Math drills are not ordinarily a fun thing to do for students. You'll often see cringing, stalling, or whining (did I say that?). But there is a possible solution for you. Math Rider is a game that offers excitement and adventure instead of hum drum math drills. This game will increase your child's math skills while they play "the latest generation Math game, using Artificial Intelligence" (mathrider.com). The game learns your child's level as the game goes along and modifies it according to the needs of your child. It is personalized for each player.

According to MathRider's website, it "was developed from personal need, because we wanted to help our own children who were struggling with fundamental math." No parent likes to see their child struggle through the basics of math. This too often sets to standard for the rest of that child's math experiences. With this easy to use program, basic math can be mastered quickly and easily to lead the way to higher levels of math.

What Is MathRider: Math Rider is a program that helps children attempting to master basic math functions: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division. It is for any student wanting to improve his/her math fact proficiency. Using the numbers 0-12, the game challenges students to increase their knowledge at their own pace. It considers typing skills as well as math skills. This personalization offers encouragement instead of disappointment. This is what their website says:

Have you child master addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division; all for the cost of less than 1 hour professional private tuition!
* You will know when your child has completely mastered an operation.
And more importantly, your child will know it, too!

* This is the fastest way to mastery of all four math operations. The artificial intelligence
rehearses what is needed most at a rate that is tailored to each player.

*  The game recognises and rewards improvement, not just perfection.
This builds confidence and propels children naturally towards complete mastery. 

* Noble quests exemplify positive values such as family, caring, honesty, and kindness.
How Does It Work: Math Rider is a downloadable program that can be used by Windows, Mac Os X, and Linux. System requirements can be reviewed here. Once downloaded on your home computer, up to 10 players can use that computer. They can not, however, play at the same time :) Once registered, the student chooses the appropriate level to start (based on numbers 0-12, and a function (+,-,x,/), and a story will start. Each level has a different story and there is a map (see pic) that shows the path. The player is now a rider on her horse, Shadow. They set out on an adventure into a "land of fantasy and quests". But don't worry, the graphics do not overpower the point of the game. They are more of a backdrop to the rider. Check out the video below for an example. As the rider follows the trail, there are numbers that are part of each jump. The student must do the math and type in the correct answer. The keys for movement are the left and right arrow keys, which allows for the student to focus on his math skills rather than how to move. And the horse/rider mover without having to use the keys, too. With each student, there is a skills chart that you can look at to see their progress as well. The students receive rewards as their skills increase and can watch neat videos at the completion of each level.

What We Thought: Overall, this is an interesting concept. Math drills are often boring and mundane. The game offers some excitement while trying to master these skills. My daughter (15 yo) did like being able to practice her math facts and did improve her speed. She thought the music was a little "monotonous" because it pretty much stays the same throughout the game. My son (10 yo) said "it's boring", but he thought it moved to fast for him. His main problem was that he wasn't following the instructions. I believe the boring comment was based on the graphics. They aren't like the new video games that are common place in today's households. But they really aren't bad. The object of this game is to improve math skills, not play a video game. If there were all of these extraneous graphics and actions, the child would focus on those instead. My son's math fact knowledge & speed did increase though.

How To Purchase: MathRider retails for $49.95 but can be purchased for the sale price of $37. If you have students that are struggling with their math facts and drills, this may be right for your home. There is also a 30 Day Risk-Free Money Back Guarantee. If you are not completely satisfied, MathRider offers your complete purchase price refunded. That's a pretty good deal. If you have questions, you can contact Math Rider their contact page.

You can check out more reviews for Math Rider written by members of the TOS Crew by following this link:

And remember: I received this product free as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew with sole purpose to provide an honest review after using the product. For more information on this, please see my disclaimer
A couple of weeks ago, I introduced you to my new plan for Wednesday Wonderment. Instead of just my "wonders" or a Wordless Wednesday meme, I'm changing to a combo idea: Wednesday Wonders. Each week I will post pictures with a few words, too. All of which, I hope, will be a testament to the One True God. He has blessed us in so many different ways and the beauty that is all around us is just one of them. Along with the beauty of nature, there will be some funny things, too, because God not only provides the beauty we see, but the humor in little things. So please come back weekly and see what's new.

