Friday, March 25, 2011

TOS Review: Big IQ Kids

Big IQ Kids is an online spelling, math, vocabulary, and U.S. geography program all rolled into one. Through daily lessons students in elementary and middle school learn good study habits and increase their self confidence in the subjects covered. Big IQ Kids offers a free program as well as a paid premium program. You can view the differences in their programs here. As a part of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool review crew, my children and I were able to review the premium program.

The spelling program includes over 40,000 words in the dictionary and is pre-set with 40 lessons and word lists. With this program you also have the option of adding your own word lists. Big IQ spelling will generate a weeks worth of lessons when you add your own spelling list. For this review I primarily used the "input your own" method but I also looked through the pre-loaded lesson plans. The 40 pre-loaded spelling list lessons are excellent and are appropriately challenging. For my 4th grade son we use a workbook method for spelling. While reviewing Big IQ Kids I simply input each of the 20 words from my son's workbook into a spelling list using this program. I liked that he could get more practice and reinforcement using this program. My son enjoyed doing some of his spelling lessons on the computer, it was a nice change of pace for him. I liked that he could not go on without mastering the quizzes which he often struggles with when he wants to "rush" through his assignments.

The Big IQ vocabulary program includes a large number of words from the elementary age through the SAT level. Like the spelling program there are pre-set word lists with lesson plans or you can input your own vocabulary words. The word lists are challenging and the lesson plans were appropriately structured. However, my son and I had a challenging time understanding the voice that "said" the words. It is a bit like a robot and the sounds were not always easy to understand. Also, the synonym and antonym portion of the lessons were at time illogical. However, once I explained the words to my son he grasped them a bit more. If I thought the antonym and synonym answers were not correct I just had my son skip that question and did not count the wrong answer on the overall quiz score. For example, one of the questions indicated that nail and board were anotonyms. The word board does not have an antonym so I had some trouble seeing how this was a plausible answer. Otherwise I thought the vocabulary exercises were challenging and the definitions were accurate.

Big IQ Kids math is a fun online program. As a parent you can customize the lessons and math facts included in each lesson. My son really enjoyed this math program and I think it provided him with math drills in a sufficiently challenging way. As with the other programs from Big IQ Kids, I wish as a parent I could review my son's progress without logging in as the student. Parent profiles linked to the child's information is helpful in creating lessons and reviewing progress. I could forsee older students or technilogically afvanced children modifying their own lessons without parental notice.

The U.S. States geography program from Big IQ Kids is comprehensive and educational. My son learned a ton from this program and I am happy to say can now identify all of the states by shape and nearly has all of the capitals memorized. This program quizzes students on state capitals and state locations, state spelling, abbreviations, and basic state facts. Additionally, parents can add extra facts that they would like their student to learn. I found this program particularly helpful for a state postcard swap that my children and I are participating in this year. As each postcard arrives in our mail I enter additional facts that the sender included on the card. It is a fun way to include the poastcards in our learning.

Pricing information:
$19.99 for one month of all 4 programs or $99.99 for a year.
Individual subjects for one month from $7.99
You can read more about their pricing programs here
Also, you can begin with the free program and upgrade to the premium program at any time.

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