review

Why Online Learning Really Works | Reading Eggs Review

Reading eggs homeschool review

Online learning games are an effective method of improving children’s literacy skills and increasing their confidence in reading.

For years I have been using Reading Eggs in our home to teach the children to read. You can imagine my delight when Reading Eggs reached out to me and asked me to review their online reading programme! My children have enjoyed and learnt so much from Reading Eggs and I am so excited to have the opportunity to share that with you here!

Reading eggs homeschool review

Reading eggs homeschool review online reading programme

This blog post has been written in collaboration with Reading Eggs, who gave my family free access to their online Reading programme and compensated me for my time.

Why I love Reading Eggs

Why do I love Reading Eggs? The answer is simple…it works!

I have used reading eggs with both my sons from the age of 4. After beginning the programme, I witnessed their literacy skills improve tremendously in a short space of time and, most importantly, their enthusiasm for reading grew!

Reading eggs is so much fun and it works!

 

What is Reading Eggs?

Reading Eggs is an Award-winning online reading programme for children aged 3-13. It is a safe online learning environment that gives children access to hundreds of reading lessons, thousands of interactive activities and over 2500 e-books!

Reading Eggs have also recently launched a Reading Eggs Junior, which is a new online learning programme for toddlers (ages 2-4) to introduce younger children to letters and pre-reading skills through songs, picture books, interactive activities and videos. It’s a lot of fun!

Reading eggs homeschool review online reading programme
Checking with their big brother!

Benefits of Online Learning

Here a some of the benefits of incorporating online learning in our homeschool:

  • Encourages Independence

Reading Eggs has been cleverly created to allow children to maneuver their site with little need for grown-up assistance.

My children were easily able to progress through their lessons without my help, and soon worked out how to access all the other features of the programme.

  • Boosts Confidence

Nothing hinders learning more than a lack of confidence. I have seen this in my own home. However as our children became more fluent in reading and progressed through the various levels of Reading Eggs, their confidence grew!

Reading eggs homeschool review online reading programme

  • Builds Positive Associations with Reading

Reading Eggs is so effective at teaching reading because its is fun. From my experience, I found my kids wanted to do their reading lessons and were disappointed if, for some reason, they couldn’t do it one day!

My eldest son really enjoyed the phonics songs and the interactive nature of the lessons.

My youngest son loves the reward system they have in place! After completing the lessons, the children are rewarded golden eggs that can be exchanged for virtual prizes. This was a great incentive for him to work through the various levels. He loved completing his lessons so he could fill his virtual house with all the prizes he had won!

It’s wonderful to know that whilst they are playing and having fun, they are learning to read!

  • Mummy can rest!

Let’s be real for a moment! Online learning is not only an effective method of teaching children, it also has real benefits for homeschooling parents.

It gives me time to do other much needed things; like putting on the laundry, preparing lunch, teaching my other children, or just unwinding for a moment with a cup of tea!

Reading eggs homeschool review online reading programme

Free 4-Week Trial

Reading Eggs are currently offering a 4-Week Free trial  in USA and a 5-Week FREE Trial in U.K.!

The  FREE TRIALS will give you access to all of their online learning programmes! This includes:

  • Reading Egg Junior – ages 2-4
  • Reading Eggs (ages 3-7)
  • Reading Express (ages 7-13)
  • Mathseeds – Online Maths Programe (ages 3-9)

 

US Customers: CLICK HERE for 4 Weeks FREE (Offer ends 6th October 2017)

U.K. Customers: CLICK HERE for 5 Weeks FREE (Offer ends 30th September 2017)

Reading eggs homeschool review online reading programme

Online learning is a fantastic means for parents to educate their children at home. Reading Eggs is an incredible programme and resource, and I would genuinely encourage you all to visit their website to see if their programme would work for your family.

If you have any questions about how we incorporate Reading Eggs into our homeschool curriculum, or if you have any queries about the programme itself, please leave me a question in the comments below.

