Category Archives: math

AIM from Math-U-See ~ a Crew review

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Our 6th grader enjoys math but has struggled with the multiplication facts. I felt fairly confident she understood the concept, since she was able to show that to me with manipulatives when she was 4, but she still counted a good number of the facts on her fingers. Accelerated Individualized Mastery (AIM) for Multiplication with a Bridge to Division is a product from Math-U-See that is designed for students age 10 and up who struggle with multiplication. The struggle can be in the concept or it could be in just some of the memorization. This program helps you find out where the struggle is and gives specific teaching techniques and learning activities to help combat those struggles.

In more formal language, this is considered an intervention program and is designed for students who are struggling that you don’t expect to be doing so. It is instructor guided, meaning it is teacher prepped and teacher guided. The teacher is a part of every bit of this program. AIM for Multiplication comes with everything needed to teach the program. It includes:

  • AIM Multiplication Resource Guide
  • Math-U-See Integer Blocks (amount needed for these lessons)
  • Math Fact Strategy Posters
  • Fact Check Cards
  • Code for online access to the Digital Pack (required internet access)

I was not concerned about Miss J not having all of the facts memorized but we have seen how it is affecting her a small bit as she works on her math program. Mastering these would help her math be more efficient and enjoyable. The program is designed to work with the individual student where that student is and mastering, truly mastering, the facts before moving on. Thus, the 10 lessons may take a few days to a few month, depending on your student’s mastery.

There are 10 lessons for addressing the 2s to 10s and two addition lessons to teach the relationship of multiplication to division (the bridge to division part). We are in lesson 8. We spent about 10-15 minutes a day on the lessons while she continues to use her regular math curriculum. The program combines a hands-on component, a visual component, and an auditory component in the teaching of each fact family. From there, the program has teaching techniques to help the student “fade” the hands-on component into a mastery recall of 3 seconds or less. All of these techniques and lessons are shown step by step in the online Digital Pack and in the Resource Guide.

Each fact family lesson has four parts – A through D. A is the direct teaching with the hands-on component. B is applying the ideas to word problems to really understand the learning. C is working on the memory. D is fading to total recall. You can work on each of these steps as many times as needed before moving on to the next one. It is recommended to not work on these for more than 15 minutes at a time and have a break of at least 2 hours in between sessions.

Included with AIM are several activities that can be used with any of the fact families for practice. Miss J’s favorite of these is rock, paper, scissors. (She wins most of the time!) There are online manipulatives and activities that we have not explored as much since Miss J is a hands-on learner. They are available, as well as the practice activities, in the Digital Pack.

As each fact family is learned, Miss J is coloring those facts on a chart. This is a visual representation of what she has done.

I have been pleased with the simplicity of the program combined with the progress I have seen. After we finish the lessons, we will retake the facts test to see how Miss J does. We did a pre-assessment so we have something to compare it to. I cannot wait to see her improvement. After we get through the bridge to division, we will also use some of the printable worksheets to help her continue to keep those facts solidly in her mind.

If you have a struggling student, Accelerated Individualized Mastery (AIM) for Multiplication with a Bridge to Division is something I would recommend. You can also visit the Homeschool Review Crew site to read about other families’ experiences using AIM for Multiplication from Math-U-See.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Learning Math Online ~ a Crew review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Math learning can be challenging. Math teaching can be challenging. MathandAlgebra.com is an online subscription that can take the challenge out of it all.

Presented in a combo online/offline format, the goal of MathandAlgebra.com is to help student learns math in a fun and accessible way. This increases not only skill but also confidence. The instructor is Rick Fisher, a math teacher with over 30 years of experience. He has been able to help many students increase their math skills by using his classes for 20 minutes a day.

MathandAlgebra.com has four available classes – Basic Math, Advanced Math, Pre-algebra, and Algebra. A subscription provides access to all four of these courses to work through at your pace.

