Wednesday, May 22, 2019

REVIEW: Maths Invaders Online and Typing Tournament Online by EdAlive

Since my 5th grader loves online games, I was excited to have him try out Maths Invaders Online and Typing Tournament Online by EdAlive.


EdAlive is an Australian-based company that offers a variety of online learning games to meet the needs of children in grades K-12.  We had the opportunity to play two of them:  Maths Invaders Online and Typing Tournamant Online.Image result for maths invaders online

Maths Invaders Online was our primary focus for this review, and it offers practice for grades K-10.  It includes two types of game play:  Space Rescue and Galactic Campaign.  There is also times table practice and printable, customizable worksheets on a variety of topics for offline practice.  Students work their way through the games, progressing at their own pace.  They begin at level 1 and work their way up, or they can request to skip to a level and have the opportunity to test out to that level automatically.  Parents can view their students’ progress in the parent dashboard.  You can play a trial version of the Space Rescue game here.

Image result for typing tournament onlineTyping Tournament Online is an excellent training program for learning how to touch type.  Students can set goals and practice through an online tournament format.  A map is displayed, and students complete lessons, practice drills, and a test for each level as they progress along the pathway.  Certificates are earned along the way.

Both games can also be played by the parent and are accessed through the parent dashboard.  Your progress is saved but is not reflected in reports.  You can subscribe to either game for just $10/month, $90/year, or a $199 one-time fee for a perpetual subscription as a single home user.


Holden is just finishing up 5th grade.  Math is definitely not his favorite subject, but he does enjoy online games, and Maths Invaders Online was just fun enough to entice him to play and get some extra math practice in the process.


Of the 2 games styles available and the times table practice, he most enjoyed the Space Rescue game.  In fact, I rather enjoyed it myself!  We even sat across from each other and played at the same time to see who could win their game first!  Space Rescue Login

Space Rescue is a Battleship-style game where after answering a series of math questions, you “charge” your weapon to “fire” at a square on the map, hoping to “hit” the ship targets.  You play against several other computer opponents, taking turns at firing.  Every time your turn comes up, you must answer another set of math questions under a timer, getting enough correct answers before time runs out to fire at our target.  This was a lot of fun!  Personally, I found it ratherSpace Rescue Board addicting.  In fact, when I was playing the free trial version of this game, Holden walked in on me while it was on and took over my spot so he could play it instead of me!  I can guarantee you that any time a child of mine willingly practices a learning topic outside of school time, I’m going to let them do it, even if it’s at my own computer!  Even playing one game a day gives students excellent extra practice, and they don’t even feel like they are learning!

The Galactic Campaign game is an excellent way to practice math skills.  After selecting your starting level (or testing into a new level), you begin a campaign.  Here is what your progress looks like through the galaxy. 

Galactic Campaign Progress

At any time, you can click on a new zone in the galaxy and test into that level if you’d like to jump ahead, or you can progress naturally through each level.  Stars indicate your mastery of a level.

During game play in Galactic Campaign, you have these blocks up in the sky that contain math problems in your current level.  To shoot them out of the sky, you must enter an answer in the box on yoPractice Gameur ship at the bottom of the screen and then click on the block that shows the question you are answering.  Then your ship flies over and shoots at that target.  If it’s correct, the block disappears, and another one drops down into its place.  Meanwhile, problems that have been on the screen too long begin to drop down lower at an increasing rate until a warning sound is heard to let you know you are running out of time to extinguish that target.  Also, a moving target flies acrScoring the Gameoss the top of the screen above the regular blocks, giving you limited opportunities to shoot the correct response at that target because other targets are blocking your access to the moving target.  If you shoot those correctly, you get bonus points.  Once the screen has been cleared of targets, your score is displayed, and you move on to another wave that increases in speed just a little more.  Once all of the waves have been defeated in that level, then you move up the pathway!

The third option with Maths Invaders Online is to enter the practice area.  This is for practicing your times tables.  Here, you can choose specific math facts that you want to practice, and only those facts will be generated during play.

Choosing Practice Content Choose Practice Content - Times Tables

You can also generate printable worksheets by selecting the topic and level of your choice, or by selecting specific times tables that you want included for practice.

Select Worksheet Topics Worksheet Sample

For parents who limit their child’s screen time, the printable worksheets create another great customizable option for extra practice that doesn’t involve being online.

