Friday, March 25, 2011

Big IQ Kids (TOS Review)


Hours - that's how long the girls would spend playing mindless computer games if I'd let them.

Much to their dismay, I don't.  They have a 30-minute limit for games, and they're only allowed to play a limited selection of pre-screened games.   With certain exceptions, they don't think spending 30 minutes doing school subjects online is nearly as fun.

Our latest review product is the best of both worlds - part game, part educational.  Actually, mostly educational, since even the games teach.  I received two one-year premium memberships to Big IQ Kids to review (the girls were thrilled they didn't have to share!).   When this program was announced (before the review list was posted), I allowed Punkin to try it out.  After that, she asked me when I was going to purchase a subscription for her - and she asked every single day.  

Product Details

Big IQ kids covers four subjects - spelling, math facts, vocabulary and (the girls' favorite) U.S. States.  It is targeted to K-8 students, and is designed for use every day.   Click here for basic information, here to read how it works, and watch the following video for a great introduction to Big IQ Kids:

The spelling and vocabulary programs come pre-loaded with 40 lessons.  You can modify the lessons to use spelling or vocabulary words from your own curriculum, or simply add words to one of the pre-loaded lists. The program will take each word list and create a weeks' worth of study/spelling practice with that list, including daily lessons and quizzes, and a test at the end of the week.

The math program is also easily customizable.  The parent can specify the percentage of each mathematical operation (and also the percentage of various topics within each operation) which will appear in the lesson, which allows for targeted learning.  You can also specify the number of daily problems.  The math program also has a really cool interactive "white board" and pencil that the girls loved to play with.

The girls' favorite was the U.S. States Program.  This program teaches/tests state location, state capital, state spelling and state abbreviation.  There is also a great interactive map - click on a state, and the "tutor" discusses such things as state capital, state size, nickname, main industries, fun fact, etc.  For example, for Texas, the "fun fact" was that it is illegal to put graffiti on someone else's cow.  (I'm not kidding - that's what it said!)  You can also add other info to your state's summary information.

As if the student isn't motivated to do his/her lessons simply because of the sheer fun of it, further motivation  is provided in the form of games when they complete a lesson.  Students can also be part of the "100% club" when they receive 100% on a quiz. 

Memberships are offered at varying costs, but you can also use many of the features for free. Subscription prices vary, and are per student. - starting at $3.33/month for the U.S. States program, to $99.99 for twelve months' access to all four programs.  A classroom option is also available.  Learn about the pricing options and compare the features of the free and premium levels here, or watch the following video:

What I like

I like that the girls could do this program independently.  The life of a homeschool mom is often hectic - Big IQ Kids provided a welcome respite for me.   I don't make it a habit, but it is nice to have something that they can do independently.  (Note that I"m not sure this would apply with the free version, since we did not try out the free version.)

They think I'm even more awesome for letting them "play".  (Shhh - it's our little secret that it's educational) 

I like that you can customize the spelling list and the vocabulary list to fit your current curriculum. 

The girls were excited to use this program, which leads to them being excited to learn - one of the goals of most homeschool moms I know. 

Love the tracking feature that comes with the premium feature. When the girls finish a section, I get an e-mail telling me how they did!  I can also access more detailed progress reports within each of the girls' subscriptions.

I like that I can customize the grade levels in each program.  Have a child at 5th grade level in math, but 3rd grade level in spelling?  No problem! 

There is an easy way to report errors - just a click of a button, and you can let the vendor know something needs correcting.  Some of my crew mates did this, and got quick responses! 

I wish…

At first I wished the computerized voice sounded a little less robotic - but you quickly become accustomed to it. 

I wish their home page wasn't quite so "busy".  But it appeals to my girls, so I guess that's what's important! 

Watch out for

The free version will have advertisements in some places.

Be sure to

Check out the other freebies (including games) on their website at their home page. 

Read about their awards and media coverage here

Sign up for the newsletter here

Check out this "Back to School Guide - 10 Steps to Better Grades".  Good info for both homeschooling parents and parents of public schooled children.

View the informational/training videos here

Final thoughts

The girls loved this program, and I feel comfortable and confident with allowing them to use it independently.  I believe we will make good use of the two one-year premium subscriptions we received, and then we will  most likely renew.

Thoughts of my crew mates

To see other reviews of this product, click here. For giveaways, other product reviews and other fun things, follow the 2010-2011 TOS Homeschool Crew blog at:

Disclaimer: As part of the 2010-2011 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received the product described in this review at no cost in exchange for my fair, honest and unbiased (and not necessarily positive) review. No other compensation was received.

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