Monday, June 9, 2014

Learning Palettes and Learning Wrap-Ups {Schoolhouse Review}

Learning Palettes and Learning Wrap-Ups Review

Have you heard of Learning Wrap-Ups?  If not, be prepared for it to knock your socks off in terms of fun learning manipulatives!  We almost always tend to choose hands-on activities over worksheets any day, so I was beyond thrilled when I learned I would be reviewing all of these products from Learning Wrap-Ups:

Kindergarten Reading 1 Base Center Kit ($61.99)
Kindergarten Math Learning Palette 1 Base Center Kit ($61.99)
Learning Wrap-Up Basic Math Intro Kit w/o CDs  ($44.99)
Learning Wrap-Up Vocabulary Intro Kit ($35.99)
10 Days to Multiplication Mastery Wrap-Up Book & Combo ($12.99)
10 Steps to Addition Mastery Wrap-Up Book & Combo ($15.99) ($25/year for 1 student or $60/year for up to 5 students)

Currently you can receive a 20% discount to by using the code HOMESCHOOL at checkout!

Learning Palettes
Each base center kit includes the Learning Palette Base, a vinyl storage bag and five curriculum packs.  I requested to review the Kindergarten levels because Emory is wanting to join us more for school, but he's not really ready for formal school work.  I felt like these kits would be a good activity to help him feel included more in our day, work on his pre-reading and early math skills, and also work on fine motor and critical thinking skills.

The Kindergarten Reading Kit includes the following five curriculum packs:  Alphabet, Beginning Consonant Sounds, Rhyming Words, Beginning Vocabulary and Vowels.  The Kindergarten Math Kit includes Matching Early Numbers, Numbers-Coins & Simple Fractions, Algebra Concepts, Geometry & Measurement, and Intro to Data.

Each curriculum pack has 12 cards with 12 questions each.  That's 720 questions for Reading, and 720 questions for Math!

The Learning Palettes are very easy to use.  There is only one way to put the card on the palette.  Each "question" has a colored disc next to it, and you place the corresponding physical disc next to the correct answer.  The cards are also self-correcting.  You flip the card over and it is color coded.  If your discs match the colors on the card, then it is correct!

Learning Palettes and Learning Wrap-Ups Review
This is actually a 1st grade level card, but it shows the self-correcting feature of the cards.

The self-correcting feature is great for independent students (unless they're prone to peaking!) but Emory is only 4 and I just work with him.

That being said, the Kindergarten kits are just the right level for Emory.  He has done very little in the way of "school" since he is only 4, yet he can still work these cards confidently.  Each curriculum pack is incremental, so the first cards are great review and practice, and as his skills develop, we can continue to progress through the packs.  He typically does one or two cards per session, which is the perfect amount for him!

Learning Palettes and Learning Wrap-Ups Review

Do you see how the card above is "split" into two sections?  Many of the cards are done this way (or split vertically, or in fourths, etc).  I like how this requires attention to detail, because the answer to the question is only going to be within the section where the question is located.  Though sometimes Emory has a little difficulty with this if the same questions are in both sections, because he really has to focus and pay attention to the layout of the card and which disc he is using.

I knew upon requesting the Kindergarten set that they would be too easy for Elliott (finishing 1st grade) so I bought some of their clearance packs for 1st and 2nd grade to let him try.  He loves them too, though some of his grade level was a bit easy in the beginning.  With the cards being incremental, though, this wasn't too big of an issue, especially since he can access all levels online.

Learning Palettes and Learning Wrap-Ups Review

Storing the palette is easy--there is a sturdy clear cover that screws on with a plastic "bottle cap" type cap and holds the discs in place, but you can order spare discs if you lose any.
Learning Palette Online is an interactive version of the learning palettes.  I like the concept of the website, but I will admit that I found the set up and technical end of the website to be frustrating and not particularly user-friendly.  I set it up as instructed, but had to reenter Emory and Elliott a different way so that they showed up on my account.  After that, the primary account holder can work in the cards themselves, as well as can view the records of each sub-account.  Except...I couldn't see their work!  It was showing up as if they hadn't logged in or completed anything.  I contacted the company.  A few weeks later I contacted them again.  So far I haven't heard back, which is a little disappointing.  Technically I can see what the kids are doing when I'm in *their* accounts, but I have to log in and out of all of our accounts which is tedious.  I also always know what my kids are doing and what level they are on, but I'd like to be able to glance at their progress collectively.

