Big I.Q. Kids: A TOS Review


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Have you heard of Big I.Q. Kids?

Big I.Q. Kids is an online learning program for children
covering Math, Spelling, Vocabulary, and U.S. Geography.

Big I.Q Kids offers Free programs and Paid Premium programs.

I’ve used the Free spelling programs with each of my children in the past,
so I was semi-familiar with Big I.Q Kids before we were asked to review this program.

First if you haven’t yet tried Big I.Q. kids….you really should.
Because they offer the Free options for spelling and vocabulary
you can easily try them out with your children to see what you think.

Additionally you can even sample the Premium version for 7 days to
see if you think it’s worth paying for. (btw-I’ve linked to the chart outlining the differences between the free and paid versions below)

Again, since there is a free version and a paid version,
things might get a bit confusing here, but I’m reviewing the PAID
version for you today.

As part of the Big I.Q. Kids premium version, children get to customize their
character, and just for fun I thought I’d share the ones my children made:

Strikingly similar to their actual daily appearance
minus the pirate hat.
No, nevermind, that’s pretty accurate.

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BigIQkids Spelling & Vocabulary: Complete Program is Free!
With a over 40,000 word dictionary, BigIQkids spelling & vocabulary program comes pre-loaded with 40 lessons for K-adult appropriate word lists. Or, as a parent or teacher, you can easily enter your own word lists and the program will automatically create a week’s worth of lessons, quizzes and tests around your own list with the goal of achieving 100% on the Friday spelling and vocabulary tests. The program includes tracking and progress reports. You can build your own curriculum or use our default settins. The program is completely customizable and goes around a student’s prograss.

What I Like about the Spelling/Vocabulary Program: I love that is free! You can customize word lists, take spelling tests, hear your word, and understand the meaning of your word, and my children’s favorite: Take a spelling bee!

What I Dislike about the Spelling/Vocabulary Program:
Computer Generated Voices. These are used throughout all the programs. They take a bit of getting used to. My kids don’t seem to mind though, but I wonder a bit when the program is teaching vocabulary and my children are asked to pronounce the word immediately after the computer says it. (I’ll also note that my son has a bit of a Speech issue, so I’m hypersensitive to what he is being taught)

BigIQkids Math Program:
(Free v. Premium Membership)
You can set up a child’s lesson to mirror what they are doing in their current curriculum. For example, if the child is on double digit addition and single digit multiplication, the program can focus on just these two areas providing invaluable practice and reinforcement that is certain to provide them with the tools to ace their next test. Or, BigMathTime can automatically generate grade specific and subject specific lessons as per your requirements.

What I Like about the Math Facts Program:

If there is one thing I’ve learned about homeschooling math, it’s that we can always use more proficiency with our math facts! They really do have to be MASTERED. And really, the only way to do that is with repetition and repetition and more repetition. This math program allows you to work with children on addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. These are the only topics covered with the match program and with the timer clock it’s really like an online worksheet. There isn’t a lesson, or demonstration or anything like that. However, when a child clicks on help, it pops up a small screen with a visual hint for how to solve the problem. Additionally you can really tailor this to fit your child’s ability level, and print up the worksheet or set your child up with a quiz.

What I Dislike about the Math Facts Program:
This is a Math FACTS program only. For the price of premium membership ($49.99/year) I would like to see a more expanded Scope of Sequence. Math isn’t just about Facts (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.) What about geometry, and algebra? I have a third grader who is needing these important foundations in math and $50 is 20% of my homeschool budget. Even with the tracking and the customization options, I simply can’t spend that much just on Math Facts alone.

U.S. States:
(Free v. Premium Membership)
Every elementary student will be confronted with the need to know their US State facts to mastery. BigStatesTime is the ultimate tool in learning the state’s location, capital, spelling, abbreviations and general state facts. The program allows parents/teachers to add additional facts which will be included in the child’s lessons and the program culminates in a “State Mastery Exam” that, if passed with 100% mastery, awards the child a State Master Certificate.

What I like about the U.S. States Program:
We loved this program. I haven’t found anything on the web that does what this program does, and I appreciate the fact that Big I.Q kids is providing this service. We are learning about the states this year and I love that my children can hop online and hear a few facts about each State. They also practice spelling the state, learning the state capital, and the abbreviation. Immediately after learning about the state they take a short quiz to make sure they were listening! This is a great program. I can set the difficulty level for each child, turn states on or off, and even set up a test.

