve even tried to do it and have trouble getting it correct. On Kids Academy he has an easier time with the tracing, however he has to take his time rather than try to rush through tracing something. I think one thing that makes tracing a little easier on the number section is that you have to touch all the fireflies.

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Also just a note, the free version that you download doesn’t include the full version of any the workbooks. You can purchase each section separately or you can buy all of them as one download.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried any of the Kid’s Academy Company apps for your child and how you liked them.

*Disclosure- I have been compensated to write a review. All opinions expressed in this post are my own honest opinions.*

Egg Artiste

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It’s been a few months I think since I wrote a Virtual Book Club for Kids post because we hadn’t really done anything for about two months or so. We read several books for February’s author, Paul Galdone, but we didn’t really do any activities to go with the books. We had started on making a little stick house for The Three Little Pigs but then Connor dropped it so it broke, perhaps we should have built a mini brick house instead.

March’s author was Marcus Printer and that is what I’ll be writing about today. The book we read was Henri, Egg Artiste and it works perfectly with Easter.

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Henri is an egg artiste, his wife Henrietta gathers the eggs for him and then he paints them and on Easter hides them for kids to find. This year however he wants to paint the eggs differently. He tells Henrietta that he’s tired of the same eggs and he’s sure the kids are too. When he finally starts painting eggs his painting are based off of works from famous painters like Monet and Da Vinci.

In the back of the book you can find all of the paintings that inspired Henri’s eggs so we looked at them and then I told the boys that they were going to paint an egg with their own version of Mark Rothko’s Orange and Yellow. I picked this one just because I figured it would be easiest for them to paint on an egg.

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We actually didn’t have any orange paint so I gave them both red and yellow paint and they mixed their own orange. Connor mixed all of his red and yellow paint together so he had more of a red orange but JT only used a little bit of the red so he ended up with a nice orange color. Once Connor saw JT’s he realized he used too much red so he added in some extra yellow. Once they finished mixing their colors they started painting.

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Connor painted his egg more like the actual painting with the yellow on top and the orange on the bottom. JT swirled the colors around his egg.

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Connor's orange and yellow egg

Connor’s orange and yellow egg

JT's orange and yellow egg

JT’s orange and yellow egg

After they had finished painting their orange and yellow eggs I gave them a piece of paper with an outline of egg that I had drawn on it. What I originally wanted them to do was pick one of the other paintings in the book and paint their own version on their paper. They didn’t want to do that though, they said they wanted to paint their own thing so that’s what they did. Connor said that sometimes paintings show feelings so that is what he wanted to do.

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This one is Connor's painting.

This one is Connor’s painting.

This one is JT's painting.

This one is JT’s painting.

In the book Henrietta suggested to Henri that he use grass to dye some eggs like he had done before so I thought that we could try to make our own dye as well. Our front yard was almost entirely filled with pink flowers so I thought that might work well but I waited to long to try this and the grass got cut before we could pick the flowers. There were still a few but not nearly enough. We decided to try it anyways. We picked all the flowers we could find and then put them in a pot on the stove with some water.

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I waited a just a short while to see what would happen and after they had boiled the color was completely gone from the flowers so we added in a bunch of tiny green leaves from a bush in the backyard. The liquid we ended up with looked brownish. Only JT dyed an egg in it and it came out yellow. The picture of it doesn’t look very bright but it looks just about the same color as the yellow egg we have that was dyed with egg dye from the store.

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A few months ago I had also wanted to try pointillism with them so we could see how using that technique two different colors next to each other end up looking like one color. I decided we could try this with the eggs but the eggs were difficult to work with so it didn’t go so well. I gave them red and yellow paint again and gave them straws with a point cut out on one end so they could make dots.

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The last thing the boys did was dye the rest of the eggs with egg dye purchased from the store. They used the one that comes with the magic crayon so they can draw a design on the egg before they dye it.

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We still have another dozen eggs or so that are ready for them to decorate so they will be doing some egg art this week.

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Austin Zoo

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I never got around to writing about this one but we went to the Austin Zoo back in January. The zoo was different from what I expected but it is actually a rescue zoo and animal sanctuary so it’s not like your typical big zoo.

