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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Review: The Phonetic Zoo from IEW

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You may have already known about Institute for Excellence in Writing’s excellent writing program…did you know that director Andrew Pudewa has a program for excellence spelling, too?

The Phonetic Zoo program for Excellence in Spelling hinges on how the brain takes in written information. Really fascinating stuff. Really. I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately about how our everyday activities impact what we learn and even how we learn. Basically, the premise is this: when the brain is presented with a new word, it doesn’t take in and record that new word one letter at a time in left-to-right order…it takes in the whole word at once. Think about it…when you are puzzling over how to spell a word, do you try to see if it looks right? Or try to see it as a picture it in your mind? But what if you remember the picture wrong? Or if the picture is a little hazy? A real problem, if even you aren’t struggling with dyslexia or some other LD.

There is an alternative to reading words over and over again and trying to visualize them in our minds when we spell them. If instead we hear the word spelled out loud, the ear (and the brain) can only hear one letter at a time…it’s much harder to mis-record the information that way, and easier to store the correct word order in long-term memory. Brilliant, right? But maybe, like me, you are already a little overwhelmed with doing one-on-one work with multiple kiddos and you were soooo hoping that spelling could be an independent job for your oldest, hmm? That’s where the Phonetic Zoo comes in.

The Zoo is designed for children ages 9 and up, who already have basic spelling under their belts. The program is multi-sensory and sequential. It does involve some teaching (you present each new lesson by initially going over the spelling rule and the words in that lesson), but the daily tests and correcting can be self-lead through the aid of audio CDs. The program can also be used without the CDs, making it completely teacher led.

EIS Starter Set thumb-e_3For review purposes, we received the Level 3 Starter kit, which includes:

  • 6 CDs (levels A and B each have 5)
  • Spelling and the Brain and Introduction to The Phonetic Zoo DVD which explains the program and the whys behind it (also includes a pdf with additional teacher’s notes)
  • Lesson Cards (include all three levels of spelling words and jingles)
  • Personal Spelling Cards to record your kiddo’s everyday spelling goofs
  • Zoo Cards (think of them as spelling trading cards)

Additionally you will need:

  • lined paper
  • 2 different colored ink pens
  • a cd player (headphones preferred)
  • a DVD player

Briefly, this is how it works: for each new lesson, you present the spelling rule, with a little “jingle” to help remember it, and the new word list. Each day, your kiddo will take a test, writing each word as it is spoken on the audio cd (a word is said, given in a sentence, then repeated). Then, he will play the next track, which spells out each word so he can write out the correct spelling and make any corrections. He has to score 100% on the same list 2 times in a row to move onto the next list. For a more detailed description of how the Phonetic Zoo works, check out this page.

And what did we think?

David has always been an excellent speller, it seems to just come naturally to him, so he’s never actually used a formal spelling program. But there are a few things that trip him up. Is it ie or ei? for instance. After giving him the placement test, I decided Level C would be the best fit. And since each level contains the words from all the levels, I knew that if he needed review from any Level A or B words, it wouldn’t be a problem.

The first word list went great. After only a few days, he had it mastered. It helped that there were only a few out of the 15 words that he was iffy on. And then we hit the 2nd word list…and a brick wall. That would be the ie’s.Open-mouthed smile

He could not consistently get them all correct. So he started moaning and groaning and complaining about the enunciation of the words on the CD (the CDs are well produced, so really no problem there) and making other excuses on why he really really really didn’t want to take that test again. I searched the teacher’s notes in vain hoping for more help on teaching the ie rule exceptions (there’s some in there, but not really much---a complete list of the exceptions would have been helpful).

I considered moving onto the next list and coming back to this one…but then I had a lightening bolt. The problem was not the words, but the method.

The program doesn’t strictly follow the theory laid out in the DVD…testing a skill not already mastered is not the way to learn it. While it might make sense to present the rule and then give a pre-test on the first day of a lesson to see how many of the words the child already knows, it really doesn’t make sense to give them the same test every day until they get it right.

You might think that the learning will happen when he corrects his misspellings. There’s a problem with that though…by that point he’s already learned it wrong by spelling it the wrong way. Each time you do something a certain way (whether it’s right or wrong) it strengthens that neural pathway (I told you I had been doing some reading). The correct information has to compete with the incorrect information already in his head.

