Thursday, June 25, 2015

Thankful Thursday: June 25th

I am focusing on a few things that we are thankful for today. Just felt like sharing them.

I am THANKFUL for . . .
  • God's Love, Mercy, and Forgiveness
  • The Joy and Laughter my Daughter Brings to My Life
  • Family and Friends
  • My Bible and Inspirational Christian Books
  • A Roof Over Our Heads
  • Possible House Buyer
  • Curricula Blessings 
  • God's Amazing Creatures
Alyssa is Thankful for . . . 
  • God
  • My Mom
  • Family and Friends
  • People Forgiving Me
  • Dance Teacher and my Piano Teacher
  • A House with a bed in it
  • Homeschooling
  • Food and Drinks
  • Animals
  • Rain to help plants grow
  • Plants which make the world beautiful

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

TOS Review: SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers

SmartKidz Media Review

I reviewed a full year subscription to the SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers developed by SmartKidz Media. This resource is meant for children in preschool through high school. It also includes special needs content and resources.

SmartKidz Media Library Description
The digital media learning library contains over a 1,000 educational and entertaining videos including flash animated e-books, music, interactive study guides, games, puzzles, and more. It allows you the option of instantly streaming and watching the online videos on a variety of devices anytime, anywhere. You can stream from a PC, MAC, iPad, Mobile iPhone, Roku, and a Tablet. You have unlimited access 24/7. The content on this membership site is organized into a variety of tabbed categories covering topics to supplement learning across several subjects.

Themed Category Tabs
  • World of Discovery
  • Music and Fine Arts
  • Mighty Ebook Collection
  • Baby Signs Program
  • My Animal Family
  • Quick Find Study Guides
  • Learning Special Needs (content can be used with all learners)
  • Living Skills Program
  • Ready Set Sing
  • Fun Zone
Supported Subjects
  • Science
  • World and American History
  • Social Studies
  • Fitness
  • Fine Arts and Music
  • Reading and Language Arts
  • Practice Life Skills or Living Skills
  • Math  
Be sure to browse the catalog to view the resources available.

How We Used
I used this digital media resource library with my daughter Alyssa (7 1/2) as a supplement to our homeschool core and extracurricular subjects 3-4 times per week for a minimum of 20-45 minutes a day. Our subscription was accessed on our MAC computer using both Safari and Chrome as our main browsers.

This tool was used for both educational and entertaining purposes. I also utilized the media library to raise cultural awareness and to teach my daughter to appreciate different types of music and art. We utilized it for science, research, history, exercise, writing, independent reading time, notebooking activities, music and art appreciation, and more. The product was also used during free time, on the weekends, as I prepped meals, as part of her school work, and as we traveled into town. Videos were frequently integrated into other subjects and was often required as part of a particular lesson. It also encouraged a natural curiosity for independent research about new cultures. We needed Adobe Reader to access a few PDF files we chose to print.

Would you like to see how I integrated the content and videos into our homeschool day?  

My Animal Family Storybooks, Animal Fun Facts, and Songs
We used this series as an opportunity for Alyssa to explore the world of animals and make connections to real life situations. She learned how to respect animals and their way of life. She loves music, songs, facts, and is a definite animal lover so this section was perfect for my daughter. Tahi (Dolphin), Korow (Chimpanzee), and Nanuq (Polar Bear) are a few of her favorite animals so she visited those resources first. She would watch the storybook video. Then, she viewed the interesting fun facts video followed by the corresponding animal group song which all reinforced learning.

Alyssa created a key word outline (KWO) using the SmartKidz Media video content. Alyssa was asked to write an animal report. Then, she chose a specific animal from the website and wrote a paragraph about it. She drafted her paper through the writing process from the KWO notes she took using the African Elephant online videos. This activity integrated writing, science, and literature.

She also enjoyed learning about Dolphins. I love how vocabulary words like "echolocation" are noted in a slightly larger text size and the word is defined.

Dancing to the Chimpanzee Song
Baby Signs Program
I taught Alyssa a few ASL signs to help her communicate her basic needs at an early age to eliminate frustrations. Alyssa hasn't used or practiced these sign language skills for years, but she had the opportunity to review many signs using this program. She was eager to start and relearn sign language so that she can use the signs to communicate non-verbally during play time with a boy we know. His speech is limited. The videos she mainly used were from A-Z Dictionary portion which demonstrated each word with a sign and a short verbal explanation.

