Math game app I liked

DragonBox Algebra 5+
Reviews for this were so high, I actually paid for it.  I love it.  I can’t say it would have taught the young me algebra, but it definitely would have made young me more comfortable with many of the concepts and equations. Negative reviews at Amazon mostly have to do with downloading to a kindle.  I downloaded mine to a droid phone, so I had no operational issues.

If you or your kid need help w/a level, there is a video for each level at youtube which walks you through it.  Now, there is no explanation, just a video of successfull game playing, so you will know what to do, but not necessarily why.  Don’t miss the bonus section of more complex games which teach some additional concepts.

Developed by Jean-Baptiste Huynh, a Vietnamese Frenchman living in Norway, who taught math for several years and was frustrated with the way math is taught in schools.  More here.

I would buy DragonBox for 5+ sometime in grade school.  It’s set up like a card trading or matching game and no arithmetic skills is required.  I think it would be especially helpful for the math phobic child. I know I wish I’d had it, and I’ve enjoyed it as an adult. My math phobia is epic and is part of my ptsd diagnosis, which is what happens when a psychopath parent ‘helps’ you with your homework. It is not uncommon for merely looking at algebra equations to cause my fight or flight response to kick in, complete with racing heart, elevated feelings of panic, and a desperate sense of thirst. I’m not ready to sit in on an algebra class, but playing Dragonbox was a gentle and fun way to change that. It is not a replacement for a solid math book and sound instruction from a competent teacher, but it is a terrific tool to make algebra more friendly and comprehensible.

You can also buy Dragonbox Algebra 12+, and DragonBox Elements, neither of which I have purchased or played.

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Pete’s Dragon, the new movie

My husband and I went and saw it Saturday.  It’s cute, well done, nothing like the previous version at all, and it’s probably a really good movie for most families.

I have mixed feelings. It is a really cute movie, and all the horrors are very carefully and sensitively handled- but if you have experienced any of the horrors first hand, all that sensitivity just is wet tissue paper covering the horrors, because you know everything they are not saying. As carefully, gently, and sensitively as the car crash is handled, I was sick to my stomach and got a raging head-ache immediately. I left the room during a later car chase, but then, I never watch car chase scenes at all anymore.

Spoilers, sort of.  Pete is essentially a feral child, and he doesn’t remember much about civilization.  He had a horrible and abrupt rupture from his parents, and he’s been living with a dragon for five years.  So he has some issues.

It’s a candy coated version of dealing with a traumatized child and there are good reasons for that, but too much of the scenes with the child being terrified of the new world and family once he’s been discovered, and him running away and being chased (for his own safety, nobody is mean to him or wants anything but good for him), and his fear and grief were too close to home for me right now and I can’t really talk about it or write about without pain and heart-ache, and I sure couldn’t watch it without crying.  It didn’t help that the adorable child playing Pete reminds me a lot of the 3rd Unicornian brother.   So for me, it was all too close to home and too close chronologically to our dealing with children from trauma and it wasn’t a feel good movie because of that.  But that is all very personal.

My husband didn’t make the same connections I did, and I don’t expect anybody to have thought this all through and warned me, but hindsight, I’d have rather done something else with my afternoon and put maybe a year between the boys and this movie for me.

For somebody else- if you’ve parented a child from trauma and it ended badly or is going badly and your soul is still bleeding out, I think you’ll want to watch something else, too.  If you’ve never done that up close and personal, you’ll probably think I’m over-reacting, because, honestly, they have tried really hard to be sensitive and they did a good job.

Whether kids who have similar life experiences- loss, car accidents, foster care- would do well watching it is really an individual call. For some kids, it’s a great opening up for discussion, for others, it’s a horrible opening of old wounds.

Also (big spoiler), of course you have the blow hard guy who wants to hunt the dragon and does succeed in capturing him for a time, and for a while there is confusion about whether the dragon will be shot by real bullets or tranquilizers.

REally, I like almost everything about it except for the many ways it reminds me of things I don’t want to think about.  If you have a different set of winged demons in your Pandora’s Box you’ll probably like it a lot.

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I wonder if they knew?

this ad just makes me want to throw things. Such awful advice.

Read More »

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Virtue and Learning

“Learning, he [Schwen] argues, ‘depends not simply upon the possession of certain cognitive skills but also upon the possession of moral dispositions or virtues that enable inquiry to proceed.’ We should not therefore think of virtue as something added to learning in the form of character education, but rather as something intrinsic to learning.”

from The Bible and the Task of Teaching by David Smith and John Shortt

From an interview with John Shortt:
“What is your philosophy of education?
All depends on what you mean by ‘philosophy’ and ‘education’! Seriously, though, the two Christian writers on education who have influenced me most are Parker Palmer and Nick Wolterstorff. Both of them put relationships at the heart of education, relationships with what one is studying of God’s world and relationships with those with whom you’re studying.

