Friday, March 25, 2011

Review: Foreign Language Friends

I was recently asked by Denise Leitch of Foreign Language Friends to review her online Spanish language learning program. She explained that the target audience for the program is children aged 2 to 8. Since I have a two year old and five year old, my children would certainly fit into that category. However, since Spanish is their first language I decided to have my six year old English-speaking niece be my guinea pig on this project.

What is it?
Foreign Languages Friends is an online computer learning program that uses a "theme-based, full immersion approach" to learning Spanish. The child is given the choice of several themes, such as food, farm animals, and transportation, and through several different exercises practices the vocabulary words related to that theme. Some of these activities include matching games, a cartoon that uses the target vocabulary, a spelling bee, a sing-a-long song, and printables.

What I liked:
Eye-catching graphics
Quality, clear sound
Easy to navigate for my Kindergarten-aged niece
You can keep up with your child's mastery of an activity on the Progress Tracker.
Themes use relevant, interesting vocabulary
Vocabulary is repeated several times in several different contexts
Fun, engaging activities

What I would like to see:
My sister sat with my niece as she used the program and the only complaint that she had was that she did not understand some of what was said during the cartoons and the sing-a-longs. My suggestion for the company would be a "cheat sheet" with the translated dialog and songs for parents for this type of activity. Although I commend the company on using a "full immersion" approach, I know as a parent, who would like to be involved in the language learning process, I would like to be able to help by following along and answering questions.

Overall opinion:
I was very impressed with this program as a vocabulary-building activity. My niece very much wants to learn Spanish so that she knows what her cousins are saying. ;) She played several times and had to be pryed away from the computer each time. I quizzed her afterwards and she learned several vocabulary words from just a few sessions. She may be attending a Spanish immersion school next year and I think that she would benefit from the vocabulary that she can learn from this program. The Spanish vocabulary is too simple for my sons but I would be very interested in a French version of this program.

Disclosure: I was given a free trial of this program to review. I did not receive any other compensation from the company. All opinions are mine, my niece's, and my sister's.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My "Baby" Turns 5

While he slept I covered him in balloons.....
and then I made him a rocket ship cake to go with his Buzz Light year themed birthday party....
at Chuck-E-Cheese.
Since the day he turned four, Diego declared himself "almost five." He began to plan his fifth birthday party last spring and even made invitations last summer. I think it turned out to be a wonderful day and I am so proud of my sweet, sensitive, intelligent, silly little boy.

Te quiero mucho!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Bowling and Mini Golf

We recently found a fun playarea close to our house with a special child-sized bowling alley. The bowling balls are smaller and lighter and the lanes are shorter with bumpers on each of the sides. This was Diego's first experience bowling and it was a big hit. We are definitely going back next week when his cousin comes to visit.

I love his technique.
Afterwards, we tried mini golf for the first time also. Diego did not like this nearly as much because, to tell the truth, he was not very good at it. His friend who came with us is younger and was surprisingly good. Diego was not happy about this but I thought it was a good lesson that everyone has strengths and weakness and that it is ok to lose sometimes. We are still working on losing gracefully and I think that we will be for quite awhile.
All in all, a very fun day.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Finally Finished!

My boys are HUGE Lego fans. Usually they just play with the bucket of random Lego pieces and build whatever their creative little minds can think up. Diego, however, received a few Lego kits for his birthday and Christmas and we are slowly putting them together. I don't know how many pieces came with this Toy Story Trash Compactor set but it seemed like a million. Well, it is finally finished! Now a question for other Lego fanactics... What do you do with the large sets after you have played with them for a few days? Do you leave them put together on a shelf to admire? Or do you take them apart to put together another day? I'll admit that the latter option gives me a headache just thinking about it.

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