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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Field Trip #178 Friday Blog Hop–Maryland Science Center

Field Trip Friday!
Blog Hop designed to share 'FIELD TRIP' related Blog Posts

(does not have to be a 'home school field trip', can be any trip to any place with your children!)

**NOTE:  Before linking up please review guidelines HERE


    Well, bad weather cancelled out one of our field trips this week, but we still had another trip to homeschool days at the Maryland Science Center.  This time each kid only had one class and we spent a little more time exploring the museum.
    Maryland Science Center

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Review: Middlebury Interactive Languages (TOS Review)

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

For this review we have been using Middlebury Interactive Languages, Chinese Courses, Elementary Grades 3-5. 

Middlebury Interactive Languages is a 100% online language immersion program.  For the most part, they speak only in the target language.  We chose Chinese for the review, but other languages are also offered, as well as other grade levels.

My 9 year old used this program typically 5 days a week, as part of his morning computer school work routine.  The program is easy enough for him to navigate himself; I just save a short cut to the desktop for him. 

He navigated the lessons from the calendar section.  This works perfectly if you do a lesson every weekday (it automatically gives holidays and weekends off), but if you miss a day, or only work on a 3 day a week schedule the calendar can get confusing.  There is no way to adjust the assignments (that I could find).  I emailed the company when we first started to ask them if there was a way to change the start day, so that the lessons would line up and they changed it for me. 

The inability to adjust the lesson dates is a bit of a frustration.  For example, we were without internet for 2 days, when we got internet back I asked my son to do 2 lessons a day for 2 days to get caught up.  When I went in to check on him later, he had done 2 lessons as asked, but he did them starting on the current day instead of backing up and picking up where he left off.  (When you log in, the current day is automatically highlighted.)  

The other option is to navigate through the table of contents, but you have to open each file to find the one that doesn’t have checks, and you have to check the file before to make sure that that one does have checks, in order to find where you are and well, he skipped lessons that way on accident. 

The other option is to keep track on paper what lesson your child is on, so they know.  When the lesson is completed there is a check mark that shows up, so that does help.  I don’t know about most 9 year old boys, but, my son just doesn’t pay enough attention to those kind of details.  So, it would be nice to be able to manually move a lesson on the calendar. 

Screenshot 2015-09-30 20.07.59

With that aside, my son does enjoy this program. I feel like he is learning, and he is mostly scoring well.  I wish they were able to redo lessons to improve grades (they can redo, but it doesn’t alter their grade).  Also unless you pay the extra for an actual teacher, the speaking portions are never graded, and therefore kind of useless.  There is no way to check tones, or pronunciation, unless you or someone you know is a native speaker.  So, if you are very serious about the language, I’d pay the extra money for that portion (particularly if you are using middle or high school levels for credit). 

My son had a microphone headset to use with this program (one we owned) but the microphone wouldn’t register for some reason, so he ended up doing the program without it. 

The program introduces characters and pinyin, along with pictures.  Often times they are asked to match the characters to the appropriate pictures.  They words are also read in Chinese.  So you get visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning involved. 

Screenshot 2015-09-30 20.06.44

The program also touches base on cultural aspects, not just the language, which is also nice!

Screenshot 2015-09-30 20.07.35

The program does keep track of grades, which is especially helpful in older grades (when transcripts are needed).  We do not usually grade, but it’s good to see how he is doing, and I like to point his scores out to him and let him know where he needs to work a little harder, and to high five him when he does well.

You need to manually log in to check on your child’s progress.  It’s located under the same log in as the student, therefore they can also check their progress.

Screenshot 2015-09-30 19.44.38

Screenshot 2015-09-30 19.44.45

We were using a different program previous to this review, and when I asked my son what he wanted to do, he voted to continue with this program. 

The program is 6mos long (a semester), though you have up to a year to complete it.  There are 90 lessons total.

The cost of the program is $119 without a teacher, and an additional $175 with a teacher per student.  They offer courses in Chinese, Spanish, French and German for grades K-12. 

 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review
Crew Disclaimer

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Review: USAopoly Games (TOS Review)

USAopoly Review

For this review we were able to try out the games Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game and Tapple: Fast Word Fun for Everyone by USAopoly

We are a BIG game family, we have LOTS of games and the kids really enjoy games, so we were thrilled to check these two games out!

Wonky is a fun block stacking game with abnormally shaped cubes.  The game indicates it is for ages 8+, but even my 4 and 6 year olds enjoyed playing.  The directions were easy to follow; the cards have pictures with words (making it easy for non-readers to join along).  It is designed for a minimum of 2 players, but can have more than 2 (making it a perfect family game!).  The point of the game is to stack all the cubes and not knock the tower over….of course you also can win if you place all your blocks and used all your cards.  We had games end both ways.  It’s also a bit fun to reverse play when the tower gets tough!  Lessons in physics while having fun, who even knew they were learning???


2015-09-02 15.39.312015-09-02 15.53.51

Tapple is also recommended for ages 8+, but even my 9 year old had a bit of difficulty.  You have to be quick to think of words that start with the letters that have not been used yet on any given topic, such as vegetables.  It has a timer, so that sort of stressed him and the other kids out.  This game is for 2-8 players, and each round is timed, so you can play a short game OR play several rounds.  It would best be played with older children though, maybe even older than 8, (depending on your child).  Accommodations could be made for younger kids (giving a little help or coaxing when needed).  The cards are two sided, with an easier side and a harder side for topics.  They needn’t know how to spell words, they only need to know the first letter!  The 6 most difficult letters (and not used often letters) are not included in the game board.  So there are only 20 letters to come up with words for.  BUT…you can’t use a letter that has already been used, that’s when it gets more difficult (and when my kids really got stumped and frustrated).  It’s a great way to help expand vocabulary, work on beginning letter sounds, and depending on the topic work on other subjects as well!


Games are one of the best ways to learn!  Most of the times kids are having to much fun to even recognize it’s educational!  Have a family game night, or replace some book work for the day!

USAopoly has many other games and puzzles to choose from!  Including themed items such as Zelda, Harry Potter, A Christmas Story, Mario Bros and The Hobbit and more!!!  Lots of games and puzzles to choose from for your Christmas List!  I found a great Back to the Future edition of Yahtzee that I’m thinking of getting my dad (shhh! don’t tell).  Several more spins on classic games are available (Risk, Clue, Candy Land to name a few!).

 USAopoly Review
Crew Disclaimer

Social Media:
Twitter https://twitter.com/USAopoly
Instagram https://instagram.com/usaopoly/
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/usaopoly
Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/usaopoly/


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