Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Going for a ride with Math Rider!

Ready for another Math program review? Math Rider is a very well thought out and developed program for those who are working to learn and memorize their basic math facts~ addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division from 0-12.  Each operation includes an Easy, Medium, Advanced level, with a MASTER level that must be unlocked. 

This program really does turn "math drills" into a game that is goal oriented. It is a story-based program (The horse rider is sent on various quests) intended for students at 2nd - 6th grade levels, so it it might not be as attractive to a remedial learner, but really, anyone who is learning those facts could use this program. 

To get a quick overview of the program, you can watch this video, which shows some of the highlights:

Here is an example of one of the quest maps. The red line shows the progress that is attained during each "Ride" which consists of 30 math problems. The distance traveled depends on the number of correct answers given, as well as the speed with which they were given. Although the program does compensate for slightly slower answers, when my littlest was playing, I would type the answers in for him as he would get flustered and hit the wrong keys even though he knew the answers.

At the end of each ride there is the opportunity to either continue on to another ride, or go check out your statistics. A huge amount of information can be found in this frame.   
  • Top Challenges show the problems that have either been missed altogether, or have taken a little while longer than normal to answer. 
  • Mastery Level shows. . . the level of mastery for the entire chart 0-12~ a nice low-stress goal for the student to work towards. 
  • Improvement Since You Started takes into consideration both the speed and the accuracy of the student's current "Ride" compared with the very first ride and shows the improvement. Pretty nice bit of encouragement there. :)  

The chart on the left shows the math problems attempted so far, and the competency with which the problems were answered (Bright Green is good, Orange is problematic, and if there is a Red block, you might want to practice those facts before taking another ride!). I wanted to show you two charts from two different riders so that you could see how they start "Small" (In the first overall screen shot above)and increase in difficulty till every fact is being practiced.
There are some more nifty little statistic options that can be found in this section. If you click on one of the colored squares in the chart you can hear and see that particular problem being answered. In this case the question was found by clicking on the "49" square. 

You can also check out your response time for each problem, and whether you have improved your speed or not. The chart on the left reflects the time improvement from a single completed ride. The chart on the right includes data from 5 rides by another rider.


I think these are cool tools, perhaps not as necessary for homeschoolers, but fun to look at none-the-less (I have the suspicion that they would be more useful for a family with more than a couple of children to keep track of, and extremely useful in a classroom situation). 

The first day my Youngest tried the game he wanted to complete the entire quest! He didn't know all of the facts that were given to him, but at any "Gate" where he "missed" the problem, it was both shown and spoken. With that help, he was able to learn a few of the facts that he didn't already know, and without even realizing that he was learning them. :) Win/Win! Note: Although he completed the quest, he didn't gain mastery of the "Easy Addition Quest" until he had done it a couple more times.

On subsequent days, as the math problems became a little harder, he decided that only 2 or 3 rides/day  was enough. It was interesting to watch... if he became flustered at all, his thinking process went right out the window, and he wildly hit numbers and "enter" without even thinking about them... He is not a fan of "timed" games anywhere, and it showed with that reaction(which is why I started typing his answers in for him as I mentioned above).

One of the things I like is that the game isn't exactly "Timed" as in there is no "time count-down" ~ it's more a matter of not answering the question in time~ a minor differentiation, but it can be a big deal to some children not to see the "Clock" running down, mine being one of them. :) 


My Middlest created a rider so that he could run through his multiplication problems, and enjoyed the "Quest" as a review and a challenge. 

I even signed my Eldest on to run her through her division. Discovered that she didn't have her x12's down pat all the way (But then again, mine aren't instantaneous beyond 7x12 anymore either...), so we might use this for the occasional review/speed challenge with everyone

In general, I am quite happy with Math Rider as a math practice/drill program. If you are interested, you can sign up for the 7 day free trial and see what you think!

