Review: CTC Math Homeschool Membership

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Math is such a funky thing in our homeschool.  I have one son who struggles with it.  He’s the free spirited one. He’d rather be drawing or day dreaming tha figuring out sums so has convinced himself he isn’t any good at math.  That isn’t exactly true however when he watches his brother who has a real knack for math he can’t help but feel that way.  My other son I call my mathy kid.  It just comes naturally to him without much effort.  We were given the opportunity to review the  CTCMath Homeschool Membership from  CTCMath.  We reviewed it a year or two ago.  We got a lot out of it then and I was anxious to see how my 8 year old son who loved it last time would respond to it this time.

What Did We Use It

Once our membership was reactivated I was all set to go.  It remembered my son’s accounts from the last time.

Each person is given access to the complete program from Kindergarten to Calculus.  Hopping around between levels to reinforce older concepts or just for extra practice is a snap.  I’m a big fan of review and practice so I appreciate that there is plenty to be found just by poking around through the levels a bit.

Generally speaking we used this program several times a week and my 8 year old was able to choose his own topics to work on and move at his own pace as he progressed.

How Does It Work?

This is program is web based and lives on the internet.  There is no software to install on your computer.  Therefore every child can use it from any internet computer. A strong connection will ensure smooth running videos.  Our general internet browser of preference is Chrome and the program runs perfectly with it.  I also tested it in Firefox and Internet Explorer and found no issues.

Every level operates pretty much the exact same way.  When you enter a subject you have the opportunity take a “Standard” or “Comprehensive” Test if you so choose.  When we restarted the program I had my son take several Standard Tests in search of the correct level for him to begin work.  As the names imply, the Comprehensive test has more problems and dives deeper in the topic testing for knowledge.

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Each lesson begins with a video followed by practice problems.  The videos are pretty short, usually under 4 minutes.  They work through several problems just like the ones that the child will get try in just a few moments.  The problem sets are often just 10 questions long, sometimes as few as 5.

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Once all of the lessons are completed in one topic, the child is awarded a certificate.  Perfect scores on all problem sets earns you a Platinum Certificate.  90% or above equals Gold Level.  There is also Silver and Bronze.  Children can redo the questions in the problem sets in order to achieve 100% and earn that Platinum.  It may take several rounds to get that perfect score though as the program averages all of the attempts together.

 My Thoughts… Do We Like It?

There are many great things about this program.  The ability to move around between levels is just wonderful.  Every child can move at his/her own pace with ease.  As questions are answered immediate feedback is given.  All scores are recorded and easily accessible in the parent log-in area.

The award certificates are a fantastic motivator.  We have something to print off and show off to Daddy at the end of the day.  My son loves that so much I often had to take cell phone photos and text them to Daddy because he just couldn’t wait for him to get home.

Ezra loves that he can move at his own pace.  I am even generally ok with him picking and choosing what topics to study.  He is mostly working at the 6th grade level though  he is only 8 years old. If he were in public school he would likely just finishing up 3rd grade. It is exciting to be able to cater his ability without having to purchase a whole bunch of different levels to figure out just where he is. To have a whole wide world of math to explore at his fingertips is an absolute Gold mine for this child.  The only hic-up if you will is that he actually has to stop and TRY a bit harder at this level.  It isn’t the automatic cake-walk that he was used to.  So he got a little frustrated… until I calmed him down and showed him he really CAN work at that level.  Then he was off to the races again.

I do wish this program had a hands in element. I do appreciate that children can move through lessons and practice problems repeatedly until they are solid in the skill.

Overall, I really do appreciate this program.  It is really well done and easy to use.  I love that kids can plug in and work at their own pace.  I love that it doesn’t take any preplanning from me.  I love that I can have a family account for all of my children.  Even my non-math loving kid can do very well with this program if I required it of him.  If this format appeals to you I encourage you to give it a try.

