Smartick Method: Online Maths Program – Review and Giveaway

I have to admit I hadn’t heard of Smartick prior to doing this review, but I am glad they got in touch as it is well worth knowing about! In brief summary, Smartick is an online maths program for children ages 4 to 14 years old. It is rather cleverly designed to be based on ability and progress with the child at their own pace, using latest Artificial Intelligence technology. This means it is not restrictive and challenges the individual child to go as far as they are capable.

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As an ex- teacher and home educator, I really like this program. I feel it teaches methods and skills clearly in a simple but effective way. It is quite focused and maximises learning, but it does have visual aids and some basic gaming elements that aim to help keep children engaged and improve concentration levels. I think the way it adapts itself to the individual to personalise their learning is really impressive!

Smartick, maths program, online resources, educational activities, maths, home education, review

Each session lasts 15 minutes per day, set for maximum concentration and motivation. This is great as it is just a short, manageable burst of learning and isn’t ‘too much’. Smartick recommends that children do a session at least 5 days a week to truly experience the benefits of the program. This is fine for most children, but I knew we might find that challenging personally because if Squiggle perceives it as a demand, her anxiety goes up and she avoids it. As predicted, this happened very quickly!

We also weren’t able to make best use of the program because it is intended for the child to work on independently. Squiggle was not able to do this though because she felt that she needed me to explain it to her, which then added more time, so her speed and other data were inaccurate. Obviously this affects the function of the AI. I should point out though that this was not a reflection on Smartick; it is very clear and I think the majority of children would have no problem using it independently whatsoever. It was simply down to her anxiety and the high level of support she needs.

However, I totally admit that I knew from the outset that the structured approach might not really suit the nature of Squiggle’s particularly complex SEND needs, but I decided to trial it anyway because I was curious if we could make it work for her, and I was also interested in reviewing it generally for others too. So regarding the above comments, we are a very tough crowd to be fair! And we did find it very beneficial in our own way. Whilst we weren’t able to take full advantage of some of the best features of Smartick, it still motivated and inspired her, and provided an excellent springboard for maths practice off- screen. This is really valuable, and was totally worth it just for that!

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Anyway, I feel that I am digressing a little now as this is probably not relevant to most families! Back to the review…

Smartick, maths program, online resources, educational activities, maths, home education, review

Parents receive an email as soon as their child completes the daily lesson with a summary of performance. This is really useful! Plus there is a parent dashboard, so you can log in and see study plans, questions and units that the child has answered, data about performance and other things. Also, there is a team of educators behind the scenes to answer any questions that parents or children have, via phone or email. I found the lady I emailed with was absolutely lovely and very helpful.

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Overall, I do recommend Smartick – it is a great tool for learning maths. If you would like further information, or to subscribe, see their website: www.smartick.com

To be in with a chance to win a 3 month subscription to Smartick, enter my rafflecopter giveaway below!

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Last but not least, there is also a referral program whereby parents can benefit from a £20 discount if they recommend a friend, and the new friend that subscribes will receive 25% off the first subscription they buy. So do feel free to mention me for a discount!

*Disclosure: I was given a free subscription to Smartick for the purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


100 Days of Home Ed #LoveHomeEd – Day 20 (Squiggle’s List of Maths Resources/ Activities) 

Today for #100daysofhomeed  Squiggle has written a list of 10 maths activities/ resources we use at home. Of course this is not an exhaustive list but it does give some good examples…

  • Pop to the shops 🏦

#100daysofhomeed, #LoveHomeEd, 100 days of home ed, freedom to learn, Home Education, maths, activities at home, educational resources, Orchard Toys, Pop To The Shops

  • 3d shapes 🔺
  • Valontines day math 💗💚💐🌹💌 (Note: She is referring to themed subject resources from Twinkl website) 
  • Fraction fourmula game (sp: formula) 

#100daysofhomeed, #LoveHomeEd, 100 days of home ed, freedom to learn, Home Education, maths, activities at home, educational resources, Fraction Formula Game

  • Shape snap 🌟🌟🌟🌟⬜🔶🔴🔺
  • Make  3d shapes ⬜⬛⬜
  • Sports bar graph 🎾⚽🏀🏉(or) Eny tipe of talliey chart or graph⚽🎾🐈🐶🐰🐯🐆🐧😹😻😽 (sp: any type of tally chart)
  • Four fraction snap (Note: Function not fraction!) 

