Fun with Math – GPA LEARN Review

Critical Thinking Company Review
If you have been reading my blog any amount of time, you know that we talk about math a lot. Probably because it’s my daughter least favorite subject. We have tried many programs over the years and what we have found is that those with critical thinking skills built into them work the best – GPALOVEMATH from GPA LEARN has critical thinking built into their program and much more. We recently had the opportunity to review GPA LEARN and we liked what the program has to offer.

What we Received

We received a subscription to GPALOVEMATH from GPA LEARN for one student for a year. This subscription included access to all grade levels, Kindergarten through 5th for one student. We used the program for our daughter and for 4th grade math. We chose to use the program in the standard setup of presenting the materials in the “recommended order” rather than choosing the topics to cover ourselves (which is an option). We used the program several days a week as a primary math program.

About GPALOVEMATH

GPALOVEMATH is a stand-alone math program that streams from the internet. It can be used on computers and some tablets and can be used anywhere you have an internet connection. The math program is from Kindergarten through 5th grade. Each grade has a “coach,” which is an animated character that guides the student through a lesson, practice, and a quiz. The program guides the student through over 150 lessons and over 10,000 practice problems per grade. The program states that if a student completed 4-5 lessons per week, a child should complete one grade level in approximately 10 months. With an easy to use Dashboard for the parent and the child, each with their own login in information, the program is user-friendly and easy to use. It was intuitive from the moment we were in the program and the setup is simple yet effective. The screen was not cluttered with extras so it was easy to maneuver through the program during setup and during the lessons.

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The program also states that the average lesson is 10-20 minutes. Then there is a practice review which is 5-10 minutes and a quiz over the lesson which is also approximately 10 minutes. This makes a lesson approximately 30 minutes long. Once the quiz is completed, the student is given a rating like “Rock Star” or “Nice Job.” There is a “Try Again” if you don’t get at least 9 out of 15 problems right.

The lessons are modeled for the student by the animated character. The practice problems give the student a chance to work through the new materials that have just been presented. They are given feedback by their animated coach. They also have “lifelines” they can use to help them work through the practice problems. After they have completed the lesson and the practice problems, they move onto the final lesson quiz. The child’s next lesson is unlocked as long as they get at least 5 of the 15 problems correct, but only ‘master’ the lesson if they get 12 or above correct out of the 15 possible. If the student does miss quiz problems, there is an option on the DASHBORD to view the missed problems, see the problem and see the answer. I thought this was a nice feature.

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Once in the program, students can select lessons from the learning path. The learning path shows the skills that will be covered in each lesson. As the student moves through the lessons, more lessons are unlocked. A map of the learning path shows the parent and the student how the student is progressing through the program. It includes the skills learned as well as if the student has attempted the lesson and how he or she did on the lesson. Lessons they have tried are marked with 1 to 3 stars indicating levels such as MASTER (3 stars), MASTER (2 stars), and APPRENTICE (1 star). Lessons ready for the student to do are marked READY. Locked lessons are still available to view to see what skills are covered in the lesson and state what must be completed in order for the lesson to be unlocked. Though the child is unable to do the lesson without completing the prerequisite lessons, a parent can TEST DRIVE any lesson any time to see what it covers and how it goes when logged into the parent account. Parent can leave the program setup in the “recommended order” and this will leave the lessons locked until the student goes through the path. However, there is an option where the parents can choose topics to unlock. This is a good option if you are using this as a supplement to another math program or have particular skills you are trying to work on. You can choose to unlock those lessons and have the student work on them in the order you wish. It is nice that you can choose the option that works best for you and your family.

Each lesson used the acronym CLUE. C-Comprehension: checking understanding; L-Let’s Stop:Think about how to solve the problem. U-Use: consider what is learned and the prior knowledge acquired, and E-evaluate: review and check. My daughter liked having this to think about as she went through the problem and I think the acronym really helped her think through the problem a little more clearly.

GPALEARN2When the student has completed a lesson, GPALOVEMATH sends an email to the address on the account letting you know that the child has completed a lesson. The email includes a summary of the lesson, what it was finished, how long it took the student to complete the lesson, the badge received for the lesson, and quick tips. There is also a link in the email to the account so you can go in and check out the progress if you want.

In the initial setup of the program, the parent can choose the rewards that the student will receive. The student earns points each lesson that work toward the rewards the parent has chosen. The rewards are setup under the MOTIVATE tab on the home screen and those rewards available are divided into categories like FAMILY, BEDTIME, TV TIME, PLAYTIME, COOKING, INDOOR ACTIVITY, and MONETARY (to name a few). You can chose rewards from a list in the system or customize your own. The system guides you through the setup effortlessly.

Things We Liked

My daughter really liked the reward system within the program and I loved that I could personalize it. Since the kids are saving up for something right now, I threw in some incentive for that as well. It surprised her when she saw she was getting something toward her goal so I think that motivated the math lesson as well because she didn’t know what the next reward would be.

I liked that you get an email telling you that the child has completed a lesson with a link to check out the progress. This was a good reminder for me to go and check out the progress and send a personalized message to her within the program.