Peace and Love,

Dr Gemma Elizabeth

 

 

Toucan Box Review | Arts and Crafts Subscription for Kids!

Toucan box review unboxing

Finding arts and crafts activities for your children to do can be a challenge, especially if you’re not a “crafty” mum!

The Toucan Box is a subscription service that delivers everything you need to your door, to create an fun art project!

The reason I wanted to try our the Toucan box, was for convenience! It can be challenging as a homeschooling mum, to find different art projects for my children to do, and then purchase all the supplies that it needs. The Toucan box promises to deliver everything I need to my door… so I had to try it out!

If you click on the links to Toucan box in this blog post or use my referral code, and then place an order, I will receive 50% off my next purchase. 

Toucan box craft subscription review unboxing

 

Toucan box review unboxing

What is a Toucan Box?

The Toucan box is a subscription service that delivers creative craft boxes to children aged 3-8 years old. The boxes come in 3 different sizes:

  • Petite: Provides everything you need to create an exciting activity. This box fit through the letter box and contains a activity book with puzzles, games, recipes and fun facts. This craft box is delivered fortnightly.
  • Grande: Provides all the materials needed for 2 craft activity, as well as a children book that goes along with the theme of the box. This box also contains a parent card containing further ideas for activities and games. This box is delivered monthly.
  • Super: This box contains everything you child will need to complete 4 craft activities, along with a children’s book and the parent card. This box also comes monthly.

This boxes have been designed by educational experts, and are Montessori-inspired, to help develop a child’s key skills.

What's inside a Toucan box

Toucan Box Unboxing

I decided to purchase the “Petite” box, just to try out the service and see what the craft activities were really like. I also really like the convenience of the petite box fitting through the letter-box, as we are often out during the afternoon when our postman arrives.

I received a FREE BOX along with my first order, and you can too if you CLICK HERE.

Before my children saw the boxes, I quickly filmed this un-boxing video for you!

If you would like to see what is inside a Toucan box, WATCH THIS VIDEO!

Toucan Box Review

The petite Toucan box really surprised me! The quality of the material were excellent, and the instructions were very clear. In this case, the Pirate-themed box actually contained 2 craft activities, when the it is only supposed to have 1, which was a lovely surprise!

Furthermore, the activities book also contained another craft activity to make a “pirate’s hook”. Although all the supplies were not included in the box, there were things we already had at home, like foil and glue! My son loved doing this craft, along with all the puzzles the book also contains.

Toucan box review and unboxing video pirate themed craft

What surprised me most about the Toucan box, is that it prompted an entire afternoon of imaginary play! My boys pretended their bunk-beds were a Pirate ship; even the sofa became a Pirate ship later in the day! They went out into the garden on a treasure hunt, they made pirate names for each other ….and the playing went on and on!

In my eyes, as a mother, that is the ultimate sign of success; that my children were so inspired by these craft activities, that they took them and the ideas they had learnt, into their imaginary world with them!

We are all really looking forward to the arrival of the next Toucan box!

If you would like to order a Toucan box for your family, CLICK HERE. By clicking on this link, you will also receive a FREE GIFT BOX along with your order.

Alternatively, type in the following code at the checkout, and you will receive your FREE GIFT BOX too: GEMMA-9E6X

 

Toucan box review and unboxing video pirate themed craft

Have you ever used a children’s subscription service? Would you recommend them?

Keeping up with the demands of creative kids can be difficult…would you agree?!? 

Please let me know in the comments below!

Peace and Love,

Dr Gemma Elizabeth

How to Teach Maths to Gifted and High-Achieving Children

Homeschool Maths curriculum for gifted children

This blog post has been written in collaboration with CTC Math, who gave my family free access to their online Maths programme and compensated me for my time. The following may also contain affiliate links (see “Disclaimer”)

Tears. Tantrums. Frustration. For many of our children, Maths can be a struggle; a struggle for chldren to learn and a struggle for homeschooling parents to teach.

