Recommended Windows Apps & Utilities for the Family

~ Posted on Monday, December 21, 2015 at 5:48 AM ~

I had previously written about how we make use of technologies to parent, educate and learn together as a family and also shared our family's guidelines on technology usage for our children.

As mentioned before, I'm very blessed to own a reliable Windows computer with the fast processing power of Intel processors that does magic in our everyday lives and so for today's post, I will share with you on some of our recommended Windows apps and utilities that we use in our family. Here we go, the list in no particular order:


Microsoft Translator

(** Click icon below to download the app for free)

Recommended Windows Apps & Utilities for the Family

FYI, Microsoft Translator has joined the Windows 10 family with the release of a new Universal Windows 10 app, and this app will work across all of your Windows 10 devices.  The app delivers text in 50 languages, voice in 18 languages, and picture translation by taking a picture of a sign or document and getting a translation in 19 languages.

I downloaded the free app as I believe it can assist me when I have to guide our kiddos in Chinese activities. Compared to some of the utilities and apps that I have used previously, I feel that Microsoft's Translator is easy to use and the translation and pronunciation is pretty accurate. I tried typing in some sentences in English and the translated sentences in Chinese pinyin are pretty amazing! I love this app!

I also tinkered around the translator app in English to French as well. Very cool! I like that the search history and favourite translations can be found in the handy integrated search bar, compared to some previous apps that I used which does not keep track of my past searches.

Recommended Windows Apps & Utilities for the Family

 

News360

(** Click icon below to download the app for free)

My next recommended app is the News360 app which gathers news articles and blog posts from all around the web and, by learning what you enjoy, brings you content that you’ll find interesting and important. This is one of my favourite apps which is on my tablets and smartphones. I read a lot of news and love to share the interesting educational ones especially on my blog Facebook page.

You can create categories for your news articles, for example, I have categories such as Pregnancy, Parenting, Child Health, Lifehacks, local news (pertaining to Malaysia and surrounding countries). I can read the articles on reader or web mode, can save the articles for further reading or choose to share the article out via message, mail, WhatsApp and more.

Recommended Windows Apps & Utilities for the Family

 

Fresh Paint

(** Click icon below to download the app for free)

Recommended Windows Apps & Utilities for the Family

Fresh Paint is a fun and easy to use painting app with the right tools for artists of all ages, it is like the old Paint software that we are used to seeing in our Microsoft computers but has tons of awesome features and very user-friendly. You can choose which painting tools to use, the colours and more.

Recommended Windows Apps & Utilities for the Family

I let our kiddos have a go at the app once I explained in general where to choose the painting tools and how to change the colours. They have fun drawing and colouring their artwork which you can see below:

Recommended Windows Apps & Utilities for the Family

Our 6.5-year-old boy is into anything Egypt and mummy so yeah... naturally it would be the first thing he drew using Fresh Paint. He also drew some currency and coins which he learning during his kindy time. Our 4-year-old girl also want to join in the fun and drew a picture of me (on the left) with her (in the middle purple color) and her baby sister (on the right). I was explaining to our kiddos about linea nigra few hours before she drew this but apparently she didn't forget what mummy told her and drew me with my linea nigra.

Recommended Windows Apps & Utilities for the Family

The cool thing about this app is you can actually colour, blend in and see how the colours mix with each other creating new colour tones. Like making magic with your fingers hahaha! Very cool when you are teaching colour combinations to your kiddos (for example: blue + red = purple).

Fun + learning at the same time, who am I to complain huh?

Recommended Windows Apps & Utilities for the Family

 

OneDrive

(** Click icon below to download the app for free)

Recommended Windows Apps & Utilities for the Family

Another Windows app that makes it to my recommendation list is OneDrive of course! It is the one place for everything in your work and personal life giving you free online storage for all your personal files so that you can get to them from your Windows device, your computer (PC or Mac), and any other devices you use.

I use OneDrive on my smartphone to back up the gazillions pictures which I am constantly snapping of our 3 krakens and hubby and I shared our folders on OneDrive too so we can always browse the files we have shared, I just love the convenience of it!