I was talking to David about this, and I said:

“It’s like putting the cart before the horse! It won’t work.”

He said: “Unless the horse pushes the cart.”

And that’s the answer, of course! Here’s what we are doing (we just started doing it this week, so we’ll have to see how it goes). Instead of listening to the test track each day, David is going to listen to the answer track each day and write out the words as the spelling is dictated to him. In this way, only the correct spelling will be reinforced. On Friday, he’ll take the test and see if he knows them all. I really think this is going to work. But I’ll keep you posted.

Alternatively, I could dictate the spelling myself (and I will if this doesn’t work out), but he likes the independence of doing this on his own (and so do I).

Overall, I like the materials provided with The Phonetic Zoo and think they can be used to give a child a solid spelling background, but the method, as laid out, needs some work. It might be highly successful with kiddos who are motivated by “beating” their previous score on a test…not so much for my test-phobic 10-year-old boy.

Phonetic Zoo is available directly from IEW. You may download the free Phonetic Zoo placement test here.

  • Starter Kits (available for level A, B and C) sell for $99.
  • Audio CD sets for the the levels can be purchased separately for $79 each.
  • BEST VALUE: The Basic Set (includes all the spelling cards and the DVD, but not the audio CDs) sells for $29.
Read more reviews of this product on the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog.

Disclosure: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received the materials these materials free of charge for review purposes. I received no other compensation and was not in any way obligated to write a positive review. The opinions reflected here are my own.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Review: 1-2-3 Magic for Teachers


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“Don’t disappear, you have school work to do.”

“Hmph!”

“What’s the matter?!”

“You never let me do anything I wanna do!”

“I’m really sick of your attitude.”

Child starts randomly kicking things.

“You are acting like a 5-year-old! Get out of my sight…I can’t stand it when you act like this!”

Um, yeah, that started with a 10-year-old having a meltdown and ended with a 39-year-old having a meltdown. Sound familiar? Things can get a little intense around here when the little people decide not to cooperate.

Having your 10-year-old throw a fit about putting on his pajamas or finishing his homework is one thing. But butting heads with him every other minute of the day is a trial by fire…and often tears. How can I teach Peter how to read or help Mary with her math if their older brother is monopolizing my time and energy with constant power struggles? And what happens when the 5-year-old decides that he’s had enough, too, and throws his own tantrum?

Maybe you’ve heard of 1-2-3 Magic…it’s not really magic, but the results can seem magical. In the book, Thomas W. Phelan (registered Ph.D. clinical psychologist) gives parents a method of restoring order to their sometimes chaotic homes by helping their kiddos get hold of themselves (and helping the parents get hold of themselves). For years teachers have been adapting the method to use in their classrooms, but now here’s a new Magic out and it’s just for teachers.

If you’ve been reading this blog lately, you know that discipline has been a bit of an issue lately in our homeschool. I’ve found that there are discipline problems that are unique to our situation, that aren’t really addressed by typical “parenting” books. Too much crazy-making doesn’t leave much room for real learning…it just sucks the verve out of you. To that end, I was looking forward to my review copy of 1-2-3 Magic for Teachers Effective Classroom Discipline Pre-K through Grade 8 book and DVD. Maybe it could make a little magic in my homeschool. But would it work in a homeschool situation? Let’s take a closer look.

The 1-2-3 Magic way to discipline basically consists of 3 parts:
  1. Stopping unwanted behavior through counting.
  2. Starting wanted behavior by providing the right motivation.
  3. Fostering a positive teacher-student relationship.
All 3 parts are necessary for the program to be effective. I’m not going to fully outline the method here for obvious reasons (read the bookSmile), but I will say that the actual method itself is very simple and could probably be explained in a pamphlet instead of a 240+ page book. The rest of book gives you the necessary background to understand the why of the method behind it (your motivation) and provides advice on specific situations and logistical considerations. There’s also some cheerleading going on, of course, and plenty of hypothetical examples of the method being use. This last was a bit of a disappointment for me. As a skeptic, I was hoping for some actual true-to-life examples, but these were obviously scripted along the lines of: this is what would happen if a teacher used the 1-2-3 and this is what would happen to the poor soul who didn’t use the 1-2-3. The DVD does a better job in this area. While the examples are exactly the same, the addition of teacher interviews gives a real-life face to the method.

