Aug 262014
 

It amazes me how most kids struggle in math. Math has always been my strongest suite and I can look at a number and immediately all of the factors of that number comes rushing in my brain. I think the difference just might be that I was drilled with flash cards, in and out of the classroom. I think I even remember dreaming about math facts.

UberSmart Math Facts Review
When I received the opportunity from UberSmart Software to review their UberSmart Math Facts, I recognized that they are filling the void that is lost in so many math curriculums now – flash card drills. It is a tried and true method, no bells and whistles, just solid results. UberSmart Math Facts Review

About the Program

Developed by a homeschool dad/computer programmer, UberSmart Math Facts is a software program that you can actually download and run off your computer. I like this because my son will not be tempted to open another tab on the internet and get distracted!! The software requires Windows 7, 8, XP or Vista. You are also allowed to run it on all of your computers; however, since it is not browser-based, you will not be able to see your scores from one computer to the next. It is designed for K-6 but can be great reinforcement for any age. Once you download the program you have several options and you can customize it for your child’s weaknesses or what they are learning in their curriculum. The software covers addition and subtraction up to 9′s and multiplication and division up to 20′s. Why? Well, personally, I do up to 12′s because we’ve always done a lot of baking and a dozen = 12. That’s what works for my family. UberSmart states that in the computer world “hexadecimals” are used (Greek to me) and so memorizing the 15′s is helpful. Do what works for you. Once you have downloaded the program and open it up this is what you will see: UberSmart Math Facts menu The first thing to do is click on MAINTAIN and enter your student’s information. I have all three boys listed. I even added myself too…you know, to try to keep the old mind sharp. This portion is password protected so that the kiddos can’t go in and mess it up. Here is where you can also choose to make the software appear in full screen and assign how far you want them to learn multiplication and division facts. You can even adjust the time limit for tests and how many is allowed to be missed. The next thing I did was have Jeremiah do the assessment test. I just clicked on TEST and clicked on “Assessment Test” under “Beginner”. (The only other option is “Mastery Test” under “Intermediate”, that comes later.) Jeremiah went through the assessment fairly quickly. There is a progress bar at the bottom that to him, seemed to advance rather slowly, but there are breaks between the sections. Once he reached the point that he kept missing, (we haven’t done multiplication or division) the test ended.  To view the results, I clicked on REPORT. There are several options here – Dots Progress, Mastery Progress, Mastery Chart, Mastery Date, Grade Book, Assessment and Competition. I received a detailed report of his Assessment results. UberSmart_Assessment The report marks everything down. Not only did I see what exactly he does know but it shows how quickly he responded. This helped to know what facts have been mastered and what he was probably still counting off (either on his fingers or in his head.) I am having Jeremiah do all facts for addition and subtraction. Here are the areas he was tested in:

  • Counting
  • Sequencing
  • Relationship
  • Odds and Even
  • Keyboard Entry
  • Math Facts (this is further broken down into Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division. When Jeremiah started struggling with some of the higher numbers of subtraction, the assessment ended because those facts must first be mastered.)

The results told me exactly how many of the given problems were missed, and how much time he spent on it. Even though Jeremiah can master worksheets, the assessment showed that he did not readily recall facts for 7′s, 8′s and 9′s. Those were the times his response time drastically increased. For each tab you click on, you choose the student and what facts are to be learned, practiced, tested, or competed. Then I had Jeremiah click on LEARN. Here, you have the option of “Dot Cards” under “Beginner” or “Flash Cards” under “Intermediate”. The dot cards resemble dominoes to me. And the flash cards look like, you got it, flash cards. In the Learning Mode, the student just says the answer to himself and click on “Show” and see if he got it right. There’s no typing in the learning mode. UberSmart_Learn_Dot_Cards  (Excuse my wording of “choose”…it’s mentally choose, not actually clicking on it. Once you click “Show” the correct card stays on the screen and all the other ones disappear.) Next, it’s time for PRACTICE. Under “Beginner”, you can choose “Dot Cards” or “Keyboard Entry”. For “Dot Cards”, this time, you actually do click on the correct card. If you get it right, you will see “Correct” and the other cards disappear; however, if you are incorrect the buzzer will sound and the card you selected and the correct card will remain on the screen. The “Keyboard Entry” is solely to help the student learn 10-key. However, it does not teach finger placement but it allows the student to practice quickly typing in the numbers that appear on the screen. This is extremely helpful since the tests determine how well you have mastered the facts by the speed in which you answer the problems.  UberSmart_Practice_Keyboarding  “Flash Cards” is your option under “Intermediate” for the Practice Mode. Now you type in the correct answer on the flash cards.

