Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Review of Learning Wrap-Ups

Learning Wrap-Ups Review

I have to say that one of the reasons I love being on the Crew is getting packages. Who doesn't love getting packages? And packages of *curriculum*? I mean, come one...it's like Christmas! The package that came from Learning Wrap-ups recently, though, was completely unbelievable: we're talking Christmas and birthday. And Mother's Day. Opening that box was more fun than should be legal (you know what's really kind of sad? I'm not exaggerating - my fellow curriculum junkies know the feeling well!). We received everything you see below, in addition to a one-year subscription to LearningPalette.com. This is going to take a fun, delicious while, so let's get right to it (because you may think you know Learning Wrap-ups, but trust me, you don't actually know Learning Wrap-ups!).

What We Reviewed

Michael and Mary-Catherine (both 9), were the lucky recipients of this review experience. They are both in 4th grade math and 4th grade reading. Like so many kids, they read at a much higher level, but their mastery of key concepts is a bit behind (that homeschooling conundrum of you know it will be on the standardized test and you know they need to know things like "Main Idea," but actually taking school time away from things like Latin and history to teach it is hard). That's why I was ecstatic to receive 4th Grade Math Learning Palette 1 Base Center Kit ($71.99) and 3rd Grade Reading 1 Base Center Kit ($61.99). 

If you're anything like me, you only knew Learning Wrap-ups as those nifty little gadgets that taught kids their multiplication facts. Well, they certainly are that, but they are so much more. They have these nifty things called Learning Palettes, which you can see my twins using above! The concept of the Learning Palette is quite simple, but its appeal has to be universal. The yellow circle is plastic. You insert a sturdy plastic-coated card (like those found in these sets 4th Grade Level Curriculum Packs - $57.99 and 3rd Grade Level Curriculum Packs - $47.99) and simply match up the correct plastic disc with the correct answer (what my twins are doing in the first picture). When you're done, you flip over the card and if the discs match what is printed on the card, you know the answers are right. It is completely self-correcting (what my twins are doing in the second picture)!

While we were fortunate enough to get two complete kits (which come with the curriculum packs), you only need one complete kit because you only need one palette. You can use any and all cards with it. That's why it is the perfect product to grow with your child. This is such an ideal way for a young child to learn in a way that feels like play, or for an older child who is a kinesthetic learner to be able to master concepts in a way that is tailor-made to his learning style. There are math curriculum packs for grades K-5 and reading curriculum packs for grades K-3. 

Michael and Mary-Catherine with Learning Palettes

I was very excited to try the Learning Palettes with my twins, although I had different reasons for my excitement with each twin. Michael is dysgraphic, so any curriculum option that allows him to learn without requiring him to write a lot is a huge winner in my book. This one was no exception. He started the 4th grade math curriculum pack with the Algebra Concepts card pack and it was the perfect place for him to start. He continued using his regular math program, but then did the Learning Palette cards every day. In fact, he blew through the first 12 cards on the first day! Both Michael and Mary-Catherine both kept asking if they could play with the Learning Palettes! At this point, Michael has done all of the 4th grade math cards for the concepts that he knows. Now my plan is for him to use the cards to practice new concepts as he learns them. 

Learning Wrap-Ups Review

Mary-Catherine has had trouble with multiplication since Day One. Hence, she began the math Learning Palette with, what else, multiplication. Another way to teacher her multiplication (or, more accurately, for her to practice it) was the reason I was really excited about the Learning Palette for her. Anything to overcome her mental block! Actually (spoiler alert!), it was the supremely famous Learning Wrap-up that really broke that block, but the Learning Palette was a great reinforcement and has continued to hold her interest as she has moved further along with more sophisticated multiplication problems and even, gasp, division! Like Michael, we use the Learning Palette to reinforce her regular math program. It works so well for that. It's almost like a reward.

The reading palette we use differently. I absolutely love it. Remember how I said I just can't use school time to teach things like main idea? I mean, I'm honestly kind of like "duh" about things like main idea, but that's a dangerous attitude to have. It's *not* intuitive for some kids. More importantly, it's a skill they need for tests (I know - I feel the same way, but we all live in the real world here). Oh. My. Word. The reading curriculum packs were *made* for me. I let them teach the twins all of those things - reading comprehension, homonyms, prefixes, etc. These are all things that they know because they are part of our school day inherently, but they may not know the exact terms or how such things look on a test. The reading curriculum packs teach such things not only painlessly, but fun.

Honestly, I didn't even assign these. The twins just decided what they wanted to work on, popped a card on the palette, and went to town. Very occasionally, Mary-Catherine (not Michael...hmmm...) would have a question about something she didn't understand, but for the most part, this was one part of the school day that I didn't have to worry about at all. We are halfway through the 3rd grade cards and I am devoutly hoping that Learning Wrap-ups has 4th grade cards planned. I will buy them. Today. The cards don't take the place of anything we do in school (I am a grammar *fiend* and we read and analyze literature from the time my kids are, well, conceived it feels like), but they definitely fill a hole that I didn't really feel was there. And it's a hole that's going to stay there because I'm not going to change what I'm doing. What better product is there than one that fills a need you didn't even know you had?

Learning Wrap-Ups Review

Still More Awesome Stuff!