This weeks pics are for the lighter side of life with a touch of humor...
These pictures are some of our animals enjoying lazy days around our home. I always find it interesting the different ways that cats sleep. Simba, our orange tabby, is the funniest. I have so many pics of him in various positions, most of which look very uncomfortable: but he keeps sleeping, lol. I just added a few here. Zac, our gray tabby, acts like a big bully, but he still likes to sleep in oddball places, too. Boxes are always the cats favorite places. Though cats are usually the laziest, the dogs come in a close second :-)

So how do your animals enjoy their sleepytime? I'd love to hear about it. Leave me a comment or a linkback.

Until next week...
Each week, the TOS Crew has a Blog Walk. This "walk" takes us to 10 different TOS Crew member's blogs. This week, mine is included as one of the ten :-)

I would like to offer you links to the others as well. Please check them out and even friend them if you'd like.

Thanks for looking.

1. Our Best Daze
2. The Joy of School
3. Spell Outloud
4. to the sea with me
5. Half Dozen Mama
6. Creative Learning
7. Homeschooling My Miracles
8. Beyond The Silver and The Gold - A Filipino Family's Homeschool Journey
9. My Own Sense and Sensibility
10. Happily Homeschooling
Have you been trying to find something, anything, that your reluctant reader would enjoy to motivate them to read? What is a reluctant reader, you ask. If you have one in your family, you pretty much have the answer. This is a child (or adult, in all actuality) that can read but chooses not to. Sometimes it's because they do struggle with certain aspects of reading: maybe consonant blend sounds or vowel digraphs. Or maybe it's because they read a little slower than they'd like and become frustrated. One common reason for an unmotivated reader is the subject or content of the whatever they're reading - "it's boring", you might hear. My 10yo son is one of these reluctant readers. I've pondered over the years whether he was having difficulty with reading itself or if it was a motivation issue. You might know that feeling...racking your brain wondering if you could/should have him tested or maybe you need to just crack down on the books (homeschooling really can be stressful, lol). I have, however, come to the conclusion that though there are a few things he needs to work on, motivation and reluctance is the key issue in our situation.

So in comes the next product we had the opportunity to review. As members of the TOS Crew, we were offered a membership/subscription to Kid Scoop's Reluctant Reader Solution. This "Solution" offers a variety of topics your child can choose from and includes an assortment of activities to go along with each topic. If you have been in my shoes, keep reading on to see if this product may be what your home needs...
So What is the Reluctant Reader Solution: Kid Scoop has created an online and offline program that will peak your child's interest, no matter what he/she likes. With the purchase of the program, you will receive:

1) Printable PDF worksheet pages that range in topics from sports, animals, science, environment, literature, and holidays. Each file contains approx 6 pages (give or take) packed full of interesting games and activities about the selected topic. The worksheets are in black and white so they can be colored, too.

2) A one year subscription to the Kid Scoop News Online. This is a "newspaper" that is especially designed for kids. It's similar to the worksheets, full of activities and games, but offers much more: there are monthly edition, it's in full-color, has interesting articles on the main subject, can be listened to as well as read by using the audio section, can be printed out, and has external links that will take you to other resources on the subject. It's really pretty neat! You can view it as full screen if you want to, you get to hear the pages turn as you click on them, you can increase the page size when you want to...like I said, it's pretty neat.

How Does It Work: I'm putting this section in because this is what I usually do for all of my reviews. But...the above description basically tells you how this works, so I won't repeat it. I do want to offer you a screen shot, though, of the worksheets and the online newspaper. The first is an example of what you will get for the worksheets. 