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
  • Company/Product: Math Rider
  • Ages: Grade 2-6 or ages 6-12 are the recommended ages
  • Price: $47 lifetime access  (With free updates) 
  • Multiple riders allowed
  • MAC and PC compatible
Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say. As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.
Blessings~



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Monday, April 22, 2013

"A Cry From Egypt" Autographed copy Giveaway


You may remember a review I wrote last fall for the Advanced Reader copy of "A Cry From Egypt," written by Hope Auer, a homeschool graduate and author. If not, go check it out! :)

Hope contacted me today to let me know that the book has been edited and updated, and will be formally released this week. It is currently available for pre-order from Amazon (You can click on the book-cover on the right to go directly there).

I am running a giveaway for an autographed copy of the newly released version, in conjunction with Hope's celebration of the book's release (She has some giveaways from various companies on her site as well, so be sure to check them out!). Please wait a minute or two for the rafflecopter widget to load below. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Blessings~




Disclaimer: No compensation was provided for this post. 
The author will be responsible for sharing her book with the winner.

Compass Classroom (Visual Latin) Store~ 30% off through Wednesday

Compass Classroom Spring SaleHello friends~

Our minds weren't turned towards curriculum and sales last week, due to the horrific local events that made world news, so I missed getting this information up for you in a more timely manner.

Because I do *so* Enjoy Visual Latin and Dwane Thomas I did want to make sure that I posted this 30% off sale information before it ended, since this is the beginning of the curriculum purchasing season for 2013/2014.

If you aren't familiar with Visual Latin, please check out my 2011 review of their materials ~ (Even Boys like this Latin!)
2 years later we still Love, Love, Love this Latin! :)

Please notice that the entire Compass Classroom store is on sale, not just the Visual Latin products. I have not checked out their economics or history products just yet, but they have sparked my interest. :)

Hope this helps you save a few pennies! :)

Blessings~





Progeny Press Literature Study Guides (Treasure Island and The Hobbit)


After our time spent with Progeny Press Literature guides last year, I was pleased to have been chosen to review two more titles this year, Treasure Island for my Middlest (Middle school student) and The Hobbit for my Eldest (High School). 

I would encourage you to take a peek at my review last year  for the Pride and Prejudice and The Bronze Bow study guides for some of my general opinions about these guides (To get a sense of how they work, and as I said, my general opinion), as I don't want to repeat everything here, but I also don't want you to miss anything. :) I honestly can't say enough GOOD about these study guides. They are such high quality, promote REAL vocabulary learning, comprehension and critical thinking, as well as World View through Literature.

I have an addition to that review, that I might as well include here... ;) 
This past summer/fall, months after she had finished reading and analyzing Pride and Prejudice, as Eldest was reading The Giver, she jumped up and ran downstairs to tell me something that was exciting and encouraging to her. She informed me that as she was reading the book, she realized she was asking herself questions very similar to those that were found in the Pride and Prejudice Study Guide. She was analyzing literature without any prompting from me or from a guide or class. To me this is one of the greatest recommendations I could give~ going through one guide of such high caliber prepared her to evaluate her own reading choices independent from an assignment.  Well done Progeny Press!

A couple of details about how we used the guides this time around: 

  • We didn't use the interactive feature on the computer this time around (with another more regular computer user added to the mix [youngest] I just didn't create enough time to spare my computer) ~ both kids used their iTouch to access the guide, and wrote their answers down in a notebook.
  • I didn't read either book aloud (Hard to coordinate the group/ages even though I only have three), but assigned the chapters to be read independently. We were also able to find a free podcast version of Treasure Island (Lit 2 Go) , so my Middlest varied between reading himself, and listening to the podcast. 
  • I assigned the lessons to be done independently as well this time. Works well for Eldest, not as well for Middlest (motivation...).

