Thursday, October 25, 2012

Samson's Classroom

Online education is becoming very popular. I use it for a few subjects in our homeschooling, and understand that it does have something to offer to my children. And this product I reviewed, Samson's Classroom is another great online resource.

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What It Is:

Samson's Classroom is meant for beginning readers. Samson is the cartoonish dog-host, and takes your child on a fun journey through three components:

Sight Words with Samson, Spelling with Samson, and Reading with Samson.

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The Sight Words section has 28 different lists of sight words. These are Dolch words; for example the first list has words like and, is, and in, and the last word list contains words like around, name, and yellow. Each list has eight words with five steps to complete. Each of the steps is a fun game and includes ones like filling in the missing letters, picking out the correct word to match the word heard, and spelling the word using a word bank. Each step is progressively more challenging and age appropriate for early readers.


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Spelling with Samson is another feature of the program. In this section, you as the teacher can create spelling lists for your child. These lists can contain up to 30 words of your choosing. In the spelling portion, your child will move through 4 games:

Study Zone - an introduction to the word and its meaning
Missing Letters - your child helps Samson the dog choose the missing letters for each word
Spelling Scramble - gather the letters and then put them together to form the words
Crunch Time - Spell the words before the walrus dumps you in the icy water

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If your child gets a word wrong in any of these games then on the main page they have a red dot next to that game title. They can always go back and try the game again to get a green dot.


The Reading portion of this program focuses on reading comprehension. There are four different levels to choose from, each with a broad range of stories. These are short stories, meant to test understanding.

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After your child has read the passage, there are questions to answer. One thing about this section is that once you begin a passage you cannot go back to the main menu, you must finish reading and answer the questions. After each passage is read and the questions are answered there is a fun game to play called Hammer Time. Your child, with the help of the space bar and timing, will make Samson hit the bell in a carnival-type hammer swing game.

You can see a demo page here where you can play each of the games and check them out.


What You Get:

I was given the Family Membership; for $50 a year up to four children can have user accounts at Samson. They also offer individual accounts for $30 a year and a classroom account for up to 30 users for only $80 a year. This includes any updates and complete access to their expanding products. As the account administrator you can monitor each child's progress, and see where they are in each of the categories. There is also a resource section for teachers that you can utilize. Here you can download lesson plans, worksheets, and award certificates for your students. You can see more information about Samson Education on their website.

How We Used This:

Samson's Classroom is for children that are reading at beginning levels. With this in mind I had Dasher do the program. Every day I had her spend 20-30 minutes playing the games. She fit perfectly into level 1 in all three categories.

The Sight Words section was the one where she probably improved the most. The games were very helpful and gave her the tools to learn to recognize words and spell them. She especially liked the ones where she would choose the correct spelling of the word to fit a sentence. I printed off a few worksheets for her to do from some of the levels she was working at; this gave her some seat work time and was good writing practice.

The Spelling section worked well for her also; in one of the games a spider chases Samson as he collects the letters in the words. Once he catches Samson he wraps him up in a web, but then scurries off and lets him finish unhindered. The spider moves pretty fast and so when Dasher would play this game she ended up letting him capture her, and then she would go off to get the rest of the letters. I made up all the lists for Dasher from a spelling book; at first I made up my lists with 20 words but soon realized that was a bit too much. 10 words per list made the games seem not so long and the words list more manageable.


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The Reading Comprehension section asked just the right amount of questions. The stories were simple and not too long. There is a clock that ticks off the time on the upper part of the screen; she does not do well with pressure so we ended up covering the clock with a post-it note. It was upsetting to her that she could not go back and correct her wrong answers in this section, so we had a couple of conversations about trying to be perfect, but knowing that mistakes can and will be made.

How I Liked It:

I like using online programs for parts of our schooling. And this one had the perfect amount of fun. Not too much that Dasher was distracted, but enough to hold her attention. At one point I thought there were too few games for the spelling section. But then I realized that Dasher would see the red dots next to a spelling list game (a red dot means that she got parts of the game wrong) and she would go back and replay it until she got the game perfectly. (A green dot!) This turned out to really motivate her and she would even go beyond my time range for computer time and want to keep playing. I also appreciated that I could very easily make up spelling lists for her to use. She does not do well with time restraints so a couple of the games frustrated her, but I do think that the time ticking was also motivating her as well. I plan to continue to have her work her way through the program in the coming months and have been pleased with her progress.

See what other Crew members had to say about Samson's Classroom by clicking below!

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Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a year's subscription to this product, at no cost to me, for my honest and humble review. All opinions are mine.

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