UberSmart Math Facts

I remember as a kid in school playing games with flash cards. It was a great way to help master whatever skill we were learning while having fun competing against our classmates. Fast forward to my childrens generation and many educational tools are computer based. What if I told you there is a program out there combining the simplicity of flash cards with the technology of computers? Well there is! UberSmart Math Facts is a downloadable program from UberSmart Software that we recently had the chance to review.

What is it?

UberSmart Math Facts is a downloadable program for Windows 7, 8, XP and Vista. It covers basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. This program was founded by David Kocur, a homeschooling dad & computer engineer. He wanted a no-frills program to help his children learn to master their basic math facts and couldn't find anything to fit the bill.

How it works:

Once you purchase the program, you can download it onto multiple computers in your home for up to 8 children to use. You go in and assign a login name for each child as well as set custom parameters such as how many seconds they need to master the fact in, how long they have to beat the clock and the highest number you want them to practice in multiplication and division (if they are learning these facts). This section is password protected from your students.

There are 4 different ways to use this program:


In the learning section, you select between beginner & intermediate levels. The beginner level uses dots like on a domino with the number lightly showing behind the dots so an early beginner can associate counting how many dots there are to what the corresponding number looks like (they can choose to do this for addition or subtraction). It first shows you the problem for you to try to figure out then you click on "show" and it shows you the answer. This process works the same way for the intermediate level except they show the actual numbers on a flash card. In both levels, you can select which group of numbers you want to practice or you can choose to learn them all at the same time. You also have the ability to shuffle the order in how they are presented to you or learn them in order.

In the practice level, the student can again select from beginner or intermediate level. The beginner student can use the dot system to practice their addition or subtraction or they can choose to practice their proficiency on using the 10 number key pad to manually enter the number on the screen that they are given.

The intermediate level has the option to choose to practice addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. The other option intermediate student can choose is to do a focus practice session. Which brings me to the testing section.

In the testing section, you have the option to have a beginner take an assessment test before beginning this program to see what skills they know. This is not a timed test. The intermediate student can take a mastery test which is timed. In the practice section, the intermediate student has the ability to checkmark "focus" which means they can practice solely the math facts they need they haven't mastered yet.

In the compete section, the student selects their name, which level to compete at (elementary, middle school, high school or adult) then they select if they want to compete with addition & subtraction, multiplication and division or all 4. They can also choose if they want to see the time bar as they compete against the progress they are making. This is where setting the time they need to know the math fact comes into play. If they are starting to get better at mastering the fact,  you simply adjust the time to make it smaller for them to recall the fact.

There is also a report section for the parent to see what type of progress their child is making. You can see all sorts of things in this section such as their mastery progress, assessment, grade book (which even shows the dates) just to name a few. You can even print the reports if you wanted to.

How we used it:

I downloaded the program on to 2 of our laptops so the kids didn't have to wait as long to take turns using the program. For 2 of my children, I had them jump into practicing their multiplication facts and the other 2 I had work on division facts. While they all know these facts, their recall skills needed some help on. I wanted to see them be able to give the answer much quicker than they were. During the review, I had them practice about 4 times a week for about 15 minutes each. I had them go over the learn section several times just to refresh their memory then I had them jump into the practice section. I had them go through each number family by itself a few times then eventually I had the program give all the number families together.

Once they seemed to feel confident in their practicing skills and not getting many wrong, I had them move onto the compete stage where I gave them a generous amount of time to answer each problem. As their mastery score improved, I made the amount of time they had to answer the problems in start getting shorter. In the time my children used this program I saw improvement in their recall skills when asked a math fact.

Overall I think this is a great program to help students practice their basic math facts. I like that it's simple & straight forward for the student to use and I love how detailed it tracks their progress. Keep in mind because this is a software, if your child goes to access it on a different computer, their records won't go between different computers. I just made sure whichever computer my kids started out using this program on that they continued with the same one.

The target age is K-6 grade though anyone who is wanting to review math facts can benefit by using it. Because it's a software program, once you purchase it, it's yours forever! I plan to continue to have my older practice their facts and will use this for my younger ones once they reach the pre-K stage.

UberSmart Math Facts can be purchased for $24.95.

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Happy Kids Songs

Our family is big into music! If you stopped by our house at any given time, most likely you will hear music playing on either our stereo downstairs, the iHome upstairs or see one of the children with headphones on listening to their iPods. I can easily recall lyrics from songs I heard as a child so I was excited to review a set of songs from Happy Kids Songs.

Happy Kids Songs

We were given 3 volumes to review, totaling 15 songs:
Friends & Sharing
Manners & Character
Happiness & Attitude

In addition to the songs, we were also given Happy Kids Songs Workbook.

What is it?

Happy Kids Songs is the brainchild of psychologist & well known singer/songwriter "Dr Mac" aka Don MacMannis (hint, he's written the songs for Jay Jay the Jet Plane on PBS). He understands how important these early years are in forming our children's character and the importance music has in their lives.

