Friday, March 25, 2011

Big IQ Kids - Review

Big IQ Kids is an online program designed to help kids "become and stay A+ students". There are four areas that Big IQ Kids works on: Spelling, Vocabulary, Math, and US States. There are many different options for using Big IQ Kids, one of which is FREE. The rest of the options can be found here and you can see the differences between the free and Premium memberships here. The program is designed for Kindergarten - 8th grade students.

Big IQ Title Banner

We were asked to review the Premium Membership option. Each area that is worked on can be customized to your child's level. So, if they are working on a 1st grade level in Math but can spell like a 5th grader then you can put them in 1st grade math and 5th grade spelling! I love this part of the program. I also love the daily drill and practice, and the fact that I don't have to be right beside them for them to get it done.

There is so much to tell about this program so I am going to discuss each area indiviudally.

I have never liked doing spelling lists with the kids. Paul had Spelling lists and spelling tests in 1st grade for about the first two months, and then after much thought and prayer I put our spelling curriculum to the side and decided that spelling is best learned through reading and writing. I still agree with that philosophy for the most part, BUT, Paul is an atrocious speller. He is an avid reader and loves to write, but he is not a good speller. So, I had been researching various curricula for teaching spelling, and in comes Big IQ Kids--God always knows what we need! There are 40 lists for each grade level or you can make your own lists. For Paul I used the lists they had and then each week I went through his writing and selected the words he misspelled and added those to his spelling list for the next week. For Zach he just had the words that were on the 1st grade spelling list. Zach is a great speller so I was able to put him in the 1st grade spelling. Both boys really enjoyed doing spelling this way. One lesson each day gets them through a list in a week. They have a couple different activities to do with each list including writing them on a sheet of paper. I liked that they were made to do this! I still think that spelling is best learned through reading and writing alot, but it never hurts to add a little extra, and I have already noticed a difference in Paul's reading, and Zach is spelling even better and it has also helped his reading skills. There are very few things Zach can do independently so it was great for him to be able to do this. It increased his confidence and gave me a few minutes to work with one of the other two.

The vocabulary starts on a 3rd grade level so Zach was not able to do the vocabulary but it was perfect for Paul. It is set up much like the Spelling; there are 40 lists and they can be modified. I modified Paul's by making his list the same as his Science vocabulary. He enjoyed this much more than our regular method of defining vocabulary words, and he learned it just as well. One of my favorite features is that they cannot move on to the next list until they have scored 100% on the current list. In our homeschool we teach to mastery, not just until the end of the week, so this feature is perfect for us.

Zach was the only one that used the Math portion of the program. I was able to choose which addition facts I wanted him to work on as well as how many problems I wanted him to do each day. As he mastered each set of facts the program automatically moves him on to the next set. He loves Math and drilling Math facts can be so monotonous so it was really nice to have another way to drill the facts on a daily basis. This program would greatly benefit older kids as well. You can mix and match different operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) and it is not just the basic math facts, but also multi-digit mulitplication and long division. I simply did not use it with Paul because he has enough Math going on right now and asked not to do any more Math. I will start him on the Math at the beginning of next school year.

Paul used this portion of the program. This portion has the child work on the location, capital, abbreviation, and spelling of each state. At the beginning of each daily lesson the child chooses a state and there is information given about that state and then a quiz question on what they just told the student. I liked the little tidbits of information they gave the students. There was lots of positive reinforcement along the way. There are different levels that the child works through for the spelling, abbreviation, location and capital so at the end of the program they will know all of the above for all 50 states. Paul really enjoyed this portion as well and learned so much!
Big IQ Kids
At the completion of each daily lesson in each of the 4 areas the child earns a "game token" they can then use in the games area of the website. All other online educational programs we have used have had unlimited game play, which did not work well because I had to monitor the kids more closely to make sure they weren't spending all their time on the games. I loved the way they had to earn each game. Most of the games were pretty short too so most of their time was spent learning. Paul did find a couple of games that had unlimited play time and I had to instruct him not to play those.

There are also reports that the parent can view for each skill area. The reports are very thorough and keep the parent up to date on how the child is doing. One of my favorite aspects of the program is at various points in the program you are sent emails updating you on your child's progress. You get an email if your student misses the States Quiz, each time your child takes a pop quiz or a test in the spelling and vocab portions, and each time your child moves up a level in the math portion. In spelling and vocab it also tells you what words your child missed. I loved receiving the emails to make it easier to keep up with how the kids were doing. It also came in handy when I had to be with my Mom at the hospital and the kids were at their other Grandma's house and I knew they were doing their Big IQ Kids because I got emails on their progress.

Overall this program was a great fit for our family. Paul started his school day with Big IQ Kids and it motivated him to get his morning responsibilities completed more quickly knowing he got to "play" on the computer. Zach always did his at the end of his school day which motivated him to get through his school work to have computer time. Big IQ Kids is definitely a program we will be continuing to use in our homeschool!

This would also be a great program for non-homeschoolers to use to keep skills sharp during the summer or after-school.

If you would like to see what other Crew members thought of this product you can go here.

Disclaimer: I received this product for free in exchange for my honest opinion of the product. There was no other compensation given for the review

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