World Wide Discovery Collection
Travel and Adventure: Egypt
We decided to learn about Egypt, because we were studying it in our Bible study and in World History. I asked Alyssa to complete an exit card activity. Her task was to write three interesting facts about Egypt from the content found in the video. All responses were accepted. She was required to write them down on an index card and give it to me at the end of the lesson.

Lifestyles and Cuisine
First stop my FAV . . . Bravo! Chef: Italian food! There are 8 Italian recipes. The videos are separated so you don't have to watch all of them in one section. The chef also shares tips and tricks with the audience. After watching Cantucci video from the Italian recipes, I gave Alyssa a list writing activity. She watched the video again for details. The activity idea came as an after thought, otherwise I would have given her paper to jot down notes during the first viewing. She made a Grocery List and checked for items we already had in the pantry. We didn't actually get to make any of the recipes yet, but we hope to make the Ravioli or Tiramisu recipe as a mother-daughter activity soon. The chicken recipe collection is our next stop! I wish the recipes were converted to volume measurements and not mass measurements (150 grams) as seen in the videos. I also wish a list of ingredients were listed at the beginning of the video and not just scrolling at the end like credits so that I can gather the ingredients ahead of time to follow along when cooking. This is a fun way to learn how to cook and try new recipes with or without children. 

We used the Aerobics for Kids and Exercises for Kids videos together. The videos gave us something active to do inside out of the hot, mid-day Texas heat and worked splendidly on rainy days. These videos provided Alyssa with movement and exercise for the day. I haven't worked out in a long time so it was a wonderful intro back into the fitness world. It also gave us more bonding time together. She exercised during her free time and used the videos as part of her Physical Education routine. I would be most thankful if more fitness videos were added covering different muscle groups, types of workouts, and even vary the workout movements. Alyssa's only complaint about one of the videos was that the routine was a little long and boring, because it was the same actions over and over again.

Quick Find Interactive Study Guides
Ben Franklin's Social Studies Basics
These interactive study guides are informative "go to" tools for basic facts, illustrated glossaries, and rule or definition references for writing, spelling, science, math, social studies, and many other subjects.

50 States: Texas
We found a Texas notebooking sheet online and used it in conjunction with the study guide. Alyssa clicked on the Texas link and researched facts about her home state in order to complete the printed sheet. 

US Presidents
During the review period, we were working on an American History unit study. We researched information about the first three presidents (George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson) using SmartKidz. These three presidents were mentioned in our unit study. Alyssa completed a notebooking sheet about George Washington.

Mighty E-Book Collection
These interactive e-books motivated Alyssa to read during her 15-30 minute independent reading time. They were flash-animated videos with highlighted text and voice-over synchronization. Some books followed the words with a bouncy ball. The topics of the books varied and frequently contained sound effects and music. Alyssa's favorite e-books were Dry Bones, Dinosaur Bones, Metamorphosis, Caterpillar . . . Caterpillar, and Birds of a Feather. Dry Bones was used a brain break, because it provided Alyssa with step-by-step dance moves while teaching anatomy.  We'll be checking out more of the Bible e-books later this week.
Interacting with the Video

Two e-book series she showed an interest in and enjoyed tremendously were the Mother Goose and Aesop Fable Collections. This brought back some great memories for us. I remember reading several of these stories to her years ago. She also read or listened to new and unfamiliar Mother Goose stories and rhymes too.

Special Needs or Ebook Collection
Holiday and Celebrations: Memorial Day
Instead of printing the provided organizer or web for research, I had my daughter draw the web and fill it out about Memorial Day. There are several other holiday e-books included in this collection including but not limited to Cinco de Mayo, Chinese New Year, July 4th, and Easter.  
Watch the video to find out who SHE is? 
Memorial Day Word Web and Template

Fun Zone
My daughter earned tickets as part of our reward system for completing chores. These tickets were used to "play" in the Fun Zone area during her free time. Occasionally, I would require use of the first two video series during art or geography class. I will only discuss her favorites activities and games below.

