Friday, February 25, 2011

MathRider - A TOS Product Review

Sharper Edge Pty Ltd
31 Hannah Street
Beecroft NSW 2119
Phone: +61 2 9980 2437
Office hours: 9am to 5pm (East Australian Time – GMT+10), Mon-Fri
Compatible with Windows, Mac OSX and Linux
Current sale price - US $37.

Instant download access

Age range 6-10 years old

"30 Day Risk-Free Guarantee"  (If for ANY reason you or your child are dissatisfied with MathRider, to get a 100% refund just contact the company within 30 days after purchasing.

Caution:  You are now entering the Mathlands . . .

We recently have been using a downloadable math game from Australia.  Let me tell you about this fun supplemental way to learn basic math.  MathRider is a new math game for kids to practice the number facts of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division from 1 to 12.

The download and registration of this game is pretty easy, although you may have to download Adobe AIR if you don't have it.  After downloading, your "rider" is easily added on the Rider Menu.

In the game the player rides on different quests and learns each of the 4 math operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and  division).  While the game is played the computer stores and analyzes what the rider knows and what they still need to practice.  The cool thing about this is that the players get to actually practice what they don't know instead of doing random problems.  There's even an overview map for each number table to see which facts are mastered (answered correctly with consistent speed).

Screenshot from Addition Quest

Each of the four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) has four quests, which are the same, but the rewards are different in each quest.  The riders enter answers as they move along the quest.  They pass through the Mathlands, a richly illustrated background.  At the end of the quest the rider gets to see their reward on the main screen of the game.

Quest Progress Map


Along the way your child rides their own horse and takes off on fun adventures, some of which include finding magical flowers, returning gems to elves and rescuing a princess. All your child needs to do is type in the answer to the problem presented and press ‘Enter’.

Below is a picture of one of these overview maps of mastery.  In this subtraction statistics example most areas are green (mastered), but a few orange and red areas (problem areas), need more practice. Grey areas show the problems that have not been played yet.  This kind of feedback allows parents to figure out where their children still need practice.


This game also allows multiple children to play (up to 10 on a single license), and the game tracks each child separately. (They just log in to their own game.)  This feature is great if you have kids at varying skill levels, because the game becomes "their own" based on how well they answer questions on their personal quest.  (For example, you can have a younger child working on addition and subtraction while an older child works on multiplication and division.)  This feature is also great because you pay once rather than per child.

My daughter, a horse lover, thought this game was a fun way to practice her math and gain a bit of speed in solving basic problems. Yes, she asked to do math on her own time - hurray.

This one gets a thumbs up for helping learn basic facts. We weren't that excited about the graphics, but there is good variety for the quests. There are wizards, elves and other fantasy items we don't really care for, but this is worth considering for the inspiration to quickly learn math facts. I'd be interested in seeing this game with different types of quests rather than the fantasy theme.

To see what other TOS Crew members had to say about the game click here

I received a free trial download of this game to use for the purpose of providing an honest review.  Opinions and observations shared are my own.  I am not obligated to provide a positive review.  No further compensation was provided.

Friday, February 18, 2011

What's the Scoop? A TOS Product Review: KidScoop - for Reluctant Readers

Kid Scoop
P.O. Box 1802
Sonoma, CA 95476
Telephone: 707.996.6077
Fax: 707.938.8718
Geared to grades 2 through 8
Price - $97
365-day money back guarantee


We've been using a fun reluctant reader program for the last few weeks.  If you have a child that doesn't really care to read this might be the product you need.  The Reluctant Reader Solution from Kid Scoop is really fun!  This "solution" contains packets of weekly activity pages on a great variety of topics. There are puzzles and games which make the reading both enjoyable and  informative.  The Kid Scoop lessons are geared to state educational standards, making the fun worthwhile effort rather than just "fluff" and "twaddle".

Kid Scoop learning resources are used by both families and schools.  (The company even makes their resources available to local newspapers to publish.)  This weekly newspaper feature is for grades 2 through 8.  My 14 year old daughter found the packets to be fun and interesting.  She's a bookworm now, but she started out very reluctant to read.  She agreed that this would have been a great thing to have used at that time.  She zoomed through the pages I printed, and did all the puzzles, of course.  The product definitely held her interest and "pulled" her in to learn new information.

