Friday, January 21, 2011

Speekee Spanish "The World's Number 1 Spanish Course for Young Children"

Speekee Spanish is a well developed TV show from the United Kingdom. Three different versions of the program are available to the public. Our family enjoyed the opportunity to explore the online version of 10 episodes. The product is geared toward children ages 2-10.

"Speekee uses what's known as a 'spiral learning' approach, in which new language is presented and then revised when the next set of language comes up. With this methodology the child does not lose contact with what he/she has learned before, the learning being both structured and gradual. Therefore, we suggest each episode is viewed in sequence: 1, 2, 3 etc..." 

Our family found the episodes interesting and informative. We visited: the market, the park, a home, school and many more sites. The episodes last from 13-18 minutes long. We downloaded the program so that my children could access it easily without needing to log on each time. After the first time through the series my children watched random episodes.
There is a catchy introduction and repeated Spanish phrases throughout each program. And while this is a very quality program and a great introduction to the Spanish language my two students, 3rd and 5th grades, thought the program was "babyish", but they did learn Spanish phrases which they have been practicing with some bilingual friends! Which is the point!

You can subscribe to Speekee Spanish through this link. The US subscription is $7.95 a month and the first two weeks are free. So I would definitely recommend trying out the trial offer.

Here are 10 reasons why Speekee is chosen by parents:

-    Great fun and extremely effective
-    Created by specialist linguists and musicians
-    Accelerated learning methodology for natural success
-    100% in Spanish (English and Spanish subtitles available)
-    Simple presentation style
-    Lively, engaging characters
-    Real Spanish children in real Spanish locations
-    Concise, essential Spanish vocabulary, with lots of repetition
-    Catchy songs

 I felt the product meets all of those claims. The price is reasonable and I would recommend that you try it out to see if it fits your families learning needs. I would recommend contacting the company via their website, but you can also subscribe through Twitter and Facebook. A newsletter is available from the site also.

  • tel: 01422 820263
  • fax: 0871 714 2336
  • email:
  • Lingua4 Ltd
  • Swift Cross Farm
  • Ripponden
  • Sowerby Bridge
  • HX6 4LQ
  • United Kingdom


Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how I used the product within my family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Building Thinking Skills Level 2

As a homeschooling parent I always worry am I covering the "bases" am I missing anything? How will my children perform in a testing situation? How do I keep learning alive and interesting without degenerating into just handing them a workbook?  Because of this I am always looking for resources that will help in this areas and still be interesting to my children.
As a member of Timberdoodle's Review team I was given the opportunity to check out the Critical Thinking  Company's Building Thinking Skills Level 2 activity book. This is a mammoth book with 409 pages of exercises and explanations. The book is divided into 10 chapters:
1. Describing Shapes.
2. Figural similarities and Differences.
3. Figural Sequences.
4. Figural Classifications.
5. Figural Analogies.
6. Describing Things.
7. Verbal Similarities and Differences.
8. Verbal Sequences.
9.Verbal Classifications.
10. Verbal Analogies.
Answer guide with explanations for above 409 pages Whew!

I chose my daughter to help me with this review.  She is just beginning to study geometry in her math lessons and is having trouble with spatial reasoning. Translated she does not "get" combining of shapes and rotating of shapes. So we are working in particular on chapter 3. We are also working on her writing skills so we are also doing exercises in chapter 6. I approaching this text as a supplement to our current course work. It would also be appropriate as complete course of study.

An example of an exercise in chapter 3 on sequence of figures is my daughter is presented with 3 boxes. Each is rotated in a different way. She is asked to circle the figure that best continues the sequence. Let me just say my daughter is determined and the chapter has 20 pages and she will probably need all 20 pages. Sigh.

On a positive note, Chapter 6 on describing things asks that my daughter describe dolphin. She wrote:   A dolphin is a mammal. It lives in the ocean in groups called pods. It talks in squeaks...
The answer keys gives a suggested description to help you analyze how you might coach your child as their writing skills progress.

My daughter is in the 3rd grade and enjoys doing workbook pages. The actual grade level is for 4-6. But I have found this a very adaptable book. She likes it and that is what counts as a resource for me in the end. I mentioned that we are picking and choosing our skills but again this would be solid option for assessing your child's critical thinking skills.

The Critical Thinking Company's Building Thinking Skills Level 2
Authors: Sandra Parks, Howard Black
Pages: 408
Activities: 1,374
Black & White: Yes
Binding: Paperback
Copyright: 2006
ISBN: 978-1-60144-150-8
Publisher: The Critical Thinking Co
Printed In: USA
Consumable: Yes
Reproducible: Yes, for one home or classroom

Timberdoodle Co


Disclosure: As a member of Timberdoodle's Blogger Review Team I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a frank and unbiased review.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Editor In Chief B2 a great resource!