Cezanne Collection Jigsaw Puzzles
My puzzle loving daughter was drawn to the puzzles. This is a neat way to integrate art appreciation into a fun activity and helped her recognize popular masterpieces. My daughter truly enjoys art and jigsaw puzzles. She liked that you could choose the number of pieces (12 or 20). We both appreciated the fact that we could scroll or hover over the ABOUT button which tells you the artist's name, time period, and gives you biographical information about the artist's life. Each jigsaw puzzles also indicates the title of the artwork. Alyssa and I both hope that additional artists and their collections are added to the website. They may want to add a 6-piece puzzle option for younger children to this collection.

Where in the World Are We: Maps Puzzle
The pirate theme immediately caught my daughter's attention, because it reminded her of her pirate themed birthday party.You choose the number of pieces (6, 12, 24). Alyssa clicked on the CLUE button when she needed help. You are allowed FIVE clues and each CLUE click labels a surrounding area or country. The goal is to identify the correct sea which is indicated by a red "X" which marks the spot. A list of ten sea choices are given. Wrong choices will receive an "Oh no" remark. This activity may be tough or frustrating for younger children not familiar with map work, but with parental guidance your child can learn more about maps. I would LOVE to see a series covering all the continents and even state maps. This looks like a fun way to teach and help children become more aware of the geography of our massive world.

Dress the Divas
Alyssa was really excited about this activity! Three girls are having a dress rehearsal for a concert. They need help with their wardrobe before the concert begins. Alyssa observes their wardrobes paying close attention to the details. Her task was to dress them in the exact outfits and when she does they'll sing their song. This activity encourages observation skills and a keen attention to details. Girls will most likely enjoy this activity more than boys. The HELP button shows what the girls are dressed in again in case your child forgets. I recommend that the company creates a version of this game for boys as well.

Music and Fine Arts
The classical music was listened to during handwriting lessons, writing, art projects, chores, and sometimes before bedtime. I wanted her to appreciate different styles of music and composers while working. She enjoyed listening to the well-known composers from the Classical Music section (Volumes 1 and 2) including Chopin, Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven. Her favorite song was Fur Elise. We also read biographical books about several of the composers. I enjoyed listening to the music as I cooked, did chores, and wrote reviews. Relax and soothe your soul by listening to the Panpipes, waves splashing against the shore, gentle rains, rolling thunder, birds singing their songs, and more using the two volumes of Relaxation Music. Be careful these peaceful sounds may help you fall asleep faster! We adored The Art Van Gogh and the Music of Bach which integrated both music and art appreciation. The video showed Van Gogh masterpieces in a slideshow format while playing Bach's music in the background.

Ready Set Sing Songs
We tried to focus on the songs suitable for children between the ages of 6-8 and Kidz Karaoke, but we took many detours during our visit. Yankee Doodle is a favorite which tied into our American Revolutionary unit study. She also liked singing Big Blue Zoo and Animal Antics songs around the house. Big Blue Zoo: Birds of a Feather teaches children about how we all live together and should live in harmony as we share the same planet Earth. It brings joy to my ears to hear new songs instead of the same old songs she sings on a daily basis. It also makes chore time more fun too!

Overall Thoughts
SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers was a great addition to our homeschool day! Anything dealing with animals was our favorite part. We utilized the Animal Storybooks, Fact Books, and Songs the most. The presentation immediately captured the attention of my daughter. The photographs were captivating! She was addicted to the My Animal Family section and found the non-fiction content to be fascinating and interesting.
Precious Chimp Image
The website was easily navigated but the organization could use some improvement. There was a decent-sized collection but I have used several similar, larger media libraries in the past. This one contains tools for younger children which is a bonus. We did have a slow or lost connection on several occasions even though we have high speed Internet. We just logged back in and it usually helped with the situation. This could also be due to the fact that we were getting a lot of rain in the area. Chrome seemed to work better than Safari.

There was some content that my daughter wasn't comfortable watching. She called me in the room anytime women were barely dressed or if any nudity what-so-ever was found in paintings or on statues. She also saw a man smoking a pipe and a girl's tongue was pricked and bled. However, the content did spark a discussion about cultural diversity and values. This content mainly came from Mysteries From Ancient Times (Part 1). Some videos contain content you may want to view and approve first, but older more mature audiences can learn a lot about different cultures. The Wild Moments (Part 1) also showed a little blood when discussing the life of an elephant seal. It wasn't enough to really bother Alyssa, but it was something she pointed out and said I should mention it in case younger children were watching.

