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Friday, August 29, 2014


I have been missing in action a bit lately and have only done the reviews that I had due for blog posts.


My laptop that is barely 8 months old, crashed.

Like, seriously....crashed.....nothing that can be saved from the hard drive...kind of crash.

It wouldn't be so bad if I had a back up of my computer....however, my almost new computer never let me complete a backup.  It was annoying and I couldn't figure out why it wouldn't let me actually do one, but, since it was new, I figured I had time to ask my computer guru friend, John, to help me figure it out.

And then, one just crashed......

John has been working and trying all sorts of things to be able to save whatever he can from the hard drive and finally just sent me the...."I hate to deliver this kind of news...." message., now he is installing a new hard drive and, hopefully, returning my computer to the original factory settings and I will start over....again.

When I need to type blog posts....I have been kicking the kids and Rainman off the desktop computer.  It is annoying.

I am so used to cuddling up somewhere with my laptop and getting things done, that I hate being confined to an actual desk again to pour out my feelings....or even accomplish any work.

It is annoying.

So, bear with me.  I have some interesting blog posts coming updates.....soul bearing, I am waiting until I get my "real" computer back from guru, John.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

UberSmart Software - Review

Who wouldn't want to be considered "uber" smart?  You will have a better chance at that if you use some UberSmart software.

We got a chance to use of their products, called UberSmart Math Facts

This is a simple little product.  It is a downloadable program that simply helps you work on your basic math facts.  You can use it for up to 8 people/, for most of us, our whole family can have their own account and practice at their own level and speed.  The UberSmart program is built with grades K-6 in mind, but, it definitely can extend well beyond the 6th grade.

So, your younger ones can use the Dot Cards - which basically look like dominoes.  Then, the older students can use the number/flash cards.

The addition and subtraction cards go up through the 9s and the multiplication and division can even go up through the 20s.


UberSmart is a basic math facts program.  No bells.  No whistles.  No games.  No colorful characters.  Although there is applause thrown in after tests, when you do a good job.

Just good, old fashioned math fact practice....with the goal of mastery.

I like that no nonsense approach.....although I realize that probably isn't everyone's favorite way to deal with math facts.  

Honestly, I even used Uber Smart myself to challenge myself.  Because, (and I hate to admit it) some of my multiplication facts have gotten a little rusty.....and I have to stop and think a bit before blurting the answers out.....sometimes.   I enjoyed challenging myself to work faster.

Dot Cards (like adding domino faces)
Keyboard Entry (Ten-Key Numbers)
Flash Cards (add, subtract, multiplication, division)

For beginners, they can use the dot cards that look like dominoes.  You can use them with just dots, or have the numbers also showing through....sort of like a the background.


There are different "modes" that you can use.  The Learning Mode is where you don't type in your can think it in your head or say it aloud and the screen will show you the correct answer.


In Practice Mode, you put in the can choose to be timed or not.  Honestly, using this mode brought me back to Mrs. Toll's 4th grade class and her sitting there in front of the class with her flashcards and all of us repeating the answers outloud.....but secretly trying to beat everyone else in the class by saying the correct answer a millisecond before they did.

Yes, it was a little boring, but it was effective.  That is how I feel about UberSmart Software.  It is a little boring, but it is effective.

No, the kids were never too excited about spending time working on their basic math facts, but did their speed and accuracy with those math facts improve?  Yes.

I do strive to have a pretty fun and relaxed homeschool environment.  However, school....and life....are not always fun.  Somethings you just have to do.  Somethings you just need to know.  Math facts are one of those things that you just have to know.

UberSmart Software gives you a chance to work on those facts without an impatient parent awaiting the correct answer.  Like their website says, computers are infinitely patient if your child gets the same answer wrong over and over again.  I, unfortunately, am not infinitely patient....and I do tend to get a little "snappy" if we have just covered this material and they get it wrong....again.

I will say that even though this is a plain, simple, straightforward way to practice math facts, I didn't see a tutorial or how to use this section.  I figured things out through trial and error and just clicking on things to see what happened.  It was effective.  I figured it out.  Honestly, the hardest area for me to figure out was the "Dot Cards" areas.  Emoji  But, I would have preferred a "start here" page to run through those kinds of little details with me. 

If you want your kids to step away from the computer and do some real old fashioned worksheets, UberSmart has those available for free on their site also.

