UberSmart Math Facts Review

As part of the Homeschool Review Crew, I was given the opportunity to review the software UberSmart Math Facts from  UberSmart Software.

UberSmart Math Facts Review

Long before the device age, memorizing math facts were simple. Dot cards and flash cards were the way to go. But since the mobile gadgets became widely used, the applications became graphic oriented and it was hard to find a simple application which can help the children memorize math facts. It is because of this that David Kocur created UberSmart Math Facts!

Memorizing math facts is an important skill which can help children to become more confident when solving math problems. It would be an important skill to learn before they move to higher math. But oftentimes, memorizing math facts is not easy and doesn’t come naturally. UberSmart Math Facts helps parents by providing the platform that the children will use regularly to ensure familiarity with all the math facts. Automaticity or recalling the facts without thinking about it can easily be achieved through the drills offered by the program.

UberSmart Math Facts is a downloadable software which you can install on your  computers with the Windows operating systems only like Windows 7, 8, XP and Windows Vista. It primarily teaches the children to master math facts using simple dot cards and flash cards. The application is made for children grades K-6 but anyone can really use this simple math review software which focuses on addition, subtraction, multiplication and division drills.

UberSmart Math Facts software has 3 main components:

Dot Cards  It is like domino faces. It teaches the younger child to be familiar with the different operations using dots.

UberSmart Math Facts Review

Keyboard Entry  It teaches the student to be familiar with number’s location on the keyboard and visualizes the numbers for them.

UberSmart Math Facts Review

Flash Cards  It shows numbers and focuses on addtition, subtractraction, multiplication and division. It teaches one number group in a time and ensures that children have mastered the set before moving to the next number. The addition and subtraction goes up through the 9s while the multiplication and division can be set to 20s.

UberSmart Math Facts Review
As soon as you has installed the program on your compter, you can access the program without the need of internet connection. The program is independently installed on your computer and can be accessed anytime of the day and without limit. You can install the program on another computer but the test results will only stay with one computer since every copy of the program has their own record of results.

 

We installed the program to our laptop and didn’t encounter any problems. I added the name of my 7 year old son who is in 2nd grade and made him use the program at least 3x a week during the review period. He used the program for about 15 minutes each day.

The menu options of the program is learn, practice, test, compete, report and maintain. The child can start with learn where he will choose if he is a beginner (dot cards) or an intermediate (flash cards). Then student can choose what skill and number group they want to learn. As they practice, there is a bar on the lower portion of the screen which shows their progresss. This is not a timed session.

The practice sessions are basically the same with learn except that they are timed sessions. Each flashcard has a time limit.  The student also finds out the result of their answer at once as the computer checks their answer.

The test sessions are timed as a whole set. The student will automatically see how well he did at the end of the test and the right answers to the wrong questions.

The compete sessions are timed and the students grade will compete with other users all around the world based on their age range.

As the teacher, you can go to the maintain menu and set the name of the students, the time for their practice problems, mastery time limit and beat the clock time. You can also see the progess of your students by checking the report option.

My son took the assessment test and this is the report that I received.

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There are different types of report available. There are mastery reports, you can even see the practice drills result and how your child did in every number group. This gives the teacher a great overview of what you need to work on with your child. I really liked this feature!

It is stated in the website that  two or three fifteen minute sessions per day is recommended. But even if your child can do only a single ten minute session, the consistent daily review should be enough to help your child master his math facts! The software only costs $24.95 for home use and can be installed on as many computers as you have in your house. You can also use the software indefinitely.

After using this software, I found out that even if my son loves math, he still has many facts that he needs to master and daily sessions using UberSmart Math Facts can be a big help to him as he memorizes the basic math facts! In fact, I am also going to ask my 10 year old daughter to start using this program to help her with her math too!

If you are looking for a simple and direct math program that would help you child remember math facts with automaticity, go and try UberSmat Math Facts!