#100daysofhomeed, #LoveHomeEd, 100 days of home ed, freedom to learn, Home Education, maths, activities at home, educational resources, four fraction snap

  • Shut the box 📦📦📦📦📦
  • Scails (sp: scales. ie to teach weights, comparison, measurements etc…)


Here are links to purchase some of the activities Squiggle has mentioned:(Please note these are Amazon affiliate links. This means I get a small amount of money if you make a purchase via my site. This does not cost you anything. Thank you for the support!)

Pop To The Shops (Orchard Toys) £8 approx. Aimed at ages 5- 9. Teaches about handling money, coins etc…

Geometric Solids (Learning Resources) £13 approx. 3D shapes. Aimed at ages 8+

Fraction Formula (Learning Resources) £26 approx. Aimed at ages 8+

Shape Snap (Orchard Toys) £6 approx. Aimed at ages 3-6 but we still enjoy it!

Four Function Snap £5 approx. Teaches addition, subtraction, division and multiplication. Including practising mental arithmetic. Aimed at ages 7+ 

Shut the Box £4.50 approx. See my previous review here for more details.

We often use Twinkl for our printed resources. This is where we sourced several of the activities mentioned, including our themed maths printed-off worksheets/ activities (such as the Valentines Day ones Squiggle listed), nets to make our own 3D shapes and various tally charts/ graphs etc…


RSPB #BigGardenBirdWatch 

We took part in the Big Garden Birdwatch organised by RSPB last weekend, which is a huge nationwide survey carried out by roughly half a million people across the country to help gather a picture of garden wildlife in the UK. Carrying out a citizen science project is not only a really valuable form of research to take part in, it is also a really fun real-life educational opportunity too! 

So Squiggle and I had already prepared our garden for winter, and ensured it is welcoming, with a bird feeder. So we simply added some fresh sunflower seeds and peanuts right before we begun our bird watching then made ourselves comfortable by the patio door.

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It didn’t take long for a couple of birds to fly over and land in our little tree. 

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Over the course of an hour, various types of birds landed in our garden. We were pleasantly surprised how many we actually spotted in that relatively short time frame.

Squiggle used the RSPB sheet to help her figure out the difference between great tits and blue tits, which we both found really fascinating, and were excited to spot both types in the garden during our birdwatching! We also discussed the difference between crows and blackbirds because Squiggle was abit confused. We also saw pidgeons and magpies too, which Squiggle was able to recognise immediately.

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We then analysed our data by discussing how many different types of birds we saw, how many of each type, which was most common etc… Then we submitted our results to RSPB and looked at the visual results chart too.

Rspb, big garden birdwatch, #BigGardenBirdWatch, birdwatching, wildlife, nature, citizen science, home education, living life our way

Squiggle would like to thank the RSPB for organising this and sending us the pack! 

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#BigGardenBirdWatch

Shut The Box (Game Review)

Squiggle was given Shut The Box game for Christmas as a stocking filler. We hadn’t heard of this particular game before, until very recently when I spotted it on a gift guide and thought it looked fun. I was right!

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Shut The Box is a lovely wooden dice game that also has good educational value. The aim of the game is to successfully get all the numbers down from 1-9 so you can ‘shut the box’. The simple version is to roll both of the dice and then flip down one or two numbers to match the total on the dice. If you are unable to put down one or two numbers then it moves to the next player’s turn. There are different versions too, I found other instructions by searching online. 