If you are a Mac user, you are out of luck on this one though, because UberSmart Math Facts only works on Windows systems....specifically, 7, 8, Vista or XP. 
The software has software requirements and will only work on Windows 7, 8, Vista or XP. - See more at:
The software has software requirements and will only work on Windows 7, 8, Vista or XP. - See more at:

You can get access to UberSmart Math facts for $24.95.  And, the good news is that this isn't a subscription price.  It is yours for life....or as long as you want to use it.

Still not sure?  You can get a 30 day trial version to see what you think and if it will be a good fit for you and your family.  In my opinion, this is a great supplement to any math curriculum.....whether homeschooled or not.

Take a look and see what other TOS Reviewers thought of their time with UberSmart math.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Happy Kids Songs - Review

Happy Kids Songs is exactly what you think it is.......happy kid songs!

We got to instantly download three sets of songs meant for ages 3 to 8, for a total of 15 songs.

Friends & Sharing
Sailing on the Seven C's
Everybody Wants To Find a Friend
Sharing Friends
Happy As Happy Can Be

Happiness and Attitude
Shake It Out and Dance
Who Knows What's a Kudo
I Don't Understand
Be Good to Yourself
Better Together

Manners and Character
The Magic Word
The Golden Rule
Six Little Kids

We also got the Happy Kids Songs Workbook, but we didn't use it too much.  I mostly used it to clarify some of the lyrics we heard, but weren't quite sure what they were saying.  It is 125 pages and covers all 40 Happy Kids Songs.  It has lyrics and coloring activities in the front section and more hands on activities and ideas in the back of the book that go along with each song though, so in another setting this would be a really handy workbook to have.


The songs are by Dr. Mac (also known as Don R McMannis, Ph.D).  He is a child psychologist, teacher, author, clinician, school consultant and, if that isn't enough important sounding stuff....he is also an award winning songwriter.  You may even recognize his name from his work on PBS' Jay Jay the Jet Plane.

The songs themselves were very eclectic in style.  Some sounded country.  Others sounded like folk music.  Others sounded more traditionally pop-like.  Some sounded like "kids" music.  I liked the variety.  But, most of all, I liked the messages.

I tried, unsuccessfully, to burn these onto a CD so we could travel with them....but, I couldn't figure out how to do it on my, we just listened to them from my computer when we were hanging out in the living room.  Sometimes, we listened to them as background music when we were doing other things, like drawing or doing puzzles.  Sometimes, we would listen intentionally, so we could talk about the words and the message in the song.

Most of us know how powerful music can be in relation to memory making.  Give me a good, old 80's power ballad, and I am back on the cafeteria dance floor in high school, awkwardly swaying with a classmate.....or pretending I had to go to the bathroom, so I wasn't awkwardly standing on the sidelines watching everyone else dance, but me.  Notice the frequency of the word "awkward"?   Emoji

I still remember the Old Testament books of the Bible, by singing a song (inside my head, of course) and, I still sing the abc's, in my head, when I am trying to alphabetize something.

Okay, let's be really  honest here and talk about Barney's "Clean Up" all have that one stored away in there...whether you like it or not, don't you?

Music definitely helps solidify stuff in your head.  Happy Kids Songs helps solidify things like character, attitude, kindness, understanding, and how to actually be a friend.  Yes, there are some songs/tunes that I wish weren't stuck in my head, (but, I can also say that about the fact that I still know the words to Like A Virgin, Mickey, The Safety Dance, and The Final Countdown to just name a few).....but the kids are having fun with them.  And, we can remind each other of some of the messages if we are having a hard time.

Some of our favorite songs were:

Shake It Out and Dance - This is one of the up beat, fun songs that talks about getting bad thoughts of "I can't" out of your head.  Catchy and really has a good message....even for grown-ups.  This one gets bandied about when we hear each other start to talk negatively.  "Just shake it out and dance!"

Quirks - This one had the message that everyone has little quirks that might seem weird to us, but they are just quirks.....and we should accept them, as they are.....because EVERYONE has them.

Six Little Kids - Honestly, my kids liked this one because we have 6 kids in our family.  I liked it because it has the message of 6 people touching an elephant and describing it in completely different ways, but nobody was wrong.   They just had different perspectives.

Be Good To Yourself - This pick was for me.  This one talks about being good to yourself and that "you and everybody else, need kindness".  Sometimes I need a reminder from a Happy Kids Song, that I need to be kind to myself and not just others.

We just got access to 15 of the songs, but there are other albums/themes available too.