What I Dislike about States Program:
While we enjoyed the States program much more than any other program on this site, again the price of $39.99/year is a huge chunk of change to us and it wouldn’t be something that we could afford. Love the program though, and I’m feeling very blessed to be able to review it.

Overall Thoughts:
In general this is a great program, but the cost is something you’ll want to consider before upgrading to a Premium membership. Additionally you should be aware that not only are there advertisements on the free version, there are advertisements in the GAME SECTION of the Premium versions as well. This was actually problematic for my 5 year old who clicked on an ad (thinking it was a game) and was taken offsite to an inappropriate website. Thankfully I was standing close to him and saw that he wasn’t on BigIQ anymore, but I was concerned none-the-less.

I emailed the owner of Big I.Q. Kids to let her know about the ad, and asked about their advertisement policy. I thought it was important that I share with you here about the response I recieved:
(Please note this is in reference to the Premium/Paid version)

“We are IN THE PROCESS of creating a totally AD FREE game page. Because the PREMIUM programs DOES NOT have ads in the lessons portion of the program. The only ADs the student can see in the PREMIUM program is via the game page. BUT, a parent can turn the game page OFF which will creaete an AD FREE program but not a happy student. :) We are working on our game page being an AD FREE game page.”

-Debra Marcionette www.BigIQKids.com

I posted this just for your reference, so you can also know why you might see advertisements in a paid site. I’m really glad to hear they are working on an Ad-free Premium version, and I for one completely understand the need to support the site with outside advertising. It can be quite difficult and a lot of work to make sure every add is Family friendly, it happens to me all the time, and Debra’s quick response showed me that BigIQKids.com was committed to having a safe place for my children to play online.

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Overall I am really looking forward to seeing this company grow. I love to see things like the Interactive Homework lessons, and the Worldwide spelling competitions! I love that Debra provides so much of these programs for Free, and I sincerly hope that the premium version will fit more in our budget in the years to come.

Don’t just take my word for it!
This review is part of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew,
check out what other homechool families thought of Big IQ Kids here!

Disclosure: This product was provided to me for free in exchange for my review as a member of the 2011-2012 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew. My review of the product reflects my honest opinion.

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Toddler Curriculum Package from Timberdoodle!



As part of Timberdoodles blogger review team
I have an awesome product review to share with you today!

Wedgits!

When Timberdoodle asked our family to participate in a review of their
Toddler Curriculum Package, I jumped at the opportunity!
(If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time,
you know that I LOVE educational toys and games)

It’s an addiction passion of mine.

And Wedgits have been on my wishlist for a long time!

When the tote arrived on our doorstep,
I could hardly keep my children away from it long enough to snap this photo:

If you look close enough you might be able to see the reflections
of their little vulture faces hovering in the plastic.
(Imagine them pacing semi-circles behind me as I struggle to take a decent picture)

It’s hard to see everything in the tote
So, here’s more details on what’s included

And here’s how it all works:

Leveled game cards are included, which show a picture of object to be created.
On the back of each card there are the specific building materials needed (i.e. 2 red, 1 green)

Once you gather your shapes, you start to build your creation on top of the green board:

Making sure as you go that your model represents the same shape in the picture:

The shapes can get pretty hard…and when you finish all the cards
(which we haven’t even come close yet)
you can check out even more difficult shapes in the provided booklets:

Wowza!

So do you have these?
I’ve seen them everywhere, and I must say
I thought they were for much older children…like say 10.
But each of my children 8, 5, & 2 were able to use them!

Sissy (8) and Bubba (5) made the more complicated structures:

Monkey (2) spent over an hour arranging and rearranging
these different pieces together.
And while he is still a bit young to be building the exact models on the cards,
he had a great experience just learning how to build with these unique shapes.

I took lots of photos of his adorable Tot hands so you could see
the progression of how he learned to manipulate the pieces:


Hmmm….Now, how did they do that?

Maybe this way……almost there…

Hmmmm….Let’s think about this for a minute….

Success! Yea for Monkey…High Five!