What I Liked
  • My Animal Story Books
  • Beautiful Images and Live Footage
  • Access on ALL Devices Making the Content Portable and Easily Accessible
  • Includes Preschool or Kinder Readiness Content (At-Home Daycare Providers)
  • Collections of E-book Resources
  • Puzzles and Games
  • Catchy Song Tunes
  • Music and Art Appreciation Resources
I recommend this resource to any homeschooler or family for independent use with children in 7th grade and up due to some content or visuals. Supplement your homeschool curricula or replace TV time with educational and valuable videos that will engage your child. You can pick and choose which videos to watch. I highly suggest that the parent or educator screen the video content prior to allowing younger students access to the videos or watch the videos together followed by a discussion, because some content requires a mature audience.

This can also be used in daycares for whole class use with the teacher presenting the content. The are many songs that little ones will enjoy singing. It is an educational tool that will add variety to your homeschool day.

The company will continue to expand the content on their website. They will be adding more US History and Science videos within the next month. You can stay updated by subscribing to their newsletter.

Possible Vendor Suggestions
  1. Give warnings about content that may contain nudity, smoking, animal mating or reproductive patterns, bloody graphics, or any other content that may need to be screened for approval. I noticed the word "ATTENTION" was used in the Fitness videos and can be used in other videos for the purpose of warning parents about questionable content.   
  2. Study Guides - Can you possibly include printable PDF files for research purposes such as notebooking pages, lapbook pieces, research forms, vocabulary sheets, and so forth?
  3. We would absolutely LOVE to see the My Animal Family Storybook section extended. More animals can be added to the series and organized into animal classifications.
  4. We hope that additional artists and their masterpiece collections are added to the Jigsaw Puzzle portion.
$10 per month
$99 for a year (Saves $20)
Sign-up for a 14-Day FREE trial before you buy!

Social Media
Facebook @SmartKidz Homeschool
Twitter @SmartKidzMedia

The Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog is the place to visit if you are looking for additional reviews about SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers which highlights the experiences of other crew members with this resource. There's no way one person can cover all the video content in one review so I suggest readings several to gain a better understanding of what is included in your subscription. 
SmartKidz Media Review
Crew Disclaimer

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Blast from the Past: Work It Girl!

I was looking through old photos and came across these hilarious pictures. They were taken exactly 6 years ago on this date, but at our old house. I was working out using my Turbo Jam videos. Alyssa heard the music and came running into the room. She LOVED music and dancing . . . she still does. She decided to join me. Basically, she plopped right in front of the screen. I remember the day so clearly and I'm glad I caught it on camera. Maybe it'll bring a smile to your face today and encourage you to check out older photos you have stored on your computer.

Take a look into the past. 
What image did YOU capture on this date?  

Thank you for visiting A Learning Journey. I will link this post up at Life at Rossmont's Wordless Wednesday Linky.

Wordless Wednesday at Life at Rossmont

Monday, June 15, 2015

BookLook Review - Brave Girls: Faithful Friends written by Jennifer Gerelds

Today I am reviewing Brave Girls: Faithful Friends written by Jennifer Gerelds. It is a small 90-Day Christian devotional paperback book consisting of 135 black and white pages. The book is meant for preteen or tween girls between the ages of 8-13. However, younger girls can benefit from reading it. The devotional is published by Thomas Nelson as part of the Brave Girls series.

A couple months ago, BookLook's Blogger Review Program gave me the chance to review the other book in the series titled, Brave Girls: Better Than Perfect. We also own Brave Girls Bible Stories. We use these resources each morning as part of my daughter's personal Bible study time. I believe that each one of these books are treasured gems that any young girl would appreciate.