Each lesson is composed of just a couple of steps. First, Miss L would watch the video. Each video is fairly short; most of the videos we watched were less than 5 minutes. These videos have Mr. Fisher’s voice teaching the concept while you see him writing on the white board. Students are encouraged to copy the exercises as he teaches. Miss L wrote them in her notebook with each page dates and the lesson number included.

showing work complete on left and the video for the current concept
at the bottom of the page you have access to the worksheet and answer key, as well as the place to mark your lesson complete

Next, access the worksheet. It can be viewed online or printed. We did some of both. Work through each of the questions. Again, Miss L wrote them into her notebook.

Once the student has answered all of the questions, the answer key can be accessed. Grade the worksheet at this point. Miss L had to correct any missed questions. Unfortunately, if a question is not understood, there is not an annotated explanation of the answer. Hopefully, the parent assisting can figure out what was missed. So far, in the algebra class, we did not hit any that I could not understand.

Miss L worked through the first few weeks of the algebra course. It came along right after she finished her pre-algebra work. There was not a placement test of any sort, so she had to begin at the start of the course. If you know your student well, you could probably have them skip over parts at the beginning of the class, especially if they are just coming off a course that covered those exact same concepts.

The interface is fairly easy to use. You can see what lessons have been completed in working on the course by the green checked circles. Also, if you have completed the lesson, than the “mark complete” at the bottom is grayed out. The student can easily know where to start each day by remembering to click that “mark complete” when they finish checking each worksheet.

The simplicity of this course is appealing. It doesn’t have lots of bells and whistles and jumps straight into what is needed to be learned for that lesson. Watch the video, do the worksheet. After completing the unit, take the quiz. Move on to the next one. Straight-forward.

The teacher/parent does have access to a simple report listing what quiz the student took on what dates and the grade received. The daily work is not graded online. That is graded by the student or the parent/teacher. If you want to include it in the overall grade, you will do that on your own.

If you are looking for a straight-forward, online math program with a video component, this might be a good fit for you. It is just that. Math taught without bells and whistles to confuse things.

Want to see what other families thought? Visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read additional reviews.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Math Sprint by Byron’s Games ~ a Crew review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Math is a skill that takes practice and repetition. Games are a fun way to learn and practice. Byron’s Games has combined the two in Math Sprint  – The Mental Math Game. This board game is designed for 2-8 players and is marked for ages 7+. (However, if students are learning addition, they are ready for this game so students as young as age 4 or 5 could easily play.)

Byron’s Games is a company that is named after the main creative power – Byron. Byron was only 6 years old when he had an extensive hospital stay. During that time, he was fascinated with the Olympics and geography. That manifested itself in the creation of his first original game – Continent Race. (Read our review of that game.) Since then, he and his family have founded a company that carries Continent Race and other items and just released its second original game – Math Sprint  – The Mental Math Game. A portion of the profits is returned to select children’s charities.

Math Sprint  – The Mental Math Game is a board game that can be a quick 30 minute sprint or a longer distance race. It is appropriate for students learning their beginning math facts up through students who benefit from a review of math facts. There are even blank cards that can be used to create more challenging problems to solve. This adapatibility makes it a great classroom or homeschool or family fun night game.

Math Sprint comes with the board (which is a running track with 8 lanes), 258 cards with 2 math problems on each, 10 dry erase cards, 1 dry erase marker, 8 runner playing pieces, and instructions. It is tucked into a sturdy box. Each of the player pieces corresponds to a picture in the instruction booklet, allowing students to choose one that has similar interests to them. The “runners” have interests of chemistry, games, baseball, gymnastics, tricks/magic, soccer, basketball, and dance. This allows the student to get more involved in their game.

Game play simply involves moving forward each time a math question is answered correctly. There are multiple distances that can be chosen, each affecting the length of the game.
– For the shortest game, choose the 100m dash. This works well for the youngest players, for the shorter games time/length, and for the first time playing while learning the game.
– The next distance is 200m and it is good for older players or players who want a longer game time. It also allows for more variation in the game.
– The longest marked distance is 400m. It is for the most advanced players and for the longer game times. Again, it allows for additional variation.