As a part of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was able to use the downloadable edition with my children.  These great printable packets cover Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies and Journalism by looking at topics such as
  • Backpacks
  • Bigfoot
  • bubblegum
  • budgeting
  • butterflies
  • Cinco De Mayo
  • clay play
  • Columbus Day
  • Easter
  • Father’s Day
  • fire safety
  • fitness
  • gardening
  • germs
  • gorillas
  • holidays (traditional winter holidays)
  • Louisa May Alcott
  • Memorial Day
  • MLK day of service
  • Mother’s Day
  • nutrition labels
  • “Old Stormalong” (sailing)
  • optical illusions
  • otters
  • smores
  • St Patrick’s Day
  • tadpoles
  • teasing
  • Thanksgiving
  • the Maya
  • Tom Sawyer
  • Valentine’s Day
  • and many, many more
All of these great topics are presented in packets of 5-7 worksheets containing information, experiments, games, and puzzles. The pages are very eyecatching.  For $97, you have access to downloadable packets of worksheets covering almost 60 topics and a monthly 20 page online Kid Scoop newspaper in full color.  There's more than enough information to cover a whole year.  Although this looks a bit expensive at first, I think this is probably worth the price if you want to "kick-start" your child reading.  This product received a "thumbs-up" all the way around at our house.



In addition, Kid Scoop, the online newspaper, is a colorful option, set up similar to the worksheets, containing information on different monthly themes.  Parents and students can either read it online and print just the games and puzzles, or print the entire edition. (There is even an option to listen to the text, spoken by a computer-generated voice.)

Click here to learn more about Reluctant Reader Solution.

The Reluctant Reader Solution and Kid Scoop web site contains fun ideas and some freebies too.  You can sign up for a month of ideas sent to your e-mail inbox (free) and follow Kid Scoop on Facebook.  There is also a link to a "kids" section on the website with more fun stuff! 

For other TOS Crew reviews about this product click here 
I received a free download of Reluctant Reader Solution from Kid Scoop for the purpose of using it and providing my opinion.  Opinions and observations stated are my own.  I am not obligated to give a good review.  I received no further compensation.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Just Curious - What's a Red Tide? A TOS Review


E-Book: The Curiosity Files™- Red Tide
2010 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC
P.O. Box 8426, Gray, TN 37615

 CD of all 9 Curiosity Files (Blue Diamond, Dung Beetle, MRSA, Puffer Fish, Red Tide, Zombie Fire Ants, Blue-footed Booby, Cicada Killing Wasp, Quicksand) - $49
Downloadable E-books of all nine units - $46
(If you're interested in purchasing individual units, please refer to the Old Schoolhouse Store for pricing details.)

What do you know about Red Tides? Why the caution sign above? Think beautiful but deadly. I recently received a free download of the Red Tide E-Book, part of The Curiosity Files science units from TOS to review. This unit is part of a new series from The Old Schoolhouse which contains Explorations With Professor Ana Lyze—Expert in Outlandish Oddities. This is a fun unit study for kids ages 8 to 13, but it can easily be adjusted for younger and older children. There is even a lesson for special needs children included.

In this unit we got to explore the mysteries of red tides. We learned about algae, toxins, food chains, the history of red tide fish kills, oceans, microscopic organisms and more. My 13 year old daughter really enjoyed reading this unit. She found it easy to understand and thought the activities and quizzes included were fun and helpful in learning about these strange occurrences.

Did you know red tides
  • are actually a build-up of microscopic algae when certain conditions occur 
  • can cause these algae to build up in the tissues of shellfish and make them dangerous to eat 
  • are also called Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) 
  • are actually all about the algae, not the tides 
  • occur almost annually along the Florida waters 
  • have been documented since 1844 
  • might be caused by something from the Sahara Desert 
  • occur worldwide 
  • may even go back as far as 10 A.D.

That's a picture of one below.

We talked about the causes of the "red" tide, where these tides occur, how the sea life is affected and things that humans should do for safety if they encounter a red tide. We found out that these occurrences can actually be a number of colors besides "red". We also learned that these tides have been occurring for a very long time and are not just the result of recent pollution or global warming.

Professor Ana Lyze and her team tackle the abnormal and the bizarre things in nature through a variety of lessons. The unit helped us explore the tides through writing, games, math (metric system and percentages) and real life concepts. We learned some new vocabulary and did some copywork too. There were also many links to other places where we could continue our research as we have time. The vocabulary activities and spelling worksheets cover both elementary and middle/high school so I could tweak the unit to fit the skills and needs of my daughter. I really liked that option.  (My daughter was able to use this unit fairly independently.)

In the Lab brought on a scavenger hunt after we talked about food chains and food webs. We looked at some history and checked out timelines and maps. There was such a great variety of materials included in the E-book that we had a hard time fitting it all in. I'm thinking that we'll be taking some of the information we've learned and make a lapbook next. This really was a fun way to learn.

This unit included things like Bible study, discussion topics, memory verses, math, history, geography and much more. We found some really interesting links and other books to read too. We even talked about experiments we'd like to do when things are a bit warmer. We did crosswords and word searches and had fun. (By the way, there are complete answer keys provided for the activities/puzzles.) This unit is 90+ pages, but you can print just those that you want to use.

