Online Science for Multi Ages #hsreviews

Visual Learning Systems Review

I really enjoyed science when I was in school and want to impart that love to my children as we homeschool.  I’ve used several science programs but never found that perfect fit.  I wanted something that I could use with all of my kids!  Recently as part of the TOS Crew we received a full year subscription to Visual Learning Systems to review.  This is an online science for multi ages, from preschool through grade 12.  In their program they divide it out into two sections.  The first section is Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition(grades K-5) while their other section is the Digital Science Online: Secondary Edition(grades 6-12).

Visual Learning Systems Review

While I received access to both levels, my oldest is only 10 and in a third/fourth grade level so we didn’t have anyone to use the Secondary Edition.  We used the Elementary Edition.  Within the Elementary level you have access to Primary and Elementary.  I divided my children in half so the younger ones did the Primary lessons while the older children did the Elementary lessons.  Basically for us Kindergarten and Preschool did Primary while the 2nd-4th did Elementary together.

Let me tell you a bit about the program.  Once you login you get to choose which level you want.  Let’s start with Primary here.  My primaries would do their science in the mornings.  After you choose the primary level you then get to choose which subject you want.  In primary you can choose from Physical, Earth, Life, and Health.  Each of these then has sublevels that you choose to do your lessons.  Once you choose the lesson you then have chapters to go through.  You can print out worksheets to go with the chapters and have your children complete those hands on or orally.  With my younger kids who can’t yet read and write on their own we did it verbally.  We’d watch the clip and then talk about it answering the questions.


Visual Learning Systems Review

Another spot to talk about is that there are more than just videos for each lesson.  It took me a few chapters before I realized that at the top you can choose between video, animation, images, and teacher’s guides.  The videos are the chapters for each lesson.  The animations and images are extra learning tools that you can add and use to help understand what you’re learning while the teacher’s guides also contain the student activities.  Great resources and I wanted to make sure you know about those from the get go!


Visual Learning Systems Review

When you move up to the Elementary level you see that you lose Health as a Subject but you still have Physical, Earth, and Life to choose from.  The rest of the set up is the same.  If you’re using the secondary level(which I hope we get to before our year is out) you will find more subjects.  Subjects for this edition are Physical, Earth, Life, Integrated, Health, and Biology.  Everything else is set up the same way.

My kids really have enjoyed this program.  Part of the review period I was in the hospital with my youngest and the kids were able to continue their lessons.  It’s easy to use and my husband/mom were able to step in without knowing what they were doing and help the kids.  Any program that other people can easily teach to my kids while I’m not available has gained new respect in my eyes.  

I want to mention that we were supposed to use this three times a week for the review period.  My kids easily used this five days a week.  Some weeks they did it on Saturdays too.  They didn’t just do one chapter a day either.  They truly loved these and enjoyed doing them.  

I have used the program on two computers.  Both are HP with windows.  As far as I know you can use this on any device from a Mac to a PC to a tablet to an iPad.  I don’t have any of those, but we did use it on my laptop and a desktop.  You can even run the program on two computers at once.  That is awesome when you’re using two different levels or have kids that want to work on different subjects.  

So to summarize quickly for you.  We loved this program.  I would not have probably signed up for this on  my own because I’m not big on online programs.  But this is one that we would definitely purchase.  It’s great and the kids are learning so much from it.  We finally have a Science curriculum that is teaching them and that they are excited to learn from.  We’ve done science within other programs but hadn’t found a perfect fit to do science as its own subject.  This has the potential to be that fit for us!  Make sure you check it out!  It’s a great online science for multi ages.  You can use it with preschool all the way up to grade 12!

Ready to learn more about Visual Learning Systems?  Check out all the other reviews over on the TOS Crew blog post.  You’ll find out what other reviewers thought of both the elementary and secondary editions and how they used theirs.  You can also learn more by finding Visual Learning Systems on Facebook and Twitter.   Enjoy learning!



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Online Learning for Math and Language Arts with IXL #hsreviews

Our 2014 year of reviews with the TOS Crew is coming to a close soon but we’re so excited to share this review of IXL with you!  We got a chance to use both the online learning version of Math and online learning of Language Arts for five of our kiddos.  We received a year subscription to both which is very awesome!


Christmas Book Review
IXL is NOT an online course that covers everything your child needs to know for that subject and you’ll never have to visit it again.  It’s a supplemental course to be used WITH your regular curriculum.  It is however, a great supplemental program to help your child hone their math and language art skills.  You can find the area they struggle in and get them some extra practice.  Oh and then you’ve got that it works more like a game or play for kids so they don’t really remember that they are actually learning.  