Happy Kids Songs has a total of 8 downloadable volumes each containing 5 songs pertaining to a certain theme in each album. The albums include:

  • Friends & Sharing
  • Social Skills & Bullying
  • Feelings & Fears
  • Practice & Success
  • Talking & Listening
  • Manners & Character
  • Happiness & Attitude
  • Respect & Responsibility

 Each theme addresses common issues our children face in their day to day life. The songs vary in the type of musical style and beat. They are sung by both adults and children and are quite honestly very catching in their tone, words and style. The songs are geared for children 3-8 but can easily be used for children younger & older than this age range.

How we used it:

The albums can be purchased & downloaded in their entirety or you can purchase each song individually. They were easy to download and once I downloaded them, I then burned them to a CD so we could listen to them anywhere. I also put them on our iPod as well. I played them while driving in the van as well as having the songs play as we went about our day. I have found that repetitively playing music has a way to ingrain itself in your mind which I think is the beauty of these albums. Before I knew it, my 3 year old was singing along and while she might not yet understand everything she is singing, it has presented an opportunity to teach her about what she is singing and the meaning behind the songs.

Not only are the songs a great tool in helping to instill character, you also have the option to download or purchase the physical workbook that accompanies all the albums. In the first part of the book, you are given the lyrics to each song (which comes in handy to make sure you are singing the correct lyrics!) as well as an activity page you can copy for your children to complete. While my 3 year old was a little young for some of these (like the crossword puzzles), I do plan to pull them back out when she is older to do. The back of the workbook contained ideas for activities to do to further enhance the learning of what each song teaches.

What we thought:

Overall, we enjoyed listening to these songs! We found them upbeat and catchy and had  no problem learning the lyrics after listening multiple times. While these songs are secular based, you could tie them into a Bible lesson which is what we did since ultimately our approach to learning is based on the Bible. You can stop by their website to listen to samples of each song.

Happy Kids Songs is $4.95 per album or $.99 per song download. The workbook can be downloaded for free to accompany your songs or purchased in its entirety for $12.95.

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Back to Homeschool GIVEAWAY!

Yes it is that time of year already! We have already started school and I'm sure many of you are gearing up to do the same. Starting on Monday, over 50 bloggers from the Schoolhouse Review Crew (including myself) will be holding a 5 day blog hop covering many aspects of homeschooling. 

To kick off this great blog hop, several members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew have joined forces during our August Back to Homeschool Blog Hop to bring you these incredible giveaways, totaling more than $1300 in homeschool curriculum and Paypal cash!       

Be sure to enter & spread the word. I would love to see one of my readers win one of these prizes! Good luck!!

homeschool curriculum giveaway
Grand Prize Giveaway

In the Grand Prize  Giveaway, someone will win $765 in curriculum, plus $150 in Paypal cash to help you finish up your homeschool shopping! You could win all of the following.
Please click on the prize links to learn more about each product.

 From Home School Adventure Co. -- Philosophy Adventure--Pre-Socratics and Mere Christianity Critical Analysis Journal (digital editions)
 From Diana Waring Presents -Experience History Through Music
 From Writing with Sharon Watson - The Power in Your Hands: Writing NonFiction in High School and Writing Fiction [in High School]
 From Homeschool Legacy -- Westward Ho I & Westward Ho II Once-a-Week Unit Studies
 From The Old Schoolhouse Magazine -- One-Year Membership to SchoolhouseTeachers.com
 From Shining Dawn Books -- Charlotte Mason Homeschooling Bundle (Charlotte Mason Homeschooling, Loving Living Math, Grammar Packets, and Creative Nature Walks)
 From Memoria Press -- Latina Christiana I Set
 From Excelerate Spanish -- Excelerate SPANISH DVD Lessons 1-6
 From WriteShop -- Winner's Choice of WriteShop Primary Book A, B, or C (Teacher's Guide + Activity Pack)
 rom New Millennium Girl Books -- Isabel Writing Bundle
From Write Bonnie Rose -- Asia: It's People and History
From Home School in the Woods -- Project Passport: The Middle Ages
From NotebookingPages.com -- Lifetime Treasury Membership
From Victus Study Skills System -- Victus Study Skills Student Workbook & Teacher Edition Bundle
From the Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers -- $150 Paypal Cash

2nd Prize Giveaway

In the 2nd Prize Giveaway, someone will win $325 in curriculum, plus $100 in Paypal cash to help you finish up your homeschool shopping! You could win all of the following.
 Please click on the prize links to learn more about each product.  

