Friday, March 25, 2011

TOS Review: Big IQ Kids

BigIQkids is an e-learning site designed for students grades K-8. It provides your student with daily academic lessons in an interactive, easy to follow format. With BigIQkids your student will study US geography, vocabulary, spelling, and math.

  • US geography: state capitals, locations, spelling, abbreviations, and common facts.
  • Vocabulary: see/say the word, read the definition, synonyms, and antonyms, and spell the word.
  • Spelling: see and say the word, hear it in a sentence, and spell the word.
  • Math: single digit addition through double remainder division.
BigIQkids offers free and premium accountsWe received a free subscription for the premium account, which includes all 4 programs. Here is an informative video explaining the differences.

 To begin using the program the parent must create an account for the student. Once this is done the student is free to begin working on whichever subject they wish.  BigIQkids does not offer a parent account however the parent is kept informed on the student’s progress via emails. These emails inform the parent on how the student has scored on a lesson, what questions they answered incorrectly, when they have advanced to the next level, and when modifications have been made to their lessons. Here are a few excerpts from emails I have received. I have changed my daughter’s name for privacy purposes.

Hi Emily’s Parent/Guardian:
Emily successfully completed the State Abbreviations Lesson - LEVEL 3.
Emily is doing great!

Hi Emily's Parent/Guardian:
Emily completed the pop quiz on Spelling Program for lesson 6 with a score of 100% This week Emily is in the 100% Club!

Hi Emily's Parent/Guardian:
Emily completed the pop quiz on Spelling Program and scored a 93%. Emily spelled the following words incorrectly: vetoes
The above words were spelled: vitoes
Lesson 6 words: vetoes,echoes,radios,heroes,handkerchiefs,tornadoes,videos,banjos,leaves,tomatoes,mosquitoes,potatoes,lives,hoofs,studios

Some parents may frown on the number of emails they receive, however I look at it as a bonus. Since I don’t have the ability to log into a parent account and I’m unable to sit with my daughters the entire time they are working, it is nice to be continually undated on their progress.

All four programs are very flexible and can be easily modified through the student’s account. By simply clicking on the green book that says “Modify Lesson” within each program (subject) allows the parent to change grade levels, add or remove spelling and vocabulary words, choose the number of problems assigned, and much more.

The programs are based on a 1-3-mastery + level. The student begins working at level 1 and as they master the information presented, the program automatically advances them to the next level. If you feel a particular level is too hard or easy for you student, you can adjust it accordingly. Level 1 is usually incredibly easy, as the answers are visible to the student, but as they work through the lessons the difficulty increases.

BigIQkids also offers a great reward system that both my daughters really enjoyed. You guessed it! GAMES! As the student completes their lessons they are rewarded coins. They have the option of either banking the coins or redeeming them to play games. They are even required to earn coins in order to create and clothe their avatar (IQ Buddy). Like the rest of the program, the reward system can also be modified by the parent.


  • Most of the program is verbal, which is great for the students who struggle with reading.
  • Programs are easy to modify.
  • Spelling and vocabulary words can be added or removed.
  • Lessons and reports are printable
  • Multiple free programs and activities available
  • Students can work independently
  • The computerized voices were rather bothersome, although we did get used to it after awhile.
  • Not having access to a parent account.
  • The math program does not go beyond division. Since BigIQkids is designed for students K-8th grades, I would have liked to have seen some pre-algebra/algebra questions.
  • We dealt with many technical errors, but we just worked around them the best we could.

Our thoughts:
There are a few aspects of the program we liked more than others, but overall I feel BigIQkids is a good learning site.

My 7th grader was not thrilled with it. She felt it was boring and babyish, often groaning when asked to log on. However, it has strengthened her geography skills.

My 5th grade absolutely loved it. She wanted to log on first thing in the morning and multiple times throughout the day. She enjoyed the positive feedback and the coins she earned when the lessons were completed. She loved the geography and her avatar most.

If you’re interested in seeing for yourself what BigIQkids is all about, but not sure you want to commit to a paid membership, offers a free 7 day trial of the premium account.

Be sure to stop by and see what my fellow TOS Crew members have to say about

Here are multiple screen shots of different areas of the programs.

Geography (US States)

Locate capitals
Modification page for geography



I'm a crew member with The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew and I received two free premium accounts from in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

TOS Review: ARTistic Pursuits

Art is one subject I know nothing about. So, I wasn’t sure where to start when my oldest asked me to find a curriculum or something to help strengthen her drawing ability. Needless to say I was pretty thrilled when shortly thereafter I was asked to review ARTistic Pursuits. I was given a chose as to which book I wanted to review and I chose, Junior High Book One: The Elements of Art and Composition. Junior High Book One covers, “the elements of art and composition with emphasis on World Art! Students learn how to draw and gain understanding of how different ideas affect the look of the art made by cultures around the world.”

Artistic Pursuits was designed by a fellow homeschool mom, Brenda Ellis. It is written directly to the student in an easy to understand format, making the curriculum great for your independent learner. It could be easily taught in a co-op setting, as well.  Curriculum is available for all your students, Preschool - Sr. High.  Simply click on the covers for a sneak peek of what each book has to offer. The books are non-consumable, so you can use them again and again with all your students. 

ARTistic Pursuits is not your typical step-by-step drawing instructional textbook, but rather a “comprehensive art program designed to involve the student in the creative process while developing observational skills.”