Typing Tournament Online provides wonderful touch typing practice with regular maptesting to help students meet their typing goals.  You can choose a goal of typing speed with accuracy when starting out, and you can also update that goal at any time if you find it’s too easy or too hard for you.  I played with this game myself.  I used to type really fast back when I worked at a regular desk job.  I’m a little rusty since I don’t type in great volumes any more, so I thought this would be a fun way for me to brush up on my skills.  At first, I didn’t like having to practice specific keys because I’m beyond the need to “learn” the key placement.  The lessons were long, and I type actual words far faster and more accurately than random letters on the screen.  But then I realized I could click on any level in the pathway and test into it by passing the previous level’s typing test.  Once I skipped up to an appropriate place in the pathway, I really had fun with this! 

Each lesson has you focus on using a specific group of keys.  After brief instruction, you begin practicing.  Then you move on to several drills.  Finally, you take a typing test to complete the level.  Certificates are earned as you progress.

lesson Speed Test

Passed a Test and Level Certificate

In both Maths Invaders Online and Typing Tournament Online, you can check your child’s progress in the parent dashboard and see how well they are moving through the program.

View Progress Progress

We have thoroughly enjoyed both programs, and we loved the ability to test into another level if at any time we found it was too easy.  There’s no sense wasting time on topics they’ve already mastered, so that’s a useful feature.  Likewise, the ability to move down is also handy should the need arise. 

Holden most enjoyed playing at a level that was a little too easy for him, and I decided that was okay with me, simply because even practicing problems he can already do easily helps improve the speed of his responses, which in turn, will help him in testing situations down the road.  I also felt like the typing program helped me rebuild my typing speed and accuracy.  I set my goal really high…higher than I’ve ever been able to type…just so it would provide a worthwhile challenge for me.  In this way, I think it’s a great program, even for adults!  And the bottom line is that both games are fun and stimulating.  Even if you’re taking a summer break, these games would be a great way to keep skills fresh until school begins again!

Check out what other Crew members have to say about these great programs from EdAlive by clicking the banner below.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Open Live Writer Works Again with Blogger!!!

Image result for open live writer logo

For all of you bloggers who have been frustrated by the API changes at Google that completely ruined your ability to use Open Live Writer (formerly known as Microsoft Live Writer back in the day) with Blogger, I have great news for you!  A volunteer user has rewritten the program so that it now works to publish your images, just the way it used to!  Hooray!

This saves faithful OLW users so much heartache from trying to work around the issues with images.  None of us wants to deal with the Blogger interface!  That’s definitely a last resort.  So here are the step-by-step instructions to get you up and running again, including the brand new installation file:

  1. Delete your old OpenLiveWriter folder (or rename it if you want to hang onto it just in case you still have problems).

  2. Install the new, updated installation file: 

  3. Go to your new desktop icon for OLW and right-click on it...then click on "open file location." A window will open showing your installed folders for OLW. Click once on "Update" file and rename can just add a 1 at the end, for instance. Press enter to save your new name. (This will prevent multiple OLW executions in endless windows.)

  4. Now double click on your desktop OLW icon to open the program. Once open, go to File and Options. Then click on Accounts. Click "Add" and go through the login prompts to reselect your blog. This will apply a new authentication token so you don't get an error when you publish. Once reauthorized, you should see two listings for your blog (the original one, and the duplicate one you just added). Delete the first listing of your blog and leave the new one. Click OK to save these settings.

  5. Create a blog post with images and publish! You should have no errors, and your images should appear correctly. I did a draft post first to make sure it appeared correctly the first time before trying to publish permanently.

Enjoy!  If you are a big fan of OLW, then I know this will simply make your day!  I was about ready to give up blogging altogether if no solution could be found.  The frustrations with the Blogger interface are endless, and I just wasn’t prepared to deal with that long-term.  I’m so thankful to Nick Vella in the GitHub forum for volunteering his time and effort to rewriting this program so we can all continue to enjoy OLW.  We are forever grateful! <3

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Our Square Foot Garden Project

On Easter Sunday, my family came home from morning church services ready for the challenge of spending our day constructing two new 4’x4’ square foot garden beds together!  It was a rare opportunity, as all of us were home at the same time that day, and we all know many hands make light work!

I’d already spent Saturday driving all over town gathering the necessary materials.  I’d ordered the vinyl garden beds during the 12 Days of Christmas countdown sale at, so they’ve been in the garage waiting for this day since December.  I went to Lowe’s and got all the peat moss and organic compost I needed.  Then I went to Home Depot for the vermiculite.  The first store only had one bag, so I had to drive across town to get enough for this project.

As soon as we got home, we all changed clothes and got to work.  First, hubby had to clear the ground of grass and build the garden frames so we could figure out placement.  Then I got to work putting down a shallow layer of rubber mulch underneath the garden beds for drainage and then rolled out some weed block fabric…enough to cover the surrounding area to create a weed-free perimeter. 
Next, we all set to work mixing up the ingredients on a giant tarp.  We each held a corner of the tarp and took turns tossing the contents to the middle until it was all mixed up.  The kids also enjoyed “walking” through it with bare feet in order to mix it some more. 
Next, we gave it a good watering and mixed it some more before dragging it into the garden box and dumping it out.

