SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers – A Review

One of the benefits of homeschooling is the ability to implement a variety of resources to encourage learning. While we are conservative on screen time in our home, especially with our younger ones, we know that visual media can be valuable. Understanding the learning possibilities through media, SmartKidz Media has created SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers. We were able to review this media library over the past several weeks and I’d love to share a bit about it with you.

SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers provides a wide range of educational videos and other resources. The topics include: animal kingdom, history, culture, science, music, sports and more. Along with the videos, SmartKidz has downloadable study guides, flash animated e-books, and educational games.

Smartkidz Media content is “streaming” so there is no need to download anything to your computer or device.  Since this is a subscription based program, there are no ads or pop-ups to deal with. SmartKidz Media Library has two options for subscriptions:  monthly or yearly.

A 14 Day Free Trail is available to see if the content would be appropriate and beneficial to your home. It does require credit card information.

How Did We Use SmartKidz Media Library in our Homeschool?

We used SmartKidz Media Library very informally in our homeschool.  Instead of using it to supplement specific topics we were studying, we just watched different videos that my children showed interest in. There is no doubt that the Wonderful World series about various animals was a favorite. My thoughts, initially, were that this would be great for my younger ones. It never failed that when the videos started, everyone gathered around to watch. Who can resist polar bears, beavers, elephants, and monkeys?

It was interesting to see, even when using it informally as we did, how often we learned about animals we had come across in our school readings. Seeing the connections being made is a wonderful thing!

Another set of the videos we enjoyed as a family were the How Did They Make That? series. In an afternoon we learned how marbles, candles, and money are made. In one episode, while learning about birthday cakes, we discovered where cream of tartar comes from. I will confess that I had no idea!

There are other selections that I am interested in viewing but I am slowly previewing content. While this media library is designed for families, everyone has personal standards for what their children are allowed to view. What is acceptable for my older ones may not be beneficial to my younger ones.

New content is added regularly to SmartKidz Media. Recently some history resources for World War II and The Cold War have been added. I know my older children will likely enjoy these when we reach those studies in our history. We are a documentary loving family!

SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers has been a fun and educational addition to our resources. Using it informally on rainy afternoons or when we need a bit of downtime has worked really well. Children are always learning! I am working on a plan for using the World Wide Discovery Travel videos with a bit more structure. Perhaps we will take a few imaginary field trips around the world.

Want to learn more about what SmartKidz Media Library has to offer? Check out reviews by other Crew Members!

 

SmartKidz Media Review
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CTC Math (12 Month Family Plan) – A Review

Math can be one of the most intensive, time consuming subjects in educating your children. No matter which method of learning is used, math instruction takes place in some form. Last year, we were able to use CTC Math to supplement our math studies. We have recently incorporated CTC Math back into our studies via the 12 Month Family Plan. Six of my nine children are working with CTC Math in various ways that suit their individual needs. I would love to share features and aspects of the program that make this  an asset to our homeschool day.

CTC Math is an online math curriculum (nothing to download!). For Grades K-6, CTC Math provides a complete curriculum for the student. The higher levels of the program, while not complete curriculum, work very well as a supplement.

Pat Murray is the instructor for all the lessons. Not only is he an experienced math teacher, he is also the father of ten. Mr. Murray does an excellent job of presenting materials in each lesson in an engaging and understandable way across a wide range of learning levels.

Using CTC Math is very simple and straightforward. With a few clicks to select the area of study to focus on for the day, your child is ready to complete a lesson of math.  After viewing a short video, a worksheet needs to be completed. While the worksheets are all completed online, the higher levels of math have the option of printing the worksheets. My seven year old uses this program independently and rarely has to ask for assistance. It is really that easy to implement!

CTC Math has an excellent video on How It Works.

Even within one household there can be a variety of learning styles and needs. Taking advantage of CTC Math’s Free Trial is a great way to see if this program would be a fit for your family. There is no time limit to the free trial but the content is restricted to the first lesson in each topic.

What I Love About CTC Math

* No Games Needed! Over the past few years, I have seen various online curricula that motivate the child with games and prizes. I love that CTC Math has a simple but effective method for motivating a child. As the child completes portions of the program, an achievement award is given. Since I receive an email when an achievement award is earned, I can quickly give a “way to go” shout out to my child. The smile I get in return is priceless.

There are four levels of achievement: Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze. The awards can be printed if desired.

