When you are homeschooling with small or limited funds, finding and utilizing free or inexpensive resources is always a good thing. Often I look over what subjects or areas I would like different children to be working on and learning but I don’t have a resource on hand. Again and again, I am blessed to stumble upon a free resource that works out perfectly!
Logical thinking resources abound but they just don’t make the budget for us. However, we are getting some logical thinking in each day and enjoying it! Here are two free online resources we are using:
Set Daily Puzzle – This is a quick, fun game that everyone enjoys. Sometimes everyone is gathered up together working on it. For a bit of competition we will have the puzzle up on two computers and it is a race to see who finds the six sets first. Even younger children can grasp the concept and play along.
Logic Puzzles – I love these! These can be very challenging and take a bit longer that the Set Puzzle. These puzzles do give you an option to print the puzzle out which is a great option. I can print out the puzzle and children can work on them throughout the day. We can gather at the table and work through them together. It would be great to print them out for car trips as well or a doctor’s appointment when you could be waiting around a bit.
What do you use for logical thinking skills? Do you have a free resource that you love?
MathRider is a math fact mastery game that we have reviewed twice before. Why did we review it for a third time? I’d love a moment to tell you why!
As a homeschool parent, I love using resources and tools that have been created by other parents. MathRider was created by Thomas Brand; a parent who had two children who struggled with mastery of basic math facts. In seeing the struggle of his own children, he created a product that is fun, engaging and works!
MathRider covers all four basic math operations from 0 – 12. The premise of the game is simple. Your child and her horse Shadow will go on a series of quests through the Land of Ray. From venturing into elven lands for mystical flowers to rescuing a princess, your child’s growing knowledge and mastery of her math facts will advance her throughout the quests.
MathRider was easy to implement into our day. You can easily download it to your computer, have your children sign in with a user name and password (My children had fun selecting names) and it is time to master the facts! My children were allowed play MathRider once their daily math lesson were done. Great motivator! They were limited to 20 minute sessions, 5 or 6 days a week; otherwise no other work would get done.
Why do I think MathRider is a great math resource?
*It is intuitive and adjust for your child. As your child is completing a quest, she may miss a question. MathRider instantly pauses to show and tell the correct answer to your child. Then that particular fact reoccurs several times for immediate feedback.
*MathRider is downloaded on to my computer with no internet access needed. So often games designed for children are online with various links that can take them off site. No worries with MathRider.
*No tricky game controls or directions to master. The child only needs to be able to enter the numbers and hit the enter key. Simple. No frustration.
*The story that is told at the beginning of each quest, you can read or listen to the quest. A struggling or new reader does not have to miss out on the excitement of the quest.
*I can see progress charts for each child. It clearly shows me progress made, which math facts my child is struggling with and what level they are working on. There are three levels (easy, medium, advanced) and then mastery level.
*Practice runs are great for young learners. My seven year old used the practice runs often. She struggles with addition and subtraction. Practice runs gave her an opportunity to get comfortable with entering answers and the feel of the game; without affecting her statistics.
*The child can see for herself her progress; she can see that she is getting faster in responding. She may even see her name at the top of the high score list. (My children can be a bit competitive!).
*As a mom of 8 children, I love that I can purchase a lifetime license that allows for multiple users. All 8 of my children can be on the same license.
What my children think of MathRider:
Hannah, 7, – “MathRider is fun. I like going to other places and the stories are interesting.
Lydia, 9, – “It was fun and challenging. Math is easier now. I don’t like division but this made it better. Practice runs are helpful.
Caleb, 11, – “I liked the horse and earning points and gems.”
Mary, 13, – “I like seeing the mistakes and that the stories change. If you don’t make the right number of points, the story changes a bit the next time you go on the quest.”
Rebekah, 14, – ” My subtraction is better and the stories change this time. I’d love a higher level.”
