Showing posts with label Online Service/Product. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Online Service/Product. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

TOS Crew Review: Mad Dog Math

With a name like Mad Dog, you may be envisioning some rabid, foaming at the mouth of a mutt who could wonder onto your property at any moment.  Well, calm your beating heart, and put down the phone as there is no need for animal control with this product. What I'm talking about here is a most useful, online fact mastery program, meant to defeat that monster of a thing which is better known as the "arithmetic basics" of adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing.

It certainly barks [for real, you'll hear Ruff the pooch now and again-depending on what you click] but it doesn't bite.  Mad Dog Math is meant to gently break down each level of the four basic areas, into little kibblet sizes, so the student can focus on just one section at a time. The ultimate goal of course, is to have them rattle off their facts without any hesitation.

By no means flashy-but certainly effective-the opportunity to be awarded the "2 Minute Club" sticker encourages the student to practice this rather mundane task.  Then, the the child is naturally motivated to keep working on their facts [sort of like a dog's need to keep digging for that long lost bone] so they can add the "1 Minute" and then the "30 Second Club" sticker to their collections, ultimately earning them the "Top Dog" title. Timed or not, for 10-15 minutes a day-the results are impressive.

My Boy's Experience:

Right from the start, he was engaged and delighted by the prospect of having a new program to test out.  I cannot believe the [great] timing of this product, as I had literally been wondering out loud how I could help him get his facts down pat in a friendly, non-frustrating manner just days prior to receiving it.  Once I loaded up the puppy (oh so sorry I must add in a few play on words here), I gave him the general run down, and he was off and running.  I purposely adjusted it so that he was not timed.  I didn't want him to be all panicky like, but I did show him that it was a possibility and he could add that in when he felt he was ready.  

He has been spending about 15 minutes a day in several of the sections (he moves around from addition to subtraction to multiplication-but has avoided the division for the most part), and I have seen his little face light up when he earns a sticker or a check mark in the list of accomplished facts.  He is learning them!  He and I both agree that we like how he can type in the answer to the problem and it automatically takes him to the next one, making the moving along process smooth and non-annoying.  And like the lazy virtual dog owner that I am-I can just do an occasional walk by to see how the boy and Ruff are doing [and that puts a smile on my face] because this is a pretty self-sufficient program.  Ya gotta love that.

Now, like I mentioned, it isn't the most flashy program on the market, but that is OK.  I am pleased with it because there is no need for a circus event every time I want my child to learn something-especially something as necessary as basic math fact retention. If it works, it works. And the Mad Dog Math program works quite nice for my fam.

"Atta boy ole Ruff! Atta boy!"  


Need help with icons? Click Here

$19.99 One year license
$29.99 Two year license
$39.99 Perpetual license
K to 5th or for students needing practice with basic math facts (+, -, x and /)
**Please be sure you understand your computer's bit version capability is (32 or 64), because you will need to know that to order the proper program for your system. Visit the site for more information regarding this.

**Don't forget to read what my TOS mates had to say about this, and many other fine homeschool products, over on our TOS Review Crew Homepage.

***Mad Dog Math provided me with a free 12 week subscription to Mad Dog Math online so that I could write this review.  I did not receive any financial compensation for my honest opinion of this product.

Monday, May 16, 2011

TOS Crew Review: WonderMaps by Bright Ideas Press

Geography, oh geography-where would we be without knowing our geography?  Lost, I tell ya.  And frankly, many students are totally clueless when it comes to knowing even the basic information regarding our planet's massive God made/man made topography [continents, rivers, lakes, oceans, mountain ranges, canals] and the multitude of countries or states, along with other various important nuggets of info.  

But like some super hero right out of the comics-

"It's a bird, a plane..."
"No wait! It's a digital map factory sworn to protect
 the integrity of your child's internal GPS system!"

Available in either a CD or via a download, WonderMaps is a relative new comer to the market.  Designed to be customized by you, to suit your educational needs.  There are 350 different maps available, of which I am sure could be assimilated into several of your daily lessons (and by that I mean anywhere from your history to science to artist/composer, to USA/world studies, to Shakespeare or Bible courses) on a regular basis.

These are categorized into 4 subsections:
Worlds/Continents/Regions/Nations, the USA, Historical and Thematic. 
Digging a bit deeper, one finds the nicely organized, subtitle lists which are noted under each-allowing you to point and click to gain access to the various target group maps. Then, within each individual selection, you can pick and choose just the "layers" (ya like an onion you peel) you do or do not want on it [such as rivers, or individual countries and/or their names], in order to create a more personalized version-before printing it.  What's more, they have their history product line (All American History I/II and Mystery of History) icons to access, with the corresponding maps available [of course] for each unit.  Thankfully, Bright Ideas Press has a lovely tutorial video you can watch to get a clear understanding of how helpful this program is.

