Friday, October 22, 2010

Brill Kids "Little Reader Basic" TOS Review

As a member of TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I was sent the "Little Reader Basic" program from the company Brill Kids: found here:

The Little Reader Basic is a reading program designed to teach your  3 month old- 3 year old how to read. The program uses a variety of methods to reinforce the new words. For example, when your baby begins to learn to read the word "dog" he/she will see the word in a different color and font, a different picture, different voice, a different video and be prompted to interact in a different way.
The program also offers the opportunity to personalize your lessons. You can put your own pictures or use your voice in the the program. Using the word "dog" again as an example, you can use your voice to say the word and put your own dog pictures into the program.

The curriculum is ready-made and ready to use. Parents are required to be involved in this program but the total time needed is 10 minutes 1-2 times per day. If you choose the one year program, your child will see over 1,000 words in more than 140 subject categories. One word has 5 pictures, 3 pronunciations, 1-2 videos and 2 picture commentary audio files. In fact, the Little Reader program offers over 2,500 reading lessons in 27 subject categories and more than 2 dozen languages, most available for free.
I was sent a link to the download basic version of the program which sells for $149 for a six month subscription or $199 for a one year subscription. For more information, please check out this video to see how the program works. Brill Kids offers a free 14 day trial, so if you like what you see, you can give it a try before you invest  any money in the program.

In the interest of full disclosure, I was unable to actually use this program. I was sent the Little Reader Basic download and installed it onto my computer. The program would not open and after talking to customer service, I had to uninstall the program and then re-install it. The program would then open up for about 5 seconds and then shut down. I was a bit frustrated since I was interested in seeing how the program works and having my 2 year old use it with me. To see what my other Crew Mates thought of the program, please go to the TOS website found here:

As a member of TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I was sent this product for free in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Read, Write & Type by Talking Fingers, Inc. Review

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I was sent a users License from Talking Fingers, Inc. to use their online version of  their award winning program Read, Write & Type found here: .

I had never heard of this company before (big surprise, right?) but once I started checking out the website, I was impressed with the philosophy of the program and the credentials of the people who created it. This program is appropriate for children on a grade K-3 level, (or ESL students) however I used it with my almost 5 year old as well as my 6 and 9 year old and they all LOVED it! Prices vary depending on the number of users but the online version starts at $35/per student.

The philosophy behind this program is this: the program by associating each speech sound with a finger stroke is a very powerful teaching strategy that incorporates motor memory. This program lets children use a range of senses; sight, sound, mouths & fingers to learn phonics while writing whole words and sentences.

I loved that I could keep track of each child's progress and that my children are sent back to activities they need to practice. They are given Hall of Fame Certificates to show what level has been completed, and there is a Power Fountain that keeps track of keyboarding speed and accuracy.  I felt that although much of the activities were the same for each age, the skill level and speed of the program changed depending on the child's responses. For example, the program progressed way faster for my 9 year old then for my 4 year old.

I thought the program was a great review tool for my 9 year old, it  reinforced her phonics and reading skills while giving her a great beginning on her typing skills. My 6 year old is in an emergent reader so this program is a great teaching tool which allows her to practice what she has been learning recently. We just began a phonics program with our 4 year old (she will be 5 in a few weeks) so this program has been such a help to go over the concepts she just learned at our dining room table. The best part was, all three children enjoyed the program and were asking to use it after our "school day" had ended. Once a child does that, you know you have a winning program in our house! To see what my other TOS Crew Mates thought head on over to the main Blog:

As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was given this product for free in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Digital Field Trip Series Review

I got to explore The Wetlands, The Rainforest and The Desert without having to pack a diaper bag! As a member of TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I was sent a DVD (interactive for use on my computer) from the company Digital Frog International .  Digital Frog International is the creator of natural science software which includes dissection and anatomy and ecosystems.

The Digital Field Trip Series includes The Wetlands, The Rainforest, and The Desert and costs $125 for a Home License or purchase each disc separately for $60. The series includes workbook materials for teachers and students in various formats to make the series as educational as possible. To purchase the material you can visit their website and you can check out the other products that the company offers.

For the purpose of this review, we chose to focus on The Desert portion of the DVD. We were able to choose from 5 different North American Desert locations to explore, such as, Saguaro West, Big Bend, Painted Desert, Black Rock and Death Valley. We had traveled near the Painted Desert on our trip this summer and saw much of the landscape, so I thought it would be fun to dive a little deeper. According to Digital Frog "each location contains photos, videos, animations and interactive exercises". Children (and adults) will "learn about such topics as adaptions and homeostasis; desert types and mechanisms, desert plants and animals and impact of humans on the diverse ecosystem."

I was impressed with the amount of information the program contained, you really could spend a lot of time exploring the various habitats as well as learning about all the animals, plants etc. For example, if there was an animal that  you wanted to learn more about, you could click on it and another screen would come up with more detailed information. This program would be excellent for a child who loves science and is very computer savvy and is able to read well. Younger children would enjoy looking at the pictures and watching the videos, but a parent would have to sit with them to navigate the program as well as read all of the information. Unless you are willing to commit the time to walking a younger child through this program, I would say don't use it with children under a Grade 4 level.

I was a bit disappointed in the viewing screen size. You can enlarge the screen, but the picture just becomes grainy, so working with more than one child at a time would be very difficult. It is also a secular program, which means it does not give credit to God for His creation and has an evolution slant. I would still use the program, but I would make sure that I was there to guide my children correctly.  Lastly if the price seems a bit high to you, grab an encyclopedia and log onto google Earth and you will be able to see pictures of the different locations for free.

Overall, the program is stuffed with loads of information and teaching tools. If you were unable to physically visit places and your child really had a natural bend towards this type of science dicipline, then you would like this program. Don't just  take my word for it though, head on over to the TOS Crew Blog  and see what my other Crew Mates are saying.

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I was sent this product for free in exchange for an honest review.