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When you go in the office to purchase your admission you can also purchase feed for the goats, sheep, llamas, and deer so the boys each got a bag. Once you leave the office there is a wide open space with picnic tables and a concession. They also had a porch with a bunch of strollers that you can use and here were also some chickens walking around here.

The first animal I remember seeing was a lioness. What I remember most though was that there was a sign warning you to not get to close because she might spray you. I thought that was interesting, it’s something I hadn’t seen before. Close to the lion there was a Yorkshire pig and apparently I’ve never seen one before because I was surprised at how big it was. Now that I think of it I don’t think I ever really see pigs. The only time I remember actually seeing a pig was last year at the petting zoo at the CALF in Abilene and that one was a cute miniature pig. I was really amazed by its size so I took a picture but you can’t tell how big it is from the picture.

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There was a tortoise next to the pig and a monkey close by so I also took pictures of them.

The pig's next door neighbor. He was crawling back to his house to eat.

The pig’s next door neighbor. He was crawling back to his house to eat.

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I didn’t take many pictures of the animals that were there but this next picture is of the wolves…wolf hybrids actually. We were looking for them for the longest time and couldn’t find them and then finally I saw something move and spotted them. There was a picnic table here so I thought it would be a good picture with the wolves in the background but you can barely see them.

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Next up is the goats and sheep. This is where the majority of my pictures came from. The goats were very hungry.

This is the first goat the boys fed.  He saw the boys coming and was ready to be fed.

This is the first goat the boys fed. He saw the boys coming and was ready to be fed.

He actually ate up a lot of the boys feed and we had to leave him to feed some other animals but he was still hungry.

He actually ate up a lot of the boys feed and we had to leave him to feed some other animals but he was still hungry.

This is the first goats friend.  He wasn't hungry until we came back over and by that time we only had a little feed left.

This is the first goats friend. He wasn’t hungry until we came back over and by that time we only had a little feed left.

This was the next goat on the other side of the little barn thing.

This was the next goat on the other side of the little barn thing.

Then there was the sheep.

Then there was the sheep.

One of these is the sheep that pushed the other sheep out of the way which isn't nice.

One of these is the sheep that pushed the other sheep out of the way which isn’t nice.

Here you can see a hungry sheep starting from the other side.

Here you can see a hungry sheep starting from the other side.

So we went over to feed him.

So we went over to feed him.

But then this guy came running over.

But then this guy came running over.

There always seems to be that one wild crazy hungry goat and this was him.

There always seems to be that one wild crazy hungry goat and this was him.

Connor was sad because there was no feed left for the llama.

Connor was sad because there was no feed left for the llama.

Nor was there food left for the deer.

Nor was there food left for the deer.

There were also a bunch of peacocks hanging out in this area so I took a picture of them since I took pictures of the peacocks at the Oklahoma City Zoo. I really wanted to get a good picture of them spreading their wings but they were usually facing away from me.

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Then there was this large rooster statue.

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The last animal picture I have other than a rooster is a fox. I really liked the foxes. They were very pretty.

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The Austin Zoo like most other zoos has a train. The train runs at certain times and we were pretty much done looking at all the animals at this point so we just grabbed a snack at the concession stand while we waited. There are also picnic tables by the train so after getting the snack we went to sit down by the train and there were some roosters walking around the tables.

The rooster under our table.

The rooster under our table.

I really enjoyed the train ride. It takes you on a pretty good ride through the wooded area around the zoo and they have different stuff set up to look at. I thought it was cute and definitely worth the extra cost.

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Once we were done riding the train we headed back to the office/gift shop and the boys of course bought something and then we left. The Austin Zoo isn’t big so you can get through fairly quickly. It was much different than I expected but we enjoyed it.

Blue Bell Creameries Tour & Geocaching

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Last week we took a drive to Brenham, Texas.

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It’s close to 3 hours away from us. Brenham is home to Blue Bell Creameries and they have tours of the factory. I wanted to stop at the Texas Cotton Gin Museum in Burton which I think was only about 15 minutes away from Brenham but by the time we got there it was almost 2pm and Blue Bell does tours until 3pm so we had to go straight there. We definitely needed to leave earlier.

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We were lucky though that we got a tour right away, it was packed and they were starting tours about every 5 or 10 minutes but I heard someone saying that they had to wait an hour and a half for their tour and we only had to wait 5 minutes.