The card deck comes with 258 cards that each have 2 problems on them. They are color coded for addition/subtraction facts and multiplication/division facts.

There are different colored cards for the challenge cards. These included some double digit addition and subtraction problems as well as some word problems. The wild cards were also color coded and each included an event (getting blown off track, for example) and an advancement or backwards movement.

These cards are where a lot of the variation can be created and where the game can be focused for individual students.Variations can come through mixing in the wild cards and the challenge cards. You can also use multiple distances for multiple ages or use the blank cards to write more difficult mental math problems. You could do a relay race with older and younger students working together. The initial rules have a correct answer worth 2 spaces; you can vary that and allow the student to choose an easy question worth 1 space or a harder question worth 2 spaces. You can vary the deck used for students, pulling out specific fact cards you want worked on. The possibilities for variation grow as the game becomes more familiar.

Miss J is 11 and is fairly strong in her basic addition and subtraction facts. Her multiplication and division facts could use some strength. We played with the multiplication and division cards. We kept it to the upper numbers (sixes through twelves) so that she was working the facts she struggles with having memorized. She did not enjoy having the wild cards in the deck so we did not use those. We played a couple of variations of the game, including one where I had to go around the board 2 times and she had to go around once.

While the game is marketed as a game for all ages, it definitely suits the students in the elementary age range the best. Mental math in this game refers mostly to memorizing math facts in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. And this is exactly what is needed for the elementary ages. With the runners having hobbies that the students can relate to, Math Sprint  – The Mental Math Game will be a hit.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read additional reviews from families with other aged students who have been playing this game in their homes. Also, Byron’s Games has released an app for Continent Race that is available in both Android and iOS operating systems. I have been playing it on my phone and really enjoying it. This free app will help players learn the regions and countries of the world.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Reading Eggs for all things reading (plus some math) ~ a Crew review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Reading Eggs is an online program that many are familiar with. It is hard to go very long in the online education world without coming across this program from Blake eLearning Inc. There is a reason for this – their products do a very good of just what they are supposed to do: support students in the many different aspects of reading (aka language arts) and math (for their math component). I was so pleasantly surprised last time we used the program and we were pleased to take a look at it again this summer.

Reading Eggs site has programs for ages 2-13, depending on the child and family choice. These programs can be accessed through an internet browser or their new app, including iOs and Android apps. We typically use the browser but I have downloaded the Android app and it works pretty well. There are five programs in the Reading Eggs company:

1: Reading Eggs Junior – ages 2-4: toddler games, songs, and activities designed to build pre-reading skills such as alphabet knowledge and phonetic awareness

2: Reading Eggs – ages 3-7: games, activities, and books to work on reading and language arts skills such as reading comprehension, phonics, spelling, and vocabulary

3: Fast Phonics – ages 5-10: helps instruct students in all 26 letters of the alphabet and the 44 sounds in English while reinforcing reading and spelling (Note on site says it moves more quickly than Reading Eggs so they recommend not trying this any earlier than age 5)

4: Reading Eggspress – ages 7-13: students build skills in reading comprehension, spelling, and vocabulary while reading real books

5: Math Seeds – ages 3-9: students work on their core math skills and problem solving skills

There are so many highly engaging activities that the students really seem to stay involved in the learning process and are motivated to do their best by an integrated reward system. This reward system allows them to earn eggs for payment towards upgrading their avatar, the avatar’s home, and pets. This is a safe online place for the student to learn while playing.

Miss J has used this some this summer to keep her “thinking cap” on. She is working at a 6th grade level and is 11 years old. She has worked in the Reading Eggspress portion of the program. As you can see, she was on 150 for this screenshot.

She enters and chooses the lesson to work on for the day.

