Sunday, July 26, 2015

Mira's Announcement Sunday, July 26th, 2015

Check out for some learning activities!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Quasar Kids Learn!

Quasar Kids is blasting off!  Orion and Mira have been working hard to learn more about their universe while documenting their adventures.  They are currently out exploring the deep sea trying to collect and categorize new and old sea creatures and sea things.  This expedition is a challenging one, but the two aquanauts are confident that they will have plenty of cool discoveries to share when they return!  The Quasar Kids Learn website has been updated to include a new learning game and it also has a few items on display at the Quasar Kids Spacestation Mall.


Take your rocket ship to and discover five adventures from the books, Quasar Kids: Alphabet, Numbers, Colors, and Shapes and Quasar Kids: Space A-Z.  Each adventure uses colorful illustrations to portray various phenomena, objects, plants, and animals that the main characters, Orion and Mira face.  Keep your eyes peeled for their new adventure, Quasar Kids: Under the Sea, coming soon.


To practice what has been discovered while reading, the learning area includes fun interactive flash cards for the alphabet, numbers, colors, and soon shapes.  The letters are illustrated to look like plants, animals, and things around us.  The numbers help kids practice number recognition and counting.  The colors reinforce color identification.  Once the shapes section is complete, it will help kids practice identifying shapes in their surroundings.  More will be documented as Mira and Orion complete their new adventures!


The games section has a couple of interactive learning activities to practice further.  There is a memory game that reinforces color identification and a sight words activity that helps kids learn how to spell and say some of the words that are in Orion and Mira's adventures.  Watch for new interactive learning games in the future, like a shape sorter!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Review: Starfall Learning App

In the years leading up to school enrollment, many parents wonder what they can do to help their children prepare.  Searching the internet for age-appropriate learning materials can be a cumbersome task with the various curricula, worksheets, and mobile applications available on the market.  Many of the free mobile applications only include a few learning activities, which young learners may play a few times and then move on.  The public school standards in reading, writing, and arithmetic may seem daunting to parents, but there are resources available ease the learning process and close the skills gap.  Starfall is one such app that is up to the task of preparing young learners for school.


Cost can be a prohibitive factor in acquiring learning resources for your child.  Such resources range from top-dollar Pre-K curricula on desktop websites to freeware skill practice mobile apps.  In the middle, there are premium web and mobile applications, like Starfall, that are fairly easy on the pocket book.  Not only is Starfall economically priced at $35 per year for use at home, but this package includes quite a bit of high quality activities for the price.  If you cannot afford the annual home membership, Starfall has some of its activities available for free.  However, to take advantage of all that Starfall has to offer, I recommend springing for the full home membership.  Starfall also has premium classroom and school-wide packages available too for teachers who also want to benefit from Starfall's success.

Ease of Use

For a toddler, the Starfall tablet app is the easiest to use.  The touchscreen allows my three-year-old son to easily play the learning activities, since the buttons are large enough to handle his somewhat clumsy and frantic touchscreen tapping.  Tablets also allow the material to fill the screen in a readable and aesthetically pleasing manner.  Starfall has taken the smartphone size into account when designing their activities too.  My toddler can use this smartphone app while we are out and about and still gain just as much from it as the tablet version.  But, given the option, he will always prefer the tablet, because it is much larger and easier to see.  Both the mobile applications are preferable to my toddler over the website version.  This is only because my son does not have much experience yet with using my laptop computer and its built-in touch mouse.  Older children and those with more experience using computer mice will have a better experience with the website version.

Learning Activities

The learning activities that attracted my attention originally were the learning-to-read skill development activities.  Some of these are available on the free versions of the website and mobile applications, which is how I was able to test them out with my son before I made my final decision to purchase the full home version.  Starfall includes various recognition activities with letters, numbers, colors, and shapes.  There are numerous books that highlight words as they are being read aloud by Starfall.  There are many videos and songs for young children to observe, dance, and sing along to as they learn.  Vowels and phonics are introduced.  The math includes songs, numbers, geometry, measurement, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.  Starfall also divides their activities into first grade and second grade for a more focused curriculum.  As an added perk, learners can even create their own avatar, which is inserted into many of the included learning videos.  My son likes to adopt a pet cat that eats pizza and plays with his avatar!

Does it work?

