September 07, 2008
I was delighted when I heard from BigIQ Kids a few months ago, because my children had really enjoyed using Spellingtime.com back when it was a free program and just starting out. After developing the program and adding many new facets, BigIQ Kids began to take payment for their services and offer kids much more than just Spelling. Now the program boasts BigMathTime, BigStatesTime, SpellingTime AND BigVocabTime in addition to fun games for kids after they master their online lessons, quizzes and tests. I have been really impressed with the way they make all of these subjects fun and enjoyable for the kids. Both of mine make sure to get time for the computer so they can do their BigIQ Kids games each week (sometimes multiple days a week if they can fit it in) - even on weekends!
An especially great part of the program is that from the very first screen, an animated "instructor" is helping them along by talking to them and telling them what to do. My kids like to make fun of Jake and Alexis when their voice inflection isn't perfectly normal. However, the voice commands are very helpful in keeping them moving along on their lessons while they are online. In addition, the computer keeps track of their scores for each lesson and emails the parents after they are complete and graded. It is a homeschool mom's dream to have pre-graded papers and an extra "instructor" in the house for Math, Spelling, Vocabulary and U.S. Geography! If you are a mom that has to keep scores (or just likes to - like I do), you'll love their grading and email features.
With SpellingTime, they use many creative ways to help you learn your words. I love it that they inspire my children to use their newly developed typing skills and we make it a time for them to practice keeping their fingers in the right spots on the keys. Not only are they learning to spell, but they are reinforcing their computer and typing skills as they learn new words. The children are set up by grade and the words get progressively harder just like any other curriculum. Even public schools are having success in bringing up children's spelling skills with this program! You can even customize your own word lists - choosing from 23,000 words. Or you can use their 750 lists created per grade level. If the kids do their 10-15 minute lessons daily, they should be achieving mastery by Friday on their final test.
BigMathTime is a great way to get extra work in (without the child thinking of it as work) on areas that they are struggling. You can set up their lessons to mirror what they are doing in their current curriculum, or use it as a spiral tool by allowing the program to drill them in skills that they have already learned to keep them fresh. You can customize the program per grade level. A neat feature in BigMathTime is their unique borrowing and carrying feature for addition and subtraction. You actually get to "cross out" and "carry" numbers on your problems - which teaches the children how to neatly work these types of problems when it comes time for them to do them on paper!
I was skeptical of the BigVocabTime, thinking that I wouldn't need it because we use advanced vocabulary lists with our Unit Study program. I also feel that kids get quite a bit of vocabulary from just reading good books - along with spelling and grammar skills. However, we have enjoyed the vocabulary part of their program best of all. My son is a dictionary lover. We have truly enjoyed the methods for learning vocabulary words that they employ with this program. They use the dictionary (not watering down the lessons), synonyms, antonyms, spelling the words, etc. Even mom has learned a new word or two! They allow parents / teachers to edit the word lists as needed, also. So you don't have to do the pre-loaded lists. BigVocabTime makes learning words fun and easy. So if your kids don't already have a "Big Homeschool Vocabulary", this tool will help your kids to get one!
BigStatesTime was a super addition to the BigIQ Kids line-up. We are currently learning about the U.S. States and Regions in a unit study, so we were excited to learn that they had a fun states program for my children to use. They master facts, capitols, states, location, spelling, abreviations and more. At the end of the program, the children take a "State Mastery Exam" and are awarded a certificate for 100% mastery of the topic. The program itself is a treat - and very entertaining and fun. Some of the state facts have been interesting and unusual - such as the Texas law that you may not graffiti someone else's cow! Even an old mom can learn something new about her own state with BigStatesTime! As the program begins, it is easy with the computer leading and helping the children along... but the program gets progressively more difficult as they stop offering hints and highlighted locations on the map - to spur the children to remember what they have learned.
All in all, we have really enjoyed BigIQ time. Their academic programs and games are one of my children's favorite parts of their homeschool week. Not only are they educational, but they are fun. Even the games that they offer as rewards for doing the lessons are top notch! I enjoy a game of Battle Boat (a super cool version of Battle Ship) with the kids when they let me play! If your kids like to work on the computer or you are interested in helping them to spend time doing academic things rather than just video games - this program is your ticket!
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