* Simple Testing for Placement – Each area of learning has two testing options: Standard and Comprehensive. The two tests are basically the same but the Comprehensive has more questions for a more thorough test. I use these tests in two ways. First, I use this for a pre-testing. While my child is working at sixth grade level,I might be concerned that there could be a gap or two. So giving a pre-test allows us both to see weak areas that need to be worked on. Perhaps when a child moves into a new level, I feel he might have a good understanding of the material so he can test out. Who doesn’t love that option?

I also use the tests for a bit of post-testing when needed. If a child has struggled over a few topics, when the area of study is completed, I would have her do a post-test. This helps us see where a gap in learning might be forming. Since math builds on skills as your progress, I don’t want a small gap now to cause a bigger issue later. The tests are not overwhelming. Even my child who struggles with anything called a test, handles these beautifully.

* Color Coded Reports – Reports can be viewed by both the student and the parent. The color coded progress bars allow even the youngest student to understand how they are doing. From Blue to Red, it is easy to see where more practice is needed and when mastery has been achieved. This is a great motivator to my seven and nine year old daughters. They love to see the blue bars dominate the screen. The reports, detailed or summary, can be printed if needed for record keeping or reference.

* Short Lessons – Mr. Murray does a great job of explaining the topic in a concise manner that allows for short lessons. My younger students are able to watch a lesson video and complete the questions in about fifteen – twenty minutes. My student using the higher levels of math, naturally take a bit longer. The instructional videos are around 7 – 10 minutes and the worksheet time is more intensive that the younger students.

* Stop and Save – There are days when even short lessons can be a bit trying and we need to step away from math for a bit. If the child needs to take a break while working on the questions, a “stop and save” option is available.  This has been a great feature when life has interrupted a school day.

* Speed Skills – I have seen in my older children how having quick recall of basic math facts makes higher math much easier. CTC Math has an excellent math drill program called Speed Skills. The child picks an appropriate level and completes as many problems as she can in 60 seconds. The first attempt sets the goal to bet. I love how the child is working to better her own score. Speed Skills also have a level that includes Order of Operations.  You can play it as a guest! Give it a try!

* Great Customer Service –  CTC Math has amazing customer service. I have had a few questions and the support at CTC has always been super helpful and quick! This is great when your high school student has a question about why her course isn’t working properly and the mom brain is fried. We have smooth sailing thanks to CTC’s customer service.

* A Real Family Plan! – It is not uncommon for homeschool families to have more children than the average. CTC Math’s 12 Month Family Plan allows up to TEN students to have access. I love not having to select which child needs this resource the most.I can have all of my children working independently on math and at whatever level is needed.

“CTC Math is fine. I really enjoy doing the speed drills. I like how the teacher explains things and that the lessons are short. He can make you understand something without going on and on and on. When you get something wrong, it shows you a solution. I like being able to see where I made a mistake.” Lydia – 11

Final Thoughts

CTC Math has been an asset to our family. Several of my older children are using CTC Math to supplement their math studies. Even as a supplement, they are using CTC Math in different ways that best suit how they learn. My oldest is using the Algebra course to review weak areas. My other older ones use CTC Math a few times a week to reinforce what they are learning.

“I liked it. It had fun things to do.” Sarah – age 7

Two of my younger ones are using CTC Math as their sole math curriculum. They love working independently and it is rare I have to remind them to do their math. My seven year old really enjoys the Speed Skills. While they do use the program independently, I am still needed a times.

“I’m learning things. He explains things really well and goes over stuff. I like it.” Hannah- age 9

Since the topic or skill presented in a lesson can only be presented in one way, there is sometimes difficulty in comprehension and success with a topic. For example, my seven year old is struggling with number words, counting by 2s, and addition up to 20.  I can very easily see the lessons she is having difficulty with thanks to the report feature. At the end of each week, I look to see where she might have a challenge and then the next week, we take a day or two to tackle some problem areas. I might create a game, present the topic in a different way, or watch the lesson with her and discuss it with her.  It is working out beautifully and they are learning. Who can argue with that? We give CTC Math the Tribe Seal of Approval!

 

As always other Crew Members reviewed CTC Math so take a moment to stop by and see what others are saying.

CTCmath Review
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A+ Interactive Math – A Review

From talking with other homeschool moms, I know that math can often be one of the most challenging subjects to tackle. More and more online options are becoming available for math instruction. We recently had the opportunity to review Adaptive Placement Test and Individualized Lesson Plan one of the options offered by A+ Interactive Math.