CTCmath Review
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Review: Math Game from Sunya Publishing

Sunya the magic and wonder purple_zpstmg0xcp4As a homeschool mom I think it is fantastic whenever I can find a way to make learning fun… particularly when it comes to math. That’s why I was excited to have the chance to review Sunya – The Magic and Wonder of Math and Science Multiplying & Dividing from Sunya Publishing.  This is a brand new product in the last phases of development that isn’t yet available to the public. It is a game that is recommended children of at least 9 years of age.  I used this with my 8 and 10 year old sons who are well versed in multiplication and division.

This game comes with an instruction book and sixty multiplication and division cards for play.  There is the multiplying & Dividing Number Line Too as well as 30 math and science cards that have facts and riddles.  This is certainly a game designed for children to learn new things as they play all while having fun.

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To play the game I first had to wade through the instruction booklet which is more than 25 pages long. The instructions are long on details with examples.  There are plenty of variations on the basic game that are included in the booklet.  Rounding out the pages are copies of the math and science fact and riddle cards. It was my goal to simply figure out the basic game before I attempted to play with my children.

I can’t deny the fact that instructions are complicated to figure out.  With perseverance and a little help from my husband I was able to get the general idea of how the game is played:

  • One person acts as the dealer and hands out the card.
  • The dealer lays out the number sentence which are the x and = cards.
  • Four card then dealt to each player.
  • Each player, on their turn, draws a card and then tries to make a multiplication (or division sentence if you are playing in division mode) sentence.
  • If you are unable to play you continue drawing cards until you are able to make a number sentence.
  • The goal is to be the first to use all of the your cards first.
  • The first person to use up their cards and call “Sunya” (which is Sanskrit for “empty.”) wins!

Sunya cards close up_zpsfjzakhziYou can block a person from going out though by preventing them from making a number sentence from what is in their hand though this isn’t always possible.

The winner is able to draw a card from the fact and riddles cards and then share it aloud or ask others to solve the riddle or answer the facts.

This is the most basic and simple version of this game and the way we liked to play the most.  There are several varieties explained in the instruction book and we did try to add other rules or change things up a bit but each time we did everyone was left incredibly confused.  In the end we decided to stick to the basics.  I do believe that the more we play it the more we will understand it and it can change and evolve with us over time.

Over all we enjoyed playing this game with the family.  My husband probably enjoyed it more than I did as he is rather math minded and tricky rules are a fun challenge for him.  With his help I do think we’ll further develop our understanding and be able to try other variations as time goes on.  It is a great tool for reinforcing the multiplication and division facts (as well as number sentences).  It is great for a change of pace in your homeschooling days.  It is often a relief to set aside curriculum and play a learning game for instruction and fun.

I’m hoping that as time goes on Sunya Publishing can figure out how to simplify the instruction booklet.  They try to explain to you why the rules are as they are and that is great.  But over all they are overwhelming and I felt a bit frustrated when I had to ask my husband for help to decipher the rules.

The instruction booklet I received was printed in mostly gray scale with just a few pages in full color.  Sunya Publishing asked to to give them their opinion of which of these variations I prefer.  I do prefer color of course as the examples on those pages was most helpful.

As I mentioned before Sunya Publishing is still putting the finishing touches on developing this game and preparing it for release.  They are also working on an adding and subtracting game that may be just right for younger children.  It may be something we look into in the future for my younger daughter.

Math and Science {Sunya Publishing Review}
 

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Review: Times Tales by The Trigger Memory Co.

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Memorizing multiplication facts can be quite the tedious task for some children.  I know my oldest son has a difficult time with this sort of task.  I’m always looking for unique ways to help him building a solid working memory of all of the facts since I sincerely believe this skill will serve him well as he learns higher math.  This is where Times Tales by The Trigger Memory Co. comes in.  

What is Times Tales?

Times Tales is a fantastic program that used mnemonic type stories to engage children’s delight as they commit the multiplication facts to memory.

When purchasing Times Tales digital download which is what I used for this review, includes all that you receive if you purchased the DVD version of this product.  The videos come in two separate files that you can easily watch on your computer.  All of the printable pages (including tests, crossword puzzles, flashcards, etc.) come in 3 separate pdf files.

