Today's Wisdom

Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 is done!!

Wow, it's been a while since I've checked in with our school progress. I cannot believe how fast another year has gone by!

2010 has been another great homeschool year for us. I feel so blessed to be able to spend such precious time with my children. I really regret not doing it sooner. And for any of you who are like me and keep telling God over and over "I can't do this" stop NOW! He will give you what you need!!

Classical Conversations has been a great new adventure that we added to our school year but at this time the cost is just too much and we are probably not going to sign back up for next year UNLESS God has other plans :)

Also new for 2010 was our joining The Crew and getting to review lots of great products. Again, a blessing! Get ready for lots of reviews in the New Year!

My goal for our homeschool blog is to keep up with posting more. It is so fun to go back and see what we have done!

With the end of a year, brings end of year testing time for us. Although we will have many more months left in our school year, we go ahead and test early mainly for the discount we can get ;). But with that brings thoughts of the next years curriculum as well.

So, three cheers for 2011!!
Testing to see how this works.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Review of Tiny Planets

Time for another review!  This time we had the opportunity to play and learn with Bing and Bong of Tiny Planets.  There is also a TV show starring Bing and Bong but I must admit that I had never even heard of them! 

Our family is a lover of all things science so when I heard we could build our own planet we were ecstatic.  All of my children fall in the recommended age range for Tiny Planets which is 4 to 12 years old.  My oldest, however quickly grew bored with what he saw.  Sarah (6) and Stephen (9) had a blast reading the books and watching the TV show.  There are also other games and puzzles that you can play. 

The wonderful thing about Tiny Planets is you can explore around for FREE!  If you find that this is something your family would love more of you will need to set up a parent account so that you can purchase keys for your children and they can unlock even more fantastic shows, books, puzzles, and more!  I think these would make great reward items!  The keys are currently priced at the rates listed below and can be purchased after you set up your parent account (which is free).
  • 10 keys for $1.95
  • 20 keys for $3.95
  • 85 keys for $9.95
  • 250 keys for $25.95
  • 600 keys for $49.95
 You must first create a cadet (student) account (again free!).  Then, you can add all of your cadet accounts to one main parent account if you wish.  Then your cadets can explore each of the websites features.  I will list a description of each category for you from the website.

Tiny Planets Home is your central location to access all our Tiny Planets web sites. The Tiny Planets online content has won two BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) awards – Interactive Best Entertainment Website and Best Children's Interactive. We're quite proud of that!

On Tiny Planets TV you can watch any of the Tiny Planets television episodes. This series was co-created with Sesame Workshop and emphasizes science education and early learning goals, such as social and emotional development, language and literacy, problem-solving and reasoning, knowledge and understanding of our world, and creative development. Tiny Planets is the only television program to be endorsed by Montessori Centre International, and it's been a favorite in nearly 100 TV territories around the world. Thank you Montessori!

My Tiny Planets is a new online community and virtual world based on science and space exploration that combines social elements and gaming to create an engaging space exploration experience. Children create an avatar (affectionately called their “Space Cadet”), solve galactic missions with Bing and Bong, sharpen their wits with fast-paced mini-games, navigate their spaceships and avoid wormholes, adopt and care for their own planet, and nurture exotic plants in a biodome, all the while racking up achievements and special badges for their accomplishments.

On Tiny Planets Fun your child can take a few moments to enjoy brainy puzzle games (like fractions, sound and seek, and symmetry), as well as coloring books and comics.

On Tiny Planets Books you'll find interactive story books for younger children featuring Bing and Bong, their friends the locals and the flockers, and all the endearing planets in the Universe of Tiny Planets. Read these books with your child, or teach your child to read on their own!

Tiny Planets Learning is our site for parents, homeschoolers, and educators. Here you'll find lesson plans that include educational activities and science experiments to do at home. Also, you'll see how every episode in the Tiny Planets television series maps to early learning goals. Some Tiny Planets parents have even created curriculum for their children using these creative resources!

Tiny Planets Labs is our playground for things to come! We participate in several EU University research projects, keeping us technologically sharp. When we create new games, we put them on our labs site to test them out. Let us know what you think!

The lesson plans found in the Tiny Planets Learning area was one of my favorite parts of the website!

Our family really enjoyed exploring Tiny Planets and look forward to unlocking more!

**Disclaimer:   I received a free invitation to join Tiny Planets.  The opinions here are my true and honest opinions.**


Don't forget to check out what my fellow crewmates thought of Tiny Planets.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Review of ALEKS


Our family was given the opportunity to give ALEKS a try.  ALEKS stands for Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces and is basically a web-based tutor in math. 

At the website your student begins with a quick tutorial on how to use the ALEKS system.  Here is a sample of that screen.

Then your student will move on to an assessment of what they do and don't know.  They are then given a math program catered to mastering what that don't know.  If the student has already reached mastery in a certain area, they don't have a whole worksheet with those problems on it to wade through to get to the new stuff.  I really do LOVE that!  Here is a sample of the assessment screen.

After the assessment, the student is presented with a pie chart showing which areas they have mastered and which ones they have not.  As they master an area, they pie chart fills up. They also continue to assess the student periodically so that they can always be working on the areas that they need to work on. 

 And they send you, as a parent, the complete results of the assessment.  If you have more than one child like myself you can have one master account that contains all of your students.  Love that too!

After taking the assessment, you can see that there are links provided that your student can click on to go direct to the Learning Mode where corrections/answers are immediately given.  Once a student has demonstrated mastery in the Learning Mode, the item is added to the ALEKS Pie, and new topics may become available.

Students also have the ability to print out 16-question worksheets for additional practice or review. These worksheets are uniquely generated based on the student's current knowledge. The worksheet answer key is automatically sent to the Master Account via the ALEKS Message Center.

You can easily monitor all of your students in the master account screen.

The grade levels are 3-12 and they also have higher education options available.  I let Sarah (my 2nd grader) take the assessment as well and she really enjoyed doing the worksheets too.  She knew some of the material during her assessment so she had a little bit of her pie complete :)

ALEKS offers a free trial for yourself and your student so you can decide for yourself!  There is also a quick 2 minute video tour here.

A subscription to ALEKS can be purchased here for.......
  • $19.95 per student, per month, or
  • $99.95 every 6 months, or
  • $179.95 every 12 months.

For those who would use the program with multiple children like myself there is also a family discount.

Would our family purchase a subscription to ALEKS?  I'd have to say no.  There are several reasons why we would not.  The cost is too high for just being our math program.  Even with the family discount, it would cost as much as a whole curriculum.  And you've heard me say it before but Math is my favorite subject and one that I LOVE to teach so turning it over to a computer to do would be extremely hard for me.  I'm not saying I never will but the circumstances would have to be pretty near perfect =)


Don't forget to check out what my fellow crewmates thought of ALEKS.

**Disclaimer: I was given a subscription of this product for review purposes. I received no other compensation for this review. The opinions here are my true and honest evaluation.**