Sunday, August 21, 2016

Flip Stir puzzle (A Review from me to YOU)

FlipStir Puzzles Reviews

 A puzzle in a bottle????  Why, YES, YES IT IS!!!!  We received a Solar System FlipStir puzzlefrom Enlivenze LLC to review. This self-contained puzzle comes in a plastic canistercontainer that has an internal “arm” to mix around, and place, the puzzle pieces.
FlipStir Puzzles ReviewsThey have several different levels of difficulty and different designs to choose from, including a Tyrannosaurus Rex, Periodic Table, Statue of Liberty, and Rainbow Pencils.  I chose the Solar System puzzle, which is a level 2 (which makes it a little more effort to complete).  I figured this would be a great starting point for the majority of my kids.

My kids were instantly super excited about the FlipStir Puzzle.  It came in great packaging and has the picture of the finished project on it for those that need the visual help.
First impressions were fantastic!  The puzzle is contained so there is no way we will loose the pieces, the plastic is solid and of good quality.  The puzzle picture has super bright colors, is a great print job and looks like it will last forever.  The “arm” is secure and doesn’t seem like it would be easily broken.

The kids all enjoyed figuring out the puzzle.  I did have quite a few that were “one and done”.  I have other kids that keep going back to it and trying it over and over again.  Once you have solved the puzzle, you use the “arm” to stir the whole thing up again.  They loved this part; wanting to make sure it was good and mixed for the next person.
It worked well taking it with us in the car, kids playing on a rainy day, and I image it would be great for long trips.  One thing my kids did with it that they enjoyed was “racing” each other to see who could solve it the fastest.  They took turns and kept time scores.  Even my Husband found it and couldn’t put it down until he solved it.
It’s a fun and creative spin on regular puzzles.  We enjoyed it greatly! To read more about what others had to say about their puzzles, click on the banner below to read more from The Crew.

FlipStir Puzzles Reviews
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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

CTCMath Review!!!!! Complete online math curric for K-12th!

     Through the TOS Crew, my family received a CTCMath Homeschool Membership from CTCMath. I want to start off by telling you that originally I was not at all happy about this BUT MAN ALIVE!  I AM SO GLAD we got to try this out!

We have tried out a few different math programs and I was getting tired of trying things out with all great hopes just to hate it in the end…. Or at least not like it enough to want to keep using it. 
clip of the video teaching
When reading about CTC I was kinda like “blah- blah- blah- blah- blah”.  I should have been more excited though.   CTCMath has complete math courses for K-12th grade.  It boast’s over 1,400 online tutorials for your student to learn from either as enrichment or along with each lesson. Each lesson video is no more than 5 min!

CTCMath offers the following math courses:

·                     Kindergarten
·                     1st Grade
·                     2nd Grade
·                     3rd Grade
·                     4th Grade
·                     5th Grade
·                     6th Grade
·                     Basic Math and Pre-Algebra
·                     Elementary Measurement
·                     Elementary Geometry
·                     Algebra I
·                     Pre-Calculus
·                     Calculus 
·                     Algebra II
·                     Geometry
·                     Trigonometry

For an overview of what is covered in each level CTCMath has a great downloadable lesson list for all grades.  It’s located about halfway down the FAQ page.  There is also a great video at the top of the page explaining what CTCMath is.  This program IS NOT COMMON CORE, has assessment tests, keeps track of all the grading for you, and that is only the beginning!

CTCMath can be used on your computers, iPod, iPads, and iPhones, and Android devices. This makes it so much easier for students to be able to actually get to math!  The company is always refining the program too, so if you don’t see something you want, chances are, they will add it!
Lesson videos, of course, need to be watched on line but worksheets can be done online or printed out and then answers can be imputed online.  My kids work out the problems on scratch paper but do all the lessons online.  They get up to 3 tries to get it right and you can set what percentage they need to be passing.  We have ours set at 80%

The parents and students have separate accounts/logins.  All student account filter through the parent account.  Parents can easily access their child's progress and even have weekly updates sent to their email. 
CTCMath makes tracking your child's overall progress very easy. Once you are logged in you are can look at your student's daily activity which includes when they logged in, how long they were logged in for and what they worked on.
You can view how many attempts your child took in order to answer each question. Edit or reset things they didn’t pass.  See everything they did pass, awards earned, etc, etc…. HA!
I wasn’t sure who all in my house was going to like it and who wouldn’t.  I had a few kids in mind though that I really wanted to try it with.  The main being F17g.  She stalled out with Algebra 1 and actually back-slid and then has pain stakingly been trying to find her gap and move back up. 