 

Times Tales covers the following multiplication facts: 3×6, 3×7, 3×8, 3×9, 4×6, 4×7, 4×8, 4×9, 6×6, 6×7, 6×8, 6×9, 7×7, 7×8, 7×9, 8×8, 8×9, and 9×9.

Take a look at an example of the videos right here.

DVDDownloadwithMouse_zpsudjcolkcHow We Used It

The program is simply and straight forward. We watched the videos many times over and used the various worksheets and such in the pdf to reinforce the concepts learned.  When the first video starts you being with an introduction to the characters that make up the stories.  The characters are easily remembers because they resemble the shape of the number they represent (for example Mrs. Snowman is the number 8).  The number characters are then used in the stories that follow.

After the stories the video moves onto a game show where the children are essentially quizzed on their memory of the various number characters and the stories.  It did take us a couple of viewings to get all of the stories down well.  After the quiz it is revealed to the children that stories are actually multiplication facts.  Everyone in my house sort of gave an awed shout for joy.  They thought that was just the coolest thing ever.

It was fun to watch my son realize that he really did learn the facts (quickly) as we went through the printable flashcards together.  If there was a fact he couldn’t quite recall I was able to prompt him with a few keywords from the story and he quickly recalled the answer.  Soon he didn’t need me at all as he was remembering the stories well enough to prompt himself.

Once the child has memorized all of the stories and facts from the first video they are then ready to move on to the second video and add to their multiplication knowledge.  The second video works just the same as the first. They do recommend you take at least a week to work through the first half before moving on to the second.  I appreciated the recommendation to work slowly.  My son tends to rush through things he enjoys which sometimes means he doesn’t master the skill they way he should.

Overall

My family loves Times Tales! It is just what we needed to learn the upper multiplication facts well. It is a lot of fun and the children don’t always realize they are LEARNING!  I love that.  So sneaky in a way! This program totally took the battle out of memorizing the multiplication facts.  What could be better than that!

 

Times Tales by the The Trigger Memory Co REVIEW
 

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Review: Math-U-See Delta Digital Pack from Demme Learning

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We love Demme Learning’s Math-U-See !  My boys, who are now as high as the Delta and Gamma levels have been using the program since the very beginning.  Even my 5 year old is using the Primer level now.  They have added Digital Packs to their math product offerings and recently Ezra and I have had the chance to review the Delta level.

Math-U-See is something of a unique program in the world of math curriculum.  This is a mastery type program.  This means children are to understand completely (or master) one concept before they even think about beginning the next one.

This is a program that also puts to use a fantastic assortment of useful manipulatives.  I emphasize useful here because we’ve tried a few programs (math and other subjects) where the manipulatives sounded nice in theory but really only provided an unnecessary distraction that didn’t really aide in the learning process.  In this case I think the Math-U-See manipulatives absolutely enhance understanding and are essential to all levels of the program.   This, however is a review of the digital program so I’ll save my longer review of manipulatives for another day.  Math U See Building Understanding_zps65k2otme

Finally, this program is not built upon the idea of grades but on levels.  Can I tell you how the LOVE this! Children feel more free to progress at their own pace! In fact my older son is working at the Gamma level while his younger brother is working one book higher at the Delta level.  Of course they realize one is ahead of the other but they know that it doesn’t really matter.  One of my sons zooms ahead in math and the other needs more time.  Books without GRADE 4 (or 5 or 6 or whatever) splashed across them makes all of this much more comfortable for everyone.


Delta_zpsuozoaaonWhat is the Math-U-See Digital Pack?

As I mentioned before, Math-U-See has a few different pieces to it.  There are the manipulatives, the Student Pack which includes a workbook and a test book, and an Instructor’s Pack that has the teacher’s manual and a DVD.  Math-U-See also offers several online (or E-Learning) resources for you like the Worksheet Generator and the Online Drill Page.  The digital packs gather the Instructor’s Pack (including streaming the instructional DVD’s) and the online resources together in one place that you can access easily from your computer.  

