Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Chicago History Museum

On our recent trip to the Windy City, after learning why Chicago has that nickname, we visited the Chicago History Museum.  We were wanting to see a cool exhibit on Al Capone.......well we didnt get that, but we did see some cool stuff!

 Chicago Hot dogs
 and Bicycles
 Oh my!

 Street cars

 And materials that survived the Great fire of Chicago.

 We did see a little bit about Prohibition....
 A display on the World's Fair
 and some modern "history" too.

 Chicago in films

 And the Trainyard of Chicago too.

 Can't tell she loves Food hats!!
 For a treat, we visited the two story Rock and Roll McDonalds

 Lydia loves the snow globe collection they had.

 They had a display of toys from the various decades.  It was fun for me to look at all the toys I used to play with.

 DOS....they had a DOS book!

 Cool artwork of the Beetles was outside.

This was a nice day.  A little long, lots of walking.  I would recommend a visit to the Chicago History Museum.  It had some very neat exhibits.  It's a great way to learn about the Chicago area without reading it all in books.

They had a great diorama section (which I couldn't get good pictures of).  Joey said it reminded him of Night at the Museum.  It wasn't always history, There were some small exhibits on Science as well.  Watch for specials on Groupon to purchase tickets at a discount.  That is how I got ours.

Monday, August 25, 2014

UberSmart Software - UberSmart Math Facts Review

None of my kids like flashcards.  Growing up though in public school, and even in the brief stay we had in public school, I was used to flash cards.  I have a whole shelf of them.  But none of them like flashcard time.....go figure.  But that changed for a couple of our kids when we tried UberSmart Math Facts from UberSmart Software.  

UberSmart Math Facts is a Windows based program that allows students to learn their math facts (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) through the old-fashioned approach of timed tests and flash cards.  But wait.....I know I said my kids do not like flashcards.  But we have one child that UberSmart Math Facts (for grades K - 6, $24.95 for a family license) has really helped.  

Caty is our youngest and has shown that she is her own person on all levels.  She's in 1st grade and really has a different learning style that all our other children.  She doesn't do well with regular flashcards.  But she has a visual perception delay (like the others), so flashcards do not generally work well. She gets frustrated because it takes time for her brain to register what she is seeing. So I have been trying to find a way to help her see and remember her math facts by repetition, without using the shelf full of flashcards that I already owned.  

UberSmart Math Facts does present a general flashcard approach.  Yet this approach on the computer appealed to Caty.  She didn't mind answering the questions on the computer.  She didn't even realize the flashcard approach.   

The first section "Learn" shows the student what two numbers together will equal.  Very basic.  The next section is practice for the cards they have just saw in the "Learn" section.  In the Practice section they can also practice their keyboarding skills for typing in their numbers.  

You can choose between learning the cards with dots or with numbers.  I really like this.  Some days Caty struggles looking at a number and having her brain realize what that number is.  So she could use dots on days when she was struggling with number recognition.  This really helped ease frustration.  

Another part of this program that I really liked was it was simple.  There was no fancy music or flashing pictures.  It was not a sensory overload for her.  I know we use some fancy programs that have cartoon characters and games, but some days those "cool" things are just too distracting and really take away from what they are trying to or need to learn.  UberSmart Math Facts keeps it simple.  Simple many times is the most effective.

Students are also able to take a test, and earn printable certificates as they pass each section.  They can also compete in a timed section to see how well they are doing against other students their age and level.

We didn't use this section a lot.  UberSmart Math Facts actually worked a lot like visual perception therapy.  She had to stop and look, figure with her brain to find the answer.  Since this is a struggle in this area, we avoided a lot of the timed sections.

Joey is also working on the UberSmart Math Facts program.  He is making slow progress.  He also has a visual perception delay.  He has had years of therapy, but still struggles.  He liked this program because it was "babyish" and still allowed him to take his time to figure the facts.  We are hoping to work more in the "Compete" section as he has started earning more certificates with learning his facts.

Depending on attention span, we have been able to spend as little as 5 minutes on the game to as much as 20-30 minutes when Caty was really wanting to practice.  So this made it a great program for easily distracted children. 

Are we going to continue to use UberSmart Math Facts program, YES!!!  I like the simplicity of the design.  The program does not cause sensory overload, and yet still has pleasing colors that the kids liked.  So it is not totally "boring".  

Another good benefit of UberSmart Math Facts program is the reports section.  You can easily print progress reports for your records, depending on the state that you live in.  The program was super simple to download and load up on the computer.  I did it with no help from my husband!!  That's saying a lot! 

I hope that in the future they design an app for the tablet.  It would be nice to have a tablet version for when we are on the go.  

UberSmart Software has a really good program design with UberSmart Math Facts.  It's keeps learning simple and easy to use.  The cost is very reasonable, only $24.95 for a family plan.  

Several members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew were given the opportunity to try out UberSmart Math Facts.  Please take some time to visit their sites and see how this program worked for their families.

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Belly.....Belly.....Belly....Jelly Belly time....

Lydia, Joey and Joe LOVE Jelly Belly jelly beans.  Joe love them.  So when we were in Chicago recently we trekked up into Wisconsin to the Jelly Belly Factory Tour......

We saw art made with Jelly Beans

 Some of the history of jelly beans.
 And then got read for the tour.
 Hats were required.

This is a link for the tour in California.  It's so much better than the warehouse tour that we saw in Wisconsin.

They did have some great jelly bean fashions.....
Jelly Belly is very proud of their connection to President Reagan.  They have several displays about how their popularity soared once they made it to the White House.  They even created a special flavor and materials for his Inauguration.  Air Force One had a special Jelly Belly container so it wouldn't spill during turbulence.  

You could try unique flavors at the Sample counter.  Joe tried beer flavored jelly beans.  Lydia tried a new flavor too, but I can't remember what it was.  Caty was there to look at the colors.  She hates jelly beans.
Lydia said she needs this car.
It was a unique experience.  I wouldn't recommend a special trip like we made.  If you are in the area, stop and check it out.  Getting free candy at the end was the highlight for all the kids!  They liked giving daddy their bags of Jelly Belly's so he could enjoy them.  It really is a way to get you in to spend money in their Jelly bean center.

I did find someone who had a few more pictures of inside.  He must have snuck some pictures with his camera.  They really watch that!