See other products from this publisher HERE.



These units are very reasonably priced for the enormous amount of information and activities included. (See prices above and follow the link to The Old Schoolhouse Store. Another great thing, all E-Books published by The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine come with a 7-day, 100% money-back guarantee!

I received a free download of this E-book in return for an honest review of the product. Opinions and observations are my own, and I am not obligated to provide a positive review. No further compensation was received.

To see what other members of the Homeschool Crew had to say about the Curiosity Files click here

Monday, February 7, 2011

Woohoo - Check It Out

***Check out the comment on the Virtual Nerd post!!  Wonderful deal for homeschoolers!!***

Virtual Nerd
710 N. 2nd Street
Suite 300 S.
St. Louis, MO, 63102
877-677-NERD (6373)

Deal to Homeschoolers ~ 50% off their "1 & 3 Month Plans".

The Comment from Virtual Nerd added to my review post says:

"We are pleased to inform you that because Virtual Nerd has received such significant interest following your review of our online tutoring service, we are offering a special discount to homeschool parents.

Homeschool parents can receive 50% off the 1 and 3 month subscription plans.

Just enter the discount code: homeschooldeal when you sign up for service. The offer is valid until March 31, 2011! "

Wow, this is a great deal if you're interested in trying their online tutoring!  Blessings to you all.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Can You DigIt? Roman Town - A TOS Product Review



Dig-It! Games - Roman Town, or 1-877-21DIGIT (1-877-213-4448)

For 5th to 8th graders, kids from 8 to 88


A multiple-use version of Roman Town for the classroom setting. Pricing is on a per-license basis.
Price $299

Price $19.95

The Educator's Manual is available for download, and the game is on CD.

                                                      ***For a Limited Time Only***
****Until February 21, 2011, TOS Crew Readers can get 20% off the 2010 price of $24.95.  If you use the coupon code TOS2011 you get $15 off the 2011 price PLUS an additional price is $19.96!

This winner of the National Parenting Center’s 2010 Seal of Approval and Dr. Toy’s Best Vacation Products Award was created by an archaeologist and former middle school educator.  Her blog is linked to the game website for further information.

Have you ever thought about sending your kids looking for buried treasure?  Have you ever wished your kids could play in dirt without getting dirty?  If you answered yes to either of these questions you should check out this fun game we've been playing.

Roman Town is a historically accurate archaeological simulation game which allows kids to learn about Fossura, a Roman town destroyed in 79 AD when Mount Vesuvius erupted. In this interactive game players excavate buildings, find ancient artifacts, and dig up treasures. Roman culture, society, and history become real to your kids during “hands-on” discovery, analysis, and problem solving.


At this authentic dig site players send out their team and participate in a complete excavation. Players get to dig, analyze, sort and reconstruct the site while learning about Roman art, architecture, language and artifacts.


There are six levels to the complete excavation, but they may be played at different times and can be saved for later. In addition, players find something different every time they play. The game contains realistic 3D graphics of artifacts.


 Kids actually get to remove dirt layer by layer, and reconstruct rare artifacts piece by piece.



Roman Town is fun for any age, with no violence or inappropriate material. You can’t play the game without learning something. Kids learn new vocabulary, think through puzzles and get a taste of what archaeology is really about.  My 5 year old loved "digging" with the computer mouse to find the artifacts/treasures .  He was getting up in the morning saying he wanted to "dig".  He was going to bed saying he wanted to "dig".  This boy is really "digging" this game.  My 13 year old liked the game, but she figured out I was getting her to learn something too so had to act like she was really "helping" her brother.
Roman Town is currently only available in a Windows version. The MAC version of Roman Town is coming soon according to the website.

The game has a really interesting feature.  The L.E.A.R.N., Locate Engrossing And Remarkable Knowledge, interactive, in-game encyclopedia, lets kids learn at their own pace. Kids can choose to LEARN more from related articles in the encyclopedia. Throughout the game are quizzes on LEARN to test players’ knowledge. 


We really like this game.  We found out you really do find something different each time too!  It was fun to find out more about archaeology and a real ancient Roman town.  This game is definitely a fun way to learn some ancient history.  For my little pirate lover the "digging for treasure" concept was wonderful.  Now, if I could use something like this for all those other topics ... hmmm.  This game got "thumbs up" all the way around at our house.  Definitely worth the price for fun learning.  If you're even slightly interested, you really should get this game - especially now while it's so cheap with the TOS coupon code!
The website also contains links to archaeological resource sites for further information and articles.  We'll be checking those out as we continue to play the game.  To see more information click here

To see what other TOS Crew reviewers thought of Roman Town click here
As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I received a free download of Roman Town to try in return for a fair and honest review.  The observations and opinions stated here are my own.  I received no further compensation.

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