Thoughts for what I'd like to remember when using future guides: 

  • I have decided that I would prefer (at least Middlest) to use the study guide on the computer whenever possible, because we still have the molting problem referenced in my March 2012 review... but it can't get TOO lost on the computer... right??? :) I also think that he does better that way.
  • If reasonable, I would like to turn these books into Read-alouds as we go through them. Loved it with our review of Bronze Bow, missed doing it this time around.

Borrowing some of the elements from my previous review~ The Basic Format: 

  • Vocabulary~ Both of my students still appreciated the variety of ways that the Vocabulary was presented~ sometimes it was matching, define the word yourself and then compare with the dictionary, crossword puzzle, list antonyms and synonyms~ basically, mixing it up. This made it much more interesting for them.
  • Questions~ Basic comprehension questions
  • Think About the Story~ While in The Bronze Bow these tended to be more comprehension questions or "Why do you think______?"  Treasure Island joined Pride and Prejudice  and The Hobbit, where this section tended to deal more with Literary Devices~ hyperbole, analogy, parallelism, etc.... This section tends to be the most time-consuming as it requires... thinking!
  • Dig Deeper~ This section is where the Christian worldview comes in to play~ relating Scripture to what is happening in the story. This section is one that takes a bit of time a "digging" in the Bible, and it is one of MY favorite elements of the Progeny Press study guides.
  • Sometimes Various Literature Elements are covered as a separate section(Characterization, Setting, Conflict, Parallelism, Riddles & Proverbs, etc... ) at some guides (I noted that they were found in both  The Bronze Bow and The Hobbit)

A few more specifics about the two studies we used this time around: 

Treasure Island
  • Middlest said "It made you think about the story more instead of just reading it. " 
  • He also, once again, appreciated the format of the study guide (Easy to access, and easy to understand what was required). Even though  he only used it via his iTouch, and wasn't able to make use of the interactive forms (If we had more computers in the house, he'd love THAT aspect as well!) he really likes the electronic format. 
The Hobbit
  • Eldest felt that The Hobbit was a little more difficult to absorb than our previous study of Pride and Prejudice
  • There was more "foreign story" (Fantasy-ish land) to wrap her head around, and it seemed that both the story as well as the Study Guide were much more complex.
  • The chapters were much more "Dense" (ie, very long and packed with a huge amount of action and information), which meant that it often took her more than a week to go through each section. 
  • I believe the "Dig Deeper" selections were also more meaty (Or at least there were more questions) this time around.

Summing it all up~ 

I am still highly impressed with the Progeny Press Literature Guides. I love the Christian Worldview Dig Deeper sections. I am especially interested, then, to see how books like The Great Gatsby, Fahrenheit 451, and eventually... The Hunger Games are approached. I trust the studies will far exceed any that I was involved in during my high school career.

Teaching our children to see these works through the "Big Picture" Lens, and to learn how these stories relate to the us as well as the Word is a "Good Thing!"


Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 

Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say. The following titles were included in the reviews: 
Eagle of the Ninth Study Guide
Golden Goblet Study Guide
Treasure Island Study Guide

Beowulf Study Guide
The Hobbit Study Guide
Things Fall Apart Study Guide

 
As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.
Blessings~



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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Get your Timeline OFF the Walls and IN your hands! :)

This next review item has been very engaging, and I can see a huge variety of ways to utilize it. "So what is it, already?" you're asking.  Well, I'm going to give you some hints... 

First, I have to be honest and tell you that I *own* two actual timeline books. I also need to mention that I have had good intentions, but... those poor books are sad and empty for the most part. And my walls are bare (of timelines, at any rate... no index card or paper strips going up and down my stairwell or through the hall). What a traditional homeschool-mom failure! Enter Terri Johnson and the TimelineBuilder iPad App from Knowledge Quest
In order to get a good look at the typical use, please *do*  take a few minutes to check out this video that Terri put together, and then I'll give you my personal input on this product. 



