Thursday, September 13, 2018

Roman Roads Media Vocabulary Builder REVIEW

Roman Roads Media Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder

I'm always looking for ways and programs that can help to either strengthen or stretch my son's vocabulary.  We had the opportunity to review a neat classical education online program from Roman Roads Media called Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder.  It is an online language arts program that builds vocabulary through teaching Latin words and picture associations to enhance learning.  It is geared for Jr. High to College students and was meant to teach fluidity in Latin reading.  It is a self-paced program so there is less stress of having to mold to a strict timeline structure.  We accessed and used the program on a laptop running Windows 7 and Chrome as the browser.

Roman Roads Media

Setting up the account wasn't too tricky.  Once you get your subscription you add your students (learner profiles).  To begin your lesson you click the "go" icon.  If you click the "train" icon it gives you a list to choose from so you can practice on a specific area if you need or want to. The program automatically advances you to the next step as you progress through the lesson.  Once completed you can see your score for that lesson.

Login screen
Create account and learner profiles (students)

Click on "go" icon to begin lesson

Each chapter lesson focuses on a topic and then has activities that you complete to learn words related to that topic.  There are a total of 31 chapter lessons.  The activities include Learn, Choose, Spell, Forms, Test Forms, and Review.  During the "Learn" phase you learn the words with picture associations.  The "Choose" activity has you matching the pictures with the word or phrase.  The "Spelling" activity has you filling in the blank and spelling the word.  It's challenging but a lot of fun.  "Forms" presses you further.  The definition from the program is as follows:


In this exercise, you will practice writing out any extra forms for the words you have studied. For nouns, you may be required to give a genitive form and/or a gender. For adjectives, you may be required to give feminine and neuter forms or sometimes a genitive form. For verbs, you may be required to give the third and fourth principle parts.

Finally after forms comes either "Test Forms" and/or some "Review" activities.

Learn activity (word association with pictures)

Learning Latin words with picture association

Types of lessons in student dashboard

Sample forms screen

I am finding this program to be fun and challenging.  I really think it is important for our kids to learn at least a little bit of Latin and I really feel that learning Latin roots is invaluable to expanding their vocabulary.  This program does a good job of stretching their vocabulary skills. I'm not sure that I quite follow the train of thought as to the words we are learning, but I'm sure as we progress through the program it will come together.  My son, of course, is not enjoying it so much and it really does challenge him quite a bit.  He is a struggling learner and programs like this can be a bit much for him.  That being said, I know that he is still learning and gaining some good vocabulary skills despite his challenges.  I do also have him working on it every day so he keeps the flow going.  You could easily just use it 3 days per week and progress just fine.  It is self-study so there are no deadlines to meet.  I think it is best for your student to take their time and work on mastering the words and their forms.

At work on his Latin vocabulary

I would recommend Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder by Roman Roads Media if you would like to incorporate some Latin into your curriculum and help your students to have a good tool to help build their vocabulary.  The recommendation for Jr. High and up seems fitting because it is a more complex program.

Roman Roads Media

You can connect with Roman Roads Media on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, YOUTUBE, and PINTEREST.

My fellow crew members are also reviewing some of their other wonderful programs so be sure to check out all of the reviews at the link below by clicking on the graphic.  You can read what others have to say about Picta Dicta Vocabulary, Picta Dicta Natural World, and Fitting Words.

Classical Rhetoric and Picta Dicta {Roman Roads Media Reviews}
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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Apple Time

I could only get half of the rainbow on camera

I live in a community that has an annual Apple Festival.  It is a very special time every year and we always look forward to it.  After all, who can resist all that carnival food and the rides!  And of course, there are all things apple.  Apple cider, apple pies, caramel apples, pie eating contests, and apple peeling to name a few.  It's an exciting time and the kids always have fun.