For more reviews on this product, check the Schoolhouse Review Crew posts.

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FarFaria App Review

We have been invited to review an app called FarFaria, a collection of children’s books. The goal of Farfaria is to help children develop a passion for reading and encourages families to spend quality time together and this is something that we believe in as a family so I agreed to check it out.

With over 700 books available and 5 new books every week, my10 year old and 7 year old were quite excited to see what sort of stories were included in the colletion.

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FarFaria is available for the iPad, iPhone and Android devices. We installed it on our iPhone 5S without any problems. Once installed, the app requires internet connection so we can access the whole collection of books. The app is made for children ages 2-9 years old but can be read together by the whole family.

The stories are presented in an interactive format. It is like entering a magical world of stories!  Text can be read by the app or the children or parent can choose to read it themself. It makes a perfect read aloud companion for moms and dads who are busy working and can’t read to their kids.

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All stories are divided into several categories which include:

> Classics Grove

> Preschool Playground

>Looney Lagoon

> GoodLand

> Sing-along City

>Fairytale Falls

>Mt. Make Believe

>Animal Kingdom

>Adventure Island

>Genius Jungle

>Bedtime Bluffs

Mt Make Believe

 

Each story also has a level from P to 4 to indicate the reading level of the story.

What We Thought of FarFaria

Both my kids are readers and they thoroughly enjoyed Farfaria. The stories loaded fairly quickly.  The simple interface and the engaging stories were enough to make them want to access the app every day.  As every story is sorted according to genre and reading level, it was easy for them to search the book they want to read for the first time but they found it hard to find the exact title of the book, if they ever want to read it again. So they are recommending to have a search tab so one can easily find a particular title!

I liked FarFaria because there are numerous titles available and there are no advetising banners so I am confident that my kids are reading the different stories and not being taken elsewhere even if I am not beside them. I like the favorites option too as it allows my kids to download their favorite stories and enables them to read these stories offline.

FarFaria is developed by Intuary and is available for free at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/free-childrens-books-farfaria/id491771721?mt=8 but you can only read one story per day. The monthly subscription is just $4.99 and it gives you unlimited access to all the books for the whole month!

For more information on FarFaria, visit the FarFaria FB page.

 

HomeschoolPiano Review

I’ve never learned how to play the piano and I don’t want my kids to experience the same. Thankfully, we were given an opportunity through the Schoolhouse Review Crew to review  HomeschoolPiano. We received a lifetime subscription for up to five students for HomeschoolPiano – Complete Set of Books. This would give my children an opportunity to learn playing the piano even while at home!

Homeschool Piano Review
HomeschoolPiano offers piano lessons online. The lessons are all-video based and is made for all ages! If you are a beginner or you already have prior lessons, HomeschoolPiano can help you read music and even create your own music! This is perfect for learning piano at your own pace since you can view the lessons anytime of the day from your computer or your mobile devices like the phones or tablets.

The program is a well rounded music curriculum as it follows a 6-steps cycle which lays a foundation based on the National Standards for Music Education.

Homeschool Piano Review
In every unit, the lessons center on the following fundamentals: Technique,Rhythm, Ear Training, Reading, Song, Improvisation. This ensures that the students learn how to develop their ear, read music and create their own music and improvisations later on. There are a total of 4 books, the Core Piano, Book 1, Book 2 and Book 3.

Core Piano is a collection of 30 lessons teaching piano essentials. It is a must for those who have no previous piano experience. Book 1 is for the absolute beginner, Book 2 is for those who have some previous  piano training and Book 3 is for the advanced student where he will learn to create piano rich arrangements.

Homeschool Piano Review
There are 7 lessons in each unit and 6 units in each Book. Every lesson ranges from 5 to 10 minutes in length. After watching the video, it is expected that the student will practice what he has learned on his own keyboard or piano.