Social Skills and Bullying
Feelings and Fears
Practice and Success
Talking and Listening
Respect and Responsibility

I can see these being great to have in a homeschool or public school setting for elementary and preschool aged kids.  My niece is a school counselor, and I am going to tell her about these songs/resources.  I think this is something that is totally up her alley and will give her another way to teach some of these concepts to her kids.  There are just lots of good messages portrayed in these happy little songs.

You can get these happy little songs for your household for  $4.95 for each 5 song set.  This also gives you downloadable lyrics and activity sheets. Or, you can go ahead and get the Happy Kids Songs Workbook for $12.56, and have all the lyrics and activities in one handy place.

See what other TOS Reviewers thought of Happy Kids Songs.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wizzy Gizmo - A Review

We got the chance to listen to Wizzy Gizmo, just in time for our big road trip this summer.  It was an audio drama called Who Created Everything?


This was a quick, easy, and fun review for us to do this summer.  Who Created Everything? is an audio drama (radio theater) of the book of Genesis - Chapter 1.  The goal of Wizzy Gizmo is to give your kids....and you.....a fun option to learn more of the stories from the Bible.  Not that reading the actual stories are bad, this is just something....a little.....different.

(The crazy gray haired guy on the CD cover is Wizzy case you hadn't guessed!  He also has his faithful assistants, a robot duck named  Qwacky, and his Mexican dog, Pepe.)

It was a fun listen.  The whole adventure only lasted a little over 30 minutes.  The recommended ages for this was 4 through 12, but since we were all on the road trip, we all listened.  The littles were disappointed when it ended and asked if we had the next CD.  The bigs didn't complain too much, so I will consider that a win.  I had fun listening.  Rainman was in league with the bigs and didn't complain (or make fun of it), I know he didn't hate it. 

One of the ways that Wizzy Gizmo sets themselves apart in this genre of Bible based storytelling is their dedication to the factual representation of the Bible.  This also isn't just a narrator telling the Bible stories dramatically.  There are characters, like Wizzy Gizmo himself, an inventor, and others, that when the Bible gets plugged into the Gizmovision, go on an adventure to see what was really happening at the creation of the world.

Many times when you have audio dramas for kids to listen to, there is always at least that one kid that is a brat.  You know, what I mean......the one that you would be totally embarrassed, if they were yours.  Smart mouthed.  Disrespectful.  Mean.

The Wizzy Gizmo series didn't have that.  All the characters were nice, wholesome, curious kids.  Not a mean or sassy one in the bunch.  Some will call that unrealistic.  But, I call it a nice relief, that I don't have to teach another lesson after the audio drama was over.

You know the kind of lesson that starts the lecture something like this...... "Now, kids.  I know that was funny, but don't you ever say/do what (insert characters name here) said/did.  That is not okay.  Trust me, if you did that, you would get in a LOT of trouble!"

I used to love listening to radio drama when I was younger.  The old radio mystery theater ones, with squeaking doors and the sound of shoes walking away on the cobblestones.  I like them now, too.  Things like  Garrison Keillor and the Prairie Home Companion series.

I love the different actors.  I love the sound effects.  But, most of all, I love that audio dramas help you create a picture in your mind of the action.    Wizzy Gizmo has all of the great stuff I love.  Different actors....not just one actor using different voices.....although, I will say the narrator....has an AWESOME mysterious voice.  Sound effects.  Music.  And, most of created pictures in my mind of creation.

There are 7 songs at the end of the CD, some of them are contemporary style music, like you would hear in church, others are orchestrated instrumental songs, with titles like:

Worthy Are You
Third Heaven
Let There Be Light
Sunrise to Space
Under Water Adventures
Creatures of the World
Go Forth

My kids didn't quite know what to do with these.....they wanted there to be action and kept expecting someone to talk.....nobody did.  So, as each instrumental song started, I would tell them the title of the song and asked them to create pictures in their head to match the music.  This is the point where I probably lost the big kids and Rainman, but, I think the littles and I thought it was kind of fun.

I have heard the creation story my whole life.  But, I have never....and I do mean, never....pictured what it looked like while it was happening.  Who Created Everything? got me to dream a little and imagine what it was like when there weren't animals roaming the earth or birds in the sky.  It was pretty cool.

Want to hear a little bit of Who Created Everything?  Here are some samples.  Check out Day of my favorites.

Wizzy Gizmo's goal is to help families live out Deuteronomy 6:5-6:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.