The curriculum is designed to cover a full school year (32 weeks), if used twice a week for approximately 1 hour each class. The Junior High Book One is divided into 16 units; 7 covering the elements of art and 9 covering composition.
Each of the 16 units covers the same 4 lessons.
  • Building a Visual Vocabulary
  • Art Appreciation and Art History
  • Techniques
  • Application
Some of the topics your student will explore are space, line, texture, lines in 3 dimensions, rhythm, space with and without depth, proportion and so much more.
Throughout the pages of this textbook your student will enjoy wonderful works of art from professionals, other students, and a cartoon character named Creative Cory. Seeing these works of art enables your student to have a visual idea of what they will be creating.

The first lesson was incredibly simple. They were asked to write their name across their paper, making sure to stretch it so it would reach from end to end. As the lessons progress they increase in difficulty.

Here are a few photos of my daughter’s art work alongside excerpts from the book.

Some of the needed supplies are, drawing pencils, sharpener, vinyl eraser, sketchpad, sandpaper block, aluminum wire, pen or marker pad.  If you do not already have the supplies on hand, you can find them at any local art or craft store. As a convenience to their customers, ARTistic Pursuits offers a bundle package of supplies.

Our thoughts:
Before our book arrived I thought we would be receiving a step-by-step style curriculum, but once we dove into it, I was pleasantly surprised. I’m pleased with how Mrs. Ellis teaches the student to truly see and observe objects around them, rather than just drawing line by line.
My daughter has also enjoyed it so far, but has said, “I wish it gave some step-by-step instruction, because it would make it easier to draw the pictures.” Howvever, I think once we complete the book, she will have a greater appreciation for the ARTistic Pursuits Art Program. I intended to purchase the ARTistic Pursuits Grades 4-6 book one for my 5th grader sometime in the near furture. 

Artistic Pursuits offers a money back GAURANTEE for individual orders. "Should you decide for any reason that you are not satisfied with the book or art supply pack you order, Artistic Pursuits Inc. will refund the cost (shipping not included) when the items are returned in unused condition within 30 days. Simply return the items in the original packaging for safe shipping. This refund applies only to orders purchased directly from Artistic Pursuits Inc. For any concerns about your order simply e-mail . We want you to see our books, and we care about your satisfaction!"

If you would like to read about Mrs. Ellis and her homeschool family, click HERE.

The ARTistic Pursuits curriculum is available for $42.95 each. To purchase this program for your students or as a gift for someone else, go to   

Be sure to check out what my fellow TOS Crew members have to say,

Disclaimer: I’m an independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew. I received Junior High Book One: The Elements of Art and Composition for free in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

TOS Review: Who is God? (And Can I Really Know Him?)

Price: $39
Publisher: Apologia

Excerpt from Apologia's website: Who is God and can I really Know Him?, introduces the concept of worldview laying the foundational truths upon which the evangelical Christian worldview is built: God is truth to people; He is the one true and almighty God; He is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; He created everything; we are God's children and are made to love and to praise Him; God meets all our needs; sin keeps us from God; and Jesus is the only way to God.

We have used Apologia science books in our homeschool for the past few years and we absolutely love them. So when I was asked to review "Who Is God and Can I Really Know Him?" I was thrilled.  Apologia offers amazing products and this book is no exception.   

Who Is God and Can I Really Know Him is the first book in a four part series - What We Believe: Biblical Worldview of God and Truth, written by Mr. John Hay and Mr. David Webb. It was written directly to the student in a conversational style making it easy to read and understand.  The book is recommended for children ages 6-14. However, I personally feel the textbook would be of greater value to children ages 8/9 and older. I don’t feel the average 6 year old would understand the content.

 Who Is God is jammed packed with creative stories, thought provoking questions, stunning pictures, scripture memorization, fun experiments, yummy recipes, and so much more.  All the stories and pictures are combined with scripture to reinforce the lessons. Most of the scripture is from the New International Version (NIV), however, Apologia recommends you use which ever translation best suits your family.  I personally use the New Living Translation (NLT).

Does God really exist? If God created the world, why isn't it perfect? Who are the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit? These questions and a plethora more are part of a continuous debate between biblical truths and worldviews. Without focusing on a particular denomination (religion), I feel Mr. Hay and Mr. Webb have done a superb job in showing us who God truly is, while revealing why so many of the worldviews are false.  

Who Is God and Can I Really Know Him has 252 pages divided into ten lessons.

1. Where Am I Building My Life?
2. How Can I Know What's True?
3. What is God Like? (Part I)
4. What is God Like? (Part II)
5. Who are the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit?
6. If God Created the World, Why Isn't it Perfect?
7. Why Did God Create Me?
8. Will God Meet All My Needs?
9. Why Does Sin Keep Me From Knowing God?
10. Is Jesus the Only Way to God?

Each lesson is then divided into several key elements.

  • The Big Idea
  • What You Will Do
  • Short Story
  • Think About It
  • Words You Need to Know
  • Hide It in Your Heart
  • Integrated Learning
  • What Should I Do?
  • Prayer
  • Worldview Study
  • House of Truth

A sample schedule is provided, which divides the lessons up over six days, three days per week. The book is designed to be flexible for all families. We personally found it easier not to follow the sample schedule, and simply read and completed the activities until we were ready to move to another subject.

Apologia encourages the student to keep a notebook to help reinforce what they are learning. Numerous notebooking pages are available on the Apologia site. The access code can be found in the text.

Here is a sample ... Check out Lesson One and the Table of Contents to see what you can expect from Who Is God and Can I Really Know Him.

My daughters and I love this textbook and we are looking forward to reading the other three books in the series. Thank you, Apologia for such a wonderful book!

If you like what you've heard about Apologia's Who Is God and would like to purchase it for your family, click HERE.

Be sure to stop by and see what my fellow TOS Crew members have to say.

Disclaimer: I’m an independent contractor for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew. I received the first book in the What We Believe series, Who Is God and Can I Really Know Him for free in exchange for my honest review.

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