And this is what you will see with the online Kids Scoop News Online
What We Thought: I have to say, I was a bit apprehensive. I wasn't sure that this would motivate my reluctant reader. When I printed out the worksheets, I said "haven't I tried something like this before?". But apparently I hadn't :-) Because when I gave my DS a few different sets of worksheets, he really liked them. He picked out what was interesting to him, and actually worked on it!! I was amazed. Then when I showed him the online newspaper, he really read it. And continued to the last page, and even went to previous editions to review them. I was pretty tickled. My 15yo DD likes them, too. With her, she loves reading and learning about anything she can, so I wasn't too surprised with this.

How to Purchase: You can get more information on the Reluctant Readers Solution from the Kid Scoop website. It is just $97 for all of the above. Plus you will also find extras and freebies while there. You can also sign up for a month long Kid Scoop idea email that encourages your reluctant reader to explore reading with a variety of activities. There is a kid section, teachers section, and parent section on the website, too. I encourage you to go explore around the Kid Scoop website to see if this is a product that will work in your home.

To read more reviews and other opinions about this product, head on over to the Crew's Blog.
And remember: I received this product free as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew with sole purpose to provide an honest review after using the product. For more information on this, please see my disclaimer
It sure has been a while since I've posted on Wednesday Wonderment. If you remember, my posts were full of wonders about no particular thing at all. Well I would like to modify my "wonderment". I plan to posts pictures, kind of like a Wordless Wednesday meme. But all of these pictures will be a testament to the One True God. He has blessed us in so many different ways and the beauty that is all around us is just one of them. Along with the beauty of nature, there will be some funny things, too, because God not only provides the beauty we see, but the humor in little things. So please come back weekly and see what's new.

These pictures are all of our recent snow storm here in Central New York. There are some really incredible views here. I love snapping shots while going somewhere. And I enjoy the beauty that is everywhere. I do not like the cold, though :(

Soon enough spring will be here (the ground hog said so, right? Or is it just that Spring always comes in March or April?) and the temperatures will be warmer. Winter is definitely difficult here in the tundra (as I call it) but it's gorgeous, too.

How about you? Do you have any great pictures of the recent winter weather in your area? You can link back to this post or leave your site address in a comment. I'd love to see them.
Is your high schooler preparing for the SAT or ACT? Are you looking for a way to help him/her study vocabulary that is interactive and interesting instead of just ink on paper? VocabAhead SAT Vocabulary: Cartoons, Video's & MP3s might be what you're looking for. 

What is VocabAhead SAT Vocabulary: Cartoons, Video's & MP3s? It is a vocabulary book & more like no other. This book, from VocabAhead, offers 300 vocabulary words that can be studied to improve your personal skills or to help prepare for the GRE, ACT or SAT. According to VocabAhead, 
"The key to successful learning and recall of words and their meanings
is full-brain learning. This book is designed with just that process in mind. 
With the audio and video files included in the lessons, vocabulary can be
learned as a complete concept, on just as words printed on a page." 
(SAT Vocab., pg. 2)
How Does It Work? VocabAhead has created an interesting setup with this book. Not only do you get the 300 word book, you also have access to all 300 words on video. The video shows the cartoon from the book with a narrator reading. This allows the students to hear the pronunciation of the word as well as the definition. As you can see from the picture to the left, the word is displayed in large font, with the definition below. On each page of the book, under the definition is a little cartoon, followed by the words used in sentences. The video's also state these sentences. You can watch one of the video's below. The MP3 files can also be loaded on to an IPOD or MP3 player and listened to while riding in the car or waiting for dance class to start. Their website also offers free video's, a place for the parent to create a list, and to get a widget for a blog or website.

What We Thought: Overall we liked this book and video's. I like that you can watch the video and actually hear the word spoken instead of trying to figure out how it is said. Since my daughter loves words and the dictionary is one of her favorite books, she, of course, liked it. Most of the cartoons are cute, and I also like that there are synonyms and antonyms listed for every word, as well as word type (noun, adjective, etc.). One concern I have about this is that the video download zipfile is very large and takes several minutes even on a high‐speed internet connection. I was surprised it was so big, but then I don't often download video's so this may be typical. Once the video files are unzipped, you will need to click into each one individually. Which is a little tedious.

