Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wordless Wednesday 8/27/14

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UberSmart Math Facts

Math is one of those subjects where it's easy to see how it applies to everyday life. I can remember being in school and listening to my peers ask in various classes, "Why do I need to learn this? When am I ever going to use this?" Math is not like that. Ok, maybe some math is not super essential to daily life--I cannot remember the last time I used the calculus knowledge I learned in high school--but regardless, math as a whole is vital to know. Whether you're doing something as simple as shopping at the store or following a recipe or doing something more difficult like a career in engineering or as a computer programmer, you're using math. My kids enjoy math, as far as using it to accomplish something, and they're very good at it. They're not overly thrilled with sitting and performing math equations though. Since we hadn't drilled simple math facts in a while, I noticed that their response times had lengthened. I was please to receive a program from UberSmart Software to review.

UberSmart Math Facts is a Windows-based (XP, Vista, 7, and 8) downloadable software program that helps teach and review basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts. The idea came about when David Kocur began looking for a flash card program for his kids. After searching, downloading, and reviewing dozens of programs for hours, he couldn't find one that he truly liked. It was then that he started to write his own, and UberSmart Math Facts was born. It worked so well with his own daughters that he decided to offer it to other families as well.

The program teaches math skills using dot cards, flash cards, and keyboard entry. Addition and subtraction facts are reviewed through the 9s family, while multiplication and division are practiced through the 20s. 

As soon as you download the software, you are able to make profiles for up to 8 students. I used this with Jake (8) and Alyssa (6). The each know how to get to their own profiles and can pick up practicing where they left off without any help from me. I can easily customize it to fit their needs. There are sections labeled Learn, Practice, Test, and Compete for the students. 

In the Learn section, the student receives an equation (dot cards for beginners or flash cards for intermediates) on the screen and can answer it, either audibly or mentally, before clicking the show button to display the correct answer on cards. This option gives the student the ability to learn the facts without the pressure of answering correctly and finding the numbers on the keyboard within a given time. This is Alyssa's preferred way of practicing.     

The Practice tab has 3 options: dot cards, keyboard entry, and flash cards. Here, the student can practice finding the correct answer by clicking the correct card to answer the problem (dot card), typing in the given number (keyboard entry), or typing the answer to the equation (flash card). This is a timed section. If the student does not answer correctly within the proper time, the answer will show on the screen. 

The Test option is Jake's favorite. After learning and practicing, the student is given the opportunity to showcase what he knows. It is much like the practice part, except once all the problems of an operation and family are answered correctly in a round, it is marked as mastered. Jake loves working hard to master the individual families. Seeing that Mastered! acknowledgement gives him a sense of pride.

The Compete section allows the student to test their skills against other users around the world. You can choose who is competing: elementary, middle school, high school, or adult. When the series of questions on the flash cards is completed, the score and rank is shown on the screen.

The final two tabs, Report and Maintain, are for the parent/teacher. This is where I can see each child's progress or adjust things accordingly. For instance, for Alyssa, I've changed her seconds per problem from the suggested 4 seconds to 6 seconds because she was getting too frustrated if she couldn't answer in the appropriate time. She's my little perfectionist. It was too-overwhelming to her to get the problems wrong because she was running out of time to remember the answer, find the numbers on the keyboard, and enter them all before the 4 seconds were up and the answer was displayed on the screen. Once she'd get 1 or 2 wrong, she'd lose interest and focus. Once she becomes more familiar with it, I will change it back to the 4 seconds to increase her response time. For now, I love having the option to adjust it according to our needs. She's currently working on her addition skills, whereas Jake has mastered all the subtraction families and is working his way through multiplication mastering those as well. 