When you are homeschooling a gifted child, teaching Maths can be be just as challenging. Gifted children can also end up crying over their Maths, but the reason for their tears is not a lack of ability or understanding, but instead due to frustration, boredom or trying to simply dealing with the intense emotions that  gifted children notoriously experience.

Teaching maths to the high-achieving and gifted student can be both immensely rewarding and incredibly frustrating for homeschooling families! Although gifted children are usually quick to understand an apply mathematical concepts, they also bring with them a unique set of challenges that other homeschooling parents may not have to face.

How to teach Maths to gifted and high achieving children

Homeschool Maths curriculum for gifted children

It is worth noting, that there is a difference between “giftedness” and being a high achiever. For more information about the difference, read this simple introduction from Psychology Today.

It’s also important to remember that not all gifted students are “gifted” in Maths. Being intellectually gifted can mean an increased aptitude or talent in any number of academic subjects or creative pursuits. However, for simplicity’s sake, when I talk about “gifted” children in this blog post, please assume I am referring to those who are mathematically gifted.

From my own personal experience, I have compiled my top tips on “How to teach Maths to gifted and high-achieving children”, to help you teach Maths to your own children. This advice is what has worked in my home, and I hope that is will give you some ideas for your children too.

1. Forget the Way You Learnt Maths!

Unless you were fortunate to be homescholed, the likelihood is that the way you learnt maths is not going to work for your gifted children. Conventional all-in-one math curricula do not work well for gifted students.

Many of us are used to the idea that a math concept is taught, examples are given, and then the student practices this principle by completing many practice questions. Gifted students often no not need as much practice as conventional workbooks offer. They are able to fully grasp the concept and move onto its application much quicker than conventional curricula allows for.

This means that if you ask you gifted child to work through a conventional math programme, they will become increasingly bored and frustrated with its slow pace and repetition.

Instead, you need to get creative in the way you teach maths to gifted students! One way of doing this is by providing them with a variety of materials.

Teaching maths to gifted children

2. Use a Variety of Maths Resources

It may surprise you to know, that maths does not need to be taught with a textbook and workbook! In fact, there are many other ways that mathematical principles can be taught. In my experience, these are often more effective and memorable than the traditional maths textbook.

Examples include:

  • Living Books – Children can learn maths through stories! Find well-written mathematical stories that ignite your child’s imagination and teach maths at the same time. My children have recently been enjoying The Adventures of Sir Cumference and What’s your angle Pythagoras?
  •  Problem solving/Critical Thinking – Develop you child’s analytical and problem solving skills with critical thinking books and exercises.
  • Computer Programmes – Incorporating computer programmes into your curriculum can be a fantastic motivator for children. Our favourite online Math curriculum is CTC Math (see below)
  • Variety of different workbooks – Mix and match different teaching styles and approaches to keep your gifted child interested and engaged in their learning.

Teaching maths to gifted children living books

 

3. Chose a Curriculum that allows for Flexibility

The introduction of CTC Math into our homeschool has provided us with both the structure and the flexibility that my children need. Using this online Math curriculum 3-4 times a week, has helped to ensure that my children are not missing any important concepts as they “jump about ” within their other varied maths resources.

It is also gives the student and parents the flexibility that is needed for so many gifted students. You no not “need” to complete previous lessons in order to move onto the next level. You do what YOUR CHILD NEEDS to do…and I love that about CTC Math!

CTC Math Gifted Homeschool curriculum
5-digit Addition with CTC Math

 

In previous curricula we have tried, my son became infuriated with the unnecessary repetition and practice questions. With CTC Math, if your child understands the concept, you can move on!

It also allows you to enter your child into any grade that you, as the parent, feel is suitable. CTC Math has allowed my 6 year-old son to start 4th Grade maths, and it is wonderful to finally see him challenged by an online Maths programme.