We required one lesson to be completed each time she logged in before she could do any of the other games or spend time on her avatar and home. These lessons could be really quick (15-20 minutes) if the book she was working with wasn’t too challenging. Most times, though, it took a bit longer than that.

Each lesson had multiple parts to it, as you can see on the left hand side of the image below. For examples, on lesson 150, she had to look at the cover of the story and answer questions based on the cover. She had to do a dictionary activity and then work on “who, what, where, and what.” Following that, there was an activity on making inferences and a fill in the blank acticity. Next she had to work on words in context and a reading comprehension activity. Finally, she had to complete a quiz related to all of the previous activities. If she was unable to complete them all during her time, it would allow her to pick up where she left off so no work was lost.

She didn’t mind it too much but it definitely was not as engaging for her this year as it was last time we used the program. She did like the races that she got to do on spelling and word forms in the stadium after she finished her lesson and she absolutely adored getting to play with her avatar’s home. But, she is definitely at the upper end of the appeal for Reading Eggs.

One thing I plan to have her use more often this fall is new to the Reading Eggs family. In Math Seeds, you will find Mental Minute. This is a one minute challenge of math facts. This is an area that most students need to shore up a bit so we will be having her log into this area once or twice a week. She will need to work in both the addition and subtraction section, as well as the multiplication and division area.

Between the programs that have been around for a long time with Reading Eggs and their new ones such as Fast Phonics and the Mental Minute, there is a good bit to continue challenging your student from their very young preschool years up through their middle school years. Add to it the easy access for the parents to see what kind of growth is being made and this is a great program. As you can see, growth is shown from the dashboard in various areas.

The Homeschool Review Crew has had a number of families using Reading Eggs from Blake eLearning Inc. You can read reviews of their experiences with students of all ages by visiting the Crew website and choosing several other reviewers to read.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Understanding Math with CTCMath ~ a Crew review

Understanding Math with CTCMath

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

We have tackled math from so many standpoints over the years! It is always good when a child feels like it is working. CTCMath is a program that we have tried several times. It has become a good fit for all three girls now that they are older. Miss E and Miss L were a part of the review last year and stuck with the program the whole year. Miss J tried it last year but it wasn’t a good fit for her. This year, though, it has been just what she needed!

CTC-Math

Screenshot 2020-07-28 at 9.07.28 AMWe received a subscription to CTCMath with their 12-month Family membership. This gave us a login for each of the girls, plus a separate parent login for management of student accounts. There is a single membership for one student and the family membership covers the whole family. Each student has access to the entire set of lessons, from kindergarten lessons through Calculus.

CTCMath is a full math curriculum on one site. The site itself is very easy to navigate. Miss J is working on 6th grade math. Miss L is finishing up middle school math/pre-algebra and about to dig into algebra 1. Miss E is finishing up algebra II and will be starting geometry very soon.

If you are interested in a placement test to find where to start your student on this program, there is one available. It is a progressive test so it may take a good bit of time to complete. We have always chosen to forego the placement and make the best decision we can based on what the girls are successful with when we start lessons.

Each lesson has a video, a set of questions and/or a worksheet, and a printable lesson summary. These videos run between a couple of minutes, especially at the lower levels, up to 17 or 18 minutes for algebra II and geometry. The online questions are generally a set of 10, though we have seen as few as 8. The worksheet is in addition to the online questions, in our experience, and have a good number more questions to answer. The girls answer these online and have the computer grade it.

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The computer grades the online questions and the input answers from the worksheet. The parent/teacher can set the passing level. Our girls’ are set at 80% correct for passing. The reason for this is if we put it at 90% and they make one silly mistake or click something wrong, it fails them. 80% passing allows 2 mistakes. If the topic is not passed, the student can redo it and the program will average the grades together. This makes it really important for the student to try their hardest, even when they know they will have to do it again.