After repeating the whole process for the second garden box, my husband laid a brick border around the perimeter of the weed block fabric.  Then I began dumping out bags of red rubber mulch to cover the space.  I didn’t have enough, and we arrived back at Home Depot, only to discover that they were closing earlier than their website said they were…ugh! 
I had to wait until Monday to get the rest of the rubber mulch to fill it all in.  This gave it a nice, professional, finished look.  I was really pleased with it!  Next, I made a few trips around town throughout the week in search of some starter vegetable plants and herbs.  I started out with a few from Lowe’s, but they were nearly $4/plant, but with 32 squares to fill, that was way more than I wanted to spend this year.  So after asking around to my neighbors via the Next Door app for recommendations, I discovered a local garden center I didn’t even know existed called Mike’s Garden Center, and it was just a few miles up the road.  They had a great selection and very low prices, so I was able to really fill up my garden pretty quickly!  I only have about 6 empty squares left.  I’ll come up with something!  I ended up planting various types of tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, okra, kale, broccoli, strawberries, red-leaf lettuce, yellow summer squash, zucchini, rosemary, dill, flat-leaf Italian parsley, and stevia.  Then I made a trip to Walmart for some affordable tomato cages and a trellis support for the climbing cucumbers and squash.  I got everything in the ground just in time for a round of daily rainstorms that gave everything a good soaking!  Perfect. 

The last thing I’m waiting for is the irrigation system I ordered.  In square foot gardening, you divide each planting section into 1-foot squares.  My hesitation in starting a garden here is that north TX is known for how hot and dry it is most of the year.  So my solution for both the garden grid and the need for regular watering was to order a pre-made irrigation system that serves both as your divider grid and your watering system!  It’s designed especially for square foot gardens.  Brilliant!  I discovered it on someone’s blog.  It’s from a company called Garden in Minutes.  It’s supposed to ship out this weekend, so hopefully, I’ll be able to get it installed next week and be good to go!  I’ll add another photo once that’s installed.

Next year, I plan to start all of my plants from seeds grown indoors in my Miracle-Gro Aerogarden.  I bought a seed starter tray made especially for my Aerogarden Ultra that will let me start up to 50 seeds at once!  Everything grows so fast in the Aerogarden that it will make transplanting easy, and it should yield me some good, healthy starter plants.  It will be a whole lot less expensive, too!  I can’t wait to try it.

We’re less than 2 weeks into the garden, and we’ve already started harvesting strawberries.  I have lots of small peppers hanging already, and everything has plenty of healthy blooms.  I even have a tiny head of broccoli beginning to form!  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that our garden will be a success!

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Teacher Appreciation Day Deals, Tuesday, May 7th!!!

Tuesday, May 7th, is national Teacher Appreciation Day.  If you are a teacher (or home educator, in most cases), check with these local restaurants to verify their participation in these special offers!

Receive FREE Chicken Minis before 10 am or a Free Chicken Sandwich after 10:30 am.  The offer is good all day.

Starting Tuesday, May 7th, SONIC Drive-In is offering teachers (and everyone who appreciates them) a free Route 44 Drink or Slush when you order ahead in the Sonic App and use promo code TEACHERS, good with any purchase through Friday, May 31st.

From 3 pm till close, you can get B1G1F burritos, bowls, salads, or an order of tacos for teachers, faculty, or staff!  This offer is only good on orders placed in the store and not on their app.

Get a Free Adult Buffet for teachers and administrative staff. PRESENT THIS COUPON to get your buffet and bring proof of employment.

Enjoy your special day of treats, and thanks for educating our children!

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Food Deals and Freebies for Cinco de Mayo!

Image result for mexican flag may 5th

Moe's Southwest Grill
From May 2nd-5th, spend $10 at a participating Moe's through Uber Eats and you get a free Homewrecker burrito with the code "FREEFIESTA."

On Sundays through May 19th, order through DoorDash's mobile app and you can get a free small Frosty with the purchase of any Spicy Chicken Sandwich Combo. Just use the code "HOUSEWENDYS."

On May 5th, you can get a medium drink, bag of chips, and Fiesta Chicken Sandwich for just $5.

El Pollo Loco
From May 3rd-5th, you can get a $5 Street Corn Tostada or a $5 five-piece fire-grilled chicken order.

Through May 21st, 7-Eleven is offering small coffees, medium cold brews, and medium Slurpees for just $1.

Enjoy your celebration!