Monday, October 22, 2012

Crew Review: Samson's Classroom

Did you watch the video? Samson's Classroom looks fun, huh?

Samson's Classroom is an on-line educational video game program that provides sight word, spelling and reading instruction for grades K-5. Samson is a cute Hound dog that goes on learning adventures with your child. Prices are $30/year for 1 student and $50/year for 4 students. For complete pricing information, click here.

After setting up an account (which was super quick and easy), the player chooses either Sight Words, Spelling or Reading then level 1-4 for Sight Words and Reading or a Spelling List, and finally whichever list in that level they are currently working on. And that's it!

Balsam Fir started our review off with Sight Words with Samson Level 1 List 1. The repetition in this program was awesome for his learning needs! Now, some kids may find the repetition boring or you may find it unnecessary, but these concerns can be remedied by clicking on a higher level to challenge YOUR learner. He found the point-and-click games well-paced as he could enter an answer without waiting for instructions if he already knew it. Players should have some computer mouse skills though. We did find that Sight Words was both reading AND spelling, so combining these subjects together would work for this game.

Sugar Maple worked on Spelling with Samson. Word lists can be provided either by a school, YOU or Knowledge Wand (which are lists done for you). She used Knowledge Wand for this review since she wanted a break from her usual Spelling curriculum and started at Grade 3 Level 1. Spelling is a challenge for her, but she quickly finished 3rd grade and is continuing on with 4th. Although she wasn't thrilled with Samson - any Spelling program! - she did seem to find some enjoyment in playing games rather than studying lists of words.

Balsam Fir really liked the "karate chopping" Spelling game he saw Sugar Maple playing, so he used Spelling with Samson as well. He started with the very first Wand list, having no formal Spelling instruction, and continued on from there. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly he picked up spelling! But, unfortunately, he would get frustrated when he would need to redo a list for ONE error. 

In Samson's Classroom for Sight Words With Samson and Spelling with Samson, learners must have 100% accuracy or they would get see a Needs Work yellow sign once the game is completed. And if they want to earn green dots (rather than red) or karate belt incentives, 100% scores are needed. This frustrated Balsam Fir. Oftentimes he would click too soon on the correct answer and get an X and have to redo the entire list knowing that he did know the answer.  Slowing down is very hard for him, but especially not being given a 2nd chance to correct a mistake. ::wink::

I tried Reading with Samson with Balsam Fir, starting at Level 1 as well, but we found that his reading level and speed made this game too much of a challenge for him. Or it could be visual tracking issues due to being on a computer screen? He was quickly frustrated and didn't want to continue. 

Samson's Classroom also has additional links in the Resource Section where you can print out worksheets, lesson plans, letters to parents (for a school classroom), and awards. Although we didn't utilize the worksheets, I did print out a level mastery award to present to Balsam Fir when he completed his first Sight Word word list. I included the lists of words he mastered on the back as well. This made for a great additional to his school records!

What Did We Especially Like?
Quick, repetitive lessons! My Saplings NEED repetition for "sticky learning". Lessons were also well-paced with little lag time between screens and activities.

The ease of use! Setting up an account was very easy as was figuring out how to play the games. The Saplings could independently use this program.

Striving for MASTERY rather than OK! Moving on and earning incentives means showing that that the learner knows the words well.

Lots of levels to choose from! Nothing like being able to choose just that right level for each learner.

What Did We Find "Eh"?
Teachers or Homeschool Moms can check the progress of their learners by clicking on the "My Scores" button under their page. "My Scores" gives students a rating of "did not attempt", "needs improvement" and "perfect score". It would be nice to have a "good work" or "satisfactory" rating when 1-2 errors have occurred in a level. 

Sugar Maple and I found Samson's Scramble, a game for Spelling with Samson, difficult to play. The object was to move Samson left or right to collect letter tiles to create Spelling words, but getting Samson to move left or right was nearly impossible. After trying it several times, I decided that it would be better for us to skip this Spelling Step.

ETA: Since my posting of this review, Samson's Classroom has changed the controls on Samson's Scramble. It is much easier to move Samson around to play the game and now one of the kid's favorites!

But Would We Recommend Samson's Classroom? You betcha!

You can try out Samson's Classroom free demos by clicking here

Disclaimer: Our Side of the Mountain was given a free subscription to Samson's Classroom from the TOS Review Crew in exchange for our honest use and opinions. All thoughts are own own. Please check out the highlighted links for more information or click here to see more TOS reviews.

1 comment:

  1. That looks neat. I'll check it out! Thanks for the review:)


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