 

 

With the Delta Digital Pack you will 12 months access to the following:

  • The Delta Instructional videos streaming for any internet connected device or computer
  • The Teacher’s Instruction Manual in PDF format
  • Lesson Solutions
  • The Skip Counting Songs as Mp3s as well as the songbook in PDF format
  • Access to digital manipulatives.

Important Note: In order to use this program you will have to purchase the physical Delta Student Pack. 

The Delta Level of Math-U-See focuses on division.  It is at this level that children learn to divide single and multi-digit numbers as well as other math topics.  They use converting measures (such as ounces to pounds) to practice the division skills as an example.  Each lesson begins with a video lesson and now that we have the Delta Digital Pack my son watches these online via his computer.  I usually watch them to so that I can understand how he is being taught so that I can assist him if he needs it.  These videos are pretty basic.  You’ll find Mr. Demme in front of a white-board very clearly teaching whatever the concept of the moment is.  His explanations are incredibly easy to follow.  He makes math seem so easy.  I personally appreciate the lack of crazy graphics or gimmicks.  It takes just a few moments (5-10 minutes at most) to to watch him do a lesson and we are done.  After that my son does a page or two from his Student Workbook a day until one lesson is complete (there are 7 worksheets plus a test page in the test book).  Most days math is over in 15-20 minutes MAX.  If I find he needs more practice I just hop onto the Online Worksheet Generator and create him more practice programs.

Accessing the Digital Packs

Getting to the Digital Packs is a little bit of head scratcher.  I was completely confused for a while.  I think I was trying to access it before my morning coffee.  I had expected a simple log-in from Math-U-See’s main webpage but there are more steps involved than that.  First you’ll need to go to http://www.mathusee.com/ and click on “Store.”  Then you’ll need click Log-In and do just that.  Next you’ll need to click on “My Digital Packs.”  Finally you’ll need to click on a drop down box to reveal the Digital Pack you’ve purchased.  Oh wait!  There is one more step!  There is another drop down box that needs you to choose the lesson number you are on.  Once you’ve completed these steps your steaming video will appear.  I’d love it if there were fewer steps.  One basic page to go to, a quick log in.  Maybe each level I’ve purchased displayed as buttons where I just click on it and poof! I’m at the next lesson with maybe some arrows to go back and forth between lessons if need be.

Once you are all logged in and have chosen a lesson your screen will look like this.

Once you are all logged in and have chosen a lesson your screen will look like this.

 

This screen that I’ve shown you is key because it has the links to absolutely everything you need in this digital pack (minus the student workbook and test book).  Get yourself here and navigating is easy.

The digital manipulatives are fun and handy.  There is a video explaining to you just exactly how they work.  The first time you use them there is also a description screen. They are exactly the same a the plastic blocks that you can purchase.  The digital version uses all of the same colors and contain the overlays that you’ll use at various levels.  You can write problems out right within the program too.  If you’d like you can purchase the app separately for your iPad in the Apple App Store.

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A small snapshot of what the digital manipulative app looks like.

 

Why We Like the Digital Pack

Recently we have found ourselves taking our homeschooling on the road from time to time.  We’ve been known to homeschool in doctor’s waiting rooms, while tailgating in parking-lots while waiting on someone, and even in places like Starbucks and Panera.  We can keep chugging along with our math lessons easily!  I just make sure my kids have their student workbooks, a pencil, and our iPad.  I do not have the haul the big bulky box of manipulatives (and most likely loose a few while we are out) or even any of my teacher’s books.  How convenient.

In addition to the convenience we no longer have to keep track of the DVDs!  One of my sons scratched the daylights out of one of our Math-U-See DVDs (but of course he claims he didn’t do it).  No more DVDs solves that problem.

The Cons of the Digital Pack

If you have a child who really needs to touch and feel the manipulatives then you’ll want to get yourself a set (or two in the higher levels) of those anyway.  My only other real concern is that you are only given access for one year!  I can certainly see life happening and a family needing more than year to get through a level of Math-U-See.  Simply expecting a baby and then giving birth can be enough to slow things down considerably.  The year long expiration date also means you will have to pay for it all again if your younger children want to use it in the future.  I’d love to see a “lifetime” option… even if it did cost considerably more.