Book Summary (According to the Website)
Faithful Friends, forever true . . . hearts together, me and you! From the time they are babies, some little girls reach out to those around them, smiling, laughing, playing, and making friends. Others might find it a little tough. This new Brave Girls devotional features 90 devotions that will reinforce a young girls desire to have friends, to BE a friend, and to help her share her faith with friends of all ages. Just as God is our "Forever Friend," faithful and true, the Brave Girls take readers through these pages, encouraging her to be best friends she can be!
Each Devotion Includes
  • Meaningful Bible Scriptures with References
  • Reflective Daily Friendship Devotionals
  • Short 1-2 Sentence Closing Prayers
Hope, Faith, Glory, Gracie, and Honor (the Brave Girls) teach girls the qualities of a being a good friend to animals, family, and others based on God's desires. They share their ideas for making and keeping friends through interesting stories. They emphasize friendship truths such as "God sometimes uses our friends to correct us" and "There's a reason God gave us one mouth and two ears." The devotional covers proper phone etiquette during conversations. It evens discusses how to throw an awesome slumber party that will please any girl. It covers the planning process and gives pointers or tips on how to be a great host. My daughter will use this information when planning her summer slumber.

Eight Relevant Topics Addressed
  • God is My Best Friend
  • Bible Friends
  • Critter Chat
  • Friendship Starters
  • Friendship Fixers
  • Friends at Home
  • Quizzing the Night Away
  • Friendship Fun Zone
My Thoughts
The beautiful, colorful cover featuring the 5 "Brave Girl" friends who are from different ethnicities is eye-catching. The well-organized format or layout is easy-to-read. The devotionals can be read in any order, but I would create a tracking sheet to mark off the days that are read. Children may need a dictionary or parent nearby to explain the meanings of a few larger words mentioned. 

We both loved the chapter on Critter Chats. The Critter Chat chapter relates the content to one of God's amazing animals such as "Copy Cat (kittens)," Puppy Love (puppies), "Eagle Eye (eagles)," and "Winging It (geese)" Animal lovers will adore this section. "Copy Cat" teaches a lesson by referring to lessons a mother cat teaches her kittens. It reminds children to obey and model examples of good behavior taught by a parent. They must listen to their rules which will help them grow strong in the Lord.

Friendship Fixers is another chapter we enjoyed. The Bible Scripture verse references are encouraging and helpful during any tough situation. The problem-solution scenarios will help children know what to do in sticky or uncomfortable situations. My daughter said that her absolute favorite devotional was the first one titled, "Better Than Best," because it reminded her that when you feel alone God is always with you and is your best or closest friend. Another chapter emphasizes Bible characters that maintained good friendships and other Bible characters who didn't display good friendship qualities. Children can learn from the mistakes and successes of these characters.

This relationship building book contains verses to memorize and topics that are age-appropriate which address real-life situations. The topics can be easily applied to life. The book will help the social and emotional well being of your child giving them a balanced outlook on life and friendships. The pertinent messages are ones girls should hear before their teen years. It addresses a variety of difficult friendship topics from a Christian viewpoint. The devotions are short 1-2 page readings which share examples of good choices to make in life.

There are engaging and interactive activities provided in the book such as word searches, drawing fun, problem-solution scenarios, journaling notes, fill-in the blanks, thought-provoking questions, quizzes, and a scheduling activity. The contents of the book reinforces their faith in God and gives young girls practical advice on how to develop healthy friendships. I love that the series encourages girls to be and act brave in today's society.

This was an easy read for my 7 1/2 year old daughter to use independently. It is also a devotional with a clearly understood message that a mother and daughter could do together discussing personal experiences and key points each day. The conversational, personable writing style of the book will capture the attention of your tween girl. This devotional would be beneficial to families, small church groups, or Bible study groups. It would make a great Christmas, Birthday, or Easter gift for a special girl in your life.  

Do you want your little girl to develop strong, long-lasting, Godly friendships?
Consider this devotional as a starting point or guide. 

Price: Retails For $7.99
Faith Gateway Store Currently on Sale for $5.59
Amazon $5.51 (on sale)

Note: All prices are subject to change without notice.

I received a complimentary, free copy of this book from the publisher as part of the BookLook Blogger Review Team Program in exchange for an honest review on my blog. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this information in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Sunday, June 14, 2015

TOS Review: WordBuildOnline by Dynamic Literacy

JazzEdge  Review

I reviewed WordBuildOnline created by Dynamic Literacy which is an interactive, web-based vocabulary development program based on morphology. Morphology is the study of the smallest individual units of meaning. This unique program emphasizes and teaches the commonly used prefixes, suffixes, and roots. I received a module subscription to the ONLINE version of the Foundations, Level 1 course. There really isn't an end date to this subscription. The company allows you to take as long as you need to complete the 25 units. 