(My two oldest are technically out of the product’s age range; however, they loved trying to increase their scores and get faster. My oldest has actually completed all the mastery levels twice this time and keeps improving her score. Competitive, much?)
What would we change?
The only thing that we would change is that some of my children would love to name the horse. I don’t think there is anything I would change. It is a simple, straight forward program that is fun, engaging, challenging and it works.
Computer Science for Kids’ authors are Philip Conrod and Lou Tylee. Both Mr. Conrod and Mr. Tylee have vast experience in computer science. They have the ability to write tutorials and material that is easy to understand and put into practice. You can see the Author’s Page to learn more about them. I must point out that they provided excellent customer service when we began this program. The response was timely and helpful. I love companies that provide great customer service and technical support!
What exactly is Computer Bible Games for Microsoft Small Basic? This program is designed to help middle school aged children up to adults learn how to use and understand Small Basic programming. Understanding and practice are built by creating fun and simple learning games and Bible games. Learning Microsoft Small Basic helps build a foundation for other computer languages such as Visual Basic and Java Small Basic.
The Computer Bible Games for Microsoft Small Basic consists of 13 chapters; your student would cover approximately one chapter (lesson) per week depending on ability and skill. Chapters cover introduction, to debugging to basic looping and more. All the chapters are presented in a simple, straightforward manner that makes this an independent study. You can preview a sample chapter to get a feel for how the course is laid out.
The Computer Bible Games for Microsoft Basic and Beginning Microsoft Basic are the same for the first ten chapters. The difference occurs that instead of programming secular games, the student will program games such as Daniel and the Lions, Noah’s Ark, etc. Learning games such as a savings calculator, sub-sandwich builder, a stop watch, etc will be create as well. Screenshots are provided of different games.
How did Computer Bible Games for Microsoft Small Basic work for us? It worked out surprisingly well! I will be upfront and say that I was not looking forward to this review. I enjoy my computer but I am happy to let other people make it work and do what I want. However, my children are much like their father and were excited to learn programming. We had three children that read and discussed introductory information and download information. They were 14, 12 and 11. My 14 year old decided that she was not interested so I had two students using the course.
We downloaded the program to two different computers and let them run with it. My 12 year old daughter thrived with this program. The course tells you to allow for 3-6 hours per chapter; Mary was close to the 3 hours mark. She quickly caught on to the program and enjoyed each lesson. For learning games such as the savings calculator she loved adding in fun text. For example, after giving your information the savings calculator would calculate your new amount. After giving you the total, Mary had it say, “You look excited.”
Mary is excited to continue this course!
Caleb, 11, was our other student for this course. He definitely need guidance and he has struggled to progress as far as Mary has. Since Mary is doing so well with the course, she provides him technical support when dad is not at home. Caleb’s frustration comes from missing the details and not wanting to take the time to find them. For Caleb, I have found that breaking the chapter down into daily chunks is a better plan. Mary prefers to sit down and do it all in one session. For the younger ages for this course, 10-11, I would expect some guidance would be needed unless the child was very computer literate.
We have been really pleased with Computer Bible Games for Microsoft Small Basic. It is simple and easy to implement and use. For ages 12 and up, I think it is definitely an independent study. For those students who need a bit of a challenge, the chapters provide a “Try This” feature for more exploration and learning. So after completing the chapter, it gives suggestions for other things you can make the game do but it doesn’t tell you how. You have to do a bit of experimenting. Sometimes it was successful for Mary and sometimes it didn’t quite work out. This course definitely gets the Burroughs Tribe Thumbs Up!
What does it cost?
For the review we usedComputer Bible Games for Microsoft Small Basic Single User License Digital E-book Download which is normally $59.95. However, until July 4th 2013 it is on sale for $34.95!!! If you have a student who would love to learn programming, I think this is a great opportunity for a reasonable price!
Other Schoolhouse Review Members used this course and the Beginning Microsoft Small Basic. Read a few reviews to see what others thought of Computer Science for Kids programming courses.