CTC Math Gifted Homeschool curriculum
CTC Math allows parents to easily monitor progress

The lesson begins by watching a short 4-9 minute video where a concept is taught by audio and animation. Then the student takes what they have learnt, and applies it to a series of practice questions. Parents are kept informed of their child’s progress with a weekly email showing their marks throughout the week.

The people behind CTC Math are very supportive of homeschooling families and offer 60% OFF the cost of the curriculum + 6 MONTHS FREE to homeschoolers! This massive discount is only available to homeschooling families. If you are interested in finding out more, CLICK HERE.

CTC Math Gifted Homeschool curriculum

CTC Math works fantastically for gifted students because of the flexibility it offers. You can go back and repeat lesson, and you can jump as many lessons ahead as your gifted student wants to. In addition to this flexibility, it also gives parents the security of knowing that everything is being covered and there will be no gaps in their child’s knowledge.

CTC are offering a 2 WEEK FREE TRIAL at the moment. If you are interested in trying it out with you children for free, CLICK HERE to sign up for your FREE TRIAL

 

3. Make Maths Cross-Curricular

If your child has a natural talent for maths, they will enjoy bringing it into their other school subjects.

For example, we have studied maths whilst learning about Leonardo da Vinci and his incredible inventions. My son also learnt the “Pythagoras theorem” during our study of Ancient Greece. Together, we discovered the Fibonnacci sequence when learning about snails and their shells, in nature-study.

If your child is interested, maths can be brought into almost every subject as it is an integral part of our real-lives.

Maths book for snails homeschool unit study

4. Apply Maths to Real-life situations

Life is full of learning opportunities, and maths is no different. In your day-to-day life, you can engage your gifted children with mathematical problems and meaningful learning. Here are just a few examples of how:

  • Calculate distances trigonometry or estimate using the time it took to travel
  • Help with finances and accounts – if like me, you run a business from home, having a child that loves maths can be very useful at times!
  • Calculate probabilities
  • Working out quantities needed for cooking or home-improvements
  • Converting units
Teaching maths to gifted children real life math
Real life Maths!

Teaching gifted children maths is challenging, and is certainly not simple! However, with a little creativity, it is very possible and very rewarding. 

Gifted children need our attention and guidance, as much as other children do. Without it, they are at risk of become disengaged, uninterested and underachieving.

I hope this blog post has given you some inspiration and ideas of how to teach your gifted or high-achieving children Maths at home.

For further reading on home-educating gifted children, I would recommend “Homeschooling Gifted and Advanced Learners” by Cindy West and “Creative Homeschooling : A Resource Guide for Smart Families” by Lisa Rivero

What have you found to be the most effective way of teaching maths to gifted children?

How do you balance the freedom and flexibility that they crave, with the need to “cover all bases”?

Please share your experiences with us all, in the comments below.

Peace and Love,

Dr Gemma Elizabeth

 

Teach Your Kids Islamic Studies…ONLINE!

Ali and Sumaya school review

This blog post was sponsored by aliandsumayaschool.com. See disclaimer for further details.

Teaching your children about Islam can be a daunting prospect! Where do we start?

How do we teach the material?

Once they do start learning the various Islamic sciences, how do we keep up the momentum and maintain their enthusiasm.

How can we encourage our children to want to learn about Islam?

What are the best online resources available to help parents?

Ali and Sumaya school review

 

I was recently introduced to the Ali and Sumaya school, an online Islamic school, that teaches children the principle Islamic sciences, from the comfort of my own home.

It has been such a blessing to incorporate it into my children’s Islamic education, and I am so excited to share it with you.

WATCH THIS VIDEO where I show you around the Ali and Sumaya school!

CLICK ON THE VIDEO BELOW:

Teach your children Islamic studies online!

What is an Online Islamic School?

When we first logged on, I was so impressed! It’s like an Islamic version of ABC Mouse! mashAllah! Instead of teaching phonics or maths, it teaches children Quran, duaas, Arabic, and more!