This audio series was perfect for our family to take on our road trip to see our family this summer.  But, it could easily be used at bedtime or on shorter trips around town too....since they aren't super long.  If we get more in this series, we will probably use them at lunchtime.  Since, during the school year, we don't watch t.v. during the week (unless it is a special occasion or I am stressed out and need some quiet time Emoji).....this would be a nice alternative to the usual kids t.v. available.  Again, I love that this creates word pictures in our heads.....and requires a little imagination.

There are books of this series available also if you don't want to go the audio book route.  I can see those as being great bedtime reading. 

You can get the Wizzy Gizmo- Who Created Everything? adventures to listen to for $14.99.

See what other TOS Reviewers thought of their Wizzy Gizmos.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Kitchen Island

Okay, so remember our kitchen before????

There, in the middle, is Rainman's skinny little dresser trying hard to work as an island.....

And then, wonderful, fabulous, Mark gave me a temporary island to try out?

And, now, my actual island.....even though it is still a bit of a work in progress...because I still need to paint the bottom.  But, look!

Isn't it fantastic?  

I was originally just wanting plain boards and a pseudo-butcher block look. As Mark and got to talking though, I explained that Rainman (despite there being cutting boards available any direction you turn in the kitchen) still continues to cut on the countertops....including his old dresser/island.  That lead us to conversations about having to sand and seal the wood top a few times a year.

Well, I am sorry, but my plate of noodles doesn't not have room for one more noodle that has to remember to sand and seal the island....and allow it time to dry before people start using it again.

So, Mark went to the store, planning to research sealants that I wouldn't have to do so often and found.....floor tiles.....that look like wood!

Yes......these are porcelain floor tiles!

He mounted them without grout lines and just did a bead of silicone in between the planks so there won't be any damage if liquid leaks between.

We can put hot pans right on them and even  cut on these (yes, hard on knives....but Rainman doesn't know where my good knives are).

It looks and feels fabulous.  Even though it looks rough, like weathered is smooth.  Crazy.

I painted the trim around the edge a grey that I thought blended pretty well with the top, so it doesn't look like it is floor tiles mounted in a case.

Now, I just need to figure out what color I want to paint the bottom.  But, I suppose I need to figure out what I want to do about the cupboards......first

I am still thinking something like this....for the island....and maybe the cupboards too.

white or alpaca for the cupboards?

By the way, have you heard about the "Chip It" thingie available from Sherwin Williams?  After you download the app (like you do when you want to pin things on Pinterest), if you see a picture you like, you "Chip It" and it does those nifty little things, on the side, that tell you approximate paint colors for what you are seeing in the picture.

Anyway, I obviously went with a different island top than this warm wood one (that was more my original thinking for the fake butcher block), does that change my look?

Or, here is a softer colored island that I like too.

Love this cheerful blue and white kitchen! This is EXACTLY what I want!!!

But, this one has the white marble top.

Any opinions?

I want bright and fun.....and, sort of Scandinavian.....sort of like this one.  I couldn't find pictures of these on-line, so, I went old-school and took a picture of a magazine for your viewing pleasure.

I love this look.  Happy. Bright.  Fun.  But, do I want green cabinets for the rest of my life?  I would take that stove for life though.....

In my inspiration pictures, I am just a bit afraid of too much white.  I want it to be bright and happy and sunny, but not....blinding. I don't want it to get outdated.  I want to be able to change things when the mood strikes (we all know my mood will change)......and I don't necessarily want to have to paint EVERYTHING all over again.

I also have decided that I do want to go ahead and do something with my backsplash.

Right now, it is just a sheet of laminate countertop material on the wall.  SUPER easy to wipe down and keep clean.....but it is creamy/beige and boring.

So, do I put in a colorful backsplash with my white cabinets?  Will that get old and go out of style quickly?

162340761538609820 Kitchen Green Tile Design, Pictures, Remodel, Decor and Ideas

Pop of color subway tile and white cabinets- fresh, bright, clean and crisp.. Everything a good morning is made of! ;)


I am getting happier and happier with my kitchen changes, but still have a ways to go.

Anyone want to share their opinion?  Ideas?  Pinterest pages that I MUST go look at?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Whole Spaghetti and Waffle Thing

Have any of you read the book, Men are Life Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti?

I haven't read it, but I have a few friends who have and they have explained it to me......(I'm not a doctor, but I play one on T.V.  Emoji)

In case you have never heard of it and have no idea what I am talking about, here is a video clip that explains the concept by the authors, Bill and Pam Farrel.

