Friday, June 6, 2014

Review: Learning Palette Online Program

I learned of Learning Wrap-Ups many years ago when my oldest was first learning math facts. Over the years, we have gathered quite a collection of wrap-ups, including ones for math, vocabulary, and music theory. I think they are creative and fun, and the kids like being able to turn them over and check their own answers. Recently I was introduced to another fun product produced by the Learning Wrap-Ups Company: the Learning Palette, which is a base with cards and discs to review math and reading facts. We had the opportunity recently to review the full online family subscription.

What is the Learning Palette Online Program? It is an online review system designed for K-5th grade, with review questions that correlate to Common Core requirements. The program itself is designed to replicate the actual Learning Palette base, cards, and discs review system, except this is one dimensional on a screen. Students can log in, choose math or reading cards, choose their grade level, then choose a topic within that subject.

Students are taken to a screen that shows the actual circular card with questions and answers in the middle, along with colored discs to slide into the correct answer spaces around the outer edge. Students choose the colored disc based on matching the correct answer with the question. Each card contains twelve questions. Students are timed while they slide the answer discs into place. They can check their answers at any point. When they have all questions answered correctly, a window pops up asking if they are done, and they can then choose whether to continue to the next card or choose a different topic.

The screen looks like this:

Third grade Math

Third grade Reading

How does the program record the student's progress? On the student's page, when a card is completed, the circle next to it turns green, so the student knows that they have already successfully completed it. They can go back and review it again if they wish, though.

The parent can also log on and check on the progress of multiple students with progress reports that record the grade and time it took to complete a particular card. Those pages look like this:

How many children can use this program? Subscriptions are sold for one year's use, and multiple children can use one program. The price is adjusted depending on how many separate student accounts you wish to set up. The program can be used in home schools or classroom situations. 

How much does it cost? For a one year subscription for up to five students, the current cost is $60. For each additional student that is added, there is an additional cost. Discounts are given for multiple students and the entire price list is listed on the website's order form. At the time of this review, the company is offering a 20% discount when ordering, and using the coupon code HOMESCHOOL.

How did we use this program? Kelly is always looking for extra things to do. She is at a good age for lots of fact review, and loves to do "school" games on the computer, so I thought this would be a good fit. Kelly just finished third grade, so I had her selecting mostly third grade cards, to review what we have just finished up this past school year. She would log on 3-4 times a week, with the goal of working on 4 cards each time, (2 in math and 2 in reading) and completing at least 1 card in each subject. We used both the computer, and the iPad to utilize this program. 

What did Kelly think?  Kelly actually didn't like using this program. She had several problems with it. The main problem we encountered was that we found the answer spots, where the colored discs were slid into, to be very sensitive. If the colored disc was not placed exactly right, the program would not register her correct answer. Often we worked on it together, and several times I even ventured onto the program and attempted to complete some cards on my own to see if I had better luck. I did contact the customer service about the problem we were having, and they were extremely attentive and kind. They gave me a different way to log on, and assumed that the problem was a non-compatibility issue with my monitor, although we found that we had the same issues when using the program on the iPad.

The other complaint Kelly had was that the words were very small and hard to read. It was often hard for her to figure out what the correct answer was, because she was having a hard time reading the words. On the iPad she kept expanding it, but then they got blurry and were still hard to read. It was rather frustrating for her. It seems like too much information is packed into a small space on the cards, especially for the age range this is targeted to reach (early elementary readers).

Several times both Kelly and I completed cards but found they were not recorded in the progress reports. The progress reports were also very difficult to read. 

Overall opinion: I really like the concept and visual nature of this product, but I think that the online program really needs some improvements to be more effective. While I think my children might have enjoyed the actual Learning Palette physical product, they definitely were not impressed with the online version and we will not continue using it. 

Crew members reviewed a number of products from Learning Wrap-Ups. Stop by and see what they had to say!

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