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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

TOS Review - Reading Kingdom for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Reading Kingdom Review

What a fun way to learn reading and writing skills, all online and with very little to no need for teacher intervention. I was thrilled to get a chance to review the Autism Spectrum Disorder ASD Reading from Reading Kingdom.

What is ASD Reading from Reading Kingdom?

Reading Kingdom Review

It is an online program specifically designed for use by children on the autistic spectrum. Based on a method developed by psychologist Dr. Marion Blank, which realizes the importance of language-teaching skills for children with autism, the program teaches:
  • phonics (sounds)
  • sequencing
  • writing
  • meaning
  • grammar
  • and comprehension
The idea behind the ASD Reading includes:

Read more about Dr. Blank's philosophy and work and other research done with Autistic children in regards to learning to read and write with this article from the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

The first thing you see when you log on are your child's progress in easy-to-read charts.

Your child sees this:

As your child progresses, he or she earns stars to add to their online Passport:

The lessons progress and build upon themselves, but keep some of the main characters and styles of learning activities which consist of matching letter sounds to words, finding words that are missing letters, selecting words that the child hears in order, reading on-screen stories, and typing in letters that eventually lead to typing in missing punctuation:

The activities progress as the child completes each new lesson:

How Did We Use It?

I was chosen to use this product because I have a child who has exhibited traits of borderline Asperger's. I will note that the child who reviewed the program with me has not been clinically diagnosed. I was asked to use it with one student with access for a year, at least 3 times a week. So, we logged on and got to work.

The first thing that the program has you do is take an on-screen placement test so your child begins work at his or her level. When the test is complete, assignments are generated. From that point, the child logs on and continues through the sessions.

The sessions of lessons are fun, colorful, easy-to-understand, and interactive. For instance, my child completed exercises such as clicking on a picture to match the word given and then filling in missing letters to make up the word that matched the picture. It re-iterates each new sound several times in a way that builds on itself from easy picture matching up to finding the word, which is missing letters, that could form the word at the top of the screen.

Along the way, there are encouraging sounds and phrases to keep the child engaged and desiring to continue. Each session seemed to only take about 15 minutes, if that.

The program paces the student, so they are learning the cadence of writing and typing as they learn letter sounds and words. Sometimes my daughter would type something too quickly and would have to slow down.

What Did We Think?

I really liked how easy this was to use. The practice tests emphasize how important it is to sit with your child during testing but not to offer any help with answering the questions. My child has experience with online learning and using many different electronic devices, so she required no help whatsoever from me once the program was logged into.

Another aspect I loved is how it builds on itself yet keeps the repetition of style, so the child isn't in for some shock when they move to the next level of learning. It slowly adds in commas, and question marks and other punctuation as the child proceeds through each lesson but uses the same cartoon characters, fill-in-the-blanks, find the words, etc. so the child knows exactly what to do. If they get it wrong, I appreciated that it instructed what to do with several hints and didn't frustrate the child by counting it wrong.

Find Reading Kingdom on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Read what other members of the TOS Review Crew thought by clicking on the picture below:

Reading Kingdom Review

Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

'Mina's White Canvas' Book Review

Imagine dreaming of something, perhaps a solution to a problem, and then grabbing your crayon to draw it into reality. Dream of it, and it appears. All you have to do is pick up a crayon to make it happen.

That's exactly the idea behind this new hardcover, approximately 40-page, book that will send your child's imagination soaring. I was fortunate enough to receive this new children's book from Peter Pauper Press for review in exchange for my opinion.

The author and illustrator is Hyeon-Ju Lee who is a young artist from Korea. This book is her very first children's picture book, and she's already won an Opera Prima Mention for the Bologna Ragazzi Award 2012, which awards authors and illustrators for the best designed books in the world.

The book begins with a girl named Mina, sitting inside on a cold winter's day. It is gloomy outside, and so she begins to color just to brighten her day. When she does, she notices that the things she draws come to life. And, the adventure begins. 

This book would be fun to sit and read aloud at bedtime, or during a dreary day. Or, it would make a really fun early reader book for a child to sound out words. With crayon in hand, the story could even accompany a fantastic day of art lessons.

Find this book at book retailers for $17.99 in the children's section, and let the creativity begin while you warm you and your child's heart inside on a cold, gloomy day.

TOS Review - Middlebury Languages High School French

 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review
"Parlez vous Francais?" Perhaps, you should ask this question to my 13-year-old daughter now that she has been studying High School French 1 from the Middlebury Interactive Languages and their French Courses as part of this review, and we are very excited to share what we discovered with you.

 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review
 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

What is Middlebury Interactive Languages?

It is a site that provides online courses of various foreign languages and culture at a variety of levels starting with the elementary level and moving through High School. We received 6-months access to one semester of High School Level 1 French.

As the name implies, it is interactive allowing the user to listen and speak back into the microphone the proper pronunciations of words and phrases. The online format allows the lessons to "come alive" and make the user feel as if he or she has actually traveled to another country, at least during the class time it seems that way.

The lessons are set up on a two-semester schedule based on 36 units. There are 18 units the first semester, and 18 units (ending with #36) for the second semester. Each unit is comprised of five lessons, so perfect for one lesson a day during the week. At Unit 9 there is a mid-term, and Unit 18 there is a Final exam, which ends the first semester. The second semester provides a mid-term at Unit 27 and a Final exam at Unit 36.

For the purpose of this review, we are working only in the First Semester Units. The screenshot demonstrates nicely what is covered:

The high school course presents conversational words and phrases and then allows the student a chance to pronounce the words properly and offers online matching activities and such for learning. There is also an emphasis on reading and writing the language.

When the student logs on, a personalized drop list appears that shows what they have mastered and what is coming next.

How Did We Use It?

My daughter has been asking me to take a foreign language. She chose French. While she is not yet in high school, she is in her last year of middle school and is anxious to proceed with high school level courses. She has also proven herself to be academically ready for this, so when asked to review this online course, we chose French. We were jumping up and down excited when we received access to the site. My daughter sat down at her laptop to begin, and everything from that point on was self-explanatory on-site.

What Did We Think?

My daughter is absolutely loving this course. She has told me that the way it is presented makes the information stick and easy to learn. She likes that it starts off with actual conversation and then offers on-line matching of words and phrases. She really appreciates that the teacher seems to actually be, or at least, speaks French with the proper accent and presents the French language so my daughter can clearly hear the words along with the proper pronunciations and infliction. She is speaking French every chance she gets and even wondered what would happen if we pulled up to a McDonald's and ordered speaking only French....  We didn't try it, but the point is that this has made her apply French in every aspect of her life so far.

Find Middlebury Interactive Languages on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+

Read what other members of the TOS Review Crew thought by clicking on the picture below:

 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

Crew Disclaimer

Friday, September 25, 2015

What homeschool really looks like

Ok. Let's be real for a second. I've seen all those pretty homeschool rooms.  But, this is currently how my living room looks after a week of homeschooling. 

I dare you to share your pics. 


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