The Math portion of IXL goes from preK all the way up to 12th grade covering geometry and algebra as well as pre-calculus.  The language arts course starts with second grade but does go up to 8th grade, though it will soon go all the way to 10th grade as they are working on adding the next two grades.  This is definitely an online learning program that would be beneficial for a long time.  

Interested?  Want to know the prices?  Well I can help you out there!  For a family membership, you start at just $9.95 per month or $79 per year for one subject.  Want to add a child?  No problem!  It is just an additional $2 per month of $20 per year.  Check out this page for more information on pricing.  There are definite savings to using this program with more than one child and using both programs versus just one or the other.  To show that, one child for one year with math only is $79, but that same child for one year for math and language arts is going to be $129.  Make that one year for both online learning programs and it’s only $149.  


IXL online learning




Okay, so now I’ve told you about the program a bit, what ages it’s for, and\ the pricing.  Let’s talk about my family and how we used it, what we liked/disliked and what you can expect.

Starting with the parent.  You log in.  You have access to all reports and students.  I can see what my oldest did and what my youngest did.  I can see how well they did.  I really love the fact that I can turn off the timer.  My kids don’t like to be timed.  Seeing that timer counting is distracting to most of them and not helping them do their best.  Because this is supplemental, I do not mind them doing it quickly or slowly as long as they get it done and get in the extra concept practice they need.  

We’re talking likes here so some things my kids liked are next.  All of my kids liked that they knew immediately if they did the question right or wrong.  Being able to redo and redo until they got the section right was another plus.  I have one little boy who has to have everything perfect before he’ll move on.  He could do that here without feeling like he had failed.  This is great!  It makes it something he wants to do!


online learning IXL


I had five kids using this program.  The recommended is to use this at least three days per week.  To be fully honest, not all five of those kids used the program three days per week.   With only two computers in the house there wasn’t time for that.  But they all did use the program.  Some kids used it five days a week and some maybe used it one day this week and three the next.  It was more based on who was needing extra help in the areas covered by IXL.  

My youngest using the program is 6.  He is in kindergarten in our school, but the first thing he wanted to do on IXL math was patterns.  He did patterns at the first grade level and ACED it!  Seriously.  Got them all right.  They even gave him a challenge section.  Some of the patterns he asked me for help with because he wasn’t sure what the shapes they were showing him were.  That’s fine.  I was okay with talking to him about the shapes.  But, there is another way he could have known what the given pattern was.  There is a little microphone button that allows you to hear the pattern spoken to you.  This is automatically on all the lower grades and you, as the parent, can okay for it to be on the higher levels as well.  

IXL online learning

There are rewards and incentives with this program as well.  Above you see how Colin mastered a skill.  With that skill mastery he got to unlock a spot on the chart.  He got a monkey.  For every skill mastered he gets another prize.  It tells him what he has to do to unlock the next medal as well.  

Find IXL on social media.  They are active on facebook, twitter, and google +.  For us, IXL is a wonderful resource.  It’s a great online learning tool for helping us practice on things we aren’t quite getting or are not doing at our best level.  I know that I can find a specific section by grade and choose for that child what they need to work on.  Thy can then work on it and get that skill mastered.  This offers me freedom.  I have the freedom to help a child who needs to do some reading with a parent listening.  I have the freedom to work on counting with a four year old.  

This program is a great fit for our family.  My only wish is that we had more computers.  Or tablets/iPad devices as they also offer an app that can be used on iPads or newer Kindle Fires.  We don’t have any of those.  I only just recently got an iPhone and it’s an older design.  We’re still behind the times of what most families are technologically.  Here’s hoping eventually we can get a Kindle Fire or iPad and that will add an extra device for my kids to use this program on.  I don’t normally like screen time in any form for kids.  We don’t do television except the occasional movie.  We don’t do games on the computers or any other devices.  But we do do school.  And this program.  We do this program.  In the next few years I am going to have to figure out what it would cost to have 9 kids using it.  

Interested in learning more about IXL?  Remember the math is fore PreK all the way up to grade 12.  I only use the first few years so you’re going to want to check out other reviews to see about the higher levels.  The same is true of the Language Arts course as well.  If your kids are older you’re going to want to check some other reviews as well.  So pop on over to the Main TOS Crew Review page to see what everyone else thinks of this online learning resource.


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Make Learning Fun for Kids #hsreviews

Do your kids like their reading and spelling programs?  Are you wanting more for them to do?  Want to make learning fun for kids?  Spelling and reading and writing too?