Overall

I think I will be a permanent subscriber to the Digital Packs.  They are just that convenient.  We already own the physical manipulates so when those are easier for my children to understand they will always be there.  I’ve always appreciated Math-U-See.  Because of the reviews I write we’ve tried other programs… FANTASTIC programs.  Some that we still use regularly… but Math-U-See is our core math program that we always seem to come back to.  It works that well for us.

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Demme Learning's Math-U-See Review
 

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Review: GPALOVEMATH from GPA LEARN

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My family recently had the opportunity to review GPALOVEMATH from GPA LEARN.  This is a web based math program for Kindergarten through Fifth grade children.  I was able to use this with my 3 oldest children including Joyanna who is just shy of 5 was placed in the kindergarten level, Ezra who is 7 I placed at the third grade level but he is my math wiz and could have easily gone for the 4th grade level, and Noah age 9 I also placed at the 3rd grade level.  My kiddos enjoy fun, game like learning experiences… who doesn’t?  I figured this would be a big hit and something great to be able to share with my readers.

Each grade consists of 150 lessons and 10,000 problems.  Phew!  10,000 problems!  That seems extreme!  It really isn’t but I’m glad my children didn’t have to know how much work they could possibly do! I’m feeling daunted just with the knowledge myself.  Really though that is fantastic.  One criticism I often have of some math programs (web based or workbooks) is that they don’t have enough practice and problems for the children to really solidify their skills.  That certainly isn’t the case with this program.  The format of the program is instruction, then the children practice what they  have learned, and they are eventually quizzed.  Most of it very video game like so my children hardly noticed.

The child is led through the program with animated characters.  Each level is given a “learning coach” or a character that serves as something like a teacher.  These coaches included Detective Digits, Abacus the robot, and others.  My children found these characters entertaining and fun.  Like most children they enjoy this sort of cartoon like interaction in their learning.  Unfortunately both of the characters my children used (Detective Digits and Abacus) had very robotic computerized voices and personally that drove me, as an adult, up the wall!  It seemed to me the didn’t record the voices of live actors for these characters, instead they used some sort of computer voice generator. Generally this didn’t bother my children tremendously but I think it made them less enthusiastic about the whole program than they might otherwise be.  While I sat with them and watched for most lessons during our review period I plan to solve own personal issue with these voices by handing them headphones in the future.

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Each day that your child logs on they can find 3 different lesson paths to follow.  As portions are completed new lessons are unlocked.

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Children earn points and badges for each lesson they complete depending on how well they score on the quiz.  They given fun titles such as Apprentice and Master.  Badges have fun titles such as Rock Star, Excellent, or Nice Job.  I really appreciate how positive the language is and how the program encourages children toward success.

Some of the fun elements added to spice things are fun mysteries to solve with clues given by the Learning Coach Character.  Some other elements that make the program easy for busy moms are “lifelines” or hints that help children solve the practice problems if they get stuck.  Plus, by clicking on the right text, problems can be read aloud.  This helped my kindergartener feel particularly successful.

The lessons themselves are very very detailed which has great pluses and minuses.  Every element for the objective the child to learn is incredibly drawn out.  It can slow things down a bit, especially when you have a child who picks up math easily.  It can feel a bit tedious for them.  For other children this is actually a blessing as they need the extra help and explanation.  I have one child who really benefited from the explanations and one who really could have moved ahead at a much faster rate.

Below you can see a few screen shots taken in the various modes.  If you look to the left you can see something of a dashboard that guides you through the program.

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This was a shot taken during the Instruction mode.

 

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This was taken during a practice mode… do you see the three lifelines on the left?

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This was during the quiz mode. You can see some of the badges they are working toward on the left.

We used this program 3 or 4 days a week during the review period.  All of my children were able to use the program pretty independently with just occasional help or guidance from me.  Sometimes they felt like they didn’t need to listen to the Instruction section and would try to rush through without really listening.  I like how the program will allow them to redo their work if mom decides they should.