This year we were blessed with a special surprise in the sky.  A beautiful rainbow that could be seen as a complete half circle.  It was not raining nor had it rained.  It was a bit cloudy and kind of overcast, but no rain to be seen, just this absolutely stunning rainbow.  And to top it off it appeared during the opening event of our annual Gospel Sing.  God is truly awesome!

I'm looking forward to canning some goodies from some awesome apples we received recently.  Yummy apple butter and perhaps some apple pie filling.

What's on your agenda for this upcoming harvest season?

Friday, September 7, 2018

GrammarPlanet REVIEW

OK, so I might be a little more excited about this next review than most.  The deal is that grammar IS NOT my strong point and it is very much a struggle for my 9th grader.  I have tried many different products but I think we have found a winner for us with the comprehensive online grammar program from GrammarPlanet.  This is an online digital product.  During my review, it was in beta stage so there have been a lot of kinks worked out of it.  We started with the free version which includes ads, but have recently been scheduled to receive the ad-free paid version (mine has not been activated yet).

Sample of test time

Did you catch that?  You can get this online grammar program for FREE if you don't mind the ads.  At the time of this review, I feel that the ads are completely not annoying or invasive.  Mine come at the end of a session and it's just one quick ad (I realize that may change in the future).  For an ad-free paid version it only cost $39 for lifetime access.  How cool is that?  There are currently a total of 13 units (lessons).  You can see a list of topics covered from a PDF link on the website.

Screenshot from within student account

When you set your account up you get a parent/teacher account and a student account.  You can only access the lessons from the student account.  The parent account is to keep up with the progress of your student and to "unlock" their account when they have done poorly in a lesson and need to repeat it.  The unlock feature has been wonderful for me since I have a student that likes to try to skate through assignments and not redo or retry things he has not done well on.  From my parent dashboard, I can see the progress of each student.  You can also go in and review what they have gotten wrong.  There is an option to reset your students progress, but I have not used that so I am unsure of the result.  I imagine it is how you can go back and redo a lesson because once you have completed your lesson you can view it, but not redo it.

Parent dashboard overview (showing 2 students)
This is also where you would "unlock" your student's account

You can see what your student got wrong (from both their account and your parent dashboard)

GrammarPlanet is basically a digital version of sentence diagramming. A typical lesson begins with you printing out the PDF lesson notes and then watching a lesson video. Your student can use the notes to refer to as they watch the video lesson.  Each video so far has been around 6 minutes so they are quick and easy.  As your student progresses through the lesson video there are integrated quiz questions for them to answer.  I think this is wonderful to be sure they are understanding what they are hearing.

Sample of a portion of a note page

After the video, your student is ready to complete some practice questions (so far there have been about 12-15 questions).  Your student can and should use their "cheat sheet" notes for this section.  They may also use them during test time.  The key to this program is that your student masters the grammar concepts taught. The more repetition and practice the more natural the diagramming will become.  It really helps you to understand sentence structure.  Once the practice session is complete your student is ready to take the test.  Don't be surprised if your student sees a question repeated on a test.  Our experience has been that if they completely get a question wrong, the question comes up again.  The program is responsive in that way, it gives the student a chance to try again.  Once complete you will see your test score for the unit.

Practice questions with markups and correction

We found this program very easy to navigate.  Since we were testing a beta version there have been a lot of hiccups, but I feel they have been worth it and the corrections came quickly.  There are/were challenges with why certain words fell under certain designations, but as you proceed and learn more the reasons will become more apparent.  There is no rush to complete the course and the students can progress at their own pace.  Even repeating lessons as necessary.  Even better, there are no age restrictions (age 10 - 99 recommended) on who can use this program.  If you find yourself lacking in grammar skills, it is a perfect resource for honing your skills.  Our experience has been a good one and I give this online grammar program a thumbs up.  If you want to give it a try, you just can't go wrong for FREE!


You can connect with GrammarPlanet on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST.

As always, be sure to check out what others have to say about this online grammar program by clicking on the graphic below.

Grammar Program Online {GrammarPlannet Reviews}
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