The 3-hour long DVD consists of a seminar by Phelan and teacher/consultant Sarah Jane Schonour explaining the method, interspersed with snippets of interviews with teachers who use the method, and dramatic portrayals of the method being used (or not used) in a classroom. It’s an effective presentation, though not one you’ll want to watch in one sitting. While the book covers the same info, I found the DVD to be more thorough in many instances. One example, the book states that: A student who is doing his work will not be a discipline problem. Effective teaching is the best preventive discipline strategy. There’s really no explanation given beyond that…it kinda sounds like “if you were a better teacher, your kids wouldn’t act up.” But the DVD goes on to give some practical advice in this area, making suggestions that I can actually use, and not making me feel like a it’s all my fault.

With any book, there will be something you don’t quite see eye-to-eye with the author on. There are a few instances in both the book and the DVD of an Us vs. Them (Teachers vs. Parents) attitude that turned me off. An example from the book: Other times explanations will take the teacher and child through what we call the Talk-Persuade-Argue-Yell Syndrome (with some parents this is known as the Talk-Persuade-Argue-Yell-Hit Syndrome). This same point is made in the DVD, but mitigated somewhat by explanation. Now, I don’t disagree that hitting happens in some households, but why mention this here? While all parents have the potential of hitting or even abusing their children, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most do not. Why make us all suspects?

Putting these few things aside, what impressed me most was that the 1-2-3 reasoning makes sense, the methods seem do-able…and the DVD gives me the tools to do it. I haven’t been left floundering trying to figure it out for myself. Thank you Dr. Phelan and Ms. Schonour, I have high hopes for implementing this in my homeschool. I feel confident that I can train my kiddos to be paragons of virtue by giving them the limits they need to control their own behavior and the instruction they need to make better choices. Is this the answer to my whole virtue training dilemma? No, of course not. But reading the book and viewing the DVD has:
  • Reinforced my conviction that my own role is paramount to getting proper discipline in our homeschool (I yell, you yell, we all yell…not!) and
  • more order will free up our time and energy to pursue true virtue training.
It’s a tall order, but I have high hopes. We’ll see how it goes.

I would recommend the 1-2-3 Magic for Teachers DVD as a resource to anyone who is teaching multiple students at home, teaching in a co-op situation, or even volunteering with groups of children. While there are chapters that won’t apply to a non-school situation, and parents have fewer restraints on them than teachers, the majority of the material is very usable or adaptable to a homeschool or homeschool co-op. Might be worth adding to your local support group’s library if they have one. And definitely worth borrowing from your local library.

1-2-3 Magic for Teachers Effective Classroom Discipline Pre-K through Grade 8 (by Thomas W. Phelan, Ph.D. and Sarah Jane Schonour, M.A.) is available
  • as a paperback from booksellers and libraries, or directly from Parent Magic, Inc. for $14.95, or
  • as a DVD for $39.95.
Note: Pricing current as of 12/28/10.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Tomoson Product review & giveaway Disclosure.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Free St. Joseph Coloring Book!

Free 17-page downloadable pdf of St. Joseph. To get it, go to Holy Heroes. The link for the coloring book is under "Free Stuff" in the right sidebar. You do need to fill in your name and email address.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Review and Giveaway: The Narnia Code DVD---CLOSED

cover_book-n-dvd There's something in Narnia that keeps drawing you back to those same dog-eared, worn paperback copies from your childhood. We’ve read the books aloud, listened to them on CD, and little Mary is even reading them on her own. The language is simple enough that a child’s imagination can be captured and held within their pages, and yet literary scholars have been studying C.S. Lewis’ fairytale series for decades. What’s the big deal? you ask? Aren’t they just children’s stories with some Christian allegory thrown in?

I’ll admit it, I thought I knew all there was to know about Narnia. Maybe I was wrong (adults who think they know all there is to know about a thing usually are).

