Monday, September 12, 2011

Big IQ Kids - A TOS Review


Big IQ Kids is an online learning program for ages 5 to 105. They offer spelling, vocabulary, math and geography lessons. They have won some awards in the online community (including the TOS Blue Ribbon Award), and we can see why! While it took us a week or so to warm up to this new site - I'll explain why in a minute - the kids now really enjoy their time on Big IQ Kids.

There are many price options to this site, ranging from free, to upgraded monthly prices, to premium yearly costs. We were granted a one-year premium membership in exchange for my review, which gave us access to all of the programs. The Spelling/Vocabulary programs are free, with specialized programs starting at $7.99 a month. The Math programs have specialized premium programs starting at $9.99 a month. The Premium US States Program is $39.99 a year. They have even added an SAT vocabulary prep program to their already great list of tools. Now, while my children ARE geniuses (wink, wink), I didn't feel that this section would benefit any of them at this time!

So here's a basic rundown of how the kids used BIQK:

First time logging in, you get to make a BIQK buddy.
Isn't she cute? I'm gonna call her LOLA!

Your buddy joins you while you learn your lessons and play your games...but I'm rushing. First you have to choose your lesson. Let's start with math.
This is a screenshot of early level math. Connor and Chloe's lessons looked much different than this.

In math, you basically get five pages of drills at a time. It doesn't really teach you any math concepts, but it is good practice for skills your kids have already learned. The one thing that some kids may not like is that you have to answer your problems by smallest place value first. So if the problem is 62 - 37, you would NOT type in 25. You would type in 5 in the ones place and 2 in the tens place. Fortunately, my kids picked up on this quickly because our math program has always worked from smallest place value to greater. But it is a little tricky when drilling.

Now, moving on to spelling and vocabulary.

You have options here. I love options! You can plug in your own lessons, or BIQK will generate grade appropriate spelling lists for you. I will admit, this part of the program was a little hard for me to get excited about. Connor is not a great speller. We have been using something for a little while that he is happy with, and he doesn't like change all that well. I convinced him to give it a try. He actually got very excited when he went through the first lesson. The computer tutor says the word. You click enter. It shows you the word. You click again. It puts the word into a sentence. You click AGAIN. It gives you the definition. CLICK AGAIN. And you spell the word. With all of that information in a column above where you are typing. I mean directly above, on the same screen, AS YOU TYPE. So basically, you are copying the word.

Connor was stoked! He thought this was the best spelling program ever! Who wouldn't like it, when it lets you see the answers? ;) But little did he know...that is just the first lesson! (Insert evil laugh here!) He only thought it would continue to be so easy. The next lessons weren't that easy. But that's okay, because you can customize your choices here, too. There are many ways for the student to learn their words, and you can decide which ones work for your child and which ones don't. You can also choose what they should score before moving on to a new lesson. The computer defaults to 90%, but I lowered it to 85%. The reason being that some lists had only 8 or nine words in them. If they missed one thing, even if it's a simple mistake like letting go of the mouse button too quickly and dropping a word into the wrong sentence, it won't let them advance.

Last but not least, they have their states section.

M-I-crooked letter, crooked letter, I - crooked letter, crooked letter, I - hump back, hump back, I! Heehee!

Oh, this is so great! Chloe's third grade history at co-op this year is states and capitals!! I love it when things work out like that! ;) This program is very neat. First, you get to click on a state on the US map. It will tell you the capital, the abbreviation for that state, and several fun facts about that state. Did you know that New Hampshire is known as the granite state? Or that the US government owns more than half of the land in Idaho? Neither did I! I love learning along with my kiddos - makes me feel good about myself. ;)

After each lesson is completed, the student earns a coin. They are allowed to spend them on any of the games in the game menu. They can play until their coins run out, or until mom cuts them off! It's a great reward system for getting their work done.

Now for the part we don't like, which is what took us the longest to get used to. There is a "computer tutor" that gives your instructions, reads your spelling words to you, and teaches you through all the lessons. It is terrible. I mean, terrible. It is such a generic, monotone voice, that it literally reminded me of the computer's voice in the movie, War Games. Honestly, it bothered me MUCH more than it bothered the kids! And eventually, I got over it...or left the room!

Overall, this has been one of the best sites we have found. It combines learning with fun, interactive lessons that all my kids have enjoyed, and I expect to use the site for a long time to come. Give it a try, you'll be so glad you did! To check out the site, click here.

**Check out what some other TOS Crew Members thought of Big IQ Kids!

**Disclaimer: I received a free membership from Big IQ Kids via TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review; all opinions stated are my own and my children’s.

1 comment:

  1. That's great about how the states bit worked out for you!

    My kids loved the start of the spelling too, as I have a houseful of horrible spellers. Ugh. I didn't see that I could adapt the passing percentages though, so I really need to look at that. That could make a huge difference here.