Palmer says, “The goal of a knowledge arising from love is the reunification and reconstruction of broken selves and worlds.” Wolterstorff argues that education is for shalom and he says, “To dwell in shalom is to find delight in living rightly before God, to find delight in living rightly in one’s physical surroundings, to find delight in living rightly with one’s fellow human beings, to find delight even in living rightly with oneself.”

I heartily believe that teaching and learning should be ultimately about developing those relationships.

Do we value league tables above the child’s wellbeing and character?
After what I have just said, you will not be surprised to hear my answer to this a resounding ‘yes’. We tend to focus on that which can be measured and we forget that there are understandings that are difficult to quantify, skills that cannot be measured or observed easily, and character qualities that defy definition in behavioural form. The Book of Proverbs says that wisdom is supreme – we may recognise it when we see it but we cannot measure it easily…”

Amazon has 17 books by Palmer, including
Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation
A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life

Wolterstorff’s work which seems to give the best overview of his philosophy is:
Educating for Shalom: Essays on Christian Higher Education

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Kindle Reads in Christian Studies, free and good deals

All are affiliate links:


Free: Can I Trust the Bible? (Crucial Questions Series Book 2)
by R. C. Sproul

Free: The Attributes of God – with study questions, by A. W. Pink

Free: Top 10 Reasons to Read the Bible Today: The Life-Changing Benefits of Daily Bible Reading (Top 10 Bible Study Series) by Wayne Davies

1.99: Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling
by Ross King

1.99 Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus
by Kyle Idleman

3.99 What’s So Great About Christianity
by Dinesh D’Souza

.99 The 7 Habits That Will Change Your Life Forever
by Adam Houge

.99 Experiencing God
by Richard Blackaby

6.99 Disappointment with God: Three Questions No One Asks Aloud, by Philip Yancey. Publisher blurb: Is God unfair? Is he silent? Is he hidden? In this profoundly personal book, these questions are answered with clarity, richness, and biblical certainty. Philip Yancey points to the odd disparity between our concept of God and the realities of life. Disappointment with God takes us beyond the things that make for disillusionment to a deeper faith, a certitude of God’s love, and a thirst to reach not just for what God gives, but for who he is.

5.70: The Hiding Place
by Corrie Ten Boom

1.99 Be Counted (Numbers): Living a Life That Counts for God (The BE Series Commentary)
by Warren W. Wiersbe

.99 The Wiersbe Bible Study Series: Matthew: Following the King of Kings by Warren W. Wiersbe

2.99 Stories from Ancient Canaan, Second Edition by Michael D. Coogan (Author, Editor), Mark S. Smith (Author, Editor)
(reader review: For I have a word to tell you, / a message to recount to you:

the word of the tree and the whisper of the stone, / the murmur of the heavens to the earth, / of the seas to the stars.

I understand the lightning that the heavens do not know, / the word that people do not know, / and earth’s masses cannot understand.

Come, I will reveal it: / in the midst of my mountain, divine Zaphon, / in the sanctuary, in the mountain of my inheritance, /in the pleasant place, in the hill of my victory. (“Baal,” Tablet 3, col. 3, lines 21-31)

In terms of the specific texts included in it, Michael D. Coogan’s “Stories from Ancient Canaan,” in its new, revised and expanded edition of 2012 (with Mark Smith) must be considered the “latest word” in translations from Ugaritic. This is the language written in an alphabetic cuneiform script, on tablets found at Ras Shamra on the Syrian coast, in a series of excavations starting in 1928, a site soon identified as ancient Ugarit (mentioned in Egyptian texts).

The bulk of the contents, carried over from the first edition, concern battles for supremacy between gods, like those in Mesopotamian and Hittite myths, and, in Greek, in Hesiod’s “Theogony,” and encounters between gods and humans in “epic” settings reminding one of Homer. The 2012 edition also includes two additional, more purely mythological texts, “The Lovely Gods” and “El’s Drinking Party.”

The co-translators were able to make use of the latest text editions (naturally including those by Smith himself) and the latest grammatical and lexical studies, and apparently did exactly that, so, for the moment, they are at the leading edge, at least in English. According to the “Advance Praise” endorsements (from an impressive set of scholars), the translation has been thoroughly revised; not having a copy of the first edition at hand, I have to take their word for it.

Indeed, although the translators say “It is written for the reader without linguistic or scholarly background,” readers who are familiar with more technical treatments might want to consider this one seriously, perhaps more so than the 1978 edition. Those who don’t have the background — like the undergraduates for whom the translation was originally intended — will still find themselves in good hands.)

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