The game can be single player or played with any number of people and is suitable for all ages from approx 6+ years. This means it is great for some family fun together, but it is also handy that it can be played alone, as it is great for those moments when someone needs to occupy themselves for a few moments! The version we have is pocket size, which also makes it useful to take when travelling too. 

I like that it is a simple game, nothing fancy about it, but yet is still both fun and educational. It is fab for practising maths skills, such as calculating and number bonds. I also love wooden toys and games, so that’s a bonus too! 

Our verdict: big thumbs up!

You can be in with a chance of winning your own Shut The Box game by entering my prize giveaway via rafflecopter below. 

Competition ends at midnight on 31st January 2017. T&Cs apply.

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*This post contains an affiliate link.

August Highlights

We have spent time at home doing a variety of different activities. Squiggle has been particularly keen to do writing and has been very interested in shapes this month.

Writing letters to penpals…

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Thank you letters to friends for her birthday presents…

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Feeding the ducks at Verulamium…

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Properties of 3D shapes…

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Making 3D shapes…

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Making a chart of how many shapes she finds…

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Making a model of the solar system…

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Caterpillars in our garden…

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Going for a walk to post letters…

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Making a 3D puzzle of tower bridge…

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June: Activities at Home

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May 2015

Memories from May…

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Seaside fun
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Physical development
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Creative movement/ interpretive dance- a plant growing
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Planting more fruit and veg in our growing area
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Sensory fun and physical games in the garden
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General fun in the garden
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Playing various sylvanian games, including measuring the height in hula hoops.
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Maths- 'going shopping' for bunny food
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Music class
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Local playgrounds for sensory input and physical exercise
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Designing her own playground for her toys in the garden
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Reading- letters from penpals, my list of things that I found in the garden (a reading and writing observation game she made up herself) and 'shop' price list
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Writing- letters to penpals, birthday cards and letters to mummy from her toys
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Drawings (we also went to art group but no pictures of that)
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Making a playmat for her toys based on a map she drew
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Squiggle invented this rainbow game
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Designed own mini skittles game
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Van Hague- peacock spreading its feathers
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Living Crafts at Hatfield House
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Butterfly World
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Park walks- spotting nature and exploring
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Who lives in a house like this? Discussion about habitats
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More park walks- Squiggle decided her toy cat Rain was interested in flowers so we took her on a flower walk
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Mini topic on flowers- Venn diagram, parts of a plant, following written instructions, making own book and designing own activity
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Willows Farm
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Fun at the fair

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Cassiobury park

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Squiggle's party

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Happy 7th birthday to my wonderful little girl. Mini tea party at home with buffet, cake, pass the parcel, musical chairs, pressies and playing! Plus a bike ride too.

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A friend's birthday party

November: Part Two

Experimenting with play dough and water- exploring properties
Experimenting with play dough and water- exploring properties

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Drawings of a seal doing an Easter hunt! 27.11.14
Drawings of a seal doing an Easter hunt! 27.11.14

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Writing a list 27.11.14
Writing a list 27.11.14

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Sorting mixed nuts 29.11.14
Sorting mixed nuts 29.11.14