I expected The Narnia Code to be pretty much a rehashing of Lewis’ religious beliefs as they present themselves in the Narnia series. Wouldn’t you know that there’s more to it than that? There’s another, deeper message here, a “coded message,” Lewis’ little secret, recently discovered by Michael Ward and elucidated in his book Planet Narnia. This documentary is, more or less, an overview of the theory he presents in his book, bookended by a brief biography of Lewis and testimony of various “experts” as they explore what Ward’s scholarship adds to Narnia.

The Narnia Code originally appeared on the BBC and runs just under an hour long. There are about 45 minutes of extras, as well, including interviews with a few of Lewis’ contemporaries and further exploration of Ward’s theory. Production values are high. It’s well paced and there’s not too much hinting around about what this theory actually is before they come to the point. My husband and I enjoyed watching it. It’s long enough to get the main points across without bogging you down with details. And it whetted our appetite for more…enough that hubby has decided to read the book (he’s got it in hand and says it is definitely a scholarly work, not light reading, but, hey, he’s an academic). I suspect that the Narnia Code will make Ward’s ideas more accessible to the general public.

And what are those theories? There’s a little hint in the trailer:

But I don’t want to give away the bulk of the film.

There were a couple of things I didn’t like. Often an “expert” in the film is identified only by name and the fact that he’s an expert. An expert of what? Credentials anyone? The last part of the film has kind of a fawning tone to it with all the experts talking about how wonderful Ward’s discovery is and Ward himself has kind of this smug look and tone throughout most of the film. I found that distracting to the material, but I suppose the guy does deserve some congratulations.

Overall, I recommend The Narnia Code, a nice little addition if you are reading any of Lewis’ works, especially for the biographical material (the theory itself will also give you some insight into Lewis’ world). I plan on showing this to the kiddos at some point (yep, I think it’s appropriate for upper elementary and up). I don't know what I think of Ward's theory, yet (I may read the book). I do know how easy it is to read things into a work of literature that may or may not be there (my degree is in English and Philosophy). Just a little caveat. Don't believe everything you see on TV.

OK, one of my readers is going to receive their very own copy of The Narnia Code to add to their video library!

Giveaway is open to US residents. Please be sure that your email is visible in your comment or profile or your entry will not count.

Deadline to enter: December 22, 2010 (10 pm est)

Mandatory to enter (1 entry): Leave a comment telling me which book of C.S. Lewis’ is your fave. And it doesn’t have to be a Narnia book.

Optional additional entries (please leave a separate comment for each entry):

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Need a Last Minute Christmas Gift?

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Do you know how hard it is to find a game that a 10-year-old, an almost 7-year-old, and a 5-year-old can all play together? And that the adults can enjoy, too?

Simple games like Memory and Fish are right up the 5’s alley, but a yawn to the 10. He’d rather be wheeling and dealing for Park Place in Monopoly or bumping someone back to start in Sorry! And nobody wants to hear the 6 whine when big bro takes yet another of her countries in Risk. Or spend hours playing it until everybody calls it a draw.

But this…this is the perfect game! Wits & Wagers Family by North Star Games.

  • It’s not too long.
  • It’s not too hard.
  • No paper money to deal with.
  • And you just might learn something.

dec 13 2010 037Wits & Wagers Family is designed for 3-10 players, ages 8 and up. Each player gets a small wipe-off board, a dry-erase marker and 2 Meeples (little wooden pawns). The game comes with a stack of trivia questions…the correct answer to each question is a number. Once the question is read aloud, each player guesses the answer and writes it on their board. The boards are then lined up in order and then everybody “bets” by placing their Meeples on the answer they think is the right one (you have two Meeples, so you can split your wager). Points are awarded based on who wrote the closest answer and who bet on the closest answer.

The questions are pretty varied, anything from “In what year was a cow first brought to the American colonies?” to “What’s the record number of tennis balls a dog has held in its mouth at one time?” to “How many types of nuts come in a can of Planters Mixed Nuts?” In other words, things that anybody might know or nobody might know. There are some pop-cultural references (like references to kid’s TV programs), but these were few and far between and easy enough to skip over.

dec 13 2010 034Everybody in our house gets in on this game, even 20-month-old Emma (she would be the one stealing and chewing on the markers and hiding the Meeples). 5-year-old Peter’s answers generally range from something under 10 to binary numbers (e.g. 100100001).