This program has a system where parents can go in and setup real life rewards for hard work.  After so many lessons the child can earn a reward with the  parent.  The parent determines what the rewards are but there are many suggestions such as baking, parent doing a chore for a child, ice cream trips etc.  I set this up in the very beginning and set it to reward my children after 12 lessons.  I figured if we were using the program 3-4 times a week it would take AT LEAST 2 weeks if not more to earn the reward.  I set the interval up at such a distance because my family already has an incentive system for well done school work so I didn’t want to over do it.  Some how though the program told my children they earned a reward in the very first day.

Final Thoughts

Overall though we enjoyed the program.  Math skills were enhanced.  I saw forward progress in a lot of math objectives and for that I’m pretty pleased.  They kids liked the program well enough that they looked forward to using it most days.  I think this one is certainly worth a try, particularly if you have a reluctant math child who needs some great incentive and an interactive program for math.  There is a free trial so you can determine if this will really work for you before you buy it.

GPA LEARN is on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

GPA Learn Review
 

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Review: Standard Deviants Accelerate

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As a reviewer for the TOS Review crew I regularly get access to review homeschool products I’ve never heard of before. Often times these products are gems and our family is blessed to get to use them.  When  Standard Deviants Accelerate popped up I was quite intrigued. What a name!  Standard Deviants Accelerate has Homeschool Courses on a tremendous variety of topics! Nutrition, Chemistry, Arithmetic, English Composition… you name it.  Some of these are even A.P. level for the highschoolers.

Some of the courses are geared for the younger grades such as arithmetic for 3rd graders however most of the content is appropriate for the high school set. Our family used arithmetic with my Noah who is 8.

We received a full annual subscription to all of their courses, which includes:

  • Arithmetic – Grades 3+
  • Fundamental Math – Grades 4+
  • Earth Science – Grades 6+
  • Nutrition – Grades 6+
  • Algebra – Grades 7+
  • Biology – Grades 7+
  • Chemistry – Grades 9+
  • English Comp. – Grades 9+
  • U.S. History – Grades 9+
  • AP Biolody – Grades 11+
  • AP Chemistry – Grades 11+
  • AP U.S. Government & Politics – Grades 11+
  • AP U.S. History – Grades 11+
  • AP Eng. Composition – Grades 11+

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review
Standard Deviants Accelerate is a company that creates teaching videos where complicated or difficult subjects are broken down into easily understood parts and pieces.   

How We Used the Program

The arithmetic course covers a wide variety of topics including whole numbers and the number line, addition and subtraction, multiplying whole numbers and word problems, dividing whole numbers, decimals, fractions, lines, shapes, and sizes, measurements, and patterns and graphs.

Under each lesson you’ll find 2 or 3 videos.  Every lesson follows the same format.

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Screen Capture of a video

The videos tend to be 10- 15 minutes in length.  They are a mix of graphics or visuals and a teacher voice speaking directly to the student. There is a transcript that you can print off for future reference as well.

Vocab

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There is a vocabulary section.  All of the important words from the lesson are defined.  Children can click on the word to hear it read.

Diagram

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Here is where all of the work is done.  The children interact with the problems by clicking and dragging things around the screen.

Quiz

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I love how the quizzes are automatically graded for you.  One less thing for Mom to do! Instant feedback is an awesome teaching tool as well.

Written Answer

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This page didn’t make much sense to my kiddo.  It is so broad.  I myself didn’t really understand what they were going for.  I think this part could be improved with perhaps word problems or questions children have to solve by hand.  We mostly skipped this page.

Overall

Most days we completed one lesson.  Some days if we were on a roll we did more.  Noah took to it well.  He understood and followed along.  He was able to work through it completely on his own.

The videos are excellent.  Very clear, very straight forward, not too long yet not too short.  The layout of the program is simple and clean.  My kiddo had no issues navigating around the site right from the beginning.  The expectations were completely clear.  He was able to complete lessons indepently.  There was no prep work involved for me.  With three other children, including a newborn in the house, all of that was such a blessing for me.