Wedgits were a bit hit at our house, they would be perfect for family game night,
and I love that my Toddler is gaining important motor skills…and confidence!

So what else is included in Timberdoodle’s Toddler Curriculum Package?

Upper Case Lauri A-Z Puzzles
Lower Case Lauri A-Z Puzzles
Rubbabu 3D Shape Sorter Animal Puzzle
Buddy Blocks Puzzle
Fantacolor
Wedgits 20-Piece Tote
Bambino Starter Set
Bambino Special
Earlyears Lace A Shape
3D Feel and Find
Colorback Sea Turtle Maze
I Can Cut Toddler
I Can Paste Toddler
I Can Trace Toddler
I Can Color Toddler
McDonald’s Farm Counting Book
Primary Science Set by Learning Resources
First Hundred Words in English
My First Animal Signs book
Big Book of Things to Spot
The Music Box
Primary Science Set by Learning Resources
Peek-A-Boo Animal Puzzles
Big Oball
Entertaining and Educating Babies and Toddlers
Active Baby, Healthy Brain
Check out Timberdoodle’s Planning Folder for product details

You can also check out all the other “Because Mom Said
reviews to learn more details about each product!

Disclosure: As a member of Timberdoodle’s Blogger Review Team I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a frank and unbiased review.

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Hola Speekee!

Today we have a special visitor!!

It’s Speekee!

Speekee is our newest sponsor,
and he has quickly become my children’s favorite T.V character.
(Elmo is so yesterday)

For the past month we have welcomed Speekee into our home not only to entertain us, but to teach us Spanish as well.

(I say US, because I am probably the only person on the earth who didn’t take Spanish in highschool, and thus can’t teach my children more then the first ten numbers and a few colors that may or may not be pronounced correctly)

So I’m learning from Speekee as we go too.

If you’ve never heard of Speekee,
take a quick second to view a sample episode:

Then come right back…..

Okay, so what do you think?

Cute right!

For some reason Speekee reminds me of E.T.
I don’t know, maybe it’s just me.
Like E.T. and Barney collided together to form a
purple alien like creature.

Whatever he is, my kids LOVE him!
Even Monkey, (who calls Speekee: “Eeeeee” )
enjoys the episodes and looks forward to them.

Here is what’s included in the online subscription:

10 EPISODES, OVER 150 MINUTES OF PURE SPANISH LEARNING
LEARN SPANISH FROM REAL SPANISH CHILDREN IN REAL SPANISH LOCATIONS
FEATURES SONGS, ANIMATION AND PUPPETS
OPTIONAL SUBTITLES IN SPANISH AND ENGLISH
FREE ACTIVITY SHEET DOWNLOADS
GREAT FUN AND EXTREMELY EFFECTIVE
CREATED BY SPECIALIST LANGUAGE TEACHERS

What I like about Speekee:

First of all, I love that it spans the gap in my children’s ages and still keeps them all equally entertained. (2yr-8yr) He is adorable and memorable and my children really listen to hear what he is saying. (And if for some reason they can’t understand him, there are captions on the screen as well)

We officially welcomed Speekee to our classroom by making welcome signs:

Then, following one of the recommend activities,
we made sock puppets to use alongside our lessons.
What fun that was!

Here are Lilly

& Gerpoke

Yeah. Gerpoke.
The boy named his puppet Gerpoke.
(Grrrrrrr-Poke)
Just like it looks.
In case you didn’t know, it’s Spanish for….well,
Gerpoke.

Anyway, we have been using our sock puppets to repeat after Speekee, and to work on new words we are learning with each lesson.
Another aspect I really appreciate is the fact that all of the videos are presented alongside corresponding worksheets and suggested activities. There is like zero planning time needed, you just log on to the video you want and you can print from the same screen as your kiddos are watching.

The worksheets have really helped to solidify what my kids are learning from the videos, and help me to know what to focus on throughout the week.

I think Speekee is a fantastic program , and so far it’s been a great fit for our family.

You can subscribe to Speekee for a monthly fee, or purchase the 10 DVD set. They even have a School license which gives you access to a two-year scheme of work! I’m secretly oogling over this and considering it as part of our budget next year.

And of course if you like to try things out before you buy them,
you can sign up for a Free Two Week Trial

I received a free online subscription to Speekee.com for my honest opinion of the product.

