Monday, October 29, 2012

Spelling, Reading, and Games - A New TOS Review!!

Are you looking for a homeschool help for spelling and reading combined?  Then you should check out  Sampson's Classroom? It takes online educational learning and uses a brand new approach by combining several products under one umbrella company. Once you have access to one of the products you actually get access to ALL the products, even if they upgrade their company and add more products!
The Product:
Right now there are three separate products under the umbrella of Sampson's Classroom - Sight Words with Sampson, Spelling with Sampson, and Reading with Sampson.
Sight Words with Sampson - is created for new and early readers by helping them to master the 224 most commonly used words in our English language. Having these common words at the tip of their tongue helps to build them a strong foundation while also encouraging them to be successful readers. They use a 5 step process designed to help each student learn the words.

First they hear the word spoken and read in a sentence, while viewing it on the screen.  This step repeats until they click the mouse to move on to the next word.   The second step is all about building the words in the list.  Each list is 8 words.  They can either click on the letters to spell the word out (if they know how to spell it already) or the can hear how to spell the word and click on the letters as they are spelled. Step 3 put all the words on tiles and then the computer asks the word and repeats them in the same sentence they have already heard.  They have to find the word and click on it to have it removed.  The fourth Step they are given the alphabet, the computer says the word and continues to read it in the sentence (the same one) and they have to click on the alphabet tiles to spell the word correctly.  The final step is set under water as the child has to find the word which is located in one of 4 treasure boxes.  If they pick the correct word that is missing from the sentence (again it's the same sentence they have heard the entire time) they earn a jewel.  Once they have completed all 8 words and collected all their jewels they won the Treasure Chest Challenge and trophy.

There is a 'score board' which shows you whether you have completed each step.  If you have it is green.  If you haven't it is red.  If you complete all 5 steps correctly you earn a star. As you can see Audrie has completed 3 levels. You can also see how your child is progressing on the score board and see how long it took them and how many they got wrong/right.  At the resource center you can print out extra worksheets, flash cards, and a certificate at the end of each level.

Spelling with Sampson  uses 3 games to maximize the learning potential of your student.  The list will vary in length depending on whether you create your own list or use one of the ones that has been provided.  The lists are split into grade levels up to 5th grade and there are 3 lists for each grade.  You can also find a list by a theme, sight words and word families. There are more then 7,000 words available in these lists.  You can chose to use one of these already created lists or customize the list to match what you are learning in your curriculum.

Spelling with Sampson also uses a multi-step process to build confidence in your student's spelling ability through three games. The first is a Karate Chop Challenge you need to chop the board that has the correct missing letters to the word that has been chosen.  If you miss any at the end your score board will be red and you will have to do it again to get a green dot.  The second challenge is a word building challenge.  The letters are scattered in a field and you have to run around the field using the left and right arrows to move Sampson and gather the letters.  BUT you have to make sure you stay away from Terrence the taranchula otherwise he will spin you in a web and you are stuck for a few seconds. The third game Sampson is on a block of ice and you have to spell the words correctly to help him jump to the next block of ice before Wally the Walrus eats the ice and makes Sampson fall. They also have to make sure they spell their word quickly before Wally gets to them.  If Wally makes Sampson fall in, he becomes a block of ice.

Reading with Sampson combines reading comprehension and logical analysis where the student has to draw conclusions from what they have read in order to answer the questions presented to them correctly. The questions asked cover cause and effect, discovering the main idea, context, sequencing, as well as other types.

This program uses a new patented user instant feedback system.  So if a student answers a question incorrectly the part of the passage that holds the correct answer will be highlighted and the child is allowed a second chance at answering the question correctly.

Once you have answered all the questions you have earned points along the way to be used at the carnival.  Sampson has to hit a bell and the more correct answers gives you more turns to hit.

Here are some snapshots of the worksheets, flash cards, and other resources that are available to you as the parent/teacher.  There are even lesson plans to help you use these products and games most effectively.

There is a variety of pricing options from home use ($30 per year), as a family (4 users $50 per year), as a classroom (30 users $80 per year) and even more. You can try the program out, but make sure you also check out this short but very thorough video demo.

Our Experience:
Based on the age and grade of my two girls Audrie was able to use both the Sight Words and the Spelling portions of this game, while Arianna used the Spelling and Reading portions of the game. Audrie likes the Spelling game best.  Her favorite game there is the Karate Chop Challenges and the ice jumping with Wally the Walrus.  She has been able to complete 3 complete levels in the Sight Words and several of the spelling lists.

Arianna didn't need the Sight Words game since she is in 4th grade and has a very high reading level.  I have had her working on the Spelling section of Sampson most and then doing some of the Reading passages.  Her favorite game in Spelling is Wally the Walrus.  At first she highly disliked the Spelling Scramble with Terrence because she kept getting caught and it was hard to get used to how to move Sampson around the field with the arrow buttons.  But after a few days and a hint (to let Terrence catch you first and then move on to gathering the letters) she has gotten much quicker at gathering and sometime can even get all the letters and beat Terrence. That has been a feat!

We don't have spelling lists per se, so I've been using the generated lists that come with the program.  Now that we are heading in to the Thanksgiving season I may change that up and use it while we are completing our Thanksgiving unit study to add the spelling words from the study into a new list for both of the girls.

The girls do ask to play Sampson most every day.  And I can see that for Audrie it is helping her to build her vocabulary and being able to identify words even though we haven't learned them in our reading lessons. Arianna has also shown great improvement in her spelling skills.  Even though she is a proficient reader her spelling is average.  I believe this has given her confidence to try to spell words that she doesn't yet know.  I also have encouraged her to continue playing until she has a green dot.

Some days that means she has to work on one list or game for 3, 4, 5, even 6 times before the dots turn green.  It helps her with patience too, since that can be frustrating - to get all the way to the end and then mess up on your last word which gives you a red dot.  Some days we only get through the list and one game because it has taken so long to get the list done all correct, but the next day is a new day with new mercies and she then excels at the next challenges because of persevering the day before.

My Thoughts:
For the price, I believe this can be a great asset in your homeschooing lineup.  For just $50 you can have 4 children working on reading, spelling, and comprehension at their own level, but with a common twist since the games are the same at most levels.  I have seen great improvement for both the girls and I think we will be using this program for some time.

You can find Sampson's Classroom on Facebook or send them an email if you want to find out more. You can also check out these video tutorials to learn more about the different features of this online program.
And as always, click the link below to read how other Crew members used the Sampson's Classroom in their homes.


*** I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2011-2012 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of money for any of my reviews. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences with the products and services that I receive.***

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