ABC and 123: A Learning Collaborative: Back to School with Balefire Labs, Inc. {Giveaway}

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Back to School with Balefire Labs, Inc. {Giveaway}

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Balefire Labs, Inc. in conjunctions with Mom It Forward Blogger Network. The opinions, stories, and homework drama included in the following post are my own. 

There isn't an hour that goes by that one of our four children doesn't ask, "May I use your phone?  May I play the iPad?"  We have always had what may be considered strict technology limits for our children. On school days they are not given any time on the computer, watching TV, or playing electronic games of any kind unless it is required for academic extension.  On the weekends and over summer vacation we are a bit more laid back about the iPhone and quickly hand it over while we sit at appointments, ride in the car, or wait in long lines.  However, the more time I spend myself examining the amazing educational apps and opportunities offered by smart phones and electronic readers I recognize their function in developing usable skills.  I realize our family needs to balance our technology limits accordingly.  It has also become very evident that having a system for deciphering which apps are indeed high quality and instructional is necessary to avoid mommy guilt technology time off task.

As part of this year's daily homework, my oldest son is required to practice multiplication facts for 10 minutes a day. His teacher copied a set of paper flashcards for each student, but highly encouraged the fourth graders to research online games for quick multiplication practice. Without exaggeration...the first night my son spent and hour and a half trying to find one game intended to develop fact chart confidence, with minimal pop up ads, and age appropriate graphics.  Needless to say we were both frustrated with the "10 minute assignment."   Offering him my phone for a search of the app store might have seemed like the next best answer, but again there are over 100,000 options considered educational. many times have we paid the small amount to try an app that turns out to be a total dud?!

I wish I would have known then about the online service offered by Balefire Labs, Inc.  Balefire offers objective reviews of educational apps to make searching for the right app quick and easy.  Evaluations, including a letter grade and a quick reference features chart, are available for apps intended for students from PreK to 12th Grade.

After familiarizing myself with this tool, Gavin and I worked together to create a great list of possible apps for him to use when practicing his multiplication facts. Balefire Labs features an easy search by topic, grade, and subject area.

Once you have reviewed the easy to understand feature chart, it is helpful to click through and read the detailed reviews which have been compiled using a strict criteria.

Many of the apps Gavin and I discovered to help with his times tables actually ended up being free.  Bonus! {Thought: the small amount you might invest in subscribing to Balefire will save you a load in app fees for activities that might not teach just what you were hoping to teach}

As a family we are appreciative of the option to search apps for the 0-4 year olds in our home as well.  We have found a few favorites and have organized them in a separate bookshelf just for our toddlers.  They are able to build their confidence in navigating age appropriate apps and don't end up distracted by Minion Rush or Temple Run, which teach very little and cause a lot of frustration for their age.

It seems, as more and more classrooms integrate technology, using Balefire Labs when planning for a new year of subject area lessons will save teachers time and hassle while ensuring they are giving their students the best possible opportunities within the limited time.

If you are interested in getting to know more about this product consider finding Balefire Labs on Twitter, Facebookor Google+.  Then, give it a try for yourself!

3 Readers of ABC & 123: A Learning Cooperative will receive a FREE 1-year subscription to Balefire Labs! Use the rafflecopter below to enter before the giveaway closes at 12:00 AM EST on October 4, 2013.


  1. I learned that the reviewers are not sponsored by app developer like other review sites often are!

  2. Love the access to apps to use in the classroom and at home. I like that you have a variety of apps that can be used for specific subjects.

  3. This would be really helpful for our iPad committee at school. We always feel like we are going in blind when making an app purchase since a lot of the reviews are sponsored or reviewed by someone who is not used to working with special needs children.