It is true.

Rainman and I are so different.

We have trouble talking to each other....without one of us getting frustrated, or, let's be honest here....angry.

Rainman thinks of one thing at a time.  He does one thing at a time.  One little waffle square at a time.  You know?

I don't do that.

I can't do that.

I have got noodles all over the place.  (Sometimes literally with the little people I live with! Emoji)

I usually do a pretty good job multi-tasking and keeping track of all of my noodles.

Lately though, I have been longing to be a waffle....even if it is only for a little while.

My problem is that I have so many things(noodles) to think about and try to accomplish that I am not getting any of them done.

Right now, I am trying to:

  • Plan for school (starting next Monday) 
  • Find all the books/supplies needed for next Monday (I know they are here somewhere....)
  • Support A-girl (she started a more traditional school this week with D-man)
  • Get my bookkeeping work done for the company I work for
  • Type up the invoice for D-man's lawn mowing business (I know....he should do it himself, huh?)
  • Try to come up with a MicroBusiness or two for myself 
  • Decide whether or not having a renter in our basement apartment will be a good thing or a bad thing (Anyone know of a nice little old lady looking for a new home?  Does she like kids?)
  • Try to pick and settle on a paint color for my kitchen cabinets....island....various furniture pieces
  • Try to commit and actually hammer a nail into the wall and hang stuff up around here
  • Organize my living room in a way that doesn't have it overflowing with furniture and bookshelves, but has the things I need nearby
  • Figure out how to give my bedroom a makeover without spending a ton of money.  Romantic or cute? 
  • Keep things clean
  • Restart past chore systems, so I am not the only one keeping things clean
  • Remember to mop the bathroom floor
  • Eat my new way, which has been great - but requires lots of planning and thinking ahead (Trim Healthy Mama)
  • Read  Insurgent  and Fault in our many, many other Non-fiction selections that are waiting for me
  • Remember to pull weeds and trim bushes (or assign that to someone)
  • Learn new songs for praise team
  • Use products and remember to take notes for writing reviews on them
  • Keep track of my review deadlines
  • Wonder if my friend, Sherri, is having a great trip to see her family
  • Be Samson, and get started writing a book (which I think will just be a compilation of things I have learned in life.....mistakes I have made.....stuff that works for our family.....funny stories from my blog)
  • Decide if the above book makes sense and if anyone would actually read it (should I care?)
  • Figure out how to update the cover picture on my blog
  • Try to remember to get my kids to pose in front of our fridge at the new house
  • Organize our craft/sewing room so it makes sense and we can easily find/see all our fabrics and yarn
  • Remember to do laundry (before I walk into my bedroom at night and see the pile that I have meant to wash for the last 2 days)
  • Not to get too tied up in my lists and my computer that I forget to just love on my kids and play a round of Old Maid when they ask me to
  • Not miss my family too much(visits are bittersweet and I just got back from seeing them all)
  • Tell the lady from A Love Beyond Borders that we just can't afford to adopt those 3 sweet little girls....
  • To figure out a way for us to adopt those 3 sweet little girls
  • Research whether A-girl's fruit sensitivity is actual an fructose allergy
  • Decide whether to intervene in the current sibling fight I hear in the basement
  • Try to work on all the things the financial planner told us to work on, so Rainman can actually retire someday
  • Schedule eye appointments for Rainman, D-man, and A-man (who has been getting headaches)
  • Get physicals for Rainman and I scheduled so we can get our reward from our HSA account....I think I have until September 1st....oh, that is almost here, isn't it?
  • Figure out a way for my waffle hubby to understand me better....and vice versa.....

So, you get it now, right?

I just want to go paint my kitchen cupboards.....without thinking about the 50 other things touching my noodle.

Then.....when that is 100% completed, I want to read a book.

Then.....when that is 100% completed, I want to teach my kids.

Then.....when that is 100% completed, I want to write a book.

Who am I kidding?

That would drive me crazy.  I actually can't even imagine living like that.

It is just frustrating right now because I feel like I am thinking about so many things and trying to make decisions about so many things....that I am actually accomplishing.....nothing.

I just need to use one of these little noodle portion thingies.....

(I will take the little man sized portion, please)  Image courtesy of Reykjavik Cornerstore

.....and just try to handle those noodles on my plate before going back for seconds...or I turn into this....