Recommended Windows Apps & Utilities for the Family

 

Epicurious

(** Click icon below to download the app for free)

Recommended Windows Apps & Utilities for the Family

As a stay-at-home-mum, I cook a lot at home (okay, I don't cook on weekends because those are my resting days but otherwise I do a lot of the cooking alright?) so sometimes I ran out of ideas on what to cook. And there were times when we eat out and I tasted something nice and wanted to replicate the same thing at home. So I turned to one of Windows 10's top free cooking apps, the Epicurious for ideas and inspirations of course!

The recipes are presented in a nice and easy on the eye layout, ingredients clearly written down and there are reviews shared by those who have tried out the recipes. So it is a nifty little app that is useful for cooking mummy like me!

Recommended Windows Apps & Utilities for the Family

 

There are other apps and utilities which we use for our family of course but the above 5 are the regularly used ones that can be found on our Acer Switch device, computers and smartphone. I hope my recommendation is useful and helpful to you guys! In the coming posts, I will share with you some recommended games that we have on our computers and tablets that I personally enjoy using with our kiddos. In the meantime, you can learn more at the Make Magic website

Make magic. Every day.

#makemagiceveryday

 

** Note: I have disabled the commenting feature on my blog engine thanks to all the spammers who happily spam my blog every day. If you wish to ask me any questions, you can find me at my Facebook page (I'm there almost everyday) or just drop me an email if you wish to maintain some anonymity.

Little Botz™ Academy

~ Posted on Sunday, December 20, 2015 at 8:41 AM ~

Few months back, we were out at Atria shopping mall when we saw some people distributing leaflets and upon closer inspection, we realized that it is about Little Botz™ Academy, a new store opening just a close distance to where we were. They conduct robotics classes for young children and knowing our 6.5-year-old boy loves anything robots and Legos, we decided to check out the place. We were given a quick tour in the premise, briefed by Mr. Lok Kah Fai, the founder of Little Botz™ Academy himself. He explained to us the programmes offered and the facilities provided.

Hubby and I were scouting around for some extra classes to enrich our kiddo's knowledge and thought of giving this robotics classes a try. I got in touch with Mr. Lok and asked a few more questions with regards to the programmes and he generously offered us a 1-month trial lessons for our boy before we decide for sure.

I'm a full-time mummy

Little Botz Academy

About the company:

"Little Botz™ Academy is a technology hub that provides a fun and interactive platform for the community to express their creativity and innovation while learning. We aim to develop a pool of innovative generation by providing them with the necessary tools and space to satisfy their curious minds. We are convinced that by instilling awareness about robotics and technology while providing the basic skills, tools and space, we can cultivate creativity and encourage their inquisitive mind.

Our learning methodology is to groom our children on their Higher Order Thinking Skills (H.O.T.S) through the means of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in education for a world that is increasingly automated and technology reliant.

Our team work together with University of Malaya (UM) Research Centre to bring cutting edge learning experience, focusing on instilling Higher Order Thinking Skills (i.e. Analyze, Evaluate, Create) in our children learning environment.

Our learning methodology supports Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013 – 2025 to raise the bar in thinking skills and inculcating problem solving, innovation and creativity in our future generation’s learning experience."

I'm a full-time mummy

I'm sharing with you guys my feedback and pictures of Little Botz™ Academy that I snapped during the 1-month period. The place is spacious, brightly lit and there is a classroom at the further end of the premise.

For parents who are paranoid of security and safety of your child, rest assured, there is a turnstile barrier gate at the entrance of Little Botz™ Academy where you need to tap or swipe your access chip in order to be allowed into the premise or you need to alert one of the staff before they will let you in.

Little Botz Academy

As you can see below, our boy was given a lanyard tag with an access chip (RM50 refundable deposit) and thumb drive which he must wear at all times when he is at the premise. Students who enrolled for the classes were also given a Little Botz™ Academy T-shirt to wear (though you can wear your own clothing as well as long as you are wearing your lanyard tag)

Little Botz Academy

Back to the facilities in the premise - on the right hand section of the premise you see a few tables, with lots of colourful stools and a few standing racks holding boxes after boxes of Lego bricks. Students at the premise can make use of the Lego bricks there and design and build to their hearts' content. Just make sure you clean everything up and put them back into their respective storage boxes after you are done playing. Students attending the classes also need to put their bags and water bottles at one of the standing racks here before they start their classes.

