Star Toaster’s Orphs of the Woodlands Review

My 5th grade daughter loves to read and when I was given a chance by Star Toaster through the Homeschool Review Crew to review their online curriculum, Orphs of the Woodlands I was really excited to see what this program was all about and how my daughter would like it! I was given a  one year access to the program in exchange for my review.

Star Toaster Review
Orphs of the Woodlands is an online interactive reading adventure for 4th-7th grade students. This product was developed by the Star Toaster team who believes that children primarily learns inside the home and that character eventually defines success. With the goal of helping parents to teach their children positive values, this interactive program also sets the tone that learning is NOT BORING. With a very interesting storyline, the student can become involved in the story through the completion of games and while doing so, learning vocabulary words, grammar, math, science, thinking skills, life skills and the arts. There are over 300 lessons in the whole program!

Since this is an online program, I only needed to make sure that my browser Google Chrome was working and I had a stable internet connection. Upon logging on as the parent, I added my daughter’s account and set a password for her. It is important to note that you must use a different password for your children as you will be using the same email account to log in the system.

My daughter logged in and immediately started watching the tutorials and she was on her way! She started reading the story, The Treasure of the HighTower and was hooked! She was asked to name the main character of the story, who is a squirrel and she named him Squeaky. She read about 15-20 minutes before she finished the first chapter. As she was reading, whenever she encountered a word in red, she can point the cursor to that word and the meaning would be flashed. She learned several new words in each chapter.    

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The story is about the squirrel who is newly recruited to become a spy and fight against the Night Creatures. As he learns how to be a spy, he also learns about the orphs or orphans of the woodlands who needs his leadership and care to survive.

After each chapter, my daughter needed to complete jobs or games to collect stars. There is a specific number of stars that each orph needed to survive. So the more jobs completed, the more stars collected. The number of stars needed depends on the number of orphs under her care.

The jobs are divided into several categories. There is Math, Science, Vocabulary, Thinking Skills, Character, Life Skills, and the Arts. As she reads more chapters, there are more jobs for her to click on and finish. As she completes more jobs, she earns more goldstars per job each time she finishes the chapter.

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The jobs are quite interesting as she gets to learn different things for example, she clicks on Sound Specialist under Science and she learns about sound waves. A video teaching will be shown as her training then she answers some questions based on what she just learned. Sometimes, instead of videos, she will be presented with texts about the subject matter.

Star Toaster Review 
She can also choose to click on the map and buy land, build projects and acquire the needs of the orphs. She needs more stars to do each project so this will lead her to complete more jobs.

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Upon clicking the timeline, she can go back to the previous chapters she has read and review them or proceed with the story. Though she will not be able to skip to chapters she has not finished yet.

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What We Thought of the Product

My daughter enjoyed the product. She said that it felt like she was playing a game more than doing an online reading curriculum. Her favorite is that she got to learn many new words and fresh insights on science facts! The only thing that she didn’t like was that she had to finish so many jobs for the numerous oprhs that she had to care for and couldn’t get to the next chapter easily! Sometimes, she would tire of the jobs and log out already.

As the mom, I loved this product!

First, it encourages independent learning. My daughter needed little assistance from me during the entire time she was using Orphs of the Woodlands. It was easy to use and interesting enough to hold my daughter’s interest to complete the jobs/games .

Secondly, I loved the updates that I was getting through email. I was sent an email everytime she finishes something. I also like the fact that I can login and see what she has been accomplishing and learning.

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Thirdly, this is a well-rounded product. I don’t need a separate curriculum for each subject. The program touches on the basics of what your child needs to know in every area of life.

Fourthly, the learnings from the story is not just academic but it’s all about life skill and is character based. I like it that my daughter learns to be patient, diligent and responsible as she completes the jobs in the story.

Lastly, it is not a costly online reading curriculum. In fact, it is perfect for a summer reading program. The book can usually be finished in 2 months and just costs  $19.99 for the 60 day subscription for up to 3 students. The 30 day extension just costs $6.99.