 CTCMath has been great for her and let me tell you why =)
1.    You login and choose the grade level you want to work in.
2.    The program breaks down each grade levels concepts into sections.
3.    Choose the section and take the diagnostic test.
4.    You will then get a score and detailed list of how you did.
5.    You can use the list to go into the lessons in that section and learn in the areas you have gaps!
6.    Thus enabling you to move forward!  You know exactly what you have mastered and what you do not =)
Besides F17g.  I also had all of my other kids 6th grade on up try it.  A11b quickly decided it was not for him- fine, no worries.  All of the other kids love it!  They like it as much as they like TT (different pro’s and cons) and they all like it the same or better than Khan (again different pro’s and cons.  Here is what they think:
F17g:  I like how the format is basic.  That makes it easy to navigate.  I like that the lessons are very clear in how they are taught.  The diagnostic test was helpful for me to locate some gaps that I had.  There are some things I didn’t like, not enough to make me stop using the program, but they did make things kind of annoying.  My Mom covers those in a minute so I won’t here.  Over-all I love CTCMath though.  It has been instrumental in me figuring out what I wasn’t getting and being able to catch up.
A16g:  Awesome.  They do a really good job teaching.  I like that the lessons are short and the problems you do to practice are exactly like the lesson.  If they add a new component, then you get a new lessons and new problems to work through.  And I really like the feedback the diagnostic test gave me.
H15g:  It’s a very good program.  I like how the lessons go exactly with the problems.  I think its fun listening to the guy teaching because he is from Australia.  I appreciate that the program is very clean.  It’s easy to navigate where you are going and to understand exactly what you worked on and how you did.
JO14b:  I like it.  I like have the sections to work with and the diagnostic tests.  Although I don’t really get how they work all their score percentages.  I think the lessons are easy to understand.
C12b:  I like that its very clean and easy to navigate.  It’s kind of like Teaching textbooks and Khan academy shoved together.  I like the lessons a lot.  They are easy to understand and I like the instant feedback on how I did.
CH11g:  I really like it a lot.  I feel like I am accomplishing more on this program that I do on Khan.  I like being able to see what I have mastered and what I haven’t in a very easy and clear way.
Now…. What we wish was different:
1.    Some of the older kid lessons do not have the option to do the problems online.  The only option is to use the worksheet, find the answers on there and input them online.  My kids don’t like that and neither do I.
2.    You can’t just “set” the program to remember what grade the student is in.  Instead, everytime you log in, you have to choose  he grade level you want to work in.  This is also true if you want to look at test results or lessons, etc.  You have to choose your grade level.
3.    We really are not sure whats going on with the percentages.  If you take the test on Monday but don’t finish it that day it will hold your spot and give you a score based upon everything you have already done and whats left to be done.  Then on Tuesday let’s say you log in, pick back up where you left off, and finish it, well now you have a new log and a new score.  We have no clue whats going on.  Did the new score factor in yesterdays work?  Because it looks like the student should have gotten a better score.
4.    After you take the diagnostic test it tells you what you have mastered and what you have not- perfect.  But then if you go into “lessons” and look at the identical list to the diagnostic it will not show anything.  I wish your results would show up there so that you knew where to start at.  I had to manually in put the information.
5.    It does not generate a “task” list for you.  So we did not use that.  Instead my kids would just keep moving through from one thing to another in the way they show up under the lessons.  I wish the program would have generated the task  list based off of the diagnostic test for us.
I feel like I am missing a couple little things…. Bugs if you will.  None of these things completely broke all the positives but they were big enough that we wanted to mention them.  Every program has its… bugs.  I haven’t found the PERFECT one YET but this is pretty close ;)

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To read more reviews check out the other CREW REVIEWS!

CTCMath Review