Kaplan Kids Smart Track Keeps Kids on Track for the Summer

Screen Shot of Kaplan Kids Program

We decided to give Kaplan Kids Smart Track a try this summer to keep my 5 year old DD’s skills up. She will be starting Kindergarten in the fall.   I think overall it is a good program.  My DD loves to be on the computer, so this was right up her alley.

Screen Shot of Kaplan Kids Program
Screen Shot of Kaplan Kids Program

I feel that the Kaplan Kids program works hard to keep things fresh and interesting. She flew through the first assessment test and did get a little frustrated practicing things that she knows well. The second assessment was more difficult for her and she did start to get flustered about halfway through.  However with a little encouragement I managed to keep redirecting her back to it.  A little frustration is good, it is a matter of finding the balance.  I can see that the assessments may be a bit stressful for some children, and it is important they understand that they are not expected to know everything they are presented with. The children must choose the best answer they can without a parents help.  These assessments are truly the most difficult for the kids.

As with any learning tool, repetition, while important can be frustrating for children. Those that already know the material and those who struggle with it can get overwhelmed and not want to continue. Kaplan Kids handles this pretty well for all the practical materials (practice lessons) although the assessment portions can be a little more intense, especially when they are asking things the child has never seen.

I wish that it started out with a few games to set up momentum for the kids, however it jumps right into the assessment.  Knowing that more games are coming may provide extra motivation for the kids to stick out the assessments.  All in all, my daughter did not struggle very much and was able to cope pretty well.  I think this will depend on the child to a very large extent.  Right now she is a bit stuck on coin counting and I wish there was a way to skip it, go onto the next material, and then come back to it. For now we will focus on the reading portion, and then go back to maybe next week.

Kaplan Kids Virtual Room
Kaplan Kids Virtual Room

The Rewards Zone:
This section seems like it would work very well for an older child.  There is a virtual room that the child can “buy” items with points earned from practice to place in the room.  My daughter loves it, but I have to help her with it, I don’t think that the interface is the easiest for little ones.

There are also other things to do in the rewards section.  Like spin a wheel to win things like entry into drawings for Target Cards and  “plant a seed” which helps grow food for those in need. These options are fabulous for a slightly older child, but finding yourself trying to explain heady concepts like world hunger to a 5 year old is a bit exhausting. My DD just kept asking who exactly would be planting the seed, who would get to pick the vegetables and who was going to eat them, why didn’t she get to plant them because they were her seeds and don’t the neighbors just give food to their friends if they are hungry and………………  Yeah, well, these kinds of virtual rewards are difficult for younger children, and frankly a bit of a headache at least in my case.  I found myself trying to explain world hunger, companies who plant things for people to eat, and conservation to a 5 year old with insatiable questions.
At this point in order to make it easier and more concrete, we decided together to keep her

Examples of Kaplan Kids Reward Zone
Examples of Kaplan Kids Reward Zone

points and not spend them until she reaches certain numbers.  Instead, we set up specific goals for her (at 2000 points we would go to the green market and buy a bag of fresh fruit and vegetables and deliver them to the food pantry and at 5000 she would get a coveted toy she has been asking for).  I will also help her spend some points on things for the virtual room (when she gets enough points) and spin the wheel once a day. This plan seemed to keep her much more motivated.

Real Time Skill Status:
The parents section is pretty useful.  At first I was not sure how to read it but as I saw my child progress in her lessons,  it began to make more sense. It shows you in green the percentage of the academic skill that she has mastered, and compares it to the first day  she started (or whatever day you specify) so you have a reference of how far she has progressed  Skills not yet mastered show in red and white means that she has not yet been introduced to the skill by Kaplan Kids.  The nice thing is, it automatically moves up a grade when the child is ready.  My daughter is working on some skills at the Kindergarten level and has just started on a few skills in the 1st grade level.  This important to keep the material challenging, but not overwhelming.  Clicking on Details will show the parent an even more detailed breakdown of where the child is working, and excelling.

Kaplan Kids Skills Progress Report
Kaplan Kids Skills Progress Report

Clicking on Details will show the parent an even more detailed breakdown of where the child is working, and excelling.

All in all, I think it is a very good program.  In general, I think it would be best for older kids (at least 1st grade) although it is working very well for my almost Kindergartner.  I would recommend it to my friends to try it.  Leaning is an individual style and it is going to be different for every child, so while it may not work for every child, I think it will work for most.  On the Kaplan Kids main website, they have  a 1 week free trial, then it is $29 a month and you can cancel anytime.

Keeping Up With Kids did not receive any incentive or from Kaplan Kids to use this product.

Regal 1$ Summer Movie – Nationwide

Regal Theater Summer Movie LogoRegal Summer Movie Express!  Regal Theaters offer kids movies on Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 10am for nine weeks. Beginning June 11 in most Theaters.  Admission is $1 and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Will Rogers Institute.

Please check your local Regal Cinema for participation.

Week Title Rating Start Time
1 The Three Stooges PG 10am
1 Ice Age: Continental Drift PG 10am
2 Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days PG 10am
2 Parental Guidance PG 10am
3 Mr. Poppers’ Penguins PG 10am
3 Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked G 10am
4 Monte Carlo PG 10am
4 Rio G 10am
5 Coraline PG 10am
5 ParaNorman PG 10am
6 Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax PG 10am
6 Big Miracle PG 10am
7 Yogi Bear PG 10am
7 Journey 2: The Mysterious Island PG 10am
8 Racing Stripes PG 10am
8 Happy Feet Too PG 10am
9 African Cats G 10am
9 Chimpanzee G 10am

Lowe’s Build & Grow Free Kids Workshops

Lowe's Build & Grow

I thought I would repost this as there are several coming up and my daughter has been asking to go one.  Check the events calendar for the next one. Advance registration is required.

I had to run into Lowe’s the other week to return something for my husband and my daughter pointed out the giant sign on the wall that had Donkey’s dragon girlfriend from Shrek on it.  I realized it was for a free workshop to build the dragon. So of course I signed us up and we went.

It was really fun and really cute. Sorry for the lousy phone photos but I was being lazy and did not bring my camera.

You have to register online first. We showed up early and they were already set up. It was a little wood model with little nails and directions.

The attendant gave us the set, a hammer to use, and a cute Lowe’s apron for my daughter.

Lowe's Build & Grow

I had hoped there would be someone to help us figure out how to do it, but the attendant, while very friendly, did not offer any help.

I am of absolutely no use with tools but I did manage to figure out how to put it together on my own. Okay, well with a little help from my 4 year old and the people around me!

It was not exactly the way it was meant to be, but it worked and my daughter was so proud of herself for nailing it together.

When the project is complete the kids are given a cute little patch to take home. You can iron it onto their apron for them and they can wear it to the next workshop and earn another badge.

Lowe's Build & Grow

There is a Shrek Onion Carriage coming up the weekend of August 25th. Check out the Lowe’s Build and Grow link to register.