Friday, October 15, 2010

Review: Soli Deo Gloria Resources Map Skills

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew I had the opportunity to use and review Map Skills by Soli Deo Gloria Resources. I was excited for this review because of our in depth geography study that we are currently doing. Map skills and geography go hand in hand.

About the product:
Map Skills is a complete unit study which includes map reading, supplemental math skills related to maps and geography, language arts, bible, and geography. This product is recommended for K-6th grade although the website indicates K-3rd. Once you read the until overview you will see that it can be used with K-6th graders. When using this unit study you will only need to add a standard math curriculum and a phonics program for a young reader. Otherwise, this product is a complete 2-3 week curriculum.

The objectives of this unit study include:

  1. Learn basic directional skills
  2. Demonstrate basic map reading skills at the appropriate grade level
  3. Concept of "direction" (map and in life) will be discussed as it pertains to the bible
  4. Demonstrate basic language skills related to map reading,  geography, and directionality.
In addition to this unit study you will need to supply basic maps and atlases. There is also an optional workbook that you can add to this study. This workbook is optional and in no way is required to adequately complete this study.

How we used the product:
As I mentioned, we are completing an in depth study of geography this school year. In addition to being a fun supplement to our normal curriculum I knew my boys would learning to read maps better, something I have been lacking in our school studies. We currently school 5 days a week so this unit study took us about 2 weeks. If you school 4 days a week or take time off during the week from this study you will complete this study in 3 weeks or more. For us 2 weeks was the perfect amount of time for this in depth study. I did not purchase this optional workbook and did not experience an issue learning from this study. 

During our 2 weeks of study our school room was transformed into a map reading haven. The walls were labeled with directions, names of local and far away towns decorated our walls, and my boy's ability to read maps soared. Since completing this study I have noticed a considerable increase in my boy's ability to read maps that we encounter in our geography studies. No longer am I explaining basic map characteristics, they are both adept at reading and translating the maps on their own. This aspect has obviously added a tremendous amount to our overall learning.

I was thoroughly impressed with the completeness of this unit study. I have purchased or received for free other unit studies that are sorely lacking in certain aspects of the unit. Kim Kargbo at Soli Deo Gloria Resources has done a wonderful job with this unit study!

Pricing Information:

$11.50 for the Map Skills ebook.

I received this product for free in exchange for my honest review and opinion.

Please visit The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew blog to read more reviews on Map Skills.

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Review: Talking Fingers Read, Write, and Type

As part of the TOS Homeschool review crew, my boys and I got to review another great product recently. We were given the opportunity to use and review Talking Fingers Read, Write, & Type.

About the product:
Talking Fingers Read, Write, & Type is typing program available online or in CD format that teaches K-3 students phonetics, spelling, reading, and typing. This program was developed by a neuropsychologist and is designed toward how the young brain learns. Throughout this program there are numerous ways in which mastery of reading, writing, and typing is ensured. Students learn to sound out, read, and type every word that they learn. This program is also written in such a way that students get instant feedback on their progress and get to correct mistakes when they happen. Additionally, parents have access to a progress report on their child's achievements. Also included in this program are "review stations" where students review the progress they have made. A child cannot progress until they have mastered the previous skills taught. Read, Write, & Learn can also be used by students who are learning the English language (ESL learners). Presently this program has instructions in Spanish, Arabic, and Bahasa-Melayu with more languages being added in the future.

How we used the product:
Both of my boys (ages 9 & 6) are strong in their computer skills. They can navigate their favorite online game websites without any help and are proficient mouse users. However, they both needed to improve their typing skills. Needless to say, I was excited when we were given the opportunity to review this product. Initially I sat down with boys to get them started and then let them navigate the program on their own as I watched.

Lefty (left hand) and Rightway (right hand) walked the boys through their letter adventure. As the boys saved each letter from the character in the game that stole all the letters, the corresponding letter gets added back to the keyboard. During the adventures the boys both improved their reading and writing abilities. My oldest who struggles with sounding out words especially improved with this area of his reading ability. However, as expected the limiting factor with this program was my boys' typing abilities. Both boys often times resorted to "hunt and peck" but with gentle reminders returned to the proper hand positions this program had taught them. My youngest son whose hands are smaller and perhaps doesn't have the finger strength required to master typing struggled the most. However, with more time and practice I know he will be able to master this important ability. I am amazed at all my boys learned with this program and the best part is that they didn't even know they were learning, they were just having fun on the computer with Lefty and Rightway.

The boys and I both agree that this is a very well written and fun program that is packed full of reading, writing, and typing education.

Pricing information:
For this review, we used the online version which with purchase includes a 5 year subscription. Single use is $35, additional prices are: $55 for 2 users, $70 for 3 users, $85 for 4 users and $100 for 5 users.

Talking Fingers also has a CD version which may be more cost efficient for large families.

You can read more Talking Finger reviews on the TOS Homeschool Crew blog

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