If you have reluctant readers at home, I encourage you to try this out! There is an on-going FREE TRIAL to the first chapter of The Treasure of HighTower book of Orphs of the Woodlands!

Star Toaster Review
For more information on this great product, follow Star Toaster Facebook page, Star Toaster Pinterest page and Star Toaster Twitter page.

Check out what other Schoolhouse Review Crew says about Star Toaster…Star Toaster Review
 

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Biographies for Children

Homeschooling is not just teaching my children how to read but developing their character along the way. Reading biographies is a powerful way to influence and inspire the children. They learn about true people who overcame their disabilities, failure and weaknesses and become successful in their chosen fields.

I always try to look for good biography books and so far, these are what I found from Booksale:

The Courage to Learn, The Story of Helen Keller.

Always Inventing, The True Story of Thomas Alva Edison.

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I  found these historical biography books from Tahanan Publishing. Each on costs 100 pesos and are easy to read.

Andres Bonifacio

Apolinario Mabini

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These are the books I found from National Bookstore, Biographies of modern day Filipinos. These books are published by Summit Publishing.

Simply Jesse, The Story of Jesse Robredo

Princess Lea, The Life Story of Lea Salonga

Nanay Coring, Thhe Story of National Book Store’s Socorro Ramos

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These are great ways to inspire my kids to become all that God has created them to be! Do you have other Biography books for children you’d like to share? I’d like to know as I am constantly looking for good books for my children!

 

3 Ways to Finding What God Has Called You to Do

There are days I wonder whether what I am doing with my life is God’s will for me. There are many questions that fill my mind. Quesions like : Did He really call me to be a stay at home mom even now that my kids are all above 7 years of age? Shouldn’t a college graduate of a top university be pursuing a career? If I am to go back to work, what should I be doing?  Do you also have those days?

I believe that God has called me to be a follower of Jesus Christ and that I have completely surrendered my life to Him. I want to pursue what He wants me to for His glory. And yet, there are days that I question if what I am doing right now is really what He wants me to do.

So, how do I figure out what God has called me to do?

1. Read and meditate the Word of God. Spend time in prayer. The Bible is the first place to know what God wants for His people. Read, reflect and meditate. Before embarking on anything, it is of utmost importance that we become what God wants us to be so we can do what He wants. Our heart needs to be aligned with His.

2. When our hearts are aligned with God’s, go and take a retreat where you can really reflect on your life. Ask questions and answer honestly. Here are some guide questions.

> What are my strengths and weaknesses?

> What do I love doing?

> What can I contribute to the community?

> What are the circumstances telling me about my life?

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3. The answer to these questions can help me find my purpose in life and what God wants me to do in this season of my life. Intentionally make goals that will lead me to fulfilling God’s call in my life.

Here is what I have learned so far. There is no one answer because life changes. God may call you to do this for now but it is no guarantee that is what He wants me to still be doing next month. It is of utmost importance that I am connected to God so that my heart is right before Him. Then I have to listen to my  heart and cirucumstances around me to see where God is leading me.

I know that the main purpose of my life is to bring glory to God and I can do it by living intentionally in the circumstances He has put me. To serve others with love and gratitude. As for specific answers, I have to understand the season of my life and check how it is intersecting with my purpose.

So, if you are having these sort of questions in your life, don’t hesitate — seek God, reflect on your life and intentionally set goals. It is not an easy path but it can jumpstart your life and take you to a more meaningful journey in life.

Image courtesy of https://instagram.com/hustlegrindco/

Art Video Project

As part of her 4th quarter art portfolio, I asked my daughter to create a video about her drawing and this is what she came up with.

Video was made using iMovie.

What do you think?

GPA LEARN’s GPALOVEMATH Review

What product do you get when you put together a group of parents, teachers, technologists, animators, designers, and engineers who believes in providing children with a personalized learning that teaches math and creates life-long learning? GPA LEARN has come up with a great online math program, GPALOVEMATH.

As part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I was given a full year access of up to 5 grade levels of GPALOVEMATH  in exchange for a review. We were asked to use the product for not less than 3x a week in the duration of the review period.