Little Botz Academy

What impressed me about Little Botz™ Academy is their level of service and commitment where they SMS-ed you beginning of each week to inform you the timing of the classes that will be held during the coming weekend (it is either 10am to 2pm session or 3pm to 5pm session) and you can SMS-ed back to them to confirm your child's attendance on which session for the weekend.

There was once when I really need to reschedule our boy's timing (I had earlier confirmed the morning session and last minute had a family outing to attend) and immediately SMS-ed them the night before the class to ask whether I can reschedule his class. They replied back promptly with my request and I'm really happy they accommodate to my request despite the very last minute change.

Little Botz Academy

During the 1-month period, our boy attended 2 classes - Scratch Programming and Lego Mindstorm EV3. Before the classes begin, the teacher will run through the rules which must be adhered by all students during the class. The ground rules are no teasing/bullying/kicking or cursing, no mobile/tablet in classroom, no jumping or running around and students must listen to teacher and always ask for permission to go somewhere (such as toilet or drink water).

I'm a paranoid mother and always, always reminded our young boy to always let the staff know if he wants to go to the toilet and must always ask someone to accompany him (even though the toilet is less than 100 meters away from the premise but still, I'm paranoid remember?). I'm happy to share that I get the opportunity to witness once how the staff actually asked the students while the teacher is preparing for the class whether any of them wanted to go to the toilet and they actually got the children to line up and escorted them to the toilet and back. My heart was assured in seeing that the safety of our children is on the mind of Little Botz™ Academy.

Other than the teacher, there is also another staff who will assist the teacher during the lesson. There may be time when the students need to share the computer but most of the time, the ratio is a student to a computer.

Little Botz Academy

I did find myself alerting one of the staff during one of my observation period when I noticed that the student sharing the computer with our boy decided to hog the mouse and computer to himself, causing our boy to crane out his neck to see what is on the computer (as it was not placed in the middle on the table) and trying his best to get his chance to hold and click the mouse during the lesson. The staff listened to my concerns attentively and promptly went into the classroom and whispered to the student and soon after, I noticed them sharing the computer and taking turns to click the mouse and keyed in instructions on their computer.

After the lesson ends, the student will be required to save their work into the thumb drive. Robots built during the Lego Mindstorm classes will need to be dismantled and put back into the respective storage boxes.

Now feedback on the classes itself - Scratch programming is a visual programming platform developed by MIT University media Lab specifically for children to provide a stepping stone to more advance tools in computer science world. Little Botz™ Academy's Scratch programming is a 3-months development program aimed to educate children on programming as well as structural thinking skills sets. They included steps taken to visualize how programming made to enhance their skills in science experience in school and enhance their computer literacy in general.

I did on few occasions asked our boy to explain to me what he learned in this class. In fact, I use the Scratch website and told him to come up with something for us to see. He did a few simple instructions, getting the cat character to say or move for a specific time. We had earlier (prior to starting the trial at Little Botz™ Academy) introduced Minecraft Hour of Code to our boy so he did have some basic feel of how to code things but I honestly feel he is still too young for this.

I mean, this problem is partly from our side as we have yet to teach our boy how to operate or use a computer/notebook. So for him to understand terms like 'left-click', 'right-click', 'hover the cursor' etc is a bit confusing to a young child. But I'm glad to share that he did understand the concept on how programming (coding) helps to get something to move/work.

Little Botz Academy

The other class that our boy attended was the Lego Mindstorm which is an educational tool by Lego Education used by schools all over the world in enhancing their Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) applications. The Robotic Lego Mindstorm in Little Botz™ Academy is a 3-months development program aimed to educate children on the tools as well as problem solving skills sets by defining key takeaway elements to program and problem solve.

Our 6.5-year-old really enjoyed the Lego Mindstorm classes as he gets to build robots using Lego Technic as well as see how the robots work with the coding applied. In this class, children will assemble the robot by following the diagrams shown on their computer step-by-step. They will then need to put in the coding into the robot's core processor in order to get it to function.