To use HomeschoolPiano, you need to have reliable  internet connection and a piano or a keyboard with at least 49 keys. You may use your computer or your tablets since you don’t need any special software to view the videos as you access them online.

If you can not watch the video online, there is a link which allows you to download the mp3 file for audio and mp4 for video.
HomeschoolPiano can be purchased in 2 ways. Through the Success Package which means you have to pay $299 in one payment or the Payment Plan which means you can pay $99.97 per month for 3 months. You will have unlimited life-time access to HomeSchoolPiano along with all bonuses (downloads, jam tracks, sheet music) for up to 5 students.

How We Used the Program

I created 2 logins for my 2 children. My 10 year old daughter started with Core Piano for 3 times a week. She has previous piano  experience so she breezed through most of the lessons in Core Piano, then she worked on Book 1.

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She also took the lesson quiz to assess her knowledge.

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After watching the video, she follows the instructor’s lessons on the keyboard so she remembers what she has learned. It usually takes her a total of 30 minutes per day to complete about 2 lessons.

My 7 year old son has no previous music or piano lessons so he took the lessons slower. He also started with Core Piano and is still watching Core Piano. He did the lessons twice a week.

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After watching the videos, we usually do the activities. Like when the lesson was about skip or steps, I asked my son to create his own steps scale and skip scale.

 

What We Thought of the Program

As the homeschool parent, I liked several aspects of  the program:

- It requires no assistance from me. I just made sure that they were properly logged in and doing their piano lessons.

- The continuinity of the lessons were important so that the student were learning efficiently. I am confident that they are not missing any foundational lessons.

-  My children can repeat the video lessons when needed. My daughter breezed through Core Piano and was excited to work on Book 1, but there were times when I asked her to check some topics in Core Piano again to remind her of the basics.

- I liked it that my children were learning music without us having to leave the house or hiring a piano teacher, since our budget can not accomodate it at the moment.

- One program for both kids. Since this product is for all ages, we can use it for both of our kids.

- The creative side of my children is also being trained as they are continuing on with their lessons. They are encouraged to vocalize and improvise.

- There are online quizzess to check whether they are learning their lessons.

- We have unlimited lifetime access to a program that can be used for a couple of years.

The most challenging aspect of this program for us is our internet connection. There were days that we had a hard time accessing the video online because of our slow or intermittent internet connection.

Another factor is that we have to be consistent in watching and practising the new learnings. As with most programs, it is up to the diligence of the student if she wants to learn and make the most out of an amazing product.

If you are looking to learn piano at home and unleash your musical side, this is a good product to try out. For more information, you can check HomeschoolPiano Facebook  or at HomeschoolPiano Twitter or at HomeschoolPiano Pinterest.

Homeschool Piano Review
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WriteShop Junior Book D Review

WriteShop Review

I was looking around for a writing curriculum for my 5th grade daughter and I stumbled upon WriteShop. It seemed like a good choice so when I was given the opportunity to review the product through SchoolHouse Review Crew, it was an answered prayer for us! We reviewed the WriteShop Junior: Book D Set.

WriteShop is an incremental writing curriculum for kindergarden to high school. They offer WriteShop Primary for grades K-3, WriteShop Junior for grades 3-5, WriteShop for grades 6-10, Write Shop II for grades 8-12. They also offer Fold-N-GoGrammar lessons.

WriteShop Review

I chose the WriteShop Junior D to review with my 10 year old daughter. WriteShop Junior D is recommended for students in 3rd grade-4th grade but can also be used by struggling students in 5th grade and 6th grade or those who have never taken any formal elementary writing lessons. The lessons are taught in a step by step approach using the stages of  pre-writing, brainstorming, writing and self-editing . Using the correct punctuation marks, brainstorming before writing, structuring a sentence, narrowing a broad topic and self-editing and revising your own work are just some of the skills introduced in this book. The student will also have the opportunity to write the following:

> Letter of Invitation
> Humor 
> Adventure 
> Science Fiction 
> Mystery 
> Poetry/Haiku
> Folktales 
> Historical Fiction
> Personal Narrative
> Expository Writing: Factual Article

We were given digital copies of the following items:

Book D Teacher’s Guide digital copy costs $35.50. It contains 278 pages of comprehensive instructions on how to use the writing program. Daily lesson plans, writing samples, guided scripts and list of required supplies for each activity set can be found here. It is also available in a spiral bound physical book which costs $45.95.  This is a required component for the effective use of the writing curriculum.