The next tab is TEST. You have the “Assessment Test” under “Beginner” which we did first. The other option is “Mastery Test” under “Intermediate”. The Mastery Test is flash cards and it will show more than one problem at a time just as if they were taking a quiz on paper. The student is even allowed to skip a problem and it will be recycled back. The test can not be completed with problems unanswered. At the end of the mastery test, you receive a loud round of applause. What a feeling of accomplishment!!

UberSmart Math Facts Review
Next comes COMPETE. My boys haven’t really cared to enter COMPETE yet, but I did.  In this option, you can choose age range – Elementary, Middle School, High School, or Adult. I did pretty well but can I just tell you, I do not operate under pressure nearly as well as I used to!! And it’s much harder to do this quickly when you mix up all of the operations. (And yes, I did select “Adult”.) UberSmart_Math_Facts_Compete   I mentioned the REPORTS before when I checked out Jeremiah’s assessment scores. I love that the Report options will chart your child’s mastery of the facts and it will also break it down by each number set if you select it that way.

How We Used It

I’ve already pretty much explained in detail how we used the software. Since it does not actually teach the concepts of math (although that might be coming in the future), it is essential for drills and developing “automaticity”. It is recommended to use the software for at least ten minutes daily. I have a kitchen timer beside our computer and Jeremiah will use this at least 10 minutes daily.

I’ve already seen great improvement since we started. He has also been told that when all of the facts for all of the operations have been mastered, he will be able to print out a Certificate of Mastery. Unfortunately, this has inspired him to drill multiplication and division before learning them but I am thrilled with his enthusiasm. This software will definitely be incorporated in all of my boys’ school schedule for this year.

For $24.95 and a one-time investment, I believe this is a great product to ensure your child’s mastery of the basics. With a solid foundation, it will make high levels of math much easier for them. UberSmart Math Facts offers a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee and even offers a 30 day trial version. You can’t go wrong. And if you feel you really need it, there’s even some printable worksheets for practice. Although, the student might get disappointed that there will be no applause or smiley face added to the progress sheet.

Still unsure? Check out all of the reviews from my fellow Crew members.

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Aug 242014
 

  

Homegrown Learners

 

Wow. I can’t believe our first full week is actually gone by now. It’s nice to have a schedule but it’s a good thing that I write it in pencil. I’ve already had to change it.

My oldest son is doing some job training for a new job and that during this transitional time, it’s messed up some of what I had planned for him. Then I wasn’t sure we were going to go on a field trip that our support group has scheduled. But we did. And stayed aallll day long. And then we had revival Thursday and Friday night (which didn’t affect our school really but just something else we did.) And I decided to postpone my college classes til at least next semester.

I finally got all of my books and homeschool stuff unpacked and organized. I have six bookcases full now. And the shelves are labeled. And I have tons of stuff set aside to sell. I should’ve done that over the summer!!

Some other highlights:

  • I got to have some great one-on-one deep conversations with my teenage sons this week.
  • My (seven and half year old) baby has his first loose tooth
  • Pretty soon I will have another driver in the house
  • My oldest daughter has signed up to be Dove Discoveries Independent Chocolatier. Sounds fancy, huh? It’s a direct sales opportunity and she had her first party yesterday. It was delicious. Not just chocolate candy and not what is available in the stores. (If you are looking for a great way to earn some extra money, send me a message!!)
  • I rarely, if ever, win anything. Yet, this week I won MOH Volume I and a $75 Educent gift card!! I’m soooo stoked. I was wanting to do MOH next year so now I have plenty of time to read it ahead and get my brain wrapped around it. Now I have to decide how to spend my $75. I just missed the Life of Fred Language Arts series. Bummer.

Here’s some pics from our field trip. It was Homeschooler’s Day at MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa).

MOSI field trip

This post is also being shared at My Week in Review.

Aug 212014
 

Every time my kids need to learn a valuable skill or lesson, I try to find a song to teach them. Even my adult children can recite many of the songs that we learned when they were little to help teach them important lessons. One of the most important lessons you can teach your children is that of self-confidence, and social/emotional skills. That’s just what Happy Kids Songs does and I was excited to be able to review three of their selections: Friends & Sharing (Set 1), Manners & Character (Set 6), and Happiness & Attitude (Set 7).

Happy Kids Songs Review

I received the music in digital format and downloaded them to my computer. I’m unable to play CDs in my vehicle now but if I could, I definitely would have copied them onto a CD to enjoy in the car. The music was fun and upbeat and had a really good message. Here’s the contents of the albums I received:

Friends & Sharing

Sailing on the Seven Cs (Ingredients of friendship)

Everybody Wants to Find a Friend (Reaching out to others)

Sharing Friends (Including others in play)

Happy as Happy Can Be (Being happy with a friend)

Together (Sharing time/saying goodbye)

Manners & Character

H-o-n-e-s-t-y (The value of honesty)

The Magic Word (Learning manners)

Quirks (Appreciating differences)

The Golden Rule (Consideration for others)

Six Little Kids (Honoring other perspectives)

Happiness & Attitude

Shake It Out & Dance (From “I can’t” to “I can”)

Who Knows What’s a Kudo? (Giving compliments)

I Don’t Understand (Handling limitations)

Be Good to Yourself  (Pathways to happiness)

Better Together (Being together and apart)

happykidssongs_zpsbac2a99cI also received a copy of the Happy Kids Songs Workbook: Hands-on Activities to Build Character, Social and Emotional Skills. The workbook can be purchased through Amazon for $12.56.