From our boy's feedback, they get to build different robots every time. One time it was car robot, one time it was scorpion robot. I didn't manage to snap pictures from those classes (sorry!!) but it was amazing to see the enthusiasm and excitement in our boy.

Little Botz Academy

At home, I also quizzed our boy what he learned in his Lego Mindstorm classes. He explained to me in the class, they had to assemble the robot first. Then they had to do the coding (few times he even said loudly 'I want to be a programmer when I grow up!') and finally plugged in the cables to the robot and let it move. He also mentioned they learned to do mazes in the class and proceeded to draw a maze layout for me to see.

Little Botz Academy

To sum up my feedback, I think this is a great initiative to get children to be interested in robotics stuff and a creative outlet to nurture their interests too.

I'm a full-time mummy

For more info, do check out Little Botz™ Academy's website.

I'm a full-time mummy

Do note that I received no monetary compensation for this review, we were provided with a 1-month free trial in order to facilitate my review. All opinions expressed in this post are my own. Please do your own research when purchasing products, as your opinions may differ from mine.


** Note: I have disabled the commenting feature on my blog engine thanks to all the spammers who happily spam my blog every day. If you wish to ask me any questions, you can find me at my Facebook page (I'm there almost everyday) or just drop me an email if you wish to maintain some anonymity.

Guidelines On Technology Usage For Our Children

~ Posted on Friday, December 18, 2015 at 6:33 AM ~

I had previously written about how we make use of modern technologies to parent our children and at the same time, educate and learn as we journey into the world of parenthood.

As parents, I absolutely believe there is no way we can avoid and shun our lives from technology and modern devices. It intertwined with almost every aspect of our lives and I feel that the best way is to embrace these technologies but still keep them to a moderate level and of course, being there with our kiddos as we grow along together.

With an Intel® Core™ M processor in our Acer Switch 12 device, it means we get the best of both worlds - a laptop and an ultra-fast tablet useful for our family. I'm very blessed with the magic it does in our everyday lives but as our kiddos grow older and smarter, as parents, we do have to continue to take control and monitor what they do and watch and make sure they don't get too addicted or overly dependent on these modern devices.

So for today's post, I will share with you on our family guidelines on the technology usage for our children.

For our Windows computer, I have added in a Child account since I do let our kiddos use my computer for web browsing and watching educational YouTube videos. Some of the awesome features for this allows me:

- To block certain websites when my child is using the Windows device for browsing

- To enforce control on apps, games and media whether they can download any apps based on the age settings I put in

- To put in control on the screen time whether they can only use my Windows device on certain days (Monday to Sunday) or time range (from what time to what time) and limit of hours' usage on the device

All these awesome measures help us to better monitor our kiddos and yet allowing them to still use our Windows device sensibly.

We also check from time to time certain games that our kiddo loves playing such as Minecraft. My hubby sometimes plays together with our eldest kiddo, going on adventures or free-play mode as we work together to explore and build cool stuff in the game.

http://www.makemagic.my

I'm amazed with the things that our boy build and also of the things he learned just by playing games like this (survival skills, basic how-to build and hunt knowledge and assembling weapons for defence and hunting and more) Because of his passion in Minecraft, we also load reliable parent-approved video channels/playlists for our boy to watch. These videos are normally game tutorials on how to play the games and review of the games etc. In addition to that, the Acer Switch that we use has a long battery life allowing me & my kiddo’s learning experience to continue longer compared to our other IT devices.

I also have a tasks reward points system for our older 2 kiddos where they get to earn points for accomplishing daily tasks and if their points reached a certain level, they get to redeem certain rewards such as jelly beans for snacks and the ultimate reward which is an hour usage of our tablet or computer.

With all these controls in place, I hope that we will continue to be able to parent our kiddos while we reap the positive impact from using these modern technologies in our daily lives.

In the coming posts, I will share with you some recommended apps and games that we have on our computers and tablets that I personally enjoy using with our kiddos. In the meantime, you can learn more at the Make Magic website

Make magic. Every day.

#makemagiceveryday

 

** Note: I have disabled the commenting feature on my blog engine thanks to all the spammers who happily spam my blog every day. If you wish to ask me any questions, you can find me at my Facebook page (I'm there almost everyday) or just drop me an email if you wish to maintain some anonymity.