WriteShop Review
Activity Pack digital copy costs $35.5o. It includes the 66 pages of engaging student worksheets and 72 pages of  Level 1 Fold-N-Go Grammar pack. The activity sheets are presented in an animated, fun and creative manner. Student will enjoy completing all the interactive activities which makes learning fun!  Some of the pre-writing activities need preparation from the teacher. Preparation includes printing and cutting. Level 1 Fold-N-Go Grammar pack is a reference tool to help review grammar rules. You can assemble it by using file folders.

The digital copy enables you to print as many copies as you need for your entire family. If you want to buy the hard copy, it costs $45.95 but do note that it  can only be used by 1 child. This is a required component for the writing curriculum.

WriteShop Review
Optional Time Saver Pack digital copy costs $11.50. It has 24 pages of ready made tools to lessen preparation time of the pre-writing activities from the activity packs. It is also available in hard copy and costs $14.95. Note that this is just an optional component for the writing curriculum.

All files can be simply opened using Adobe Acrobat.

How We Used The Product

We were given 8 weeks to use this product. As soon as I got the files, I immediately opened the Teacher’s Guide. As I scanned the document, I was a bit overwhelemed with the wealth of information found in this file. I decided to read the document in sections. I liked it that WriteShop has laid out a 2 week and 3 week cycle schedule of  the lessons. We chose to use the 3 week schedule and printed it out so we have a visual guide. To save on paper, we only printed the Activity Worksheets.

My daughter worked on Fold-N-Go Grammar on Mondays while I prepared the activities for pre-writing. photo 4 (8)

We worked on the pre-writing activity and this is where we have the most fun! There is a different fun activity in every lesson.

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Then we follow the Model and Teach script. For the following days, I asked my daughter to work on the journal writing practice, brainstorming activities and the writing project.

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Usually, my daughter types the finished project into the computer. Then she edits and revises the document using the self-editing checklist provided by WriteShop. After the 3 week cycle, we evaluate her work and the skills she learned during the entire cycle.

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What We Thought Of the Product

My daughter Kyla thinks that the product is wonderful. It’s a  fun and creative curriculum that allowed her to grow as a writer. She mentioned that she liked how the lessons started with games and made the lessons easier to remember. Every start of a new lesson, she looks forward to the unique games and it sets the tone for her writing assignment.  She also appreciates the self-editing checklist since it made editing and revision work easier for her. Her favorite lesson so far is the humor writing project. It was her first time to write a humor piece and it turned out quite good!

As the parent teacher, I liked the different activities that WriteShop provides. Instead of the usual drills, it adds creativity and widens my daughter’s choice of words and story lines in the different writing projects. The step by step approach was able to guide my daughter in forming the different skills needed to write more creatively. I especially liked the exercise on narrowing a broad topic, as it helped her to think more specifically on her writing assignments.

After 8 weeks of use, this product has not failed my expectations. If you have a reluctant writer in your home or if you are looking for a fun way to unleash your child’s creativity, I suggest you give WriteShop a try!

For more information on WriteShop, check the WriteShop Facebook page  or follow WriteShop Twitter or the WriteShop  
Pinterest or Writeshop @ Instagram or Google+ 
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Veritas Press Self Paced History: Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation Review

Studying history is one of the favorites in our homeschool. As part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I was given the opportunity by Veritas Press to review their Veritas Press Self-Paced History online product, my 5th grade daughter was as excited as I am to see how it works and if it fits our family.

