Company: Inspiration Software, Inc., 9400 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy, Suite 300, Beaverton, OR 97005. Phone: (800) 877-4292; Internet: www.inspiration.com
Price: $69—Single copy price. $40—Single license upgrade. $310—Five-computer license. $550—10-computer license. $895—20-computer license. Discounts are available for larger volume purchases and volume upgrades.
Kidspiration owners who purchased their software after Dec. 1, 2007, are eligible for a complimentary upgrade.
Audience: Grades K–5
Minimum System Requirements:Macintosh systems: G3 system, 300 MHz, 192 MB hard disk space (250 MB for full installation), and OSX version 10.2.8 or newer.
Windows systems: Pentium II, 266 MHz, 128 MB RAM, 75 MB hard disk space (250 MB for full installation), and Windows 98 or newer. Both systems must have a CD-ROM drive for CD installation. Optional items for both systems include a printer, internet browser, sound card and speakers, headphones, and an interactive electronic whiteboard.
Description: Kidspiration 3 updates the cross-curricular visual learning program designed to help young learners build fundamental skills in reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. New program features include new visual tools to assist in understanding math concepts, expanded language arts features, and an expanded searchable symbol library.
Overall Rating: *****
Ease of Use A
Product Support A
Installation/Access: Kidspiration 3 is easy to install. The CD-ROM offers full or minimum installation options.
If Kidspiration 3 is used to upgrade an older version, the new installation does not overwrite any earlier version of Kidspiration on the computer. This feature enables users to keep custom activities and custom symbol libraries. Installation Rating: A
Content/Features: The new features contained in Kidspiration 3 include tools for using visual learning to build math skills, a Word Guide, and additional enhancements that support vocabulary building, particularly for English language learners (ELL) and English as a second language (ESL) students.
The program offers five new visual math tools that add new strengths to the program. These tools address the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Curriculum Focal Points for grades K–5, including numbers and operations, measurement, algebra, and two-dimensional geometry.
The new math tools are Kidspiration Color Tiles, Kidspiration Pattern Blocks, Kidspiration Base Ten Blocks, Kidspiration Fraction Tiles, and Kidspiration Fraction Boxes.
The Color Tiles are used to count, compare, and explore number properties and operations and develop computation strategies. With the Color Tiles, students solve area and perimeter problems and model number patterns and the four basic math operations.
The moveable, stackable geometric shapes of the Pattern Blocks help students investigate the properties and attributes of shapes. Students use the Pattern Blocks to experiment with symmetry, represent fractions, and explore patterns and tessellations and similarity and congruence.
The units of ones, tens, hundreds, and thousands in the Base Ten Blocks help students understand place value and strengthen number sense. Students can count, compare, group, partition, and create equivalent representations of whole numbers and decimals and learn about procedures for operations on multidigit numbers.
The Fraction Tiles help students compare and order fractions and understand equivalent fractions. Students use the Fraction Tiles to find common denominators, translate between improper fractions and mixed numbers, and model basic operations with fractions.
The Fraction Boxes represent fractions visually to help students build a strong foundation for figure work with fractions. Students compare, order, simplify, and find equivalent fractions using the Fraction Boxes.
The "Getting Started" handbook provides tutorials for using these math tools. Topics include geometry using Pattern Blocks, place value with Base Ten Blocks, visualizing fractions with Fraction Tiles, and more.
Math work pages are provided as examples. Teachers can create a work page with a chart and numbers that students can use to build a bar graph using the Colored Tiles to represent the chart. The teacher can save and lock the assignment page so that many students can use it as a template. When students complete the work, they can print out the page or save it for the teacher to see.
The program’s enhanced audio support encourages students to express and document their ideas. Teachers can record instruction in native languages for ELL and ESL learners to improve student understanding. The Listen tool enables students to hear any text read aloud.
Additional new program features include an expanded library of more than 3,000 symbols that can be used to create webs, concept maps, and Venn diagrams to clarify thoughts, organize information, use new knowledge, and build critical thinking skills. Also provided are a larger visual work space to support higher resolution monitors and Windows Vista compatibility.
The new Word Guide provides access to nearly 13,000 words. Each entry includes definitions, recorded speech for pronunciation, synonyms and antonyms, parts of speech, and sample sentences. The Word Guide, aligned with Teachers of English as a Second Language vocabulary, pairs 1,400 words with images.
The program’s Writing View turns the organizer into an outline of ideas; the student controls the order of ideas and adds the details. The author can add unlimited lines of text. The text can be edited; formats can be changed with various fonts, font sizes, and more. The finished work can be saved and published in many popular word processing programs.
Predesigned activities for reading and writing, math, science, and social studies are available and ready for student use. These activities are appropriate for use by teachers as models for new practice activities on other topics.
The Balanced Meal is one of the predesigned activities. Graphics are placed in boxes representing each of the food groups. Students select the pictures that do not belong in the four shown groups and move them to another box. The students explain their choices using the program’s Writing View. These pages can be saved or printed.
A 30-day free trial is available. Content/Features Rating: A
Ease of Use: Kidspiration 3 is easy to use once the teacher and class are familiar with the software. The strength of the program is the way it lets students use visual tools to understand and organize their thoughts.
The graphic organizers are straightforward and easy to use. A new search tool makes it easier to find and work with the symbols and graphics. Tools help users create their own symbols and save them in a library.
The Getting Started manual includes installation steps and detailed tutorials about the program and the best ways to use it.
The tutorials provide step-by-step directions covering how to use the Picture View option and make webs, how to switch to the Writing View and begin to add the details of a story or report, how to categorize ideas and use the Super Grouper tool, how to create new activities using the Teacher menu, and more. All of the steps are written out and can be easily followed or reviewed. Ease of Use Rating: A
Product Support: Technical support can be requested through the company’s webpage, by email, and by calling the company’s toll-free telephone number.
Product support is available in the Getting Started guide with tutorials for the writing and math sections of the software. Additional resources for getting up and running, including an FAQ document listing common problems and solutions, can be found at the Inspiration website.
The company’s extensive online Curriculum Integration information is designed to help educators integrate the software and more visual learning work into their teaching. This feature provides many examples of pages created by teachers, offered by topic and grade level. Product Support Rating: A
Recommendation: I am delighted to review the latest edition of a helpful product that I have used in years past.
The new program features, including more vocabulary help and extensive math tools, bring this software right into line with today’s focus on state standards and specific skills testing.
Kidspiration 3 adds visual learning and a little fun into the practice and mastery of many important and difficult concepts. I highly recommend this product and encourage you to obtain this program or to upgrade to the new edition if you are working with an older version. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Susan W. Hixson, Integrating the Internet, educational consultant.