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.

Reading Eggs

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.

Reading Eggs

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.

Reading Eggs

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

 

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.
Apr 142010
 

Time 4 Learning is an on-line educational program that is designed to help make learning fun. I was able to review Time 4 Learning for my elementary students last year. Since that time they have added a Preschool program. Lucky for me, I knew just the preschooler to try out the Time 4 Learning.

My little one is 3-1/2 (today actually!). She loves playing on the computer and will take the opportunity every time she’s given it.

This is the home page screen for the PK1 level. It can be accessed at any time by clicking on the house icon at the top left of the screen. (I apologize that the bottom is cut off. I could not get everything on one screen to take a screen shot.) As you can see, there are a variety of categories of learning games. There are pictures to help the non-reader decide what to play. Also, a check mark appears when all of the activities in that category have been completed. However, it doesn’t prevent the child from doing those activities again.

This is the screen the child would see after clicking on the Numbers icon. In this category there are several activity choices. (The choices are similar for all the activities.) Once again there are check marks to show which activities have been previously completed.

This is the screen for the “Which” activity. The child must select which of the numbers is correct. The penguin talks like a game show host, but the humor is lost on young children.

Summary:

I found the games to be both educational and entertaining, and my daughter frequently asked to play. After I showed her how the program worked, she was able to play entirely independently (except for logging in). It would be a very handy activity to occupy a younger child while teaching older ones. The subscription price is unfortunately not something that is in our budget, but many would find it a great value.

 

Disclosure: We received a 30 day trial of Time 4 Learning Preschool 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.