Veritas Press Review
The Veritas Press Self-Paced History curriculum offers several time periods. The available time periods are:

Old Testament and Ancient Egypt

New Testament, Greece and Rome

Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation

Explorers to 1815

1815 to Present

I chose  to review the  Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation time period because this is the lesson my daughter has been studying before she took her summer break. The lessons start from St Augustine until John Knox and the reformation in Scotland.

Veritas Press Review

The Middle Ages, Ren & Ref Flashcards accompany the online lessons. it covers the 32 major events in chronological order and has a brief summary of the event or life story of the specific person. It allows the student to remember the lessons easily and gives them easy access to their lessons without needing to go online. The flashcards can be purcahsed separately with a price of $19.95.

Veritas Press ReviewVeritas Press Review
 Veritas Press actually started their company with their history and Bible Flashcards many years back!  Marlin and Laurie Detweiler  wanted to teach history chronologically to their children, integrating the Biblical timeline along with world history so that they can  relate what they read in the Bible along with their history books! Many like minded parents loved their products and thus, the couple were able to develop several programs to help other families and schools achieve their goals.

Here are important information about the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation Self-Paced history lessons:

- Age range of this product is for the 2nd Grade to 6th Grade.

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- It covers 32 historical events during the whole time  period.

 

- Each historical event has 5 sessions totalling to 160 class periods for the entire course.

- Each class ranges from 20 to 30 minutes of interactive teaching.

- The lessons are taught by 2 people who are in character. They talk to each other and to the student in a friendly way making history lessons interesting .

- The lessons are discussed in-depth and shows different resources like images, maps and other important information in relation to the topic.

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- Every lesson has an unique game to make the student remember details. Kids will love the soccer and adventure type games.

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-  A memory song which states the 32 historical events,  plays over and over every lesson to make memorzing fun and easy.

- You can easily access old lessons and retake them if needed by going to the dashboard and clicking my courses to see grades, and access all the video lessons.

- The student can not proceed to the next lesson without completing the current one. This ensures that your child masters the lessons before proceeding to the next one.

- After every 5 sessions, there is an exam which checks to see if your child has remembered the details of the lessons. The student gets immediate feedback whether their answers are correct or incorrect.

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- The curriculum is accessed online using your web broswer. It is expected that your internet connection should have a minimum speed of 768 Kbps to run the course successfully. There is no need to install any special software to access the online course.

- There are hands-on projects to make on some of the lessons. A project supply list is provided so you can prepare the supplies ahead of time.

- A historical fiction reading list and schedule is also provided, though it is optional.

- The course costs $199 and has a sibling discount of $100 off!.

- Upon registration, you have one year to access the online course.

 

How We Used the Product

My daughter used this curriculum on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays as her primary history lessons. She just opens the browser and goes to Veritas Press logon page,  types in her username and password and plugs in her earphones. She can’t be disturbed while enjoying learning. The topics she has covered for the duration of the review period are St Augustine, the Vikings and the Barbarians and St Jerome!

What We Think of the Product

I asked her what she thought of this product and she just loves it. She likes the interesting way the lessons are presented and she likes how the song has helped her in memory work. The games were also a favorite!

As the mom, I really loved this product. This dynamic self-paced chronological approach to learning history is truly the best way for my daughter to learn the grammar stage of history! She used to have problems with memorizing dates and important details but with the help of the memory song, the interactive story-telling and games, she has been remembering more details about history now! The in-depth discussion of each topic and the variety of resources used plays an important part in my daughter’s learning too. Being an online self-paced curriculum, my daughter has become more independent in learning about history too. I hardly was needed in the duration of her sessions. I also liked that she can go as fast as she wants or slow down on lessons that she finds difficult.

I do recommend this product for families who wants classical way of studying history with little parental intervention! For more information, check out the other reviews of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

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