I was given two different student accounts and a parent account with separate login credentials. You can't share or reuse accounts for other children. I wanted to explore and experiment with the program on my own, but I didn't want to mess up my daughter's progress or have an impact on the adjustments made to her difficulty level which is why I requested a 2nd student account for myself. 

Dynamic Literacy offers a second online Foundations level and two other levels of their Elements WordBuildOnline program. Each level is equivalent to a full school year of curricula content if only one activity is completed per day. A child can't work on the program for more than 15 minutes. It'll stop the activity and state that their time is up. WordBuildOnline is geared towards children in 2nd through 5th grade or for individuals needing remedial help in 5th-9th grade.     

Lexi, the animated cartoon dog is the mascot guide that introduces each lesson. The screen below is seen when logging in. We clicked on the orange "Let's go!" and the green "Start" button to begin. We listen to an overview of the whole program at the beginning and was directed to a short prefix video to watch. There's a green "Continue" button to click next. We also saw a list of the units that will be covered in this particular level. Once units are completed, there's a REVIEW button which enables the user to view any activity they have completed.    
JazzEdge  Review

My daughter earned a colored paw print reward on the skateboard scoreboard for each activity completed which tracks weekly progress. She could earn 5 paw prints for each weekly lesson. The screen announced the number of awards received, "You've won 2 of 5 daily rewards." Lexi also gave verbalized praises and reinforced Alyssa when she answered correctly by saying "Stupendous - That's Right," "Correct-o-mundo," or "Great Job." Lexi, the host, provided instructional tips and tricks about how to use the program throughout the lesson.    

How We Used It
Alyssa (Age 7 1/2), who is a voracious reader working at a 3rd-5th grade level, used WordBuildOnline 3-5 times per week. I started her at the beginning of this online program, because she's been a good sight reader for years. My daughter is constantly reading chapter books and has mastered most advanced phonics concepts. I wanted a program that would enable her to understand words in the context of reading. The number of unfamiliar words she comes across has increased now that she is reading more advanced books. WordBuildOnline was our next step since phonics was no longer a challenge. This program was beneficial to her, because it taught her how to figure out the meanings of larger unfamiliar words using word parts or units of meaning instead of ignoring the words. Knowing the meaning of words when you read helps you understand what you're reading better.

I tried to have Alyssa complete one activity per day working 5 times a week in order to simplify our schedule. However, frequently she wanted to work on an entire week’s lesson in one sitting or even double up activities. I often gave into her eagerness and willingness to do the educational activities. In order to get a more accurate representation of her progress and abilities, the program recommends spacing out multiple sessions, because performance is measured only after the completion of an activity. The program automatically adjusts the level of content difficulty based on the student's performance which helps with differentiating lessons. I've always been a strong believer of teaching children at their level or above their level. 

My daughter NEVER spent more than 1-5 minutes on each activity. The program required 10-15 minutes a day to work through the activities, but she NEVER needed that much time. She is currently working at a Mastery level. We used this program as our primary vocabulary program as part of her reading curriculum. It also replaced her spelling curricula over the summer since we homeschool year-round. It can supplement any core curricula. It is complete for its purpose especially if all modules are utilized over the years.    

You'll need a computer and an Internet connection. You must be able to hear (audio) and view the animated videos. We used Safari or Chrome as our main browsers on a MAC computer. WordBuildOnline is compatible with both MAC and PC computers. 

There are "How to Videos" for each type of activity and a list of WordBuildOnline prefix and suffix videos for ALL units if you scroll down after logging in. The first four videos explain how to do each activity. We watched all of the "How To" videos before starting the program. Please click on ALL screenshots in this review to enlarge. 

The parent receives a student completion update via email which basically states which lesson was completed. No other measured data is given. You can easily stop these e-mails if desired by removing your email address under the parent account. I immediately deleted the e-mails from my inbox after viewing them each day. I plan on removing my e-mail address.  