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Cameras are not allowed on the tour so I don’t have any pictures but it was interesting. We were told a little bit about the history of Blue Bell and it actually used to be called something else…I don’t remember what…but then they changed the name to Blue Bell because the owner liked Blue Bell flowers. They have a big picture of Blue Bells at the start of the tour along with one of the original factory and one of a lady that used to deliver the ice cream (whose name I also do not recall). The factory in Brenham is the biggest of the 3 Blue Bell factories and they also still use the original factory, also located in Brenham, but only for single items.

After that we moved on and saw where the ice cream is made. We saw several different rooms. Each of them made different flavors. We also walked pass a break room to see if anyone was eating any ice cream. The slogan there at Blue Bell is “We eat all we can and we sell the rest” and the employees are allowed to eat all the ice cream they want.

After the tour we went to the ice cream parlour and everyone on the tour gets a free scoop of ice cream. If you want to buy more or didn’t go on the tour ice cream is $1 a scoop and the scoop is huge…it’s more like 2 scoops. I don’t think I even ate half.

Kooky Kookie Dough- this is one of the boys' favorites.

Kooky Kookie Dough- this is one of the boys’ favorites.

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Once we were done with the ice cream and the gift shop we went outside to try to find the geocache. There is a geocache tour for Washington county and the first eleven caches are in Brenham, this was cache number four but we had no luck finding it. I’m pretty sure I was in the right place but I found nothing so if you’ve found this I would love to know if I was looking in the right place.

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Once we decided to give up finding this one we moved on to the Brenham Visitor’s Center and picked up The Birthplace of Texas Geo Tour Passport. When you find each cache you record the letter you find in the cache on the passport and if you find at least 10 you get a prize. Cache number 2, Action Alley, was also very close to the visitor’s center and this one we found. It was the first one ever that we’ve found.

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After that we went to find cache number 1, Welcome to Brenham. This was at the Washington County Chamber of Commerce and we actually couldn’t find it and then the lady that was there came out and gave us a hint.

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Next we moved onto cache number 3, Horseback Riding. This one was located by the antique carousel at Fireman’s Park but we could not find it. It specifically said that there was no need to move any foliage but we weren’t able to see it. It also said it was in a sneaky container so I guess it was too sneaky for us.

By this time it was getting kind of late and we needed to eat dinner so we just went back to the Texas Cotton Gin Museum to find cache number 13 there. By this time the museum was already closed so we just found the cache. This one was easy, especially with the clue.

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So, we do not get a prize because we only found three and while it says that there is no end to this I don’t know that we’ll ever go back that way. However I still would like to go to the Texas Cotton Gin Museum when it is actually open and I also wanted to go to The Jersey Barnyard on the way back but we were too late for that too so maybe one day.

Valentine Dragon Mailbox

Happy Valentine’s everyone! I thought I would share with you Connor’s Valentine dragon mailbox that we made.

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We used scrapbook paper to make everything because that is what we had on hand. First we found a shoebox and I cut a big slot into the top and then we covered the bottom part with the paper and then the top.

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Next we made scales by cutting triangles out of the paper and folding the bottom part so that they would stand.

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For the wings I drew them how he said he wanted them and then we cut them out and folded the part that attaches to the box. We attached them to the top of the box.

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The tail was a little trickier, I wasn’t sure how we were going to make it stay up but the boys had just made Taiwan lanterns a few days before so I decided to base the tail on that one.

These are the Taiwan lanterns.

These are the Taiwan lanterns.

The kit for the lanterns had two pieces for the tail and each piece had tabs that connected the pieces together so that’s what we did. I drew 2 tail pieces with tabs and then we just cut them out and folded and taped the tabs together.

I didn't take a picture when we put the tail on but you can see it here.

I didn’t take a picture when we put the tail on but you can see it here.