I know it's hard to believe, but we got even more awesome stuff to review! If you have ever heard of Learning Wrap-ups, you are probably thinking: 

I know that's what I've always thought of. They are the nifty things I always passed up in the homeschool store because I had never read a review like this one that told me "YOU MUST BUY LEARNING WRAP-UPS." I'm serious. I wish someone had told me, back in 2007, how much use I would get out of a set of these. I would have been saved a lot of heartache and, actually, a lot of money, too. I don't know what it is about these nifty things, but kids respond to them. By twisting the shoelacey-string around the plastic key, and then turning it over to see if you've correctly lined up the answers, kids learn their facts. I'm dead serious. I saw it happen with Mary-Catherine. The Learning Wrap-up Math Intro Kit w/o CDs  costs $44.99, which I would have thought expensive back in 2007. I'm here to tell my past self (or you): it's worth it. You will never have to buy anything else to teach any of your kids any of their facts. These tools will stand up to all of your kids and they will teach all of your kids their facts. Nicholas (10) *knows* his facts, but he couldn't stop "playing" with the Learning Wrap-ups! They appeal to so many different kinds of learners and they are instant gratification and self-correcting. I can't say enough good things.

The 10 Days to Multiplication Mastery Wrap-up and Book Combo ($12.99) is a wonderful alternative if, like me, multiplication is the one thing you're struggling with with your child. With this set, you receive just the multiplication Wrap-up and a paperback workbook that teaches all of the facts in a systematic way. In fact, just like the 10 Steps to Addition Mastery Wrap-up and Book Combo ($12.99), which taught the addition facts the same way Therese (12) learned them in kindergarten from an amazing teacher, the method is so straightforward and no-nonsense that you'll wonder that they are ever taught any other way. The fact is, though, that they are taught 1,000 different ways. If, like me, you tend to jump around with curriculum, that can impede your child's success in mastering the facts (of course, good old fashion verbal drills work wonders - that's how my dad finally pounded them into my thick head). Sometimes you need to start back at Square One. This book enables you to do that. At first, Mary-Catherine balked at having to color in a multiplication chart and "learn" her "ones" again, but when she used the book in conjunction with Wrap-up and realized how incredibly fast she was getting the hard facts (the sevens! the eights!), she was a convert. Even though she has completed the book, it's a keeper for us. Sometimes going back to basics is the only way to go. Learning Wrap-ups has mastered this concept.Learning Wrap-Ups Review

Finally, we got to test drive something I had never even seen! The Learning Wrap-up Vocabulary Intro Kit ($35.99) is really neat. These Learning Wrap-ups allow you to practice homonyms, synonyms, antonyms, and compound words. They work in the exact same way as the math Wrap-ups. For example, with the homonyms Wrap-up, you match the homonym with its definition. On the first key, you have buy, bye, and by on the left (along with other words, of course). You need to match the by-homonyms with their correct definitions on the right. Probably because the concepts practiced with these Wrap-ups are covered with the Learning Palettes, my twins haven't used these as much as the math ones. Having said that, though, if you haven't covered these concepts with your kids or are looking for an easy and gentle way to introduce them, the Vocabulary Wrap-ups would be a great choice. 
Learning Wrap-Ups Review
But wait...there's more! Learning Palette is also online!
Learning Wrap-Ups Review
LearningPalette.com - access to 7,920 online questions whose format exactly mimics the physical Learning Palette. The cost is $59.99 for up to 5 users, but with the code HOMESCHOOL, you can get an additional 20% off! That means that up to 5 kids can enjoy a year-long subscription to this unique learning site for only $48. Honestly, after having used the site for the last couple of months, that deal seems too good to be true.

When you first sign on to LearningPalette.com, you will see this screen. Don't be fooled by its seeming simplicity. After you select a level, you see the concepts covered at that level. When you select a concept, you see the cards for that concept. Select a card and load it and you're ready to begin. After you show your youngest children once, they will be able to do it on their own just fine. Your older children will likely be able to walk you through the process!

And, voila! This is what the online Learning Palette looks like! Pretty awesome, huh? It looks and works just like the physical Learning Palette! All your child does is drag and drop the colored disks to the correct place on the card (click on the pic to enlarge it!).

 Believe it or not, it is really fun (seriously, I've done it - it's really fun!). They are not going to get over the novelty of learning this way quickly, I promise. Nicky (10) was quite sad that there was no LearningPalette.com level high enough for him, and for many days after we received access to the website, the twins were on it for hours a day. I'm not just talking school time, either. They wanted to "play" LearningPalette.com on their own time. Best of all, like the physical Learning Palettes, the online version is completely self-correcting. One click reveals whether or not the answers are right. Once or twice Mary-Catherine would tell me she didn't understand why something was wrong, but more often than not I would hear a groan of aggravation as she realized that she had made a silly mistake. I could really get on board with this whole self-correction thing...

Because the cards we have for the physical Learning Palettes are finite, I am so glad that we have the online version, too! There are so many questions! Further, unlike some learning sites, there are absolutely no distractions - no characters, no ads, no reward games. It's just the cards and the discs. I love that.

I know this review was long - thanks for sticking with me! Learning Wrap-ups was so generous with the Crew; we loved all of their products. Be sure to click the banner below to see how other Crew members have been using them.

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