Tag Archives: apps

Using the App "Heads Up" by Ellen Degeneres in Our Homeschool Lessons

Ellen DeGeneres created this wonderful, free application called Heads Up!  It’s a guessing game you download onto iTunes or an Android.  You hold your device, i.e. iPad, facing away form you, and words or phrases will appear on the screen.  Your partner is looking at the screen and they have to get you to guess what’s there.  When you guess correctly, you tilt the screen forward to go to the next card; when you can’t get it or your partner can’t describe it, you tilt the screen back to pass.  You have a minute to guess as many as you can and the app keeps track of your score for you.

It’s like Charades and $100,000 Pyramid for the digital age (so dating myself!).  There are a number of categories called “decks” from which to choose – some are free and some are a one time fee of $0.99 – and there are decks for most ages.  It is so much fun!  We took it with us on our Thanksgiving trip to Boston and introduced it to my parents and my brother.  We were laughing so hard and yelling out our guesses so loud, we thought for sure the guests in the neighboring hotel rooms would call the front desk on us.

But it’s not just fun; there are great educational uses for this game, as well.  Anytime I can make a lesson into a game, I’ve got B’s attention.  With the clock running, B has to focus, read, recognize (do I know what that is or not?), make a decision whether to describe it or pass and figure out what to say or do to get me to guess correctly.  Those are a lot of skills to be working on at the same time!  With most decks, you have to use your words and/or sounds to describe things plus there is one deck where you cannot speak at all.

The only thing I dislike about this app, is that it uses the camera on your device to record video of the person acting out/describing what is on the screen.  You can choose to share this video with The Ellen Degeneres Show, your friends or not.  I am not interested in sharing with anyone and wish that I could turn this feature off.  So, I have covered the cameras on both sides of my device to prevent anything from showing up.  Because I don’t know what happens to those recordings if I don’t share.  Are they deleted?  Saved?  Who might be viewing them?

Although there are learning opportunities in any deck you choose,  I’m going to mention just four of them:

  1. “Animals Gone Wild” – B is an animal lover and huge fan of Wild Kratts.  He loves it when an animal he’s recently learned about shows up in the list.  And when there’s one he doesn’t know, he wants to research it and find out all he can about it.
  2. “Wish You Were Here” – This deck is a great Geography lesson.  It contains landmarks, bodies of waters, fun travel destinations, etc., from The Colosseum, to The Baltic Sea to Disney World.
  3. “Perfect Pairs” – This is a new deck to us and it’s a Language Arts lesson in alliteration.   It contains 2-word phrases that begin with the same letter.  We played it tonight and I could not complete the round after one of B’s clues had me laughing so hard.  He said, “Oh, oh!  This is something we can’t do when friends come over!”  It turns out, the phrase was “double dip”.  LOL
  4. “Build Your Own Deck” – This is the best one!  For $0.99, I just bought this deck tonight (you can buy as many as you want at $0.99/ea), named it “Fun with Homeschool” and started creating cards with things we’ve learned or are learning in homeschool.  Isn’t that AWESOME?!  I’ve added names of famous people, Math & Science terms, historical documents, etc.  I’m throwing it all into one deck because I’m frugal and not very organized, but you can buy and create decks about more specific topics if you want.
We don’t always use this app for lessons; plenty of times we just play for fun.  However, every time we play, we’re learning – about people, places, things and how to communicate with each other.

Your Period – Yes, There’s an App for That

A friend of mine and I and our kids spent the day together Monday. We visited a place that was an hour to an hour an a half away, the kids mostly entertained each other in the car and my friend and I got to talk during the ride. As it is with most women, there are no taboo topics and we eventually got on subject of our periods.  My friend told me about the period app she uses.  I had no idea one existed and never thought to go look for one.  Like most apps, she said there was a free version, that provided everything she needed, and a paid version with extra bells and whistles. You can input when it starts, stops, flow levels, pain levels, cravings, etc. And, once you start tracking your period in it, it will predict when your period will arrive for the next 12 months!  I went to the App Store and downloaded it right there in the car so I wouldn’t forget.  Later that night, I sat down with my wall calendar and entered into the app the start dates of my periods this year so far – that is the ones I remembered to mark on my calendar.

According to my calculations, my period was due this past Monday, the 15th; based on the info I’ve entered, however, this app tells me I was due Tuesday the 16th. Pa-tay-toe, pa-ta-doe. So late Tuesday morning, B and I are working on American History and we both here this musical, “TA-DA!” from somewhere in the house. :o/  B asked what it was and I had no idea. “You must have made a new noise on your phone and forgot you did it,” said B with a sigh. Obviously, the child has long suffered with my memory issues and knows better than me. ;o)

So I went looking for my phone and, sure enough, there was a push notification from the new app – “Your period is due today – yeah!”  Um. OK. I have lived with stage IV endometriosis for 30 years that has planted roots in my bladder, uterus and intestines, preventing doctors from removing it, causing excruciating pain during my periods and infertility.  But let’s go with “yeah!”  Twenty-four hours later, my period, strangely, still hadn’t come, so I hadn’t indicated anything within the app. My phone, therefore, emitted another musical sound. I can’t tell if the sound was more “Ta-Da?” Or “Um, hello?”, but it was probably thinking, “This rookie just needs a little reminder to check in with me and we’ll be just fine.”

This morning, that app meant business. Around 11am, the house was blasted with, “Dum, dum, DUUUUUUUUUM!!!”  I find my phone and it says, “Holy shit, you’ re three days late! Do you have ANY idea what this means?! This is NOT funny. If you’ve gotten your period already, for the love of God enter it into the app!!!”  OK, it didn’t really say that, but I felt that’s what it was saying, between the music, the push notification and the exclamation point. I wonder what tomorrow will bring – a big, red dot banging on the front door with a marching band and a pregnancy test?  😛

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