The head was the other tricky part. I wasn’t sure how to make this part at all so we waited till the next day to do it that way I could think about it. I thought about also making it kind of like the lantern’s head but that seemed a little to complicated so then I decided to Google 3D dragon heads and I found some origami ones but Connor didn’t like those. After that I decided to try searching for dragon valentine mailboxes and found a picture of one that used a simple cutout of the top part of the mouth glued to the top of the box and the bottom part glued to the bottom so we decided something similar to that would be best. So we cut out bottom and top head piece and Connor drew a tongue on the bottom part and I drew a nose on the top part. Next we made teeth for each side and we attached the top to the top of the box and the bottom we inserted under the lid. Then we cut out eye pieces and colored hearts inside them and attached them on the same way as the spikes. After that we added the fire. Connor wanted to use straws for the fire so we cut 2 red straws in half and hot glued hearts to the front of them.

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So, that is Connor’s Valentine Dragon mailbox. He blows hearts for fire and Connor said that he lives in a very big flower.

Tour of Large Things

Happy New Year everyone! I know I’m about a month and a half late on that but better late then never.

On New Year’s Day we went on a little driving tour to see some large things. All of these things are in or close to San Antonio. We started off at a car dealership to see a Muffler Man. Take a look at this link to find out more about the Muffler Men. This particular one is a Native American and he is at a Red McCombs dealership.

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Next we moved on to North Star Mall and the world’s largest Cowboy Boots.

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After that we went to see the world’s largest wooden nickel. The nickel is located at the Old Time Wooden Nickel Company. There is a museum but it was closed.

Front of the Wooden Nickel

Front of the Wooden Nickel

Back of the Wooden Nickel, this is changed every year to reflect a different charity.

Back of the Wooden Nickel, this is changed every year to reflect a different charity.

This is by the wooden nickel.

This is by the wooden nickel.

Also next to the wooden nickel.

Also next to the wooden nickel.

From there we went to go see a large candle mosaic of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

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The next stop was a large pig that is kind of like a little house. This was part of a restaurant called Frank’s Hog Stand and apparently at some point it was stolen. Someone was living in it when it was found but it was returned to the restaurant but now the restaurant is no longer there.

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The next thing is located in Converse and it is in a neighborhood but I was able to see the antlers when I was getting off the highway. It is a 40 foot stag made out of junk.

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From Converse we drove to Sequin to visit two different pecans. The first one we went to is currently the world’s largest pecan and the second one used to be the world’s largest pecan until a town in Missouri made a larger one. Sequin wanted to take their title back so they built an even larger one, which you can see here.

World's Largest Pecan

World’s Largest Pecan

The original pecan

The original pecan

After Sequin we stopped at Buc-ee’s in New Braunfels. This particular one happens to be the largest Buc-ee’s and the largest convenience store in the world.

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We had one more stop but we were only able to drive past because there was no where for us to park. It was a large armadillo at Busey’s Flea Market in Schertz. We were able to see it because it is right by the fence of the parking lot but the lot was closed so we couldn’t stop and take a picture.

That was the end of our tour, it pretty much took us all day but it was fun and something different to do.

LaKing’s Confectionary

LaKing’s Confectionary is in Galveston, Texas. It’s a couple of different things rolled up into one place. It’s an ice cream parlour, a soda fountain, coffee bar, and a candy shop.

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You walk into a wide open space. It was bigger then I had imagined. There are tables in the middle and the coffee, soda, and ice cream are on the left side and the candy is to the right.

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There are signs telling you where to get in line for what you want to get and there is a cashier at each. The boys got ice cream, the line for ice cream was the longest. I thought that Connor was going to want a banana split since he had been asking for one the day before but he didn’t, he just wanted ice cream. An interesting fact I found from LaKing’s website is that they make Purity Ice Cream which is the oldest ice cream in Texas.

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I got a cherry ice cream soda and JT stole it. He decided he liked that better than his ice cream I guess.

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Once we were done with their ice cream it was time to get candy. They have a pretty big selection of candy and for some reason it reminds me of the candy store in Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.

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You can watch the taffy being pulled and the man pulling the taffy will toss you a sample. All of the kids seem to really enjoy this, it’s fun to watch.

The boys ended up with a few different types of candy, mostly gummies but they also had some candy that looked like legos that JT loved but unfortunately he didn’t get to eat many of them because he spilled them. I think he was trying to build with them and ended up spilling them all.

Our next stop after LaKing’s was Pirates! Legends of the Gulf Coast. I liked it, I thought it was really interesting but that is a different story for another day.