About the Songs

Happy Kids Songs has eight albums, each with five songs, and each with a particular focus. Kids seems to learn best by music and this is a great way to teach them important skills. The albums are available for $4.95 each (purchase through Amazon or iTunes) or you can download a single song for only 99 cents. You can also listen to a sample recording of each song before you purchase. I like that the tunes are catchy without driving the kids to bounce off the walls or fall asleep – they are that happy medium. All of the songs are sung by children, which appeals to children. The songs are geared for children ages 3 – 8 but I believe a little younger or older than the recommendation would also benefit from them. My son’s favorite song was  Who Knows What’s a Kudo?

About the Workbook

The first section of the workbook contains the lyrics of all 40 songs (each of the five songs contained on each of the eight albums). The lyrics are on one side of the page with an activity on the facing page. The activities include puzzles, coloring pages, matching, drawing, word searches and more.

Happy Kids Songs Workbook inside

The second section of the workbook contains activities for parents/teachers to do with the children. There is a wide variety of activities that you can choose from; a few you will need to gather supplies (usually easy stuff that you already have on hand) beforehand. The activities are great conversation starters and help reinforce the concepts sung on the songs.

I used this with my son but it could easily be used in a small class/group setting.

If you sign up to be on Happy Kids Songs’ mailing list, you can receive a free song of the month along with lyric and activity sheets. Stay connected here:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/happykidssongs

Twitter: @howsyourfam

YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/4DrMacMusic

Be sure to check out with other reviewers have to say.

 

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Aug 192014
 
Be Careful- Your Priorities are Showing

  “Be careful, your priorities are showing.” That’s a statement I’ve often said. It’s also a statement that I need to remind myself of too. So often, I get caught up in daily activities that don’t really seem to matter. It’s the call of the urgent, not the needed. And then I go to bed and wonder what I actually got accomplished that day that really mattered. God has been [...]

Aug 162014
 
Homeschool Mother's Journal: Weekly Recap

  Well, this is it. Another school year has officially begun. We started school officially this past Thursday. I needed to have two days to adjust and now I am (almost) ready! Next week, I also add two college courses to my schedule and then I only have to do my work experience and then finally graduate! We started out this year with one of our favorite things to do [...]

Aug 152014
 
Homeschooling High School: Graduation Ceremonies

(Don’t wait until it’s too late…enter the huge giveaway to get that last bit of curriculum and cash to buy whatever you might still need…keep on reading) Well, we have finally made it to the end of this 5 day series and I hope I’ve helped you in your quest to homeschool through high school! If you have missed any, be sure to just click here to start at day [...]

Aug 142014
 
Homeschooling High School: Transcripts and Portfolios

(Have you entered the HUGE giveaway where you could win tons of curriculum and cash?? There’s going to be TWO winners!! Keep on reading til you get to the bottom.) Okay. So if you’ve been following along on this 5 day series of Homeschooling through High School you’ve now reached the point where we will discuss transcripts and portfolios. What?? You’ve missed the series? I’ve already given you some encouragement, [...]

Aug 132014
 
Homeschooling High School: Give Some Credit

(Be sure to read to the end…there’s a huge giveaway!!) This post marks the halfway point in this 5 day series of Homeschooling through High School. If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out Day 1 for some encouragement and Day 2 for making your four year plan. Today, I’m going to discuss credits. Just so you are caught up to speed, credits are mentioned in the previous posts. [...]

Aug 122014
 
Homeschooling High School: The Four Year Plan

(Don’t miss the big giveaway at the end, you could win curriculum AND cash!!) Thanks for joining me in this 5 day series dedicated to homeschooling high school. Yesterday, I wrote about how I know you can actually do this and today we are going to start planning. High school is not something you can do by the seat of your pants. I have to plan and you have to [...]

Aug 112014
 
Homeschooling High School: Yes, You Can!!

(Be sure to check out the huge giveaway at the bottom of the post. You could win some great curriculum and some cash!!) Welcome to my new series: 5 Days of Homeschooling through High School. I hope that you enjoy this series and even if you are not at the high school level yet, bookmark this and hopefully it will serve you later. Each day I will share another aspect [...]

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