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Friday, March 25, 2011

Big IQ Kids Review

Big IQ Title Banner

Big IQ Kids is a website that offers online lessons in Spelling, Math, Vocabulary, and U.S. States.  Designed to be used daily, each program features short lessons that are age appropriate and are tailored to each individual child's abilities.  The lessons are about 10-15 minutes long and students are not advanced until mastery is achieved.  An on-screen animated character speaks the lessons to the student using phonetically correct lips so that even beginning readers can participate.  Lessons, such as spelling lists, can be customized or are drawn from the preloaded curriculum.  Best of all, diligence is rewarded with game tokens that allow the student to have some arcade time after their lessons are complete.

One of your two instructors.

 Big IQ Kids is a free site, but features a premium package that is ad free, allows full access to all the games, lets your child customize their avatar,  and allows for more parental monitoring of progress.  The cost of the premium membership varies depending on which subjects you are interested in and whether you pay up front or monthly, but all of that information, as well as a 7 day free trial of the premium version, is available HERE.

The computer screen shows what the screen would look like if your child was viewing it.

The pros: Most of the benefits of the site can be used for free, and what's not to love about that.  You can even do a bit of basic work without creating a login.  The lesson length is manageable and in doing one lesson a day you reinforce their learning and helpthem develop good study habits.  I like that the program totally adapts to the skill level of the student.  If they get too many answers incorrect, it adjusts their level.  My 3rd grader and 5th grader started out doing the same stuff on the U.S. States Program, but I have noticed the questions they are now being asked are different according to what they know.  It's not that the program is "dumbed down", it's that there is a different level of expectations.  And the fact that the programs are customizable for FREE is amazing to me!

Big IQ Kids

The cons: I'm not in love with the cluttered appearance of some pages (see the login screen above)- too many little boxes, too many options all enticing my kids to "click here and follow this rabbit trail".  And I may just be overly sensitive, but I didn't like some of the sentences used to help to define spelling words.  Here is one example, "Skinny, 'You look too skinny in the photo.'"   I don't really want a computer game making judgements about "too skinny" or "too fat".  But my biggest dislike with the program is that the characters who give you ALL the instruction and who read everything that needs to be read to younger students speak in a computer synthesized voice.  The lips might be phonetically correct, but the pronunciations and cadence are a little weird in that stilted, non-fluid way computers talk.  It would be SOOOO much better with a real human voice!

The bottom line:  We have a one year membership, and I will have the kids continue to use it.  But I'd encourage anyone who is interested to start out with the free version.  There is a special upgrade available only to free users that gives more features than free, but less than premium, and is only $9.95 for the year. (You can see what is included in each membership level HERE.)  With the free version, you can do almost everything the program has to offer, including customizing lessons, and then decide for yourself if you want to pay the extra money to be ad free and have more monitoring of what they are accomplishing.

To check out Big IQ Kids, go HERE.  To see what other members of the TOS Crew had to say about their experiences, go HERE.

Legal Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received two year long premium memberships for my children to be able to try out Big IQ Kids so that I could offer an honest review.  Those memberships are the only compensation I received.
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