Ali and Sumaya school homepage

The children absolutely adore it, and really look forward to doing their lessons! I have seen an incredible shift in their attitude towards learning the Islamic sciences. When I announce that it’s time for Ali and Sumaya school, they rush to get to the computer and watch one another do their lessons.

They even recognize the characters in the school from the Ali and Sumaya DVDS, which only adds to their enthusiasm!

Ali and Sumaya school Arabic

What does it teach?

The Ali and Sumaya school currently teaches:

  • Memorisation of Quran (Hidfh)
  • Reading Arabic
  • Prophetic Duaas
  • Salah
  • Wudu

However since we began the programme, about 2 months ago, they have continued to offer more levels,and add more learning material to their website every month!

Ali and Sumaya school

 

How does it work?

Most lessons offered involve your child watching a short animated video, where the material is explained. These videos have been made to a very high standard! The audio is clear, with beautiful recitation of Quran, and the animation is amazing!

Ali and Sumaya school Quran

 

Then after practicing what has been taught, they complete a short quiz to ensure they have understood the lesson.

They way the school assesses memorisation is very simple, but very clever. The teacher will recite part of an ayah or duaa, and then conceal part of it with a “beep”. The child then has to decide what is missing from the duaa, and select the correct answer from a number of options.

Ali and Sumaya school online quiz

If they pass the quiz, they are awarded a “badge.” The badges are the equivalent to virtual stickers, and my kids love collecting them!

Ali and Sumaya school badge

A nice feature on the site is the presence of a leader board. For every lesson you complete, you are awarded points, and the students with the highest number of points will feature on the global leader board.

What age does my child need to be?

There are no specific requirements for age or experience. The only thing I would recommend is that your child should be able to comfortably use the mouse or a tablet, otherwise they may struggle to complete their lessons.

Are their sources reliable?

There are so many different ways people practice Islam today, especially with regards to worship. The creators of the Ali and Sumaya school consulted a number of religious teachers from Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

If you have any further questions about the scholars and sources that were used, you can email the Ali and Sumaya school directly. Click HERE for their contact details.

Ali and SUmaya school duaas

How long are the lessons?

The time each lesson takes does vary between subjects and levels. However, the makers of the Ali and Sumaya school recommend that children spend 10-20 minutes on each lesson, as few times a week to get the most out of the programme.

We have chosen to use these online classes slightly differently. Instead of everyday, we have been using the Ali and Sumaya school as a reward for good behaviour or academic achievement! They enjoy using this online school so much that they will actually work towards it! They really do love it!

Benefits of Online Learning

Personally, I think the biggest benefit of using an online school like the Ali and Sumaya school, is that the kids enjoy it! Subhanullah, what a difference it makes to your child’s learning when they are having fun!

Ali and Sumaya school

When a child is self-motivated and interested in learning the material, they will retain that information more effectively than if you are forcing them to do their lessons. The Ali and Sumaya school is a fantastic way of nurturing a positive attitude towards studying Islam.

One of the biggest challenges we face as parents today, is the constant struggle we have with limiting screen time. This internal battle happens in almost all of us everyday. Many of us feel guilty at the amount of time our children spend watching TV, or playing on other electronic devices. What is wonderful about the Ali and Sumaya school, is that that guilt is gone! My children can go online, and do their lessons, and learn something really beneficial! Alhumdulillah!

The Ali and Sumaya school provides a halal alternative to the mainstream media. Furthermore, it is a safe and wholesome way for children to spend beneficial time online.

How do I enroll my children?

The creators of the Ali and Sumaya school only take in a limited number of students each term so that they really get to know those pupil’s needs, and assist them as much as possible.

If you would like to secure your child’s place for this terms intake, you can visit their website: AliandSumayaschool.com for more details.

Ali and Sumaya school

If you have any questions about the Ali and Sumaya school, and how we use it in our home, please leave them in the comments section below!

Peace and Love,

Our Muslim Homeschool