The Critical Thinking Co.™ {a review}

Language Arts {The Critical Thinking Co.™}
For the past several weeks my youngest little guy has been having fun playing with the Letter Sounds Song and Game™ Software - 2-PCs Win Download, which is one of five downloads offered in the Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic Before Kindergarten!™ software bundle from The Critical Thinking Co.™.
The Critical Thinking Co.™  is known for their curricula which helps children become "better problem solvers".  They offer a wide range of material from supplemental to full curriculum for students in Pre-K all the way to grade 12.  Eight subjects are offered, in various methods such as books, ebook, software downloads and more:
  • Critical Thinking
  • Language Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Test Prep
  • Tests
  • Technology
What is the Letter Sounds Song and Game™ Software - 2-PCs Win Download
Language Arts {The Critical Thinking Co.™}
The Letter Sounds Song and Game™ Software - 2-PCs Win Download is a software game offered for windows computers.  With this download you have access to two licenses for download to your window computer.  The game is intended as a single use, as it does not save information for more than 1 user at a time.

This software app, intended for preK to grade 1, has 7 really fun games that our youngest learners will find easy to play.  As the child plays the games s/he will learn the letter sounds.

This is not your traditional alphabet letter song, but rather a unique and catchy tune, Letter Sounds Song™, that includes both letter name and sound; such as, "A is the ah in apple."

My youngest little guy just so happens to love music.  He has been making tunes on keyboard and harmonica and humming along before he could even talk.  A music based song is just so ideal for him.  (However, each time my 4 year old and I played the game the other two (ages 9 and 6) would come hurrying over to watch us - they love the tune as well).

The game starts off with the Letter Sounds Song and the accompanying animation.  Afterwards you are taken to Game 1, where the child matches the letter to the word, or picture, that will complete the song.

The game is very user friendly and never discourages the child.  At anytime we can click the "play" icon to hear the complete Letter Sounds Song again, or click the gal with the guitar to have her sing the current verse.  When a wrong answer is chosen a sound is played that signifies a wrong answer. 

In the lower left we have a Menu/Scores link for parents to see the current score(s) and to adjust a couple things such as turning the incorrect sound or adjusting the pass games success score.  We can also skip ahead or replay a game under this menu section.

Game 2 removes the guitar wielding gal and has no sung prompt.  Other than that, the layout is the same.  We click the correct picture to hear the song continued.  As with Game 1, any completed letters are bolded as we move along down the alphabet.

These first 2 games teach the child the song verse so that s/he can move onto the rest of the games that will help the child further identity the letters and their sounds.  Such as Game 3, the child is asked to select the letter to match the picture given.

I played Letter Sounds Song and Game™ with my youngest sitting on my lap.  His is a preKinder and is a very young 4 who has never learned his alphabet or letter sounds yet.   We played the game several times a week.  The very first time he played it with me he was already getting 65% correct!    However, we didn't progress to Game 2 because he liked selecting the wrong answer on purpose, week after week.  His sister wishes he'd hurry along because she's begging for a turn! 

I love how fun this game is for him especially considering the Importance of Preschool Academics!

To see additional reviews of Software Downloads and a couple Paperback Books from The Critical Thinking Co.™, click the banner below: 
Language Arts {The Critical Thinking Co.™}
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Pirates or Privateers: You Decide {a review}

We have long been lovers of unit studies as this particular method of learning (or teaching) is the easiest and most fun for us.  It allows our multiple ages to all learn many subjects together, all centered around one chosen topic.  We have spent time with Homeschool Legacy before, and the wonderful Once-a-Week Unit Study topics that can found there.  

For the past several weeks we have been learning the difference between pirates and privateers as well as truths and myths of these seafaring scallywags with the help of Sharon Gibson, founder of Homeschool Legacy. She has done a fantastic job of creating a thorough yet quick study with her Once-a-Week Micro-Studies Pirates or Privateers: You Decide

What sets Once-a-Week Micro-Studies apart from the bigger Once-a-Week Unit Study is that these "micro" studies are designed to provide us a quick, but thorough, foundation in one of five offered topics.  There are no biblical devotional times as with the more detailed Once-a-Week Unit Study.  You also won't find the American Heritage Girls, Boy Scouts, nor Trail Life USA badge requirements with these Once-a-Week Micro-Studies, nor a long library list of required reading. 

Once-a-Week Studies {Homeschool Legacy}

The Once-a-Week Micro-Studies are created as digital ebooks and as such have many helpful internet links to enhance our learning.  With Pirates or Privateers: You Decide we are given fun links to websites for video clips, and maps, timelines and linked articles which all help to enhance our history study.

Pirates or Privateers: You Decide is a 22 page PDF that provides us with 4 weeks of history.  It is intended for landlubbing students in Grades 1 through 8.  All that's needed for the "Grab-N-Go" study are basic school supplies and one copy of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island.

How We used the Micro-Study

In the first week of study we "set the stage" and learn the earliest recorded history of piracy.  We learn a bit of geography right along with the history.  A timeline is linked within the ebook for us to begin a timeline as a family, using the images provided for us in the unit study. 

We already had started a timeline last year so we opted to update our own timeline.  I do like that one is linked and provided for us for those that don't have a timeline started. 

I printed off the first week's pages to read on the go during a short family vacation, and I used the provided download link to print off the Spanish Galleon paper.  My two students (1st grade and 4th grade) read the printed pages together and my oldest finished off the labeling of the Galleon. 

Entering into week 2 we learn more history and language history as well as Good Queen Bess' role in the history of piracy.  (This was actually so timely as we were just finishing up learning about Queen Elizabeth I and my 1st grader just fell so in love with the Good Queen - so this section of pirate history happened to be especially fun and an easy learn for my 1st grader).

Two movies are suggested throughout this Micro-Study, and this second week's lesson prompts us with the first Family Movie Night.  These movies, to me, seem better suited for the higher grade range of this study, however, in the intro of this unit Sharon gives us several ideas to better suit a younger crowd.

Week 3 provides us with an additional Family Movie Night and games that pirates would have played!  One such game happens to be my 4th grader's favorite (checkers). 

History, Language Arts, and Music are the focus of this week.  We learned how the pirates became known as Buccaneers and a True/False section is provided for us to learn the difference between what pirates actually were like versus Hollywood's portrayal of them.

Week 4 we learned how pirates actually might have dressed.  We combined this suggested activity of dressing like a pirate with week 3's music lesson and had a little fun swabbing the decks to the tune of Shiver Me Timbers

In this final week we learn of government, and the Pirate Code (a lot of which actually shocked me!).  We also learned of current events and are linked to a short video clip of the American Navy pirate hunters.

Final Thoughts

The Once-a-Week Micro Studies are a great and engaging way to learn history.  No stuffy old and boring books here!  My eldest has enjoyed playing pirates for many years now and this micro-study has renewed his love of playing pirates - but now with a good solid history lesson under his belt scarf.

With Thanksgiving around the corner why not consider a fun history lesson with Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims?

To see additional reviews of Homeschool Legacy's Once-a-Week Micro-Studies click the banner below:


Once-a-Week Studies {Homeschool Legacy}
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