For the most part, the videos do a very good job of explaining topics. In algebra II, we have found that At Home Dad needs to be around to help with the explanations because there are quite a few that the online video is not enough of an explanation for. The worksheets for middle school and high school math tend to throw a couple of twists into the questions and they are not always twists that make sense to my girls. They often need assistance with this part of their daily lesson.

streamers in the background

For 6th grade math, Miss J can finish her lesson in under 20 minutes. She gets really proud when she does well because at her level, she gets streamers in the background if she gets 100%. Miss L tends to take between 45 minutes and an hour. Miss E has her lessons vary widely. Some days she flies through them in 20 minutes. Other lessons it will take her multiple days to work through.

The parent side of the program allows the parent/teacher to set daily tasks and assign work. You can set up weekly reviews.

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You can create worksheets based on topics that need more work and print those out.

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You can access and print out different types of reports to keep track of your student’s progress.

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Another feature I really like is that I can log into the girls’ site from the parent portal when they are struggling and see the exact lesson they are struggling with. Being able to watch the video and work the questions without messing up their work is a great thing. While most of these actions are intuitive, there are video tutorials available if you need more assistance.

There are weekly reports sent via email that keep the parent/teacher up to date on what the student has done. These can be downloaded and saved. They are also available through the parent portal.

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What the girls thought:

Miss J – I think this is an okay program. I like the teacher. He is pleasant and smart. He makes math concepts that I don’t know easier. Not always because sometimes he makes them more complicated for me but he does make most of them easier for me to understand. I like that it is easy to complete my lessons.

Miss L – It doesn’t have the overwhelming amount of review that other programs have had. The videos themselves are easy to understand and I feel like I grasp the concept. Most of my problems come when I get to the worksheet and they ask a question that was not explained in the videos. It is on the same topic but with a twist or two that I cannot figure out. That is definitely the most frustrating part. But overall, I like it better than other programs.

Miss E – One of the things I like about CTCMath is that it is very straight-forward and it is very easy to use. I feel like I have adjusted well to this program and I understand how things are presented. This simplicity makes it a good program for me. I have noticed that there are some adjustments that I have to make due to the fact that I have not used this program for several years straight. Some of the terms used I need additional help understanding because I know them by a different name or I have learned to work a concept in a different way. I still like the program and am pleased we are keeping it.

Still not sure about the 12-month Family membership? There is a free trial available on the website. Or you can visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read more reviews from other families who have been using CTCMath with their students for the past few weeks.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

an online k-12 full math curriculum with video instruction

Logic & Math Skills with The Critical Thinking Co.™ ~ a Crew review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Logic & Math Skills

The Critical Thinking Co.™ has so many products that we have used and loved over the years of home education. There is always something to discover that we didn’t know before and this is yet another gem. Mastering Logic & Math Problem Solving (Grades 6-9) is available as either a physical book or a downloadable ebook (Windows only) and is packed full with problem solving.

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In the introduction to the book, problem solving is defined as “any problem or activity that requires a series of thinking skills.” (p. iii) This means that it is a multi-step function in thinking and requires more than just simple arithmetic skills. They can be games, puzzles, brainteasers, and other formats; they just have to engage the brain in a series of steps in problem solving.

Mastering Logic & Math Problem Solving is set up  with some introductory material, ten chapters, an answer key, and two appendices.

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It is rich and full and can be used in a number of different ways. We used it as a fun activity for my 9th grader and my 6th grader. They both have brains that love logic and challenges that require in depth thinking. I wanted to engage them in challenges without it being a “curriculum” piece. I placed the book out on the table and it was not even a full hour before it was picked up and snuck off with. It was placed back on the table a bit later and I found out that my 9th grader had taken it to solve a few puzzles in her closet. (A closet learner! I LOVE it!)

We have been carrying it with us back and forth to dance classes as they prepare for recital and it has been a good fit for this purpose. This was just a good fit when we need something new do during the long hours of sitting in the car (since the social distancing means that no one except students and teachers can be in the dance studio and we are doing about 20 hours of dance a week). We would pull it out and pick a few that look fun.