Our thoughts:

Now, even though as of late, I have failed to provide the all important cartographical supplements as I should have, I have no excuses anymore. I can easily zip into the program, find one of say-Hernando de Soto's wayward trip [we just visited the museum in Florida where we were introduced to their anti-ability to truly follow normal exploration guidelines] and print off the map for my son to color, highlight and so on. Yes, an activity that will "cement" the lesson/experience for him.  I am actually looking forward to compiling the maps we'll need to cover the Lewis and Clark exploration for our next semester's study-and that too is only a click/print away with the WonderMaps program.  As with any one I of them that I choose, I can tweak it to have just the trip outlined, or add in the current state lines-or whatever I feel it needs to do the study justice.  This is especially great when I want to test the children on their retention skills, because I can leave off the names of things for them to fill in and call that their quiz.  

Since history is our favorite subject, the Historical maps are fast becoming our "popular zone".  I love how they are broken into four time frames (Creation-33AD, 33AD-1437AD, 1457AD-1707AD, and 1708AD-Present) so I can find what I need to match our current studies. Seriously, what a great way to illustrate [and recognize/find] exactly where all this important stuff took place. All I have to do is locate, decide, click/print and stuff into their workboxes. Easy peasy. 

Ah yes, and after my recent little garage sale find-I am going to be dipping into the various world maps that have all the states/countries clearly marked (minus the name labels). I need to create the map cards for the Geografacts game we found, because it is [sadly] missing them.  I can now redeem my dollar purchase by using the WonderMaps collection to fix the errant problem.  Whew.  I would have had to either trash it, or find some other use for it-but alas, no more. 

Before I end this, it would be utterly shameful of me to not mention a gem or two I found within the Teacher's Guide as well. I went there to see just what extra goodies were available and I have to say, the MP3 workshops were a delight to listen to.  I also had fun strolling through the 50 Bright Ideas for Using Outline Maps. Frankly even an old dog such as myself, can use some refreshing new tricks to jazz up my geographical, instruction abilities.  There you have it-a clear winner in this household.  It truly is a super hero defending our best interest and map integrity skills!

Biblical maps are included, hence this notation.
 A huge variety of the maps are benign as well.

Need help with icons? Click Here

$49.95 for program (CD or download)
all ages K-12 and beyond

**Don't forget to read what my TOS mates had to say about this, and many other fine homeschool products, over on our TOS Review Crew Homepage.

***Bright Ideas Press provided me with a free download version of the WonderMaps, so that I could write this review.  I did not receive any financial compensation for my honest opinion of this product.

Friday, November 5, 2010

TOS Crew Review: Collectorz (Book Collector)

Do you have more books than your local library? Or all the libraries in your county combined?  I do believe that one "illness" many homeschoolers develop, [either out of necessity or just the plain love of the printed word] is the book-bingies. Yes, that lovely, yet overstuffed shelves disease, that plagues many of us.  And how many of these afflicted individuals truly know their actual book count, let alone the titles of them?  And how many long for the ability to pull up that data at the drop of a hat [like when it is a  "need to know now" emergency]; so as to not to plop down more cash on a load of books they already own?

Amazingly, there is a company that provides a nifty product, that can do that and more!  You purchase your desired plan (or edition), log in, scan (or type manually) the bar codes from your book collection, choose a cover picture, file according to your personal organizing needs, mark loaned books, rate the books and so on and so forth!  Quite easy to do, with extremely wonderful results.  No more "me thinks me has that" moments regarding what you own.

Collectorz is a database software which allows for you to play "librarian" so you can track your books.  You can also check your list away from home on your iPhone/iPod touch (if you own one, $9.99 app. fee) so that you won't accidentally purchase books you already own, or pass up one you really needed.  You can see if you have a particular one to loan, or just scroll thru and drool over your vast array to feed your book-bingies itch.   They also offer programs to track your movies, games, music, MP3, photo and comic collections.  The only improvement I think they could add there, would be an edition to track a person's array of Pez dispensers, or a kid's explosion of Matchbox cars; but outside of that I think they have you pretty well covered.

I was totally geeked when I saw that I would be receiving this baby to review.  I quickly decided after punching in a few books manually, that I needed to get myself one of those CueCats [not too spency] to scan the bar codes, to save much precious time when logging in my huge collection.  I highly recommend that extra to anyone with more than a few books, because it is easy to use (be sure it is set to USB ports so you can click it in and go) and will make your log time minimal.  Due to some unfortunate and rather untimely death of my computer-I haven't had much time to play with this.  I was only able to log about a snippet's worth of my books, but from what I did experience, it was pretty nice.  I liked being able to choose a cover icon to have in the data section (since I am a visual person and that just makes it easily identifiable for me), rate my stuff with stars, organize it according to genres, subject, etc.-and best yet, I have an easy way to see what I own.  That is huge for me.  Once I re-establish the system on a new computer, I can get back to business and be all organized like. My CueCat anxiously awaits the day we get going on this project again, and so do I!

Collectorz is the way to go if you have such needs; and with a free trial (up to 100 books), there is no reason not to take a dip into the organized pool of coolness.

Need help with icons? Click Here

Collectorz Homepage

Standard Edition:  $24.95,  Pro:  $49.95

Don't forget to see what my fellow TOS mates had to say about this and many other fine homeschooling products over on our TOS Crew Review Homepage.

***Collectorz provided me with a free Pro version of their Book Collector to test and use, so that I could not only record my vast collection of books,  but say for the opportunity to write this review.  No financial compensation was received for my honest opinion of their product.