When we first started using this program, Jake, especially, was a little intimidated because he thought it would be too difficult to learn (or in many cases recall) the facts. Like I said in the beginning, his response time had slowed down drastically. Almost immediately though, even he saw major improvements in his skills. Having instant results drove him to try even harder to succeed. They each practice their facts for about 10 minutes a day 4 days a week. I've been very pleased with what they are learning and remembering. The program is not a flashy, fun game, but a program that is right-to-the-point and streamlined. Most importantly, it's a program that works. 

UberSmart Math Facts costs $24.95 and is available for instant download. It's recommended for grades K-6, but can easily be used for anyone wanting to brush-up on their math facts. The software license can be used on all the computers in the home and for up to 8 users. 

Personally, I'm glad to have this program for my family to use.

If you'd like to see how other families used this program, head to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read more reviews.

Crew Disclaimer
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Friday, August 22, 2014

Things That Make Me Smile 8/23/14

 Jake (8½), Alyssa (6), Zac (4½), Tyler (2)

Happy Friday! Did something happen this week that made you Smile? A funny conversation or a special blessing? Share it in the comments! We'd love to Smile with you.

1. Alyssa, finding Tyler on the bathroom counter covered head-to-toe in soap bubbles: "We have a major problem." 

2. Zac: "How do mouses play a big, giant piano?"
Me: "With big, giant hands."
Zac: "No."
Me: "Very carefully?"
Zac: "No. They put on a jet pack and fly up! Get it? Isn't that hilarious?"

3. Jake, excitedly: "Mom! I caught a fly, ripped off its wings, ripped off a couple legs, put it in a plastic bag, and stuck it on the fridge. When Tyler wakes up, I'm going to get my magnifying glass, take it outside, and try to burn it!"


5. Alyssa, about a small Lego creation: "Praise the Lord Jacob found it!"

6. Zac: "Tyler is randomly being mean!"
Jake: "Do you know what random means?"
Zac: "No."

7. Alyssa, during church: "Mom! Zac's still kicking me!"
Me, sternly: "Stop kicking her."
Zac, feigning innocence: "Mom, I wasn't! {smiling} My feet were.

8. Listening to Jake and Alyssa arguing about whether dreams are in color of black & white.

9. After Leighton had been gone all day on Saturday (a day he's normally home) Alyssa proclaimed that she was "daddy-sick," like homesick, but missing her daddy.

10. Alyssa: "Which one is it?"
Me: "I don't know."
Alyssa: "Well, I need to know. Jake and I bet about it. Whoever wins the bet gets to say 'I told you so.' Since we're not allowed to bet for things, that's all we can do."

11. Alyssa: "My arm is tired from stirring."
Zac: "Mine's not tired. You can use my arm."

What made you Smile tonight?

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wizzy Gizmo

Wizzy Gizmo. When we had the opportunity for this review, I thought what a fun name! But what or who is Wizzy Gizmo. Actually, it's both. Let me explain. Wizzy Gizmo, as a who, is a genius. He's a world famous inventor and a Professor of Science and Technology at Sunnyville University. He spends his days making exciting gizmos. Most importantly though, he loves God and thrives on studying the Bible. That brings me to the what. Wizzy Gizmo is a Bible series for kids, including books, audio dramas, flashcards and more. These resources were designed to help parents and teachers "equip children for life by exploring God's Word." We reviewed the first book of the series Book One: Who Created Everything?.

This book, written by Chris Del Aguila and Justin Cummins follows the adventure of a group of kids (and some silly characters) and they learn about Wizzy's most significant invention: Gizmovision. This amazing device brings any book to life by transforming it into a life-like world inside a virtual bubble. Yo don't just see the story, but also touch, taste, feel, and smell it, like you were actually there. Which book is the first one they try out? Why, the Bible, of course.

