Samson's Classroom is a useful online tool for home educators and parents of students who are enrolled in school, but need some extra practice when they get home. Intended for grades K-5, Samson's Classroom is designed to build up proficiency in three core areas: sight words, spelling, and reading comprehension, all with the goal of helping your student become a better reader.
Two of my students, Ladybug and Cowboy, are already reading, but benefited from the spelling portion of the program, as well as reviewing the lists of 244 commonly used sight words already programmed into the system. My third student, Firefly, is just learning to read, and really enjoyed the Sight Words with Sampson portion of the program. She spent a lot of time doing the same lists, but I feel she was gaining confidence (and having a good time "doing school" like a "big kid.")
As a parent and a teacher, I liked the fact that there was flexibility in this program. I could choose to either have my child work on pre-programmed lists of sight and vocabulary words, or I could take the time and enter my own lists based on either our current studies or needs I identified in my students. It was very simple to create my own lists (I figured it out without reading any directions, which is my usual way of doing things), but since I liked the lists that already existed, we only did this once, to practice some of the "th" words that were tripping the kids up.
I also liked how the study portion of the program clearly read the words aloud, spelled them, then said them into a sentence. The reader's voice was soothing and easy to understand (it was a male voice). I thought it was great that Firefly could turn on the sight word practice portion and listen to the same word being spelled as many times as she wanted to. She is fairly auditory in her learning and she got a lot from the repetition. Of course, the repetition could be annoying to the other kids, so we got some headphones so that she could listen to her heart's content. All of the kids liked how you can print certificates for your folder once you have completed a level. They liked the tangible reward (along with some stickers, of course).
Here's an example of the reading practice.
The only thing I saw as a negative was that the reading practice seems to start at a fairly high level, and once you start reading a passage, you must finish it and answer all of the questions or else the unanswered ones will be marked wrong. This stressed out my readers, and it took practice and lots of support from me to keep them from getting to uptight to complete the lesson. I would add passages on lower levels (much shorter and simpler ones...I can't imagine a kindergarten student completing even the level one of the first passage unless he'd been reading since age four), and perhaps allow the parent the option of letting passages be marked as incomplete (which can be finished later) if the student stops. The passages are fairly lengthy for beginning readers and might need to be broken down into shorter bits for some students (of course, this becomes less of a problem if they were to add simpler, more basic passages and let the kids work their way up to the tougher ones).
My kids all liked Samson's Classroom and we plan to continue using it throughout the rest of the school year. It gives me something worthwhile to let one student work on while I work personally with another student. Cowboy saw working in Sampson's Classroom as a reward rather than work, so it was motivating for him when it came to getting his book work done.
Here's what the kids had to say about Samson's Classroom:
Cowboy says: It's great! Samson Classroom's games are really fun. The best ones are "Crunch Time" and "Spelling Scramble." "Crunch Time" is so funny because you have to spell the words and the walrus crunches pieces of your iceberg until it's all gone (if you don't spell fast enough, that is). "Spelling Scramble" is crazy because the spiders try to catch you while you are collecting the right letters. Once it is easy for you, you can go up to a harder level, so it's always a challenge. It's awesome.
Crunch Time...oops, somebody spelled a word wrong!
Firefly says: I liked the sight word practice part (Sight Words with Samson). It would say and spell the word over and over again, as many times as I wanted it to. It read the word in a sentence, too. I had lots of time to write and learn the words. Some of the games were hard for me, but Ladybug and Cowboy helped me. I liked the "Missing Letters" Karate Chop game the best. It was fun!
Sight Word Practice and Games
If Samson's Classroom looks like something that would benefit your family, the price is very reasonable. The cost for one student for a year is $30, and to make the subscription a family subscription (up to four students) costs only $50. You don't find many deals like that out there these days!
To read more reviews by other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, check out the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.
Disclaimer: I received a yearly family subscription for the purposes of writing this review. This review contains the honest opinions of myself and my family members, and reflects our own personal experiences with this product. No other compensation was received.