How *We* Used the TimelineBuilder App

I know that timelines are traditionally used as tools for heavy-duty history studies (And you can see an example at the link I mentioned above, as well as in the video), but I had a couple of other ideas that I wanted to try out. 

The first timeline I built was one that I could put together rather quickly on my iPad, as I was utilizing pictures that were already on my camera roll. See... this app lets you create a timeline (With any name and description and time-frame that you want to put in), and then you can add images either from your photo files, or from any other public domain image that you find on the web. There is even a quick-link to wikipedia so that you can search whoever/whatever you want to add as an event on your timeline. I'll mention a couple of things about that in a few minutes. 

Now that you have an idea of what the app is about, here is that timeline~ a fairly simple chronology of some of my youngest child's creative efforts~ He likes me to take pictures of various things, so I thought it would be fun to archive them a little more officially~ :) 

Next~ we had Soooooo much fun playing with this one, and I KNOW we aren't even close to being done ~ We decided to make a timeline of a bunch of my eldest's favorite authors~ I have a ton of images for this project, just because I wanted to showcase some of the things that can be done with this app. BTW, just making this Literary timeline turned into a bit of a history and geography lesson as well, as my eldest looked up the authors in order to get dates for their first published works, as well as images for each one. Some bits and pieces were very interesting to discover! 

What we started out with...
after adding in a ton of authors

This is a zoomed in screen~  you can see that
when you zoom in the events become more
spread out and easier to read
Notice the circled area~ very squishy, yes?
And say you don't care for those straight
up-and-down lines~ Check out what you can do!
Isn't this nifty? These are the same books 
that were circled in the shot above. 
I love having an "Array" of books that
look almost like a heart, because I LOVE reading! :) 
Well... we kept adding authors and we even ended up changing the title of the timeline, as you might notice below~
The Literary Dromedary (Do you see it?) :)
It's rather full, but very interesting to see what decades
had writers who were most interesting to her. 
 The next set of pictures were from those that I emailed to myself~ the events are spaced enough for reading that I could easily print them up if I wanted to have a physical timeline to lay out (Or tape up my stairwell... :D) (My apologies for the spacing~ the photos are right next to one another when I'm typing into my blog , but when I publish it goes all wonky on me, and I haven't figured it out just yet... ) :(

Hopefully this gives you a feel (In spite of the wonky spacing) for how nicely these would print out to putting in a notebook if you were so inclined, OR for a school portfolio or what-have you. Pretty nifty, no?



What We Thought
I had a few other less conventional ideas for which I would consider this app.There is the obvious idea of doing a family tree type of timeline~ that would be a fun project!

I have also thought of making a garden timeline, with photos/dates that each flower or tree begins to bud, and then when they bloom. Nice way to organize it all, and keep a record for your future garden designs.

A Couple of Technicalities or Tips: 


  • When grabbing pictures from Wikipedia, it is necessary to keep tapping on the picture until it is the only thing left on the page and the address is a jpg or gif-type file. THEN you can successfully copy it to your "pasteboard" to add to the timeline. 
  • Just a note that it is sometimes a little difficult to get the images for the events to resize, but keep with it, and you'll get it. This makes it possible to get rid of most "distortion" that shows up when you first paste the image in. Nice feature! 

Goodness~ what an amazing lot of fun we can have with this app! My only concern is that I will run out of space on my iPad(which seems to be a perpetual problem of mine), and won't be able to have too many timelines going at once. Because of that, I would surely love it if this eventually turned into a program or app I could use on my MAC laptop as well, since I have a LOT more storage space there. However, for the time being, I'm pretty happy with what I can do on the iPad~ Thank you, Terri! :)

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say. As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.
Blessings~



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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wordless Wednesday (Believe, Blue, Boys, Blooms, Blessings)


(Finding Beauty after Boston 4/15/13, and cherishing every bit)
BELIEVE

BLUE



~ BOYS~






BEAUTIFUL BLOOMS






Blessings~


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