Tuesday, November 22, 2011

TOS Review - The Reading Game

The Reading Game was created by Kenneth Hodkinson, author of the vocabulary curriculum, Wordly Wise.  Here is a description of the game from the website:

The Reading Game is a fast-action memory card game.  It includes a series of six beautifully illustrated storybooks. The Cards & Books work together to make learning to read exciting and enjoyable. Game sessions are fun-filled with a winner every few seconds.  After completing the first memory card game, the student has thirty words “hardwired” into memory. The Skunk story, Book One in the series, is told using only those thirty words. On completing the series, the student has a reading vocabulary of 180 words. Almost half of them are among the one hundred most commonly used words in the English language.

My musings: 
I love educational games and I especially love them when they are quick to play, but teach a bunch.  The Reading Game is a fast moving memory game.  There are six levels of 30 words and a book at the end that uses the words they learned in the round.  To advance to the next round, the child must read a sentence that shows mastery.   You start with a few words in round one and work your way up to 30 words by the end of the first level.  After the words of a level are mastered (and that is determined by reading a specific sentence in the level's book), you go to the next round.  Julianna and I enjoyed playing the game and I think it would be successful (we didn't make it all the way through yet), but she quickly got bored with playing.  The process is consistent throughout the game (memory games building a word base, read book, mastery) and that is great...and a bit monotonous, but repetition, repetition, repetition...that is always a good thing.  

Nitty Gritty Details:  
You can order a copy of The Reading Game here.  The game is $24.95.

*Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received a copy of The Reading Game in exchange for my honest review.  No other compensation was given.*

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A RACKing we will go

Every year we do some type of countdown to Christmas - paper rings we tear off, cotton balls glued on Santa's beard (I believe!), placing a new daily piece in our Playmobil nativity set, but I read a blog post last night when I was perusing for some Thanksgiving activities to do in school that I love, love, love and I cannot get the idea out of my head...25 Days of RACK - Random Acts of Christmas Kindness. 

From First Grade Parade
From First Grade Parade
 In a nutshell, you perform a RACK every day leading up to Christmas.  They can be as little as leaving a quarter on a gumball machine or paying for the person behind you in the Dunkin Donuts drive through (I am a coffee lover, but not a Starbucks drinker.  Don't hate.)  You also leave a card like the one on the side to explain what you've done.

You can get an idea of some things that other people are doing by going here or here.   I don't have everything planned out yet - still formulating what I'd like to do in my head, but I'm very excited at the prospect.  I am going to try to work on my day plans over the next few days, so I will keep you updated.  If you have any cool ideas, let me know!

Monday, November 7, 2011

TOS Review - "The Person I Marry"

Julianna is only 6 years old, but she has already started talking about and planning her wedding.  She has even drawn pictures of her wedding dress and of she and her dad walking down the aisle (complete with Dad weeping).  I'm not ready to think about any of that.

At all.

To ease me into what we'll inevitability have to face, I had the privilege to read a copy of the book "The Person I Marry" written and illustrated by Gary and Jan Bower of Bower Family Books.

You can watch a trailer of the book here.

My musings:  This is really a sweet book.  The illustrations and the message are both beautiful.  However, it didn't seem to hold Julianna's attention very well.  I think part of the reason was because the book we were asked to review was an ebook version(Not complaining. Just stating the format we had to use. ;-) ) and she is a "book in hand" kinda girl, like her Momma.  And, at the time, she was wanting to perform a gymnastics routine in the living room (and did begin the warm ups while I was reading the ending). "The Person I Marry"  would be a nice heirloom book to have in your family library or to be given as a gift.  It is written from a non-gendered point of view, so it would be appropriate for either your daughter or son.

** Disclaimer:  As a member of TOS Homeschool Crew, I received an e-book copy of "The Person I Marry" in exchange for my honest review.  No other compensation was given. **

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

TOS Review - Ooka Island Books

I first saw Ooka Island advertised in a teaching resource magazine this summer and couldn't wait to try it.  (It met two very important criteria for me:  1.  teaches reading in a very systematic and fun way and 2.  It's set on an island with peppy, Caribbean music as a theme.  My standards are shockingly low.)  When I was chosen to be a reviewer for the program, I was over the moon.  I'll take any help that is offered to teach Julianna to read.  I know, I know.  She WILL learn to read.  Regardless, it haunts this homeschool mama, I'm afraid.  I'm also starting to freak out about her writing, but I will leave that for another day.  Back to the review.

Ooka Island is an interactive literacy program designed for emerging readers Pre-K through 2nd grade.  Their website describes it this way:
The Ooka Island Adventure is a downloadable hero-mission in 3D designed to teach young children how to read fluently and well. The Ooka Island Adventure combines the highly engaging components of a state-of-the-art virtual world with the scientifically proven OokaMethod that builds literacy skills.

Carefully embedded within the Ooka Island Adventure are dozens of interactive instructional activities that captivate the child and motivate them as they learn essential pre-reading, reading, spelling, and writing skills. After completing the Ooka Island Adventure, children will be on their way to reading fluently and well for life.

And it has cool music.

My musings:
I love Ooka Island.  It captures Julianna's attention with it's colorful, interactive games and music. Plus, she loves any game that she can change her person's appearance multiple times per session. The "goal" of the program is to help free the Ooka Elves from the Fliggs (Fliggs = Flying Pigs) that have taken over the island.  Auntie Kay is the one leading the expedition, but your guide through it all is a robot named Zobot.  Zobot is Julianna's arch nemesis.  For some reason she thinks he is working against her instead of helping her through the adventure.  I think it's because for a memory game, you play against him and he won a few hands in the beginning.  That was Zobot's fatal error in judgement.  It might be better if you would play against the Fliggs.  Just a suggestion.  As you work your way through the levels, you unlock new items to use (like clothing, etc.) and new games.  You earn points to buy items in the Mist Mart as well.  For each level, you begin by playing phonological games, then you unlock a new book that is then read to you and comprehension is determined through a question game at the end of the story. 

The only downsides I see are, sometimes the accent of the voice over narrating during some games is a little difficult to understand. I know I have had to listen twice to figure out what he is saying (especially in the Wacky Moving Company game) and the addition of new games within the levels is slow.  In the beginning, Julianna loved the games, but now she is getting tired of them because they are the same ones she started with.  I'm hoping some new ones pop up soon as she is progressing through.

If you have emerging readers or have little ones that need just some added reinforcement, give Ooka Island a try.  They are offering a special launch discount on a monthly subscription.  Yippee! 

Oh, and tell Zobot to watch his back.

**Disclaimer:  As a member of TOS Homeschool Crew, I received a subscription to Ooka Island in exchange for my honest review.  No other compensation was given.**