Recently Timberdoodle's Blogger Review Team allowed my family the opportunity to review Critical Thinking Company's Editor In Chief B2. This is a resource that helps boost your child's editing skills and helps them learn how to correct errors in grammar, mechanics and content in short stories and letters. I was excited to check this out for my 5th grader since grammar is not one of his favorite subjects. I have to say I was happy to have a resource that would make covering this subject fun. I can present grammar instruction but I do not make it fun. Translation "stale crackers."
Editor in Chief B2 is an 86 page book with black and white drawings and text. There are 33 exercises in the forms of letters, stories, poems and other writing genres which contain grammar errors.  The editor in chief (student) is responsible to find the errors. Each exercise has from 9-13 errors which are clearly stated for each exercise so your child knows how many to find.
For the teacher the answer key clearly identified the needed corrections with the explanation as to why the grammar correction is needed. I presented the book as seat work for him to do while I worked with my other student. I let him pick the stories that caught his attention and while we have not started from the beginning of the book it does not take away from the grammar instruction.
My son tackled the exercises with enthusiasm. He found the articles interesting and the challenge of finding the mistakes "fun". He loves to read and this challenged him to pay attention to the readings and to look for mistakes.
Notice an example of one of his "editorial corrections" from an article about an eclipse. The sentence is "I've seen five in a row now, and this one is the better because I didn't have to travel.... The error is the word better. It should be best, a superlative adjective, and for those of those us who are saying huh? There is discussion guide that explains in this case, comparative and superlative forms of adjectives and adverbs.
It has been a great success as a supplement but would definitely make a good addition to your grammar program as a stand alone product. Timberdoodle has a wide variety of products to build thinking skills in a fun way.
The Critical Thinking Co.
Editor In Chief B2 $16.99
Pages: 86
Binding: Paperback
Copyright: 2000
ISBN: 9780894557200
Publisher: The Critical Thinking Co.
Size: 11.4" x 8.5"

Timberdoodle Co.

Disclosure: As a member of Timberdoodle's Blogger Review Team I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a frank and unbiased review.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Easy Classical History "Explorers to 1820" Schedule

"The framework of these schedules is structured around the recommendations of Susan Wise Bauerʼs book The Well-Trained Mind: a Guide to Classical Education at Home. Read this book for an excellent foundation on which to base your childʼs schooling. It will also clarify how to use the sheets and helps that we have provided in your packet."

I have to say that after reading that introduction I was very interested in checking out this history schedule for the Grammar Stage: History from the Explorers to 1820. The Well-Trained Mind is my favorite homeschooling book, I re-read parts of it every year at the beginning of each new stage of learning. Easy Classical offers homeschool help by organizing, in this case, a 36 week history schedule that allows you to follow the classic model when teaching history.

"All the hard work is done for you. We have researched classical curriculum choices, integrated subjects, and tested the schedules for ease of use. Easy Classical schedules break a full year of education down into specific, daily assignments that are adaptable to fit all styles of learning. You will cover everything simply by following the schedule..."

I reviewed the Digital Version which is 106 pages of easy to read scheduling for a 5 day (M-F) school week. Each day's assignment is clearly outlined and easy to follow. The curriculum list is very clearly laid out and available for purchase. I would imagine that several of the main texts are already on your bookshelf if you follow the classical model.  I found that most of the read-alouds listed were available from my local library. The weeks are broken up by subjects: Explorers, 13 Colonies, Colonial America, Road to Independence and Revolution. The digital format can be printed and put into a binder. There are art, music, geography, and narration activities. The schedule can be adapted to your child's learning style. I really enjoy history studied in chronological order I have found that it makes history more understandable. You would find this schedule very helpful if you are wanting to tweek your history lessons, teach in an more organized fashion or you find that you just don't have time to make a schedule like this yourself. It is truly print and go.

Notebook Version: $35.95
Digital Version: $29.95

Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how I used the product within my family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Math Facts Now

Math Facts NOW!" is a simple yet very effective program that will identify weak areas in your child's knowledge of the times tables and basic facts of math, and drill in those specific areas, automatically giving increased drills in those areas.
That is the introduction that the company provides to this downloadable product. I agree that the product meets those claims. But as anyone with a child that needs to learn their math facts will testify there is "many a slip between the cup and the lip." My 3rd grader willing started each math lesson and she enjoyed it for about 5 minutes. She did not like having to type in (twice) her wrong answer showing the correct answer. And she did not have the patience to get to the minimum of 50 points to complete the lesson.This is the way the program works:  daughter answers 8x3=27. This is incorrect. So she has to retype the complete math sentence 2 times in a row before she can continue to the next problem. This is very reasonable to me as a Mom, but very irritating to my daughter. I did not like that the lesson was not "saved" so that she could add to her previous points as she continued the lesson. It always began at 0 points though she did continue with the same set of preset up math tables i.e. 5 and 3 multiplication facts.
The program is very user friendly and easy to install and run. As a parent I did feel that it met the claims and that it does have useful components. This is just one product that I liked but my daughter did not. She is still learning her math facts in multiplication and at the beginning of that learning curve. She also only has rudimentary typing skills so typing in her answers also added to the learning curve.   My son in the 5th grade is past this stage in his math experience and did not use the product.

In the conclusion, if you want to add another tool into your family's learning of math facts this product would definitely be worth looking into. The company also offers a free trial. But in our family we will just stick to good ole flash cards.

Math Facts Now
Ages- K - 6

Download - $15.95
CD - $15.95 plus $3.95 S&H

2871 Shenandoah Shores Road
Front Royal,VA 22630

Any products reviewed by me as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how I used the product within my family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.