Essential Skills Advantage Review
Essential Skills Advantage offers just that.  You’ll find remedial work for children grades K-6 in reading, writing, and spelling.   If you’re not sure whether your child would fit in the grade K-6 category the ages recommended are 4-12.  But keep in mind it is remedial work so you might be able to use it for older ages as well.

Essential Skills Advantage Review
As a member of the TOS Review Crew I received the Premium version for review.  This is access to EVERYTHING that Essential Skills Advantage has to offer.  You can try out a 14 day free trial or simply start-up a membership for $9.99 for one month.  If you’re interested in signing up before October 1st simply use code TOS50 to get 50% off your monthly fee.  For the duration of your sign up you will only pay $4.99 per month!  That’s right!  As long as you sign up before the 1st of October every month you use will only be $4.99.  

Essential Skills Advantage now also offers a free version of their program.  You do have access to all of the programs with this but it does contain sponsored advertisements. This would be a great idea for those on a strict budget though.  You can sign up for that HERE.  

When offered this review I had to go look at their site because I had never heard of them before.  This began to make sense as I learned that until recently they had only been used in school settings.  The program covers language arts.  All aspects of language arts really.  Your child will be covered in spelling, reading, comprehension, and more.  It’s also created in such a way that it’s not distracting.  There aren’t a lot of extras on the screen to distract.  It’s simple to use and easy to understand.  

make learning fun for kids


This program says they are a supplement to regular learning and not a replacement.  I think some people might be able to work their way into making it a full curriculum, but since we already have a curriculum we love for this it was a supplement for us.  But a very fun supplement and one that I was very happy to be counting on our log book.  

I had 6 students that were signed up for the program.  Not every student used it every day, and the younger kids did not use it as much as the older ones.  My older ones(two in the third grade right now) were able to just sit down and work on the program.  I did not have to be right there with them looking over their shoulder which is something that I always like.  It frees up time for me while they are occupied learning that I can work more hands on with another child.  

make learning fun for kids


My children are not proficient at keyboarding, but they still did really well with this program.  The younger ones had to have more time allotted for the same amount of lessons because they are even further behind on familiarity with a keyboard.  I think I may have to come up with a typing/keyboarding course for my kids now to help them get faster.

The lessons are timed and do each get a grade.  My kids love seeing their little grade card at the end of each lesson.  Of course, they love it even more when it says they did everything right!  Some of the fun lessons they have are spelling by un-jumbling words or doing a word search, or other such fun things!  We work on word comprehension by placing the correct word in a sentence.  

So what else do you need to know?  Even though this is considered additional/supplemental work for your student, it’s still a good idea to use it more than just once in a while.  It’s good to have it on the schedule and routine.  My two third graders used this three days a week. My two that are more on a first grade level in these areas used it two to three days per week depending on when we had time.  They do need some help and supervision.  My two kindergarteners used it twice a week.  They need a lot of help still considering they really haven’t learned all the basics yet.

online reading program


Let’s talk shortly about what the program can do for you with very young children.  You can start with reading readiness like us.  It’s really simple and does a lot with pictures instead of words.  The words are added to help familiarize your child with them and start associating those letters with those pictures.  It’s fun and my kiddos didn’t really realize they were learning until it was too late and they already knew it!  The first lesson we did simply had them listen to the computer voice say the name of an animal and they had to click on it.  This is where things got tricky for us.  They weren’t that good at the clicking part.  So I would have them point to the one they wanted me to click on.  It did involve me being there and able to help them.  These were really easy for my kids as my two boys this age can already write their names and know most of their alphabet, but I wanted to start out at the very beginning just so I knew what was there.  I have two little girls starting preschool this year and I was wanting to see how this program would work for them.  For the young ones it really is a lot of hearing and comprehending to what you are seeing for the reading readiness.

What about you as the parent?  Is there a way to make sure your child actually completed the lessons they were supposed to?  Check to make sure they did them right?  Why yes there is!  Not only do they make learning fun for kids but they make record keeping easy for moms too!  You can login and go to the my students tab which will show you what your student has done and how close they are to completion of that particular course!  I’m loving it!

Finally, this program does what it says it will.  It gives you addition work for your child and in the process it does make learning fun for kids!

Interested in learning more?  Simply head over to the Main TOS Crew Review Page and check out all of the reviews.  There were 50 reviewers on this one with different age children, so you’re sure to find something that you can relate to.  You can also check out Essential Skills Advantage on their social media links including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.  

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