This program is an excellent supplement.  It took concepts my son already knows or  introduced new ones in fresh ways solidifying his understanding.  The program does not have a lot of practice problems.  Additional practice problems would certainly add value to the experience.

There are definitely some areas where this program can be improved.  Each day we needed to write down where my son left off in his lessons.  There is no indication as to what has been covered or what lesson is up next.  Some things in the parent dashboard were not intrinsic.

While we certainly enjoyed the arithmetic portion this program would certainly be best suited for older children who can get the most out of all of the courses offered.

How to Buy

Courses such as the aritmetic course I reviewed can be purchased for use by one student for $99 for the year or $24.95 a month.  AP courses are available for one student $14.95 per month. You can purchase HERE

Right now there is a free six-month trial!  Definitely worth it.

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Review: UberSmart Software

UberSmart Math Facts Review
Mathfacts! Everyone might not agree with me but I think my children need to have absolute mastery over their math facts.  In my opinion it’ll just make the rest of the mathematical education that much easier.  My oldest son who is nearly 9 seems to have this one step forward two steps back issue with learning his facts.  I’ll swear he’s got everything in addition or subtraction or whatever and then he just doesn’t.  We’ve tried EVERYTHING under the sun.  Our latest experiment was with UberSmart Math Facts created by UberSmart Software which we received for review purposes.

UberSmart Math Facts is a software program that you download to your Windows computer.  You’ll need Windows 7, 8, XP or Vista in order to make this run.  UberSmart Math Facts is designed to help your children master all of their math facts.

Up to 8 students are able to operate the program which runs in several modes according to the student’s ability beginning with basic keyboarding skills needed to key numbers through the actual testing of the math facts.  The program uses dot cards that look much like dominos and flash cards with numbers to teach the facts.  It is a basic and clean computerized flashcard type program.

With addition and subtraction children will learn their facts up through the nines.  In multiplication and division they facts go up to twenty.

Earlier I mentioned how my son seems to take one step forward and two steps backward with mastering his math facts.  A program such as this can be pretty handy.  It is clean and straightforward, not too flashy or game like.  Perfect for the frequent reviewing a child like my son seems to need.

This program is intended for children in kindergarten through sixth grade but can truly be used by anyone seeking to brush up on their facts.  It was easy to download and install.  I was up and running in no time.  I had my children begin with a pre-assessment test which dives into your children’s keyboard entry, number order, greater than and less than, even and odd, and all the math facts.  The software then makes recommendations on areas for improvement based on performance.  The results are printable for your records.

How We Used It

To begin, I ran into the same problem with my Noah that I have run into with EVERY SINGLE computer based math program I’ve ever tried.  He does not possess the a solid ability to enter the answers using a number pad.  We’ve been using programs like this one for 2 or 3 years and he still hasn’t mastered this.  I’ve even used different keyboarding programs and still… he can’t get beyond frantically searching for the correct number key to hit EVERY.SINGLE.TIME he has to enter an answer.  Sure enough, the pre assessment test picked up on that and essentially told me he shouldn’t even try learning the math facts as he needed to learn to keyboard first.

Despite the program’s recommendations you can start your children at any place you’d like.  You can pick and choose what facts they work on and whether they use traditional flashcards or the dot cards.  So while I did have my son practice his keyboarding EVERY SINGLE DAY. In this portion the program gives you numbers to enter just as they are displayed on the screen.  At the end the child is given a time and a report on accuracy.

UberSmart Math Facts Review
I also had him work on his various facts.  Sure enough, his keyboarding skills got in the way.  He might know the answer but he couldn’t get it quick enough as he hunted for the number on the keypad.  (Side note…. his younger brother has no issue with this… this is definitely one of those fascinating differences between children situations… which means… NONE of this is a fault of the program but it does display a weakness in my son’s learning).

My younger son Ezra enjoyed challenging himself with the multiplication facts.  He’s one of those mathy kids that seems to pick up on math skills with ease.  Working math flashcards is a treat for him.

UberSmart Math Facts Review
Eventually I’d like to see my youngest daughter working with the dot cards.  She isn’t quite ready yet but she is itching to try. You can see why if you look at the screen shot below.  These dot cards are rather confusing.  It took me a while to really figure out what was being asked here.  I let my older boys skip right over them.