I liked this personalized feature of messages as well. You can also invite other friends within the GPALOVEMATH program to be friends within the program as well. This is a nice feature if we discover friends using the program. But my husband and I primarily used it to send message to our daughter to encourage her progress.

My daughter also liked that it wasn’t ALL math. There was discussion about other things like constellations and habitats. Games and questions about things other than math. She felt she was having a discussion or conversation with Pi, not just being lectured on a math topic. She said she liked that part – and the games, of course.

I liked that the kids could see the next reward they would earn so they were motivated to work toward receiving the reward. For instance, if the next reward was “Pick a board game to play with the family” she would know that she would get that if she completed the next level to earn a reward and work toward it because she was excited for game night.

What We Didn’t Like

My daughter really did not like the coaches animated voice. It was very robotic and she was turned off from the beginning. She really had to push herself to get through the lesson. And, in the beginning, she would quit part of the way through the lesson because she didn’t want to listen to the voice anymore. She started turning down the volume and reading the words. (At least it had the words on the page.) But eventually she said she got used to it and now she goes through the lesson without trouble. However, when asked what she liked and didn’t like about the program, her answer was a resounding – “the voice was terrible.”

I thought it was a little pricey. But that is just possible our budget. Overall, you get a lot for the money and I do think it’s probably comparable to other programs available. I did like that you can pay by the month or the year. And that the price includes access to all the math grades.

My daughter also didn’t like the length of the lesson. She felt they were a little long and was frustrated when she spent almost 40 minutes in a lesson only to not get MASTER on it and feel she had to do it again. This is somewhat of self-pressure she puts on herself but the length of the lesson is longer than we typically tend to spend on one lesson in our typical day. She decided that she wanted to break up the lesson the first time and then realized that if you don’t complete the lesson then you have to repeat it the next time. This was very frustrating to her. I think she would have preferred smaller mini-lessons on each topic or skill within the lesson in order to break up the lesson easier. I would have to agree, that would be nice, though I’m not sure the logistics of that and it might take over a year to get through one grade that way. I would think that the program should be able to save your place when you only get so far in a lesson, things do happen that take children away from a lesson and we homeschooling moms know that this happens so I would feel very badly if she was over half through a lesson and we had to go somewhere and she would have to start over when we returned so this puts pressure on me as well.

Overall

GPALEARN3Overall we liked the program. Though my daughter had her initial woes about the program, she decided after using it for a while that she liked it. I liked that the lessons were easy to audit, that I could adjust the rewards for her and even personalize them, and that we could chat inside the program with each other. I thought this personalized the program a lot and made her feel that I was paying attention to what she was doing and was a part of it even though it was online.

I also liked that the program was encouraging. In addition to being able to interactive personally by message or personalized rewards within the program, I liked that Pi was encouraging and so were all the lesson levels. If the student doesn’t get a perfect score it simply says try again or you did well on this but could use a little more work on a section. It did not make my daughter feel bad for not doing well on a particular topic but did a great job at encouraging her as well as rewarding excellent work.

GPALOVEMATH is available for Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac computers. It is also available for Apple iPad or the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4. Google Chrome, Internet Explorer 11, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari 6 & 7 are supported browsers.

Subscription for GPALOVEMATH cost $149 per child. This gives you access to all six math grades. And if you use the promo code GPAINTRO15, you will save 15% off of an annual subscription. But hurry, we don’t know how long that code will last. You can also get a monthly subscription plan to GPALOVEMATH for only $12.99 per child.

Be sure to visit GPA LEARN on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

And check out what my TOS Review Crew friends had to say about GPA LEARN and GPALOVEMATH by clicking the box below.

GPA Learn Review
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Want to Make Your Marriage Stronger – Spend Time With Your Kids

father and son campingEveryone, I would guess, has the dream of a happy home. Happy spouse, happy kids, happy family! It is the ideal. And I think we are all striving to make this happen in most cases.

In today’s busy world, full of football practice and lunch meeting, conference calls and ballet lessons, cell phone leashes and computer games, it is difficult to focus on your family life – too many outside distractions. And this is not something that is sheltered from your kids, no matter what their age.

Whether you have one tween son or a gaggle of children 8 and under, you have a child that is looking up to you and wanting to spent time with you – EVEN WHEN YOU ARE BUSY! Even when we are focusing on our marriage to make it strong, which we all know is good for us and the kids, it is important to spend time with our kids. Spending quality, focused time with our kids will not only strengthen our relationship with them but it WILL strengthen our relationship with our spouse.

How is that possible? How can spending more time AWAY from my wife or husband by spending time with the kids strengthen my relationship with my spouse? It’s simple – a strong bond with your kids will help establish a strong bond with your spouse. You have heard the expression “happy wife, happy life?” Well, we all snicker at the saying but, in reality, there is a little truth in the statement and I don’t think its limited to just the wife (though the saying is much catchier than “Happy Husband, Happy Life!”)