As far as the interactive element, you basically drag-and-drop the colored discs.  It contains high quality images and the cards are just like the physical version.  Each student can access all levels of reading (K-3rd) and math (K-5th) so there's plenty of material available!

Learning Palettes and Learning Wrap-Ups Review

It is a bit finicky and you have to make sure the discs are perfectly aligned in the circle so that it asks you if you are finished.  You can have every answer correct (with the green check marks to prove it) but if it doesn't recognize that they are placed correctly you do not get credit for completing the card.  Elliott is primarily the one who uses the online version, and will do several cards in one sitting.  This is a great independent activity, and he never turns it down.  Emory still needs a lot of help distinguishing between the layout of the cards and remembering to differentiate between the open and closed discs, so it's easier to help him with the physical version, and he prefers it too.  We've also used the website on the iPad, and didn't have any issues with disc placement on it, so that was a plus.

You can try a free demo to get an idea as to how the program works and try a sample card from each level.

Learning Wrap-Ups
The Math Intro Kit  includes Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division and Fractions. I'd heard so much about these wrap-ups when we first started homeschooling, and we've used the Addition one in the past.  The kit also comes with a booklet with ideas, a record page and a certificate of achievement.  (These are reproducible!)  Simply put, you answer the equations as presented on each key, working from left to right.  Once completed, you can look at the back and if the string overlaps the "answer key" then you've completed it correctly!

Learning Palettes and Learning Wrap-Ups Review

The Vocabulary Intro Kit comes with Antonyms, Synonyms, Homonyms, and Compound Words.  It's great for children who love words, as well as children who need a little more encouragement.  Elliott likes the idea of these, but it turns out he prefers the math wrap-ups, because he's not a confident reader yet.  Instead, he likes to time me on each one!

All of the wrap-ups are great for encouraging speed and accuracy, encouraging math/reading skills and reviewing.  They are the perfect size to toss in a backpack or purse, for the car, the doctor's office or other times you want your kiddo to review on-the-go.  You can see an animated demo for how to use the wrap-ups if you are unfamiliar with the concept.

Mastery Workbooks
I received 10 Days to Multiplication Mastery and 10 Steps to Addition Mastery, and we started with Addition, because it is the appropriate level for Elliott.  While these are technically workbooks, they are simple and fun.  They combine written practice with the corresponding wrap-up to practice and review.  It's so much better than drill-and-kill!

In the Addition Mastery book, we worked on one step over 2-3 days, depending on how much is actually required per step.  There was an introduction and a quick glossing over the +0 facts, and then he moved on.  So for example, for +1, he would answer the facts and I would keep track of his time.  Then he would practice on the wrap-up a few times, trying to beat his previous scores.  Then he'd answer the facts on paper again, seeing if he could beat his previous score while writing the facts.  There are a few other pages with story problems and such for each addition fact, so it's still not just pages and pages of math problems. 

Learning Palettes and Learning Wrap-Ups Review

Elliott absolutely loved being timed!  Even outside of "school" he will grab a wrap-up and ask me to time him.  He's got a little competitive streak, and he loves to outdo himself!

For children who are highly pressured under a timer, you could always just follow the steps and not time them; I'm convinced it would still be effective.

Learning Palettes and Learning Wrap-Ups Review

I also decided that during each step, we would do the corresponding subtraction wrap-up as well.  I felt like this would reinforce fact families and really secure the concepts.

Learning Palettes and Learning Wrap-Ups Review

Multiplication is similar, but we're not quite ready for mastery there yet, so we haven't used the actual book yet.

If you already have the wrap-ups, or have multiple students mastering their math facts, you can buy the individual Addition or Multiplication workbooks for only $4.99.

Final Thoughts
Overall, we are really impressed.  Everything we received is geared for K-5th grade, but the wrap-ups can certainly be used for older students who need more review.  I wish was more user-friendly, but I like the concept.  Everything can be used independently by most students because of the self-correcting features.  They are great for quiet practice or one-on-one.  As a parent, I appreciate that the wrap-ups and learning palettes have so much long-term value, because they are non-consumable.  Learning Palettes and Learning Wrap-Ups are great for practice, review and even remedial work.  They would work well as a supplement to any reading or math curriculum, and I highly recommend them.  They have a new homeschool section so you can look through their individual products, but they also sell classroom sets which might be useful for co-ops. 

The crew has reviewed different grade levels of the Palettes, as well as the wrap-ups and the Learning Palette Online website, so be sure to check out the reviews to see how others are using them in their homeschool!

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