Mastering Logic & Math Problem Solving

Mastering Logic & Math Problem Solving – standing at the car working on some problems

Often we would choose some that were mental skills. These did not require a copy of the page or a piece of paper and pencil. Just mental considerations for the most part. (The Critical Thinking Co.™ has one of the most generous copyright agreements I have seen. The owner of the book can copy as needed for their family or classroom. The digital owner can print as much as needed for their family or classroom.) We would do a few and then go on to some other activity. This prevented a stressing situation and became something fun and different. The freedom to choose activities meant they were finding something appealing to them and that they wanted to work on. This freedom is part of what has made this use of the book so successful for us. No pressure, no expectation, just fun.

Mastering Logic & Math Problem Solving

Mastering Logic & Math Problem Solving – a “crossing the river” problem

Mastering Logic & Math Problem Solving

Mastering Logic & Math Problem Solving – a classical brain teaser

There were some days when I pulled it out at home, too. I would leave it on the table and just grab it and start looking through it. Often, Miss J would walk up beside me and watch over my shoulder as I worked on one. She did this when I was working out how many rectangles were in this picture. We talked about ways to solve it before reading their tips at the bottom of the page.

Masteric Logic & Math Problem Solving - working on a counting challenge

Mastering Logic & Math Problem Solving – working on a counting challenge

This book will stay close at hand all summer long as enriching and engaging activity for the girls through the hot days. They will pick it up to do on their own or to challenge each other with. Sometimes, just to see what Mom can do, too. 🙂

We have enjoyed having this around and I know it will continue to get use in the weeks to come.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read more reviews on products from Critical Thinking Co.™  Also reviewed were:

Who Is This Kid? Colleges Want to Know! (Grades 9-12+)

Dare to Compare Math: Beginning (Grades 2-3)

Creative Problem Solving Level 1 (Grades PreK-2)

Click on the link below to visit the Crew blog and read more.

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Logic & Math Thinking Skills for grades 6-9

Math & Spelling practice with Math Shed and Spelling Shed ~ a Crew review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

math and spelling practice

Practice is something that is so helpful for math and spelling. Both of these areas are skill based so doing something over and over is key. Math Shed  and Spelling Shed can help in these areas. Miss J is at the top end of the skill and age range for these products but we have still seen them help her a good amount.

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Each of these programs are designed for either independent use or for use in a classroom/school setting. Homeschool use has been great for us. Miss J logs in each day to her own hub and can choose either Math Shed or Spelling Shed. We have asked her to use each one for a minimum of 10 minutes per day and told her which lists/skills to work on. We are a bit hit and miss on the daily use due to our stretched out dance schedules at the moment, as we are still working towards a recital at the end of the month. Even so, we have seen improvements in her skills and she enjoys using this program.

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Math Shed allows her to pick skills she needs to work on – addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, powers of 10, and number bonds. She started with a review of powers of 10 and number bonds. Now, she is working in the multiplication and division area.

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She chooses which set she is working on and then a choice of easy, medium, or hard. After choosing those settings, she has 1 minute to answer as many as possible.

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on computerIt is not a stressful minute and she seems to enjoy playing it. We have her do a minimum of 3 games, only 1 of which can be on an easy level.

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Spelling Shed is game based work on spelling. We have Miss J working on stage 4 & 5, which is the most challenging sets of words.

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Once she chooses that, she can then choose the play option. She uses Play, which is sort of like a board game we love where you find letters to create words. This has four levels – easy, medium, hard, and extreme. This requires a student to be working with a particular word list and works on both the spelling a definitions.

When she has completed three rounds of the word list set game, she can go to the bonus games and play with whatever words she can find.

spelling game

Most of the games require a word list for the student to be working on. These can be found in the Teacher Hub. The login for the Teacher Hub is different from the student’s login information.

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In the Teacher Hub, you will find videos to help you get started and learn a bit about the different ways Math Shed and Spelling Shed can be utilized. There is an easy to see reminder of how much longer your subscription is active. There is a visual chart of the student’s days’ logged in. And there is a place to make assignments, among other useful information.