The activities are intuitive for a toddler to follow.  Starfall has a simple and colorful design with gentle positive reinforcement, which is important in keeping very young children motivated to learn.  My son can drag and drop letters to spell a word.  The directions are simple and the app rewards success.  If a mistake is made, the application gently reminds the young learner of the rules or the prompt.  Most of the activities don't have a limit for how many wrong answers one can have, which eliminates the anxiety in getting the correct answer every time.  Starfall's instructional design allows its learners to feel as though they are playing, rather than learning; even though they are doing both.  My son has only been using this application for three months, but I can see a drastic improvement in his reading comprehension and mathematical awareness.  He is certainly well on his way to being ready for school in the coming years in part because of Starfall's application.

What is missing?

Science is one subject that schools could focus more on, instead of mainly reading, writing, and arithmetic.  Science comprehension is an important part of our understanding of our world and our youth could benefit from interactive scientific exhibits and hypothesis testing games that mobile application developers could create.  Starfall noticeably lacks a science category and some of the activities, like the one on Earth Day, only have a passing mention of scientific facts and ideas.  Writing practice is another skill that is not fully realized in the Starfall app.  While there are videos and activities that show how to write a letter, there is not a way for learners to actually practice writing letters and numbers; unless parents and teachers print out the writing practice worksheets available on the website.  But Starfall could just as easily develop and incorporate a more fully-featured writing skill development section into their application.  There are other simple applications out there, like LetterSchool, that have this concept down.  To enhance their product further, Starfall should consider adding dedicated science and writing sections.  I think these two sections will add even more value to their fantastic product.

Final Thoughts

I am impressed with the amount of activities that are available for the price.  It's easy for a toddler to use if they have a mobile device.  It's fun and most importantly, it does help toddlers learn.  So, when looking for ways to help prepare your young child for school, Starfall more than adequately fills their learning needs for an economical price.  Plus your child will demand to play Starfall, which will put your mind at ease since they are playing a learning application that helps them learn.  If you own a smartphone or tablet, I highly recommend considering the annual home membership.  There is always room for improvement, so I look forward to seeing what Starfall has in store for the future.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Quasar Kids - Sight Words Activity

Here is a sight words interactive activity for your two to five year old children to help them say and spell some of the words that are in the Quasar Kids books.  It is located on my companion website,

There are three-letter and four-letter words.  Upon entering each page, each word will be spoken to help kids hear the word sounds.  To play, drag the letters from the top row down to the missing spaces to complete each word.  If a letter is misplaced, an incorrect buzzer will sound.  If the letters are placed correctly, a ding sound will play and the word will be spoken again.  Then the next word will appear.  There are only five to six words per section and you will be able to revisit each section as many times as desired.  Once complete, you can go to the main main and press the red exit button or you may press the "X" on the toolbar at the bottom right side of the activity.

This activity plays on desktop computers, tablets, and smartphones.  If you have any suggestions for improvement, please let me know.  I am always happy to make upgrades.  Thank you for your interest in Quasar Kids!

Meet the Quasar Kids!


Hello!  My name is Orion Stargazer and I like to go on adventures.  I like to explore my neighborhood, find creatures underwater, and meet aliens in outer space.  I love learning everything I can about the people, animals, plants, and things I encounter.  Much of the time, I see shapes and colors out in the wild.  Sometimes I even see letters in the living things.  I even like to count and alphabetize when the opportunity presents itself.

Some of my favorite things are:

Food: Flying Saucer Pizza.
Drink: Absolute Zero Strawberry Banana Slushy.
Animal: Leo, my awesome dog!
Color: Green, like my eyes.
Activity: Exploring the unknown.


And...I am Mira Universe!  I am Orion's best friend and fellow explorer.  I work at the Carnation Fixation store with my mom from time to time during the busy seasons, like Valentine's Day and Mother's Day.  Most of the time, though, I hang out with Orion and make cool discoveries.

Some of my favorite things are:

Food: Wormhole Spaghetti.
Drink: Spiral Galaxy Fruit Punch.
Animal: Yolanda, my yak.
Color: Dark Matter Purple.
Activity: Saving Orion from his shenanigans.

You are welcome to join us on our adventures!  We always enjoy company since you may help us solve challenging problems that we face.  Maybe you will learn new things about the universe too.  See you soon!