How To Purchase: To purchase VocabAhead SAT Vocabulary: Cartoons, Video's & MP3s, at just $12.95, you can go to Amazon or to VocabAhead. To read more reviews from Crew members, hop on over here.

Final Words: This product would be a good buy, especially if your student uses all of the aspects of it (the video's as well as the book). The price is right for all of the services that go along with the book. 

And remember: I received this product free as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew with sole purpose to provide an honest review after using the product. For more information on this, please see my disclaimer
Roman history is a fascinating subject to learn about. From the tools of survival to the luxuries of the rich, there are so many facets of Roman life that interest modern students of all ages. We were given the opportunity as members of the TOS Crew to review a great game that teaches about Roman history while executing an archaeological dig. It is called Roman Town by Dig It! Games. 

Roman Town was created by Suzi Wilczynski, who is a professional archaeologist! She has degrees from Dartmouth and the University of Pennsylvania. From her experience on actual digs and her desire to teach students, she has created Roman Town so that it "encourages kids to use existing skills in new and challenging ways." (dig-itgames.com)

With Roman Town, you (or your student) will "have all the fun of a real archaeological excavation without getting your hands dirty".

What is Roman Town: It is a virtual excavation game with realistic 3D graphics that offers the player an exciting look into ancient times and "hands-on" discovery of authentic Roman artifacts. It is a CD game that takes you into an actual archaeological dig in the Roman town of Fossura. This town was destroyed in 79 AD when Mount Vesuvius erupted. Throughout the game, you will be able to find (unearth) artifacts, buildings, treasures, and even Roman villagers.  You will learn how each item was used and/or the history of it, be able to learn about the culture, language, art, and more of an real ancient civilization. Roman Town is the winner of the National Parenting Center's 2010 Seal of Approval and Dr. Toy's Best Vacation Product. It is rated for kids from 5th-8th grade but can be played by everyone of all ages ("8-88" according to dig-itgames.com).

How Does It Work: Roman Town starts out in a excavation site office. It is discovered that they need to hire another person...and in comes you. Once you sign in, you start at dig site I and choose a tool to start digging with. Once an object is discovered, you finish excavating it and then you can L.E.A.R.N. (Locate Engrossing and Remarkable kNowledge). This invaluable tool allows you to learn about the object and history of it. Throughout the game, you will have the opportunity to learn more, play games, take quizzes, and build skills such as: reading, analytical thinking, problem solving, and multi-tasking. What parent doesn't want these skills for their child? :-) Once you reach the end of the game, you can start the dig over and find even more interesting things.
What We Thought: This game is pretty neat. There are so many interesting aspects of it. I like all the history and that it can come to life as your playing. My daughter likes the games, too. Her favorite is the 3D Reconstruction, like the picture to the left. As you play and find objects, you have the opportunity to learn about them while viewing it in the setting it would have been used. You can see it side by side to a similar object used today. At first my DD didn't like the ending because she thought it was too short (it took her just a few hours of play time to complete-of course she is in high school), but then we realized she could continue playing and find even more stuff. My son played without reading many of the popups, but at least he read some and with each play, he has read more. This is truly a great supplement to your Roman history lessons. Below is a brief video with some more interesting views from the game.

How To Purchase: You can buy this game directly from DigIt! Games for $39.95. But if you buy before February 21, 2011, you can use the code TOS2011 and pay just $19.96. This is for the home edition and up to 5 players can play. There is also a teacher's edition for $299, which includes a teacher's manual and licenses for a minimum of 15 students.

My Final Thoughts: I believe this is an excellent game and would be a great supplement to add fun and an interactive touch to any Roman history lesson or even a lesson about archaeology. This is a great buy even at the regular price. But at the discounted price you can't go wrong. For additional reviews you can go to the TOS Crew's site.

And remember: I received this product free as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew with sole purpose to provide an honest review after using the product. For more information on this, please see my disclaimer
sunflower divider Pictures, Images and Photos