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The assignment feature could be really helpful if you are working diligently on a particular curriculum. You can use the word lists that are built into the spelling side of the site or you can even add your own. We just used what was available. It was good challenges. You can make assignments if your student is one who works better with particular assignments or if you need to record these things for record keeping.

Another thing you can find in the Teacher Hub is the spelling curriculum. This includes teaching help, activities, and printable lists. Phonics based lessons are available and word lists increase in difficult as they progress. It is a wealth of information and activities. There are 36 weeks of lists and activities to use in addition to the website practice games. You can view and download a sample from their site.

avatar creation

And I can’t forget to mention – they get to design their own avatar. Through getting skills completed and growing in their ability, they can even “purchase” items for their avatar. This is a great incentive for many students.

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Math Shed and Spelling Shed are great additions to a spine curriculum in either subject and will add fun practice and challenge. Spelling Shed can also be that main curriculum for spelling and vocabulary if you are looking for that for either a home education setting or a classroom setting. Interested? They do have free trials available without having to enter credit card information. There is also an app available for those who prefer that format.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read additional reviews from other homeschooling families who have been using Math Shed and Spelling Shed with their students.

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_Math Shed and Spelling Shed

Mastering Essential Math Skills ~ a Crew review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Mastering Math Skills

Math is a subject that we strive to be consistent on – consistent in our choice of curriculum, consistent in our daily requirements, consistent in our approach. It is easy, especially with math, to say “This isn’t working. I need something else.” Much of the time that something else is just a bit of practice and changing up how you do that practice can be very helpful. Enter Math Essentials. They have several products but for practice, we have been using Mastering Essential Math Skills Book 2 Middle Grades/High School.

Mastering Essential Math Skills

Mastering Essential Math Skills is not a complete curriculum in itself but is meant to supplement something else and provide practice on skills that need refreshing or strengthening. That is how we used this book with our 11 year old, rising 6th grade student – practice on the things that need reviewed and/or practiced for speed and accuracy.

The book is set up simply:

  • introductory notes to the teacher or parent and on using the book
  • table of contents, skill by skill with page numbers – includes whole numbers, fractions, decimals, percent, geometry, integers, charts and graphs, and word problems
  • workbook pages (5-127 are the student work pages)
  • answer key (128-148)
  • glossary, important symbols chart, multiplication table, common prime numbers chart, square and square root chart, and fraction/decimal equivalent chart

The plan? One page a day should take approximately 20 minutes and then on to the regular curriculum lesson for the day. Designed to fit neatly into a classroom schedule, it works beautifully in a homeschool setting. Actually, it may fit even better because when we found a skill that was stumbled over, we always corrected work with the student talking about her mistake or we repeated the page when there was a good bit missed and it was clear something wasn’t understood or remembered. This ability to customize the use of the book is just one more reason homeschooling is so student focused and Mastering Essential Math Skills fits perfectly to this customization.

So what does a page look like? There are five sections to each page.

  1. speed drillsSpeed Drills – These are two sets of problems, one is an addition set and one a multiplication set. The teacher chooses the number of the day – say 2 – and the student goes around the circle as quickly as possible, adding 2 to each number and writing the answer in the outside ring. In the other circle, the student multiplies each number by 2. We would set a timer for this section and see how quickly Miss J could complete it. If it took her longer than a minute, we used the same number the next day.
  2. Review Exercises – 4 problems that review much simpler concepts and should not take the student long.
  3. helpful hints sectionHelpful Hints – Tips and ideas that will help the student solve more quickly. These can be as simple as a reminder like “find the difference” means to subtract (p 7) or “Add as many zeroes as necessary.” for dividing decimals (p 63). Some of the tips could also be a reminder to draw a diagram or find a formula to help.
  4. Problems – There are two sample problems for the teacher and student(s) to work together and then 10 problems for the student to work individually. There is an answer box on the right for the student to put the answer in to make grading easier if the teacher has a large number of books to grade.
  5. Problem Solving – Each page has one word problem related to the concept for the student to solve. This is a great way to include word problems without the overwhelm of a whole unit just on word problems.

