Monday, September 12, 2011

Review of BigIQ Kids for TOS



BigIQ Kids is an online educational program designed for 2nd through 5th graders which offers both free and premium memberships. The free membership allows your child to practice math, spelling, and vocabulary while the premium membership adds progress tracking, content mastery, and customization. The premium program also includes a states program in US geography.
I need to tell you upfront that I'm a book person.  I believe knowledge is in books and can be best learned through studying books.  My kids, true to their generation, love all things electronic, so I thought this would be an interesting review. 

What I like about BigIQ Kids is that it provides extra practice in math and spelling, vocabulary and US geography in a fun format.  Game coins are earned by completing lessons and can be redeemed in the online arcade.  My girls' favorite game is dress up, of course.  Your children will be motivated to complete one more lesson so they can play one more game.  My little webkinz-loving and fish-feeding girls really liked BigIQ Kids collection of games.
There are a couple of neat features on BigIQ Kids that really impressed me, such as their electronic scratch pad which lets you draw with your mouse to solve your math problems before answering in the space provided and their new SAT vocabulary preparation.  I was not terribly impressed with their states program, as the information on each state is provided in a robotic monotone.  I did learn something new about my state, though.  Did you know rodeo is the official sport in Texas?  Jake, my tutor was quick to point out, however, that high school football is treated more like our official sport!  I didn't even know states have official sports!!
I also like that spelling and vocabulary are taught in a variety of different lesson formats such as unscrambling letters to make the words and word find in addition to just spelling out the words.  These different methods reinforce one another making word retention more likely.  Custom word lists can be imported or grade appropriate word lists provided by BigIQ Kids.

The math is very bare bones.  BigIQ Kids provides lots of drills in simple arithmetic, but no word problems or other mathematical concepts, such as fractions, percentages, telling time, etc.  Also, your student is forced to start at a very easy level.  My fifth grader had to begin at a very simple default level, like 0+2.  Modification allows for setting the percentage of problems to complete in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, and also allows for selecting the percentage of single, double or triple digit problems, but this is a bit of a pain since all our percentages have to add up to 100.  (So I could manually go in and choose for her to have 25% triple digit addition, 20% double digit subtraction, 5% triple digit subtraction, 15% double digit multiplicaiton, 20% double digit division, and 15% triple digit division, for example.)  I would rather the default level be grade level appropriate for 5th graders and any modification be done from there, not from ground zero.  We will most likely utilize the math program in helping our 3rd grader to memorize her times tables. 

My biggest gripe with BigIQ Kids is with the ubiquitous keyboard displayed on the screen and utilized in many vocabulary and spelling lessons, and even some states lessons.  It's arranged in alphabetical order instead of being a qwerty keyboard.  My 5th grader is in her second year of typing.  She has to practice typing every day.  I do not want her to practice spelling out words by hunting letters on an alphabetical keyboard (I really had trouble).  She would have to skip a LOT of lessons to avoid using this keyboard.  I suppose this wouldn't pose as big of a problem for my 3rd grader since she hasn't officially started typing yet, but I would rather she not form the habit of finding letters in the wrong places.  It really looks like a keyboard, too.  Three rows of letters, just arranged alphabetically.  Maybe it's just me, but this seems like a major drawback.

I encourage you to try BigIQ Kids for yourself.  You can even test drive their premium programs for one week free!!  You can't beat free!  If you love their vocabulary program, but not the math, no problem.  You can purchase a membership with BigIQ Kids by individual subject ($7.99-9.99 per month, $39.99-49.99 per year) or you can get all four subjects for $19.99 a month or $89.99 per year (normally $99.99 per year, but currently on sale).
Please check out other TOS reviews of BigIQ Kids!
Disclaimer:  I received no compensation for writing this review other than two one-year premium memberships to BigIQ Kids.  The opinions expressed above are my own.

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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.