What’s awesome about this is that you don’t have to be a trivia geek to win…once everybody’s got their answers are out there, you can choose any answer as your best bet (and sometimes, believe or not, the binary number is the best bet). This has led to some discussions on probability with the kiddos, too.

We love that it’s fun, but short (tired Littles bore easily), and doesn’t make anyone fell like a dummy.

Finally, a game that everybody, even the adults, have fun playing.

Wits & Wagers Family is available wherever games are sold (sells for about $20).

Disclosure: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received a free copy of this game for review purposes. I received no compensation. This review reflects my honest opinion.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Why We Homeschool…the Kiddos Have Their Say

This is a guest post by David, Mary and Peter for the TOS Homeschool Crew’s Blog Cruise topic: Kids Answer Week.

David (age 10)

Why does your family Homeschool?

Well, I like being with my family and being able to choose what we study. Also, if a certain curriculum doesn’t work then we just do a different one.

What is your favorite part of homeschooling?

Everything. Especially knowing that mom is teaching me, and not some strange person. Math and science are my favorite subjects, and I’m really into structural engineering.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I’m……not really sure. Probably an Engineer or an Architect. Maybe a vet.

Mary (age 6)

Why does your family Homeschool?

I don’t have to wake up early to get ready for school and I get to learn things that I wouldn’t get to learn about in school…and Peter is calling me so good-bye.

What is your favorite part of homeschooling?

math.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

um…….. I don’t really know but I think I might be a dancer or a soccer player but I don’t know.

Peter (age 5)

Why does your family Homeschool?

We don’t have to go to the president’s office every time we do something bad.

What is your favorite part of homeschooling?

My reading program and doing math.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

A dragon. Actually, I’m not sure. I know I want to be an orca! I want to be a whale when I grow up so I can actually kill sharks.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Review: Good Morning, God (Children’s Book)

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Apologia has long been known for their creation-based science textbooks, but there’s more to Apologia than just science.

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I recently had to opportunity to review Good Morning, God, a sweet little book written for ages 1-8 by Davis Carman and beautifully illustrated by Alice Ratterree.

Good Morning takes its inspiration from Deuteronomy 6:6-7…

These commands that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.

Impress them on your children.

Talk about them when you sit at home

and when you walk along the road,

when you lie down and when you get up.

…by trying to show very young children how we can love God in everything we do and how parents can teach that love in all places and at all times, day by day by day. Even when the kiddos are jumping on the bed. The book’s prose follows a simple repetition that has a quiet, meditative quality to it. It brings to mind the use of repetition that has come down to us throughout history in oral tradition, the simple rhymes that make it easier for the storyteller to remember the details as he tells his story again and again.

covercasebNow, this is not a great literary masterpiece, but it does make the idea of constant prayer accessible to very young children. Each day of the week, we see our hero, a 4-year-old boy as he loves and worships God in play and while learning as his parents gently guide him. To help you with the task of guiding your own children, the author has included some discussion questions, Bible readings, and a few suggested activities at the back of the book for each day, beginning with Sunday…and ending with Sunday, because we know that all things begin and end with God.

Bible translation used in the book: NIV. While this is an openly Christian book, it is not filled with doctrine. I could not tell you after reading it much about the author except that he is obviously a very thoughtful follower of Christ. The discussion questions are of the type to encourage thinking and I don’t thing they would interfere with whatever your particular church’s teachings are. Some examples: Why did God give you ears? How can being quiet help you know, love, and worship God? Think of it as a mini-Bible study for Littles.

What did I think?

I won’t hesitate to use this book with my kiddos in our Catholic household. Though it is suggested for ages 1-8, the Bible readings and discussion questions could be adapted to use with older children so everyone’s on the same page.

What did the kiddos think?

They love the illustrations (you can download a sample of Good Morning, God here to see for yourself). The Littles seem to like the repetition. The 10-year-old not so much, but then the book wasn’t really written for his age group.

272Good Morning, God (hardcover) is available from Apologia for $14.00.

Also available: a coloring book for only $4.00.

For more reviews of this book, please visit the TOS Crew Blog.

Disclosure: I received a copy of Good Morning, God for review purposes from Apologia. I received no other compensation. This review reflects my honest opinions and observations.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Signs You’re Getting Old (and showing it)

Your Mom asks you what you want for Christmas…and you ask her for comfy, “non-binding” socks that won’t cut off your circulation.

