Friday, March 25, 2011

Review Crew: Big IQ Kids

Big IQ Kids is on our family's "Big Hit" list this year. Both the 8-year-old and 11-year-old give the program a thumbs up.

The program.  Big IQ Kids provides daily, online, customized  lessons for spelling, vocabulary, math and basic U.S. geography.  All four subjects are provided on a "free" basis or via a paid "premium" program.  You can view charts which highlight the differences between these two options from links at their How Big IQ Kids Works page.  The biggest differences between these two formats is access to games in the reward arcade, email progress reports, advertisement-free screens, built-in review and automatic advancement.

You can purchase Big IQ Kids several ways.  You can purchase only one module (spelling, for example) up to all four.  And, you can purchase on a monthly or yearly basis.  If you are interested in purchasing the programs, you'll want to study this page to determine what will meet your needs.

There are also a number of free-only games:  telling time (analog and digital), measurement, and vowels.

Spelling and Vocabulary:  Although these are two separate programs, they operate similarly.  Running on a 5-day schedule, your child is introduced to their list on Day 1 and complete 3 days of activities and/or quizzes to build familiarity with the words and their spelling or meaning. There are tests for the final day.

Math: With this program, you can determine which operations your child will work on and how many digits (single digit facts, multiple digit problems, etc.).  When you enter your email address correctly (*smirk* -- Ben didn't so I have not received any progress updates on his performance), you'll get updates on progress and mastery.  The program automatically adjusts to your child's performance!

Geography:  In this module, your child will work on locating the 50 states on a map, knowing state capitals, spelling the state names, and learning their postal abbreviations.  There is also the opportunity to learn fun facts about each state (although this information is not tested).

Our experience.  Both boys loved his program.  Luke (8 years old) has tried several computer-based programs this year, and it is fair to say that this is his favorite.  I've primarily used the math and geography programs with him, and he's done well with the math program.  Currently, his program is set up to work on single-digit addition and subtraction problems, as well as two-digit addition or subtraction with regrouping.  I've only recently decided to use the spelling section to supplement the activities for our Spell to Write and Read word lists.  In the mornings, we'll complete our SWR dictation and spelling enrichments, and in the afternoon Luke will work through a spelling activity for additional practice.

Ben has used all four programs at different points during our review period.  I *never* have to ask if he's done his math fact review -- which is won.der.ful.

As the mom, I must admit that checking student progress is not easy.  If I don't receive progress reports, then I need to sign into each child's account to see how they've been performing.  Then, I have to click to each of the four subjects to see my sons' progress.  It's too bad that I cannot log onto one page and view my son's progress (this has been a complaint of mine with several online programs we've used this year).

The only other thing that is less than stellar is the computer-generated voice.  This usually is not a huge deal, but there are some words that are pronounced with moderated stress/ intonation patterns that might not match up to your own spoken dialect and therefore might confuse your child.

I do appreciate that I can set the games to be a reward that can be used immediately or delayed until the weekend.  Originally, I had set the games to be used on the weekend, but our weekends were so crazy the kids could never redeem their tokens.  The past few weeks, I changed the setting so that they could redeem them right away -- and now I wish there was a time limit I could set!

I think homeschoolers who use a spelling program might really like Big Spelling Time, as you can create any number customized spelling lists.  It is really easy to add in words (they have a huge database which generates a sentence for your spelling word!).  You can customize the vocabulary module as well.  I just discovered that they have a SAT word list for use on the vocabulary program -- which is what I've just switched for Ben.

Click on over to TOS's Review Crew to see what others say.

FCC note: I received free subscriptions from Big IQ Kids in exchange for my honest opinion about their program. Thank you Big IQ Kids!

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