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


We decided to take a friend's advice and start touring and thinking about colleges during the summer between D-man's sophomore and junior year.

He has been getting college flyers since 7th or 8th grade, so we figured it was about time....but didn't really know where to start.

Then, we got an actual invitation to a private touring event at a college that he was interested in, but thought was a pipe dream.

So, we went for it.

I am depressed now.

For a few reasons.

This one.......

(Can't you just see his college man strut?)

My baby is walking away from meeeeeee!

You know what I mean.....I was initially excited for him, the campus was really pretty, the tour guides looked wholesome and friendly.  Then,  I was lagging behind him on our way back to the car, because of this staircase.....

(My 2 handsome nerds.  Love them!)

 .....when I looked up and saw him....just casually walking away......sigh....

The other reason I am a tidbit depressed?


We have never had plans to pay for our child's college education.  We have told all the kids that they will need to work hard, try to get scholarships, and be creative to pay for school.

Oh, and not to just go to college because that is what all the other kids are doing.  I firmly believe that you don't necessarily need a 4 year degree to get an amazing, fulfilling job.  Tech schools are awesome.  Other, non-traditional schooling and training options are awesome too.

Photo: Trade and vocational programs should be given more credit.

I went to traditional college for nursing, but dropped out before I was done.....combination of no money....and getting a C in chemistry (which to me, a former straight A student - meant I was an idiot and shouldn't even consider being a nurse!)

While I was still in high school, I went to night school at a local community college and  received certification as a Nursing Assistant (quick program....good money).  Later, in my mid-20's I went to night school (working full-time) and received certification as a Massage Therapist (relatively quick program.....great money) It was a job I loved....and was good at, but it is also a job that is very hard (physically) to do 40 hours a week.

I  also worked, for years, as an Executive know, the fancy (makes me feel a little more important) word for Secretary.  No, it doesn't have a lot of social cache or give you a sense of importance. But, I was awesome at it......if I do say so, myself.    I made good money.  It wasn't hard on me physically.  I rarely brought the stress of my day home with me.  I was necessary.

On the other hand, Rainman has his master's degree and is a fancy schmancy scientist....but, many times he has said that of the 2 of us, I have the most marketable skill set.  He may be able to find a handful of higher paying jobs......but, I have lots and lots of options for good paying jobs....if that makes any sense?!?!

Our hope for our kids when it comes to their schooling, is that we can help them out once in a bonus.....but not be a blank check....or debit/credit card for their hopes and dreams.  You know?

This particular college kept talking about what a great deal they were and the amazing value you were getting at their school compared to others.

But, my little heart skipped a beat when I saw the actual pricing....



D-man better start writing essays and entering scholarship contests now!  He is really smart, but so are a lot of other kids.  You know?

Right now, he is thinking about becoming a Pharmacist.

Anyone have any leads on scholarships or contests?  Good schools in Georgia that may be cheaper than $23,000 a year???

Please let me know in the comments section.  We have a little bit of time since, thanks to my friend, Jayne, my eyes were opened to the realities of higher education earlier, rather than later.

And, this was just our first was a big school....smaller schools will be better....right?   Right????

Monday, August 4, 2014

3P Learning - Mathletics - Review

This summer, we got to try a math program from 3P Learning, called Mathletics.

This program is meant to be used as a supplement to whatever existing math program you are using.  You can use it for any of your students ages K-12.

It is an on-line computer based program that needs.....
  • Windows XP SP3 (or higher)*, Mac OS X 10.6 (or higher)
  • 1GB of RAM minimum (for best experience we recommend 2GB or higher of RAM)
  • Supported web browsers – Internet Explorer 8 or higher, Mozilla Firefox 12 or higher, Safari 5 or higher, Google Chrome.
  • Minimum usable screen resolution of 1024 x 768 or higher
  • Adobe Flash Player 11.6 or higher
  • Pop-ups enabled
  • JavaScript enabled
  • MP3s enabled

The program uses 7 ways to help your students:

- Engage
- Target
- Diagnose
- Assess
- Report
- Fluency
- Mobile

All of those make sense to you?

The only 2 that I didn't "get" when I first looked at the list were "Fluency" and "Mobile", just in case your brain works like mine, let me touch on what those words mean in Mathletics.

Fluency is similar to what it is when you learn a foreign language.....being able to speak or write another language easily.  Mathletics wants you to be fluent in math and be able to "express" themselves in math (and even gives you the ability to "race" with people all over the world.....regardless of what their spoken language is.....get it?

