Mar 012012

I have a 5 year old daughter who is very enthusiastic about learning to read. She’s also very enthusiastic about “playing” on the computer. And I confess, I’m very happy to let her play educational computer games. I just don’t have as much time to work with her as I would like. It’s hard to find time to work with all my children individually.

When I was given the opportunity to review Reading Eggs, I had a feeling she would love it. But I honestly had no idea just how much she would love it! She took the beginning assessment and didn’t miss any of the questions. That placed her on Map 8 out of 12. She very enthusiastically began working on completing her maps. There hasn’t been a day that has gone by that she hasn’t asked to play on Reading Eggs. And most days she has asked several times.

I asked her what her favorite thing about Reading Eggs is. She said, “I like the books they read in there.”

There are a wide variety of activities in Reading Eggs. The activities work on phonics, sight words, and reading comprehension. My daughter has enjoyed the phonics and sight words more than the comprehension ones. Part of that is simply because the comprehension  activities are harder for her. She was already good at decoded before beginning the program, but the extra practice and introduction of some new sounds has been good for building her reading skills.

Overall, I think this is a very fun and effective program both for struggling readers and those who are not, but still need to work on phonics. For readers who are already reading well, there is Reading Eggspress.

Reading Eggs offers free trials so there is really no reason not to give the program a try! The subscription options include:

  • 12 months for $75 (add a second or third child at 50% off)
  • 6 months for $49.95 (add a second or third child at 50% off)
  • Monthly for $9.95

To read more reviews of Reading Eggs, visit the

Disclosure: I received a free trial of Reading Eggs in order to write this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.


By Kristen H.
Aug 312010

I was recently introduced to Big Universe Learning. This unique learning website is designed for students in grades K-8. It offers on-line books in a wide variety of subjects, both fiction and non-fiction, from 24 different publishers. Some of these books include an audio option for students to read-along while the book is being read to them. On-line quizzes are provided for many of the selections as well. In addition to on-line reading, Big Universe Learning provides the capability for students to create and share their own on-line picture books with other Big Universe users.

As I explored the site, I thought of some great uses for homeschoolers. First, everyone knows that homeschoolers love the library, right? But many of us have a love/hate relationship with the library. For many, overdue fees are a considerable problem. I found books on many non-fiction topics available at Big Universe that could save you both a trip to the library, and fees if you forget to return the book on time. This would work well particularly for times when you’re not looking for a specific title, but just more information on weather, George Washington, or knights for instance.

I also think the on-line quizzes are useful. Though homeschoolers often use atypical methods of assessment, having a student take a quiz on what he has just read does help them to pay attention. Also, poor scores could indicate that reading comprehension is a skill that needs more focus. And with 4 children, I’m very happy to find independent educational activities for them.

Then there’s writing. I struggle with teaching writing. It’s one of my goals for this school year to spend more time on writing. Big Universe Learning provides a fun way for kids to practice writing while creating on-line books. There is no need for software, everything is ready to use on the site. There are tutorials demonstrating the steps in the process, but it’s really simple anyway. The hardest thing is choosing from the thousands of available images available for the books!

Home subscriptions to Big Universe Learning are available for $8.95/month. (There is a 26% discount if you subscribe for a whole year.) Is the price worth it? Well, I’ve learned that price and value are very subjective. We personally spend well over that per month on purchasing books (on average over the year). I don’t pay library fines because our library doesn’t charge for overdue books (please don’t hate me!), but I’ve heard of many people who regularly spend that much on fines. The good news is that Big Universe offers a 7 day FREE trial so you can check out the site and see if it’s something that your family would use. You can’t get any better than free!

Disclosure: I received a free 6 month membership from Big Universe Learning in order to write this review. I was not compensated in any other way. Opinions expressed in this review are my own.

By Kristen H.
May 262010

I have been privileged to review a lot of great products as a member of the Homeschool Crew. It has been an amazing two years of trying out everything from toys to web design. I have especially enjoyed seeing how many homeschoolers are producing products for the homeschool market. Who better to understand what the homeschool market needs, than homeschoolers? is one of those homeschool products designed by homeschoolers. You can see from the graphic what the Lobster Network is all about. It’s about organizing and tracking our stuff! Who doesn’t need help with that?

How many times have you found a great deal on a book about Marco Polo for example, only to discover a couple of months later that you already owned the same book? (I used to be all smug when I heard of people doing that. Then it happened to me…twice… I’m not so smug anymore.) As homeschoolers, we tend to collect a lot of curriculum and then save it for later. So, it’s no real surprise that we might sometimes forget what we have. What about getting ready to start a new unit on Rome and discover that the book that you KNOW you own is missing. Gradually the fog lifts and you remember that you loaned it to….Who did you loan it to?

These are the types of problems that Lobster Network can help to eliminate.  You start by entering your inventory. You can categorize your inventory as inventory only, lend, trade, for sale, free item, item wanted, or a custom tag. Then you can add friends and join groups of friends on Lobster Network. You can search other listed items for things you need, and they can search yours.

I see great potential in using this system to organize a support group’s lending library. Also homeschool co-ops could share resources and see which members already have items they need. As the site grows, it could be a great place to buy and sell used homeschool curricula.

A successful sharing site does need users. I am not recommending loaning your homeschool materials to strangers, but it’s a great place to keep track of resources shared among friends. I recommend taking a look at the Lobster Network. Then get your local friends to visit too.  It’s easy to use and the price is in everyone’s budget. It’s free!

You can read what other Crew members think of Lobster Network and other homeschool products at the Homeschool Crew Blog.

Disclosure: This product was provided to our family for free as members of the 2009-2010 Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew. Reviews and opinions expressed in this blog are our own.

By Kristen H.