UberSmart Math Facts Review
Eventually a student can move on to testing their math facts.  A parent adjustable timer is visible on the screen at the bottom. The student is uses the keyboard to enter the answers.  There is a report section where parents can view their child’s score and keep track of the facts that have been mastered.

Overall I appreciate this program.  It is a quick, clean, no nonsense way for my children keep up their math fact practice.  It’s an easy way for me to assess their progress.  Though my six year old mathy kid loves ANYTHING related to math, both boys did suggest that this program was… well… boring.  Maybe that’s why I like it so much!  Nothing flashy! Really the best part to me is that it provides my son an outlet for practicing his number keyboarding skills.  That is unique to this program and sorely needed for him.

Overall a very comprehensive and quick way to practice those facts.  The program runs well and is very user friendly.  All pluses in my world!

For $24.95 and useable for up to 8 people I’d say this is a great little program.

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Review: 12 Month Family Plan from CTC Math


CTC Math Review
Our family is forever on the hunt for the most efficiant and fun way to learn math that we can possible find.  We were recently blessed with the opportunity to review the 12 Month Family Plan from CTC Math.  CTC Math can be used as a full math program for grades K-6 and sometime of a tutoring or supplemental program for the upper grades. It is an online math program for homeschoolers.

CTC Math Review
For this review I began by having both of my boys (Noah age 8 and Ezra age 6) login and access the program at about what I think to be their grade level in math.  Ezra I had begin at 1st grade while Noah I put in 2nd grade.

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I asked the boys to take the comprehensive tests in each subject area so that I could determine if they were well placed.  I found it necessary to sit near my children as they completed the tests and explain to them what the program was asking of them.  This was not a fault of the program but simply the result of a couple of years immersed in a different math program that used different an entirely different approach.  With a few explanations they were generally off and running.

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Once we determined where they needed to start on the lessons the boys became pretty independent.  Each day they would log themselves in, watch a short video lesson, and then complete approximately 20 practice problems.

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The program let them know what they didn’t get right and even gave them the correct answers.  More practice problems were available if needed. Their work is scored and the results recorded within the program.

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We were free to skip around and enter into topics and they or I saw fit. Parents can log in and see their children’s scores in the parent login or they can read the handy email reports that are sent regularly.

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It was during this review that something interesting came out in each of my boys.  Once all of the lessons and the practice problems in a topic are completed the student has the opportunity to earn a certificate.  Certificates come in a variety of levels such as Gold or the ultimate… Platinum.  These certificates totally motivated one of my children.  My son Ezra would work the problems over and over again until he consistently earned a high enough score to get bumped all the way up to the Platinum level.

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He is SO proud of those certificates and has them displayed in our school area.  My other son Noah hated the idea so much he just about refused to continue in the program.  If he couldn’t earn Platinum on the first try it wasn’t going to be worth his effort.

Ezra has a heart for math.  He adores it and he has found great freedom in the CTC program.  I have generally set him loose to repeat lessons or move on as he sees fit.  He is exploring topics such as multiplication and division that we haven’t thought about approach in our other math curriculums.  That just lights up his world.

Noah has decided to retreat back into the safety of his familiar math curriculum world and has returned to doing only what I absolutely require of him.  I’m ok with that.  I don’t think his reluctance has anything to do with the quality of the program and more to do with his attitude toward math in general.

With the 12 Month Family Plan we had unlimited access to all lessons, across all grade levels, for up to ten students.  I really think this is a great program and I love their flexible and affordable plans.

The Family Plan includes 2 or more students comes to$39.97 a month or you can choose $197.00 for 6 months, or even $297.00 for 12 months. However, at the time of this writing CTC Math is holding a sale homeschoolers! $15.97 a month, $78.80 for 6 months, and $118.80 for 12 months

Single Student Plan: $29.97 (sale: $11.97) per month, $127.00 (sale: $50.80) for 6 months, and $197.00 (sale: $78.80).

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