Wizzy takes the kids--Summer, Thomas, Eli, and Olive--along with his friends Qwacky (his robotic duck) and Pepe (his talking pet dog) all the way back to the beginning of time. The group is there as God speaks the world into existence. They watch as the earth is formed, light is created, water is produced. The travel down into the depths of the ocean and far into deep space. They smelled the first sweet flowers, tasted the delicious fruits, and felt the cool grass on their feet. They watched as sea and air animals--dolphins, jellyfish, eagles, ducks--were given life. They played with the beasts of the earth, cattle, and creeping things, like lions, elephants, snakes, ladybugs, and frogs. They were in awe as they witnessed God form dust of the ground and breathe life into Adam and as He formed Eve from a rib bone.

I used this story as a read-aloud with my kids (8, 6, 4). They were immediately drawn to it because it is about the Bible. They had fun remembering what was made on each day of Creation before we read about it. I had planned to read just a couple chapters the first day, but the chapters are short and the kids begged for more. Two chapters turned into three, three into four, and before I knew it, they had managed to convince me to read the entire book all in one sitting! The story itself is less than 50 pages, but it is mostly text. The pictures that are there are mostly incorporated into it, like ocean and space backdrops. The book will most appeal to ages 4-12. It was simple for my 8-year-old to read. He actually read 2 of the 7 chapters (which is how he conned me into finishing it all at once!) Altogether, it took the 2 of us just over an hour to read the story and discuss it.

There are vocab words in bold print throughout the book along with a list of the words and their definitions in the back. The Scripture verse woven in the story are taken from the NAS. Instead of reading from the book, we kept a KJV open to Genesis chapter 1 and read the verses from there.

Who Created Everything? costs $12.99 and is the first in the series. My kids enjoyed this book and asked to read the next one.

You can follow Wizzy Gizmo on social media:

If you'd like to read more reviews of book 1 or reviews of some of the other products, head to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.

Crew Disclaimer
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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Things That Make Me Smile 8/15/14

 Jake (8½), Alyssa (6), Zac (4½), Tyler (2)

Happy Weekend! It's a long list, so let's get Smiling!

1. Jake: "I'm almost as tall as you. I just need another head."

2. Listening to the kids talk about Cleopatrick, a.k.a Cleopatra. 

3. Alyssa lost her first tooth.

4. Jake: "I've been around for a looong time. I've been here since 2005."

5. Zac, trying Tyler's cake: "Mmm, that frosting is yummy!"
Jake: "Zac always gets Ty to give him a bite of something if he gets it first. You know what Fruit of the Spirit he needs to work on? Longsuffering."

6. Alyssa: "May I have some water for bed, please, if it wouldn't trouble you?"

7. Tyler tried hiding while I was taking of picture of his "artwork" on his body.

8. Alyssa: "Mom, Tyler's got the shoe horn in his mouth!"
Me: "Well, have you ever heard of putting your foot in your mouth?"
Jake: "Yeah, babies eat their feet all the time. They don't bite them off, but they do chew on them."
Me, humored: "That's not what the saying means."

9. Me: "We're actually getting a new book to help you learn English."
Jake: "What? I don't need help with English. I snuck a peek! {hysterical laughter} I did that on purpose!"
10. I cut up a bunch of veggies and put them on the table for the kids. After munching for a couple minutes, Zac proclaimed, "Mommy, you make the BEST cucumbers!"

11. Jake, while listening to Pandora: "Pirates of the Caribbean. 2."
Me: "Yes. How did you know that?"
Jake, matter-of-factly: "It's a pipe organ. Davy Jones plays it."

12. Tyler helped me make cookies. 

13. Alyssa: "I was looking at my rock collection."
Jake: "You have a rock collection?"
Alyssa: "Well, I only have 1 rock right now."

14. Zac: "I can make my tongue into a roll-up sleeping bag."

What made you Smile this week?

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Saturday, August 9, 2014

Things That Make Me Smile 8/8/14

 Jake (8½), Alyssa (6), Zac (4½), Tyler (2)

Happy Weekend! I've actually felt better this week than I have in a while, not great, but definitely much better. We did some baking, a little canning, and preparing for a yard sale today. And we found many reasons to Smile.

