Friday, March 25, 2011

BigIQKids: Online Learning

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Big IQ Kids BigIQKids has been a life-saver for me in the last several weeks.  We've had two rounds of strep throat, the flu, and the ickies in the past two months.  There were days when I literally could not get out of bed and days when I could do nothing more than cuddle the miserably sick child.  These are the kinds of days when I need something the kids can do independently for school, both for the sake of their education and the sake of our sanity.  They need to keep their brains engaged, even when mom is unable to direct their learning.  I found myself very thankful that we were reviewing BigIQKids during this time.

So what is BigIQKids? It's a collection of online programs that help build a student's basic skills.  These programs include spelling, vocabulary, math, and the US states.  There is also an e-book series for kids 8-12, a spelling game, a vocabulary game, a vowel program and a game that helps teach the concept of time. 

Our first impressions were not great, I must admit.  If you pop over to their site, you will hear the robotic sounding computer voice.  This type of computerized voice is used throughout the program.  My 13 year old son was none too excited about the look of the site either, considering it a little too young for him.  Once we got into the program though, I was pleased.  We all got used to the robotic voice (with occasional exceptions, when it sounded mumbled) and my 8th grader soon found that despite the look, the vocabulary and spelling lists were to grade level.  In fact, the spelling and vocabulary were our favorite part of this program and we plan to continue with them after the review period ends. 

The site is easy for my kids to sign on to and work through the lessons without much help from me.  The younger ones really liked that they were able to earn a game coin after they had finished a lesson.  They enjoyed playing the simple games offered on the site, this made the work more enjoyable for them.  My 6th grader also really enjoyed the spelling quizzes (yeah, she's weird. GRIN).

The great thing about this site is that there is a free version available for all of these!  So if you think this looks like a great addition to your homeschool, you can go check it out for yourself.   I love that!  There is also an upgrade and a premium subscription.  We received two premium subscriptions for review (which I used for my 6th and 8th graders) and we signed up for two free subscriptions as well (these were used by my 3rd and 5th graders).  This was an excellent way to compare the free and premium versions.

So good news, the free subscription gives you a lot.  The bad news, it doesn't give you full game page access and a "buddy".  My 8th grader could care less about that but my younger two really want me to upgrade them (Sh, don't tell them I plan to as soon as I have my school money for next year.).  The good news, the upgrade to all the games and the buddy is only $9.98 a year (good deal!).  The bad news, this is not the same as a premium subscription.  And the best aspect of the premium subscription is the thing that I LOVED the most during the times when I was sick in bed or busy caring for sick children.

They send you emails.  Yeah, you don't even have to get up and check their work.  They send emails telling you exactly what your student has done and what percentage correct they received and which words they got right (spelling/vocab) and which words they missed. Maybe your kids are perfect and you don't need to check to be sure they actually did what you told them to do, but mine aren't and this was my favorite part of this program.  But if you want that, you need the premium. 

The main difference between the free accounts and the premium is that wonderful ability to track what the student is working on and to require mastery before moving on to the next lesson.  You also get a customized buddy, access to all the games and the student can save game coins and high scores.  The ads that support the site do not appear during the lesson time of the premium account.  Whether or not you need the free or premium will depend on how important these features are to you.  Personally, we will at least go for the upgrade.  But boy, do I love those email updates.

BigIQKids has many different options for the homeschool family.  We loved the vocabulary and the spelling, others may prefer the math and state studies.  The great thing is that you can check it all out for free and see what you like!  If you decide to go with the premium subscription (or the upgrade) there are several pricing options for the various programs.  Your best bet is to click HERE to see all your options. Let me know what you think!

*Disclosure: As part of the TOS Crew, I received two 1 year premium subscriptions for review purposes.  A positive review was not required, only an honest one.  To see what others thought about this product and more, visit the TOS Crew site!*


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