Now, the word, "Mobile".  I will go out on a limb and guess that lots and lots of you saw that word and knew what it meant.  I would also guess that you guys have fancy smart phones and other technology, don't you?  I don' I wasn't sure....exactly....what it meant.  In this case, it means that you can take everything from your program, including homework and all account settings with you.....on your mobile device.  

So, how did we use it?

Well, we got have a year long subscription for 2 students.  I signed A-man (Grade 4) and S-girl up (Grade 2) with the hopes of getting the math side of their brains fired up before our first day of school this year.

Here is a little diagram of what the program can offer.

In case you can't see it, here are some of the highlights.

Your kids were create their own personal avatar, then they earn points that they can used for awards.

Here is how the awards work.....

You can see on the right side the different areas to pick from when you are working on your math.

  • Live Mathletics –  Students can compete with others from all over the world
  • Activities – This is the main area, where you complete lessons to earn your gold bars
  • Problem Solving – Games that students unlock as they earn their gold bars
  • Concept Search – An “encyclopedia” of math terms with video explanations
  • Rainforest Maths – A free play area full of different math activities (this area was a little frustrating because you didn't earn points and you never knew when you were "done"....the questions just went on and on.  In the main Activities section you always know where you are, i.e., Question 1 of 10)
  • Times Tables Toons – Music videos to help students learn multiplication facts

By doing well in the activities, you can unlock the Problem Solving area.

I had access to an instant printable workbooks as part of my subscription too.

You can't really tell from that graphic, but there are lots and lots of workbooks to choose from.

Some of the helpful aspects of Mathletics from a homeschooling perspective:

  • A personal mastery dial that tracks daily progress
  • Access to livel math challenges with students from all over the world
  • Intelligent adaptiveness (questions get harder the more answers you get correct)
  • Immediate feedback to answers
  • Ability to work at your own pace
  • Rewards and certificates, including the opportunity to appear on the American Hall of Fame
  • Access at anytime, as long as you have internet
  • Weekly reports on each student sent to the parents e-mail address

Mathletics is designed to be used in a consistent manner throughout the year,  specifically, they recommend working in 20 minute sessions, three times a week.

Sounds doable, doesn't it?!?

Here is where I have to admit to you that we had mixed results with Mathletics.

It was partly the fault of our schedules/lives.

We had Vacation Bible School and took an almost 2 week long road trip to visit friends and family up north.....lots of time there wasn't easy internet access (Hard to believe, but those places do still exist!)

The key word to us was that we weren't consistent when using Mathletics.  They would do it a day or two, and then not go back on until I got the weekly e-mail that told me how much (or little) they had been on Mathletics.  Or, in their defense, we would just plain not be home and they didn't go on.

This turned into one of those things that sounded great to me, the mom, but to the kids, it just wasn't something they looked forward to doing.    They thought it was hard.  They didn't think it made math fun.  (Although, really, the only real life human being that I know that actually thinks math is fun is...Rainman.  Emoji)

I sat down and tried some of A-man's stuff...and I have to agree it was sort of hard.  One of the issues was math terminology.  We haven't really been focusing on this in our schooling....we have just been focusing on the math.  They do have a Concept Search section where he could have looked stuff up....but he didn't.  So, him deciding if something as a commutative property of multiplication or an associative property of multiplication ended up being a guessing game.

Part of the problem may be that it is Common Core based and we don't "do" Common Core around here.  I am also not sure that the work was actually too hard for him, more than just him trying to rush through and check this off his list.  But if it actually was,  I could change the course level he is working on up to 6 times in a year.  I think, if I would have sat next to him and slowed him down to understand some of the concepts and terminology better, he would have done fine.  It would be helpful if there was a placement test so you knew where the best place to plug your student is when you start before they get frustrated because you guessed wrong at their level.

I am not going to give up though, because I think the idea of this program is great.  So, I will tweak the program a bit more as we move forward and see what happens.  I like the idea of repetition so things become second nature.  I like the idea of them "racing" with kids from all over the world with math.  Nerdy of me, but true.

So, while this wasn't an ideal supplement for us, this summer, I am going to write it into our weekly lesson plans, 3 times a week, just like they recommend and see if I get a different result!

You can try the site out for free, or go ahead and get a subscription for $59/student for a full 12 months.

Take a look at see what the other Mathletes thought about 3P Learning and Mathletics.