November: Part One

These are some of the things we have been doing so far this month…

character drawings 01.11.14
Drawing various characters she has created in a variety of outfits 01.11.14
fishing 01-11-14
Fishing for coins in the bath- a game she designed herself 01.11.14
water scales 01-11-14
Squiggle started off using her balance scales to compare volumes of water. This then led to a discussion about measurements of solids and liquids, and the units they are measured in. She then decided to experiment with comparing the ducks and water combined. She observed that when the water was the same volume each side and therefore balanced, that the two ducks did not weigh the same. This was not what she predicted because they look the same and are the same size, but she the concluded one of them must have water inside adding to the weight. She then tried to push the duck down into the water and was amused that it popped back up again so we discussed why this happens. She also noticed the water level rises as she did so, which also led to a discussion on water displacement. 01.11.14
white water rafting 01.11.14
We went to watch white water rafting at Lee Valley. 01.11.14
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Caldecotte lake 02.11.14
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Watching watersports on the lake 02.11.14
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Photos at the lake 02.11.14
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One of my favourite photographs of Caldecotte lake 02.11.14
cuddly toy cat game 3-11-14
Cuddly toy cat game 03.11.14
paradise park play area 4-11-14
Paradise park 04.11.14 physical exercise and a spot of map reading too
paradise park animals 4-11-14
A few of the animals at Paradise park 04.11.14
paradise park monkey 4-11-14
We were lucky enough to spot a two day old newborn baby gibbon clinging to mum 04.11.14
sylvanian school game 5-11-14
Squiggle used her Sylvanian families to act out a day at school. This led to some very interesting questions, such as why do the children need to wear a school uniform, who decides what it should be etc… We then had a very balanced discussion about the differences between school and home education. She was able to articulate very well why she personally feels home ed is much better suited to her needs. 05.11.14
southend 6-11-14
Southend beach 06.11.14
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We found this great resource at the beach playground, it is simple explanation of the weather cycle. Squiggle enjoyed learning how clouds form and how it rains. This led to further discussion about weather, the sun and also how stars form too 06.11.14
southend boats 6-11-14
Boats at Southend 06.11.14
southend more photography 6-11-14
Some of my favourite photos from our trip to Southend 06.11.14
southend photography 6-11-14
Scenic photos of Southend 06.11.14
fireworks fleetville 7.11.14
Local fireworks display 07.11.14
fireworks crabtree 8.11.14
Watching fireworks with a friend 08.11.14
fashion garden 9.11.14
Playing in the garden 09.11.14
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Picnic in the garden 09.11.14
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Fun at Bopping Babes disco 09.11.14
sylvanian imagination 10.11.14
Small world imaginary play 10.11.14
sylvanian ayletts christmas display 11.11.14
Acting out Ayletts Christmas display from last year 11.11.14
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We then visited Ayletts garden centre to see this year’s display 11.11.14
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Notcutts garden centre 11.11.14
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Squiggle made her own Christmas sticker book 12.11.14
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Sylvanian family decorating for Christmas (wearing clothes she made for them for winter) 12.11.14
duplo treehouse 13.11.14
Duplo construction (tree house playground) 13.11.14
clarence park 13.11.14
Clarence park 13.11.14
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Squiggle designed a multi pack of cat treats 14.11.14
cats 14.11.14
Squiggle then asked the next day to go to the pet shop to buy the cats a treat 15.11.14
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Chilling together
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Van Hage garden centre 16.11.14
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We popped to Stanborough lake briefly on the way home 16.11.14

 

In addition to these activities, we also practised estimating (time mainly) and discussed the difference between a guess and an estimate. We have also played a game several times that she invented whereby we try to recall what we were doing x number of days ago. This proved to be a fun memory game and we enjoyed talking about past events, as well as doing the maths to work out how many weeks, months and sometimes years ago the day was. I also discovered she didn’t know what a typewriter was when she found a miniature toy one (then again, why would she know!) So we discussed technology and how it has progressed, which she found very interesting.

 

Pancake Day

We made gluten free, dairy free, soya free and egg free pancakes for dinner, to celebrate Shrove Tuesday. This was partly based on family diet restrictions (both mine and Squiggle’s) and partly because we decided to rise to the challenge of using what we had available in the kitchen without taking a trip to a supermarket!

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1. 250g gluten free flour
2. 600ml alternative dairy free milk (we used almond milk)
3. Egg replacer
4. Mix together
5. Fry in sunflower oil or alternative (we used rapeseed oil)
6. Flip or toss the pancakes

And here is Squiggle enjoying the finished product….

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For more free from pancake recipes see the BBC good food website www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2920662/egg-dairy-and-glutenfree-pancakeshttps://livinglifeourway.files.wordpress.com/