When you tug on that loose skin under your chin…it doesn’t even think about springing back (it just hangs there like a turkey gobbler).

You’re plucking more gray hairs than black hairs from your chin.

You order food at a fast food restaurant…and they offer to carry your food to your table for you…

Or maybe that had to do with the 25-lb baby on my hip and the general bounciness of the other kiddos…but Signs They’ve Got You Out-numbered is a whole ‘nother post.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Review: Factor Tree

Maybe your homeschool math program is great on the concepts but a little weak in practice? Or the kiddos just aren’t picking up those facts the way you want them to? Or they’re forgetting what you covered last month, last week, or even…yesterday? Factor Tree was designed for you.

Factor Tree is a new online subscription math service for grades K-6 designed to give your kiddos plenty of daily practice and keep their mathematical minds sharp. This is not a complete curriculum, but a supplemental resource that offers practice and reinforcement of skills already learned.

The website states that Factor Tree combines the best of Western and Eastern instruction: Western=conceptual understanding and Eastern=practice and repetition. I don’t know if that’s intellectually accurate, but I guess it sounds good (I’ll talk more about this in a mo).

Cost: $20/month

Here’s how it works:

Upon entering the site for the first time, each student will take an evaluation test to find out which skills they have and which ones they are lacking. After the initial test, each new exercise will consist of a practice test (20 problems) targeting areas in which he needs more practice. The tests are short, simple, and lacking in any sound effects or doodads that might distract. A little pie on the right shows them their progress.

factor tree screen 1

As the parent, you can track your child’s progress at any time in your account. You will also receive email notifications of tests that he has completed.

What did we think?

I am testing this program with 10-year-old David. First this program is not yet fully bug-free, we did encounter some bugs while using it that are being worked on. The hint button that you see in the pic above is not operational, for instance (just takes you to a screen that says this screen will display a tutorial on the topic), so I cannot speak to how good the instruction is or isn’t. At this point there is no instruction at all, just practice problems.

The controls are simple and easy to understand. The problems are not always easy to understand. Notice the problem above. What is supposed to go into the “Value” slot? Apparently nothing (if you leave it blank and fill in the correct numerator and denominator, you get it right), but how is the student supposed to know that? How is the parent supposed to know that when the student asks? Or is this another temporary glitch until the site is complete? There are other instances where what is asked for is stated in a strange way, or at least not a way that I’m familiar with. Now, math curricula do vary in how certain topics are presented, so this may be unavoidable and simply a kink to be worked through.

While David appreciates that the practice tests are fairly short (20 problems), he doesn’t appreciate that they are “tests.” For students who break out in hives at the thought of taking a test, you may want to explain that they are really practice sessions.

Overall, I’m just not seeing the East meet West thing here. There’s plenty of practice, but no explanations at all and no tools for reinforcing, say, the multiplication facts. If your kiddo doesn’t already know the multiplication facts, they are basically left to skip count or count on their fingers. There are no virtual manipulatives, or times table to refer to or anything like that. The program also does not show them why they got a problem wrong.

The cost may seem high, but apparently you can add as many students as you like, so it’s a better value for a larger family.

Would I recommend it?

I’d like to see the final product first. At this time, I can see it being beneficial in your homeschool if your children need practice to develop automaticity for the math facts, for instance, but already know the facts. Or just review topics you know they know but they might be a little rusty at. Factor Tree doesn’t seem to offer any real instruction, so if you looking for something that actually reinforces the concepts, as opposed to just giving practice for the operations, this probably isn’t the program for you.

But, you don’t have to spend any money to find out! You can get a free 2-week trial.

Go to Factor Tree and sign up for a free trial, using the code BZZAGENT.

Disclosure: I received a free trial of this product as a BzzAgent in exchange for spreading the word and reviewing the product.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

NaNoWriMo Winners!

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Mary (age 6) and David (age 10) both took the National Novel Writing Month challenge this November…and both came away winners!

Mary just made her 2000 word goal with 2086 words (but finished over a week early).

David made his 6000 word goal with 6171 words!

He’s already editing his work, adding appendices (maps, pronunciation keys and so on) to his medieval fantasy novel.

Way to go…Mama and Daddy are so proud!