1. Jake, about a cucumber: "Can I cut some, please?"
Me: "As long as you're careful."
Jake, confidently: "I'm always careful. Except for the time I cut my finger."

2. Zac: "Ty's doing Lego angels." (like snow angels, but in a pile of Legos.)

3. Leighton: "No, that's European."
Alyssa: "My what?!?"

4. Watching the kids play the iPad together.
5. Zac: "The future's not even real. It's just a part of a movie. Some people think it's real, but it's not."

6. Alyssa: "Zac licked my pancake!"
Me: "Zac, why did you do that?"
Zac, smiling: "Because it's really yummy. And it's the biggest."

7. Leighton was outside cutting the grass when he sneezed. Tyler was watching out the window and said, "Bess you, Daddy."

8. Alyssa, while cooking eggs: "I'm the messiest chef ever."

9. Zac: "Mom! Tyler's playing with the toilet paper!"
10. Me: "Tyler! I told you not to open that!"
Tyler: "Yes, ma'am."
(Of course, it didn't stop him from continuing to open it, but it was the sweetest thing.)

11. Alyssa, playing a board game: "I hope Zac wins one time."
Zac: "Me too, otherwise I'm totally going to be singing the blues."

What made you Smile this week?
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Friday, August 1, 2014

Things That Make Me Smile 8/1/14

 Jake (8½), Alyssa (6), Zac (4½), Tyler (2)

Happy Friday! We took the kids to Maker Faire last weekend. They had so much fun creating, making, building, tinkering, and playing with other people's projects. Alyssa was so excited to see Darth Vader and some other Star Wars characters. It was a long, but fantastic day.

1. Jake, about Alyssa because she won't pull her first (extremely) loose tooth: "Pulling teeth with that girl is like pulling teeth. Get it?"

2. Alyssa: "One days he's going to be stronger than mommy."
Me: "Yep, one day."
Jake: "Really? Stronger than you?"
Me: "Yes, one day you will."
Jake: "I'm going to be stronger than Dad, too."
Me: "Well, it's possible."
Jake: "Possible?!? One day he's going to be old! And he'll lose all his strength."

3. While at Maker Faire, we watched EepyBird's (the original Coke & Mentos guys) performance. The boys had opposite opinions: Jake sat right up by the stage and loved getting drenched in pop spray, and Tyler bawled throughout the whole thing each time he saw the reaction.

4. Zac: "When I'm a dad, will I work at Daddy's work?"
Me: "Well, that will be up to you."
Zac, concerned: "I want to, but I don't know how to get there!"

5. Zac was pretending to cook food for me at a restaurant. After raving about the food, I asked for the recipe. He explained that it was a secret recipe and brought it to me on a make-believe folded up piece of paper. I carefully opened the paper, read the precious recipe, and handed it back to him. I promised never to tell anyone the recipe. He immediately replied, "You can tell Dad." I love that even while playing make-believe, he knows that Mommy doesn't keep secrets from Daddy.

6. Alyssa, about sunglasses: "Try these on and see if they're too small or too big."
Zac, putting them on: "They're too medium."

7. Alyssa, while the boys were with my parents: "I wonder what Jake and Ty are doing about now. Probably making a cheesecake with Papa."


 9. Zac, matter-of-factly: "Fairies aren't real, so the Tooth Fairy isn't real."
Jake: "Zac, I've lost 8 teeth, and I've gotten a dollar each time. The Tooth Fairy is real."
Zac: "No, fairies aren't real."
Jake: "Zachary, yes, the Tooth Fairy is real. How else do I get the money under my pillow?"
Zac: "Mommy and Daddy." 

10. Zac, looking at a picture of a Jack & Jill nursery rhyme: "I thought Jack had a crown."

11. Jake, because Tyler was setting up our chess board: "Why is he playing chess? He doesn't even know that the white team goes first."

What made you Smile this week?
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