 From Home School Adventure Co. -- Philippians in 28 Weeks, The Wise Woman with Literary Analysis Question, and The Wise Woman Print Set (digital editions) 
From Writing with Sharon Watson -- Jump In: a workbook for reluctant and eager writers 
From Home School in the Woods -- K-2 Lap-Pak: Knights 
From Write Bonnie Rose -- Printables Bundle (Writing Prompts About Space Bonus Pack; Revolutionary War Activities: Patriotic Copywork; Revolutionary War Activities for Kids: Puzzles, Games, and Quizzes; Praying Through the Produce Aisle; Summer Olympics and Paralympics Unit Study
From Excelerate Spanish -- Excelerate SPANISH DVD Lessons 1-6 
From Memoria Press -- Prima Latina Text Set 
From New Millennium Girl Books -- Callie's Contest of Courage Mid grade novel and Callie's Contest of Courage Literature Guide 
From The Old Schoolhouse Magazine -- One-Year Membership to SchoolhouseTeachers.com 
From the Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers -- $100 Paypal Cash

To enter, use the Rafflecopter below. Residents of the U.S., ago 18 and older only. See more Terms and Conditions in the Rafflecopter. 

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"M" is for My Most Used Kitchen Items

I spend a lot of time in the kitchen because I love to cook! There are certain kitchen items I use almost every day. Granted, some of these I've only purchased in the last few years as I've saved up for or found deals on. And of course, there are items I would still like to own someday.

*This post may contain affiliate links. Any purchase made through these links supports our homeschool & family.

So without further ado, here are some of my favorite kitchen gadgets in no particular order as I love them all!

This is one of my more recent purchases. I've been wanting to make "zoodles" for quite some time and since I had a lot of zucchini coming in from my garden, this was the perfect time to try this baby out! I am hooked! Whether you are eating low carb or gluten free, making noodles from veggies is a great alternative to pasta. Watch for an upcoming post solely on my zoodles and some recipes to go with it!

I love my food processor! For the longest time I only had my mini one that I got for $4 from Walmart's black Friday sale (which I still use if I just need something small like 1 onion diced up). But my Cuisinart one can slice anything, grate anything (including cheese) and there is also a dough attachment which is wonderful for making pie crust. No more trying to blend the butter with the flour by hand! Using my food processor makes throwing together a salad super quick!

I drink lemon water almost daily and typically had hand squeezed my lemons. When I finally bought one of these, I realized how much juice I wasn't getting when I just squeezed the lemon by hand. Typically I just use half a lemon in whole big glass of water since I get plenty of juice using this juicer. It also works for juicing limes as well.

While this says it's a mixer, it does SO much more than that! This was one of the things I wanted for the longest time and finally invested in one a few years ago and I'll tell you what, it is well worth the price for not only all that it can do but the time it has saved me as well. It comes with a blade to mix with as well as a beater to say making icing with. It also has a dough hook which is great for mixing up dough (no more kneading by hand!). 

I also bought the attachment pack to go along with my Kitchen Aid. Again, this was well worth the investment! It has a food grinder which believe it or not I have used several times. I've gotten deals on pork roast in bulk that made it cheaper to grind it and make my own sausage. I have also taken leftover ham and ground it to make hamballs. It also has different slicer/grating attachments. Yes I know my food processor does also BUT with my Kitchen Aid, I can do massive amounts at one time. I make my own pickles to can and used to have to slice them by hand. With this attachment, I can fill quarts of sliced pickles in a mere few minutes! MAJOR time saver! I also use the grater attachment when I make my own sauerkraut. It grates a head of cabbage very fast. The third attachment is a fruit and vegetable strainer. I use this for making spaghetti sauce and applesauce. I use to have to use the old fashioned hand strainer which took f o r e v e r!! Now, I can quickly make large amounts of spaghetti sauce and applesauce in little to no time.

making applesauce

I love my bread machine (and while I don't have this exact one as I found mine at a yard sale used, this is pretty close and has the same settings as mine). Yes, I know I could use my dough hook on my Kitchen Aid to knead bread for me, then I would have to let it rise somewhere, then remember when to bake it, etc. With my bread machine, I dump all the ingredients in the machine and it takes care of kneading, rising and baking all with the push of a button. On a hot summer day, I don't have to use my oven to make bread. I also make our own dough for pizza and stromboli and I use my bread machine to knead & rise it. I also love the fact that I can program it. If I know we are going to be gone for the day, I throw the ingredients in in the morning, set the timer to have bread ready when we want to eat.

This is one item I've owned since the day I got married. Granted, I've gone through a few of them over the years but I can't live without my crockpot! I currently have 3 of them, 1 in our camper and 2 different size ones in my house. I love being able to toss things in it early in the morning and have supper already taken care of. Combine a crockpot meal with programming a loaf of bread in the bread machine and you have yourself a super easy dinner!! 

There is no better way to making big batches of pancakes, french toast, fritters, etc than on a griddle! In fact, when I am using this to cook for my family, I use 2 at a time now (I also have one in the camper). Like my crockpot, this is something I will always have on hand as we use it frequently.

This is one of the appliances that gets used pretty much every day. We use it to toast things as well as cook some casseroles in. Mine holds up to a 9x9 size baking dish in it though there are some out there that can accommodate a 9x13 size pan (which is what I will get next time). I like that I can bake in here without having to heat up my full size oven.

Obviously there are other kitchen gadgets I love and use often but these are just a few I wanted to share. What is YOUR favorite can't-live-without kitchen item??

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