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Each day, Miss J completed one page. We would correct it together, talking about her mistakes. The pages did not have tons of room on them for her to work her problem so she often had to get scrap paper to work on and then transferred her answer to the worksheet. If your student writes small and neat, there is likely plenty of room. We are still trying to reach that point, though. We did have several times where we repeated a day but we have finished the whole numbers section of the book.

working on a page

We are going to be using this a piece at a time, not the whole book all at once. But as Miss J works through a sections, such as the decimals that she just finished in her main curriculum, we will pull this book and use some of the pages to review while she moves on in her other curriculum. Once she moves past the geometry in her main math, we’ll move to that section and use the pages that fit what she knows.

A different options would be to use this as your main math but to complete more than one page each day in it, taking time to teach and review any concepts that are not already known. But since these are skills that should be understood by high school, a semester of solid review is not a bad thing. And some sections could easily be flown through, like adding and subtracting with whole numbers.

No Nonsense AlgebraOne note – there are videos available to accompany this book. We did use them since we were in the whole numbers section but they might be helpful in some of the other, more advanced sections. There is a video set for each main concept section of the book and the information on how to access them is shared in the front of the book.

We have used products from Math Essentials before. We reviewed No-Nonsense Algebra a while back and Miss E used it for her algebra I class. Miss L will use it next fall when she begins algebra I. We like the easy and simplicity of the books and definitely recommend them where they fit your need.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read additional reviews on Mastering Essential Math Skills Book 2 Middle Grades/High School but to also find reviews on No-Nonsense Algebra and on Math Refresher for Adults. Click on the banner below.

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Math from Channie’s ~ a Crew review

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Workbooks often have a bad reputation but we have had great success with some of them. This review was somewhat of a surprise for us in this regards and what a good surprise it has been. Having not heard of Channie’s Visual Handwriting & Math workbooks before, giving their math workbooks a chance seemed like a good thing to do, though we were having a good run with our current math program. After all, practice time is always good with multiplication. So, we requested One Page A Day 2 Digit Multiplication Practice . We were pleasantly surprised to open the package and find One Page A Day Level 1 Fractions, also. Both of these products have a suggested grade range of 3rd-5th.

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We chose the multiplication workbook because Miss J, age 10, just doesn’t have the multiplication tables memorized yet. The One Page A Day format of this workbook works in conjunction with any other program you are working with for math because it is a short practice page each day. One page. That’s it. It starts off gently, working through simple 2 digit times 1 digit examples. Each problem is set up within a grid, helping the student keep the steps of the equation lined up. Perfect for that gently reminder.

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This first page was multiplying 2 digits by 1 digits. These single digits are 1s and 0s. Really easy but a great way to build confidence. Next comes a page of 2s, then 3s, then on up through 9s. One page each. There are a few pages of mixed single digits to multiply by and then they move on to the next difficulty level – 2 digit by 2 digit.

Again, though, it starts them out easily and gently with this new step. 2 digits multiplied by 10, with the grid system with color coding to help them keep their numbers lined up correctly. A great teaching system.  Then green is for when you are multiplying by the ones place and the grey is for when you are multiplying by the tens place. As the book continues to progress, these colors are eventually done away with, keeping the grids in place. This gently removing of the aids allows the student to continue to feel strong and confident as they work through the multiplication page-a-day program.

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As I mentioned, we were pleasantly surprised when we opened the package and saw that Channie’s had also sent us Level 1 Fractions. It follows well with the multiplication and again is a very gently system for walking the student step-by-step in learning to work with fractions.

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The program begins with what fractions are, coloring in a shape with the fractional amount. After just a couple of pages, the student is moved into addition of fractions with like denominