Thursday, 15 September 2011

Big IQ Kids Review

I was super excited to be given the chance to review Big IQ kids - the reputation of their spelling and vocabulary program is phenomenal!
For the last month both Sunflower (6) and Lilly (9) have both been using the Big IQ kids spelling, math and US state programmes.

You can read about their programme and trial it here - it provides a 10-15 minute lesson each day aiming for mastery by the end of the week. They have free programs for memorising basic math facts, spelling/vocabulary words and the U.S. states. For each completed lesson your child earns a coin to play one of the 'fun' games, providing great incentive. The core progammes seemed to be geared towards ages 6 - 14 but they do have a junior spelling bee on their site that look suitable for younger ages.

I was given access to their premium subscription (prices start from $7.99 a month/ $39.99 a year  - full details here) which provided me with emailed reports as well as monitoring the girls answers, analysing their progress and automatically progressing them once they had achieved mastery. Additional benefits of the premium service include a personalised buddy, no advertising on the children's lesson pages, timed quizzes and built in review.
The grade specific lists were a little easy so the fact that both the spelling and math programmes can be customised was great because I could work to each child's specific needs and strengths.

The spelling / vocabulary lessons were a surprise at first with the word clearly listed on the top of the screen with a space for you to spell it underneath (Lilly had her own way of compensating for this and covered the top half of the screen with a piece of paper) this was only present in the first lesson of each list and not in the following lessons (various review tools like spelling bee, unscramble, spelling tests etc.). Although Lilly would have liked the first lesson not to have the word available to copy, Sunflower benefited from it and her spelling has shown a dramatic improvement.

The math programme proved an effective review tool - great practice for keeping those skills sharp and much more enjoyable than worksheets :)

The geography (U.S states) program is great because it is a stand alone teaching tool, introducing location, name/abbreviation, capital city, economy etc. These facts are presented alongside graphics and followed by a quick quiz at the end of each lesson.
Being based in the UK we haven't covered US Stares prior to this so all the girls new found knowledge stems purely from this program

So what did we like about this site:
  • The emailed reports meant I could let the kids work without supervision and still know which areas they needed more practice on.
  • The lack of advertising on the lesson pages again meant no supervision worries.
  • Once you have set a good starting level, the program automatically progressed in difficulty.
  • The 'buddy' let each of my girls feel their activities were personalised.
  • Sunflower and Lilly have both shown great progress.

Any improvements:
  • The navigation of the site took abit of practice and usually involved me logging the girls onto the lesson pages before I could leave them to it.
  • You really do have to use it each day - which did cause some problems initially trying to fit it into our schedules (especilly with Lilly trying to fit a whole weeks worth into one day)
  • Would be great to see a world geography section in addition to the U.S state section.

You can read more reviews from homeschoolers for Big IQ Kids over at  TOS crew

This product was provided free to me for the purpose of review. I was not paid for this review and all opinions are my own.

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