A more detailed activity summary is displayed and can be viewed under the parent account. I was able to manage Alyssa's student account. I could see her assigned level, a list of assignments, list of prefixes or suffixes learned, the date and time needed to complete activities, ratings, and more. The performance rating is based on a numerical key. A rating of "4" indicates that she completed all answers correctly in less time than she was allotted. Correct answers are green and incorrect are noted in red. You have the option of resetting the activity so that your child can redo it. The company asks you to restrain from doing so, because the program adjusts the difficulty level based on the child's performance. I clicked on the red word "Review" to view Alyssa's work on specific activities. 

Test Review
Alyssa also used the REVIEW function on her dashboard to see her progress with correct answers. We discussed any errors made so that she can learn from them.  

Our Experiences
The lessons are organized into 5 manageable daily activities. Each weekly lesson began with a brief video which introduced my daughter to a new prefix or suffix. 

A Weekly Glance at Daily Activities
Day 1: Affix Square (Prefix Power)
The prefix is found at the center of a 3x3 grid and its meaning was given in Lexi's speech bubble. Alyssa clicked on the center prefix square and then on one of the surrounding word squares to build new words. After creating each new word, she thought about and typed a definition in her own words. The program instantly adds the new words to a list with their definitions after you click on the "Go" button. Eight new words are created. The activity ended with a "That's all for now" remark.
Prefix Video: "Over"

Note: Don't click on the "I'm finished" button because your activity session will end. 

Day 2: Affix Adder (Prefix Addition) 
The prefix was defined. Alyssa clicked on the orange prefix box and then the blue blank space in order to create a new word. 

Next, she defined each word and typed their meanings in the long, orange box. The green "Go" button was clicked when done. 

Then, she selected the sentence that best described and used the new word properly. Her reasoning skills helped her figure out which one made sense. Three sentence choices were given after clicking the green "Go" button. She must complete this series of activities for ONLY 3 words. This was the toughest activity for Alyssa.  

Day 3: Magic Square
My daughter identified the correct definition for each boxed word. The orange boxes were labeled A through I and the definitions were numbered 1-9. You can complete them in ANY order. She clicked on the definitions first and then the box. When she did this, a number representing the definition was shown in the box. The numbers going across and down should add up to the magic number which will be revealed with flashing stars if her answers are correct. If the magic number isn't shown, then the program continues because something isn't quite right and changes are needed. 
JazzEdge  Review

Day 4: Comprehension Booster
Alyssa was given 10 fill-in the blank sentences (one at a time) with 10 word choices at the bottom of the screen. She read the sentence and chose which word correctly filled in the blank. She clicked on the orange word box and then on the empty blue box or space to select a word. If it is correct, the word is crossed off the list. We really appreciate this feature! It helps track which words have and haven't been used. If incorrect, a sound is made and the word box is seen in red. 

I love that she can skip a problem at anytime if she's struggling with it. The program automatically adds the question to the end for her to try again when fewer word choices are available which makes the question easier to attempt. She must answer all questions. It does NOT count against her score which eliminates any frustrations she might have especially since she's being timed.   
JazzEdge  Review

Day 5: Quiz or Test
The child is given 5 multiple choice questions to complete in 10 minutes. Three answer choices are offered. 

A "You Rock" score summary is shown after each activity is completed telling Alyssa how many out of the total number of problems attempted that she got right. It also tells her how long it took her to complete the activity right down to the minutes and seconds. The same group of activities are provided for each unit. The 15-minute timer is shown on-screen counting down the minutes in the top-right hand corner. Lexi explains that the timer isn't there to beat nor is the lesson meant to be a race. 

What I Liked
  • No Word Lists to Memorize
  • Exponential and Contextual Learning
  • Quick Lessons Lasting No More Than 15 Minutes
  • Assessment Built Into the Program
  • Clear Directions
  • Adjustable Pace
  • Verbal Praise
  • Vocabulary Improvements
  • Shows How Word Parts Work Together (Prefix + Root + Suffix = Word)
  • Access to All Videos to Watch for Review Purposes
  • No Teaching Required - The Video Content Teaches
  • Delivered Entirely Online
  • Brief Videos