Critical Thinking Company Review

GPALOVEMATH is an online streaming Math application for Kindergarden up to Grade 5. There are over 150 lessons and over 10,000 math problems each level to help your child become math wizards!

You need a stable Internet connection and a web browser on your gadgets to use this program. It works on both Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac computers. You can aslo use your iPad or Android tablets. The supported browsers are Google Chrome, Internet Explorer 11, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari 6 & 7.

What makes GPALOVEMATH interesting is that it has different animated learning coaches for each year level. Together with their learning coaches, the students will learn math concepts and practice problems together. The students will then have 15 questions on their quiz at the end of each lesson.

As the student completes their lessons, GPALOVEMATH has a reward system where the student can accumulate points and are able to get motivational prizes upon reaching certain points. Prizes can be as simple as additional  minutes before bedtime, parents get to do the child’s chore for the day or gift cards for shopping. There is a pre-made list of rewards but you can also customize the rewards for your children.

GPALOVEMATH is made based from the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics (CCSSM) standard requirements.  This ensures that topics discussed and integrated are based on the correct grade levels.

How We Used the Product

I was sent a promotional code and asked to register. Registering was done on their website and was straightforward. As soon as I entered my child’s information and the parents information, the login was immediately available. I registered my child to take the 5th grade lessons.  My 5th grade daughter was excited to start using the program with me.

My daughter has a separate login account from me. This made her learning experience more personalized and exciting. As she logged in, a dashboard was available for her. She can choose from the following menu options: Learn, Engage and Motivate.

 

The Learn menu brings her to the lessons.  There were 3 paths for her to choose from, the green path, blue path and purple path. Each path represents different lessons in the curriculum. In her case, she choose to work on the green path first. She needed to finish the first lesson in order to gain access to the further lessons. The lessons came in the recommended order but if we wanted, we can select the lessons by topic.

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The lessons were presented in the same order everytime. Her animated teachers, Nina and Dino, opened each session with a challenge for the student to solve the problems to help fight Dr. Division who wants to blow up buildings.

 

Dino Nina

The lessons always start with instruction part where lectures are given by either Dino or Nina. It is followed by practice part where the student have 3 lifelines if they ever get stuck and lastly, the quiz part where student gets to solve 15 problems. They get three different badges: rockstar, excellent and nice job depending on how well they did on the quiz.

All throughout the lessons, my daughter remembered the 4 basic steps to solve problems. B O L T.

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It simply means:

B – break it down

O – organize a plan

L – let’s solve

T – test your answer

The Engage menu allows her to see postings from other GPA LEARN users. She can invite friends to her social board and have social discussion. We weren’t able to use this feature.

The Motivate menu brings her to the rewads store. Some of the rewards included are: TV time, Marketplace, Chores, Bed time, Bonding time, Play time and Play date. She can see how many points she needs to complete before getting the rewards.

At the end of our review period, she was able to answer most of the problems and has gotten rockstar and excellent badges throughout her lessons. Though if she had her way, she would want to skip the lecture part and go right into the practice and quiz part. She mentioned that she found the animated teachers speech funny and too repetitive.

 

What I Thought of the Product

I thought this was a good product but it just didn’t fit my daughter’s needs. I like the emails I were receiving each time my daughter uses the program and I can easily track her progress weekly. If I wanted, I can also login to my account and preview the lessons. The  lessons were also explained clearly through theory and practice examples in every session. For the motivation rewards, I think it was an innovative idea of getting the student highly interested to finish their lessons more quickly. Though for our family, we rarely use rewards for motivation of finishing lessons.

If you want an action packed online math tutor for your children’s math, this would be a good product for you to try. You can subscribe per month at the price of $12..99 or $149 per year.

 

For more information on GPA LEARN, follow them on their Facebook account at www.facebook.com/gpalearn, their Twitter account at www.twitter.com/gpalearn and their Pinterest account at www.pinterest.com/gpalearn.

Read more reviews from the other Schoolhouse Review Crew!

GPA Learn Review
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