There are many studies stating that kids are less stressed, do better in school, and are generally happier when their parents spend quality time with them. Of course, you have to define “quality” for yourself but I am here to say that quality time is time spent with them free of distractions and lectures. Quality time does NOT have a time requirements. It might be 15 minutes a week or a once a month trip. I also believe that quality time needs to differ based on the age and personality of the child. You will have to determine what quality time is for your children. And, yes, that means sometimes, when you have several children, you have to make a concerted effort to spend time with them one on one.

Image result for free clip art dad and childSo many once a week isn’t possible when you have 8 kids but that’s ok. Maybe a once a week family walk to the park is quality time with the kids and then very few weeks you spend one on one time with one kids, doing something of their choice and then rotate through the children with private time with you. It does take time but its time well invested. And, yes, you need to put down the mobile phone and not check your work email or your Facebook News feed.

That being said, quality time with kids helps them be calmer, more obedient, and focused, and generally happier. Then you are all those things; therefore, being a better spouse. Calm and happy spouses equal strong marriage, right?

Though it sounds simple enough, it does require dedication and commitment by you. But the results will be worth it. And spending quality time with your kids will help you feel less stressed or guilty when you spend quality time along with your spouse, which is also necessary for a strong marriage.

What else does all this quality time do for your marriage? You are also setting a great example for your kids of a good family life and marriage. This is an investment in the futures of your children.

Don’t let the daily life commitments, challenges, and distractions prevent you from spending quality time with your kids. The strong marriage you will build and keep will be the reward.

How do you ensure you spend quality time with your kids? Do you fell this time is helpful to your marriage? I’d love to hear about your experience.

Easter Fun! – Egglo Entertainment Review

Egglo Entertainment ReviewEvery year we try to find a fun way to emphasize the Easter story. This year we are using products from Egglo Entertainment.  Some products my family and I recently had the opportunity to review include The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure book, a set of Glow in the Dark Egglo Eggs, a set of Egglo Treasures Scripture Scrolls, and a set of Egglo Bible Verse Stickers.This set of products by Egglo Entertainment is meant to be used together to enrich The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure book.  The The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure book is an colorful, fun story that is meant to keep the focus of Easter on God’s sacrifice for us during the Easter season. Scripture and reference to the “light” (through glow in the dark Easter eggs), the Egg-cellent Easter Adventure book is a wonderful read.

The story has some mystery and excitement as the children in the book come across some glow in the dark eggs and end up traveling through time to learn of the true meaning of Easter. My kids enjoyed pointing out scripture they knew and asked for the story several times.Egglo Entertainment Review

The Glow in the Dark Egglo Eggs were really fun. They are meant to be used in conjunction with the book to be symbolic of how the glowing of the eggs helps us find them because they are “light” like God gives us His word to light out way through life. My kids thought that was a pretty cool way of teaching that point.

Egglo Treasures Scripture Scrolls were also included in our package. These are cute little scrolls with Bible verses on them. They are small enough to fit perfectly inside the eggs while still having some room for a piece of candy. And the scrolls are very durable. My daughter decided that she wants to fill some of the eggs with the scrolls and take them and hide them on Easter throughout the neighborhood to “spread the Word” to any children that find them. So, I belive we will be doing some Easter bunny work on Easter this year. Love her idea on spreading the Word!

NOTE: These scrolls are very small. You may want to be cautious if useing them with small children. They could be a choking hazard for sure.Egglo Entertainment Review

Lastly, we received Egglo Bible Verse Stickers. Egglo Entertainment provides several ideas on how to use the stickers including putting them into the eggs or using them decorate the outside. The Bible verses are great and my kids chose to use them to decorate the eggs.

The The Egglo Glow in the Dark Egg Hunt Event Curriculum is a downloadable 60-page curriculum to help churches or families use the book and products to help make a more meaningful experience to focus on the true meaning of Easter. There are many activites and extras included in the event curriculum to help anyone plan a valuable learning experience with their Egglo Entertainment products.

Egglo Entertainment offers products to make Easter games for kids more fun for groups like VBS, Sunday School class, or youth groups as well as for individual and family use. The products are geared toward ages 4 through 13; however, the story and all their products are easily adaptable to any age group or event.

Jesus is the light.

Overall we very much enjoyed the book. The kids enjoyed hearing the story and it sparked good discussion. They also enjoyed playing with the eggs and taking turns hiding the eggs and searching for them.

We enjoyed reading the scrolls and dicussing the messages as well as reading the Bible verses on the stickers before decorating the eggs. Over, the products are high quality and well done. The whole family enjoyed Egglo Entertainment products.

You can read more about Egglo Entertainment and their products on their website. And you can purchase your own The Egg-cellent Easter Adventure book for $9.99, a set of Glow in the Dark Egglo Eggs for $9.99, a set of Egglo Treasures Scripture Scrolls for $4.50, and a set of Egglo Bible Verse Stickers for $3.29.  The The Egglo Glow in the Dark Egg Hunt Event Curriculum download is available for instant download for $9.99.  You can also purchase a Egglo Kit with Curriculum for $50. There are several other products to chose from on the Egglo Entertainment website.

Be sure to check out Egglo Entertainment on social media and read more review by the TOS Review Crew by clicking the button below.

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