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The Curiosity Files!


Are you Curious about The Curiosity Files?
Well, ponder no more! Because this month we had the pleasure of reviewing our first title from this fantastic series, and I’ve got lots to share with you!

First of all, In case you haven’t heard,
The Curiosity Files is a new series of Unit Studies
targeting children ages 8-13 with the goal of educating
children about, “subjects they’d never find otherwise.”

Isn’t that exciting! What fun!
Topics are picked because they are not usually studied, or because they are unusual or unique in some way.

Here is an adorable quote from the description:

“Professor Ana Lyze and her research “spy” team
specialize in the obscure, the abnormal, and the bizarre.
They search land and seas for oddities
and make each one a star,
such as outlandish insects, rare diseases, unique gems,
and more.”

Currently there are 10 different titles in the series:

Blue Diamond
Dung Beetle
MRSA
Puffer Fish
Red Tide
Zombie Fire Ants
Blue-footed Booby
Cicada Killing Wasp
Quicksand
Platypus

(You can view samples of each from Here)

And with each title the research and planning is almost completely done for you!
You seriously could just print this up, three hole punch it
and spend a week going through it without any worry that you’re not covering something.


Each Unit Study comes with the following features:

-Bible study and memory verses
-Math, history, and geography investigations
-Literature and suggested book list
-Writing, spelling, and vocabulary activities
-Beautiful copywork pages (manuscript and cursive)
-Science observations, projects, and experiments
-Discussion questions
-Art, crafts, drawing, and coloring pages
-Lapbook and notebook pages
-Internet resources and video links
-Complete answer key

Just as a side note here:
I love that these come in e-book format.
Nine times out of Ten if I have a choice I always pick e-books.
Not only can I pick and choose different sections to print,
but I can double up on the worksheets for each child,
and save a copy of the entire unit for when my younger boys are ready.

Oh, and a little side tip:
I know that sometimes ink can be expensive,
especially when your e-book is full of color as this series is.
So for these I usually print in fast-draft mode, which still
prints in color but saves me tons of ink by not using such bright hues. Of course you can always print in grayscale too.

Anyway, Moving on….

We received a copy of QUICKSAND to review this month,
and I’m happy to report that this study was well loved by
all. Seriously, what child doesn’t love learning about
crazy sand that swallows people up to their waist?

Okay, it does sound a little bit scarry
and my kids are a little timid sometimes,
*snort
but the activities in this study were right up
their alley!

What started as this:

Quickly turned into this:

And then was finally channeled into this:

Look closely.
Do you see the poor unsuspecting horse about to
be swallowed up by the “Quicksand!”

Poor Fella.
Didn’t even see it coming.


My Thoughts:

So, I could probably spend the next hour detailing all the fun
aspects of this study, but I thought I’d share just a couple
of the more important qualities with you.

One of my favorite parts of this study was that directly after
reading about the different properties of quicksand, children
are presented with a biblical application stemming from the
ideas they just learned. So for example instead of going directly
into a craft, worksheet or other activity, the next few pages
worked on expanding their newly gained knowledge
and molding it into a lasting wisdom.
This was done with a short bible study, followed by
thought provoking questions that both of my kiddos
were more then eager to answer.

Children learned about the sinking qualities of quicksand,
and then were asked to carry that knowledge over into
a biblical discussion about Jesus’ commands.

Fantastic!

The goal was to affect matters of the heart
first and foremost, and I’m very impressed with how the
authors set it up this way!

I also loved the inclusion of essentially every Subject of study,
Did I already mention that?
Well, it’s important.

I really did just print up the e-book and use it to cover
everything for the week.

My only concerns about this book is that there isn’t
really a schedule, or a recommended daily outline.
(Not that I’d stick to it anyway)
But sometimes it’s just nice to have.

In all, I’m really excited about this
series and I can’t wait to see more titles added to
the collection!

If you want to learn more about The Curiosity Files,
they are available for purchase at The Old Schoolhouse,
ranging in price from $1.00-$6.95 for an e-book download.
(And you can get a discount if you purchase a bundle)

Have you already tried The Curiosity Files?
I’m Curious to hear what you thought

Please note that I received a free product in return for sharing my honest review and opinion.

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