Although we were happy with the math program we were currently using, I was a bit concerned that a couple of my children had a few gaps in their learning. Adaptive Placement Test and Individualized Lesson Plan seemed to be a great resource for us. It is specifically designed for this purpose: to help you not only identify gaps in math learning but to fill those gaps.

Three of my children worked with Adaptive Placement Test and Individualized Lesson Plan: Lydia (6th grade), Hannah (3rd grade), and Sarah (1st grade).

After setting up your parent account and activating your children’s accounts, the next step is for the student to complete “mini tests”. Within each grade level there are concepts of learning. You child takes a simple test  to determine if that concept is mastered or if more instruction is needed.

Now we move into the individualized lesson plans for the student. For example, Hannah (3rd grade) struggles with multiplication. After her attempt at the test for multiplication, it was clear that she needed more practice on this. In her account under “View My Lesson Plan”, Hannah would now find a folder labeled “Multiplication”. Inside that folder were a series of online videos explaining various aspects of multiplication such as: Multiplying Using Objects, Multiplying by a 2 Digit Number, Multiplication Tricks.

The videos are straight forward in presentation and not long in length. After viewing the video, there is then an Interactive Q & A that covers the material presented in the instructional video. The child is presented with ten questions with multiple choice answers. If an incorrect answer is given, the child is shown the correct answer along with an explanation. Once the Interactive Q &A is completed, there are Online Practice Worksheets to give further practice on the concepts.

The Adaptive Placement Test and Individualized Lesson Plan provide both the student and parent with a dashboard. Via the dashboards student and parent can track progress, lessons, and goals. The parent can see how the child is doing and what has been completed so far. It is helpful for the child to have the visual as well to see her progress.

This is not a full curriculum and is intended to be used as a resource to recognize gaps in math and to fill those gaps. Often only a short period of time is needed to reinforce those weak areas. Adaptive Placement Test and Individualized Lesson Plan can be purchased just 3 Months at a time for a student.

From May 4, 2015 to May 18, 2015, Adaptive Placement Tests and Individualized Lesson Plan will be available for 40% – 50% off.

Our Experience with Adaptive Placement Test and Individualized Lesson Plan

I had three students utilizing this program and knew that at least two of them had a few weak areas. Lydia (6th grade) and Hannah (3rd grade) both used this independently each week. It was very simple for them to navigate and understand. Since this is not a full curriculum it was used as a supplement alongside their regular math curriculum. They set aside at least twenty minutes about four days a week to work with Adaptive Placement.

Both Lydia and Hannah found the presentation a bit dry. The video lessons show the material being presented while a voice reads what is on the screen. The voice is a bit monotone at times. During the Interactive Q & A, as the questions are shown on the screen, the instructor reads the question. Then slowly each of the multiple choice answers are presented as they are being read. My girls did not find this method engaging at all but rather tedious.

Sarah (1st grade) did not use this program as frequently as my other two students. Sarah could not use this program independently due to her reading ability. While the Interactive Q & A, read the question and answers, the worksheets have no audio. Whenever Sarah had to complete a worksheet, someone had to be there to read to her. I have no problem working alongside my children but I expected this to be an independent study resource. It is surprising at the grade level of 1st grade that the worksheet questions do not have an audio option; especially since all the other aspects of the program have audio.

Top 12 Reasons to use Adaptive Placement Test and Interactive Lesson Plan

Overall, I think this is a very helpful resource but it just wasn’t a good fit for our family. I was hoping that we could fill in a few gaps but the presentation was a hindrance for my students. Even my older students struggle with having math presented through video so I think it is a learning style/method issue for us. However, it could be exactly what your child needs to work through some weak areas.

Your child can take a Free Math Placement Test and you can view a Demo of the Adaptive Placement Test and Interactive Lesson Plan. This is a great way to see if this program will work for you and your student.

A+ Interactive Math has excellent customer service. When I had an issue (totally on my end) they were so quick and helpful! If you have any questions, I’m sure they would be happy to help you decide if this program is a good fit for your student.

Other Crew Members have been using Adaptive Placement Test and Interactive Lesson Plan. Some Crew Members have been using the Family Math Package. If you are looking for a math resource, take a moment to see what others are saying.

A+ Interactive Math Review
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