Suggested Vendor Improvements
  1. Emailed progress reports don't contain useful or helpful information. It states that a lesson was completed but that's it. It doesn't tell how well a child performed based on the number of correct or incorrect answers. 
  2. Magic Square - I wish that this activity had a feature that would cross off or checkmark words used. A checkmark would still allow the child to see the word in case they used the wrong one and needed to choose a different one. A red checkmark can indicate a wrong choice and a green checkmark can indicate correct responses. My daughter couldn't remember which words she had used and which ones she didn't use so it was frustrating at times. It would have been easier for her to see them marked off. 
  3. I would like to see more fun activities offered and possibly a feature that allows the parent to use the default set of routined activities or have the option of choosing from a menu of activity choices to create a more customizable lesson based on the learning interests of the child.
  4. Acceptable Definitions - Most of the definitions my daughter created and typed were considered acceptable. Some were downright goofy or sounded silly. I was surprised that they counted them correct. It seemed like the program accepted most, if not all, of her answers. Although, it did help build her confidence level as defining an unknown word can be intimidating task. It encouraged her to use the information learned to figure out the words. 
  5. "I'm Finished" exits you out of the program. I made the mistake of clicking on the button and it booted me out therefore my scores weren't representative of my abilities so I reset the activity. I thought it meant I'm finished with the program. This should be placed at the top of the screen so that it is less likely that the student . . . or parent (in my case) would click on it unless it was time to exit. Another option would be to rename the button changing it to "Exit Program"
  6. Can your child read? - The child must be able to read in order to utilize this program independently. If the child isn't a strong reader then a parent will need to assist. I think if you added a read aloud feature, more younger children will be able to utilize the program.
  7. Reward System - The theme was a great choice, because my daughter LOVES dogs. However, I think that the reward system didn't really encourage her to use the program more. It simply indicated that an activity was completed. The program has the potential to develop a more motivating reward system that would possibly lead to increased usage.  
  8. I would like the option of having printable word and definition lists created by the child for her vocabulary folder. 
  9. Can a "Pause the Timer Button" be added?
Overall Thoughts
Alyssa thought that the program was enjoyable! The game-like format of the activities and the colorful interface caught her attention. We both could easily navigate the website. No other resources were needed to implement this program into our day. It was highly effective, simple to use, and an efficient way to develop vocabulary and encourage independent learning.  

My daughter is learning new prefixes and suffixes which helps with her reading comprehension. I've overheard her "thinking aloud" when she came across an unknown word during independent reading time. I am pleased with the results. She used the prefixes and suffixes to "mean out" bigger, unfamiliar words. She even gave me a mini lesson when I read a word aloud that contains a previously taught prefix. 

Our absolute favorite activity is the Magic Square. We are both math lovers and it is a fun way to self-check her answers. Alyssa really liked the Comprehension Booster activity. She enjoyed choosing words to complete sentences. The word bank was very a helpful tool. She did say that she wished there were more test questions at the end covering all the words she learned.  

We'll continue using WordBuildOnline Foundations Level 1 over the summer in hopes to further expand Alyssa’s vocabulary and to help her figure out the meanings of more difficult words when reading independently. We may need to purchase Level 2 soon especially if she continues the pace of doubling up on activities. I would LOVE to try the Elements Level 1 program as a supplement to her Latin curriculum.

The cost per level or module is only $30. My blog readers can use the code journey to receive a 10% discount off wordbuildonline or 25% off the books at Don't forget to sign-up for your FREE 30-Day Trial for WordBuildOnline. 
JazzEdge  Review

I highly recommend WordBuildOnline for homeschool families, parents, and for classroom settings if you are looking for a neat way to help improve your child's vocabulary or knowledge base of prefixes and suffixes. This module is perfect for individuals reading for meaning. Auditory learners may gain a great deal from using this ONLINE course. Vocabulary development is an effective way to improve reading comprehension. The content learned will carry over into other subjects and lead towards improvements in spelling, grammar, writing, and public speaking. Children who learn best from computer-based learning will benefit from using this program.

In a classroom or co-op setting, the educator can quickly rotate children through the program using computer stations. The daily lesson can be implemented easily into the day, because it requires a limited amount of time to complete.

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Dynamic Literacy offered three products for crew members to review including WordBuildOnline, WordBuild Foundations - Level 1, and WordBuild Elements - Level 1. Go check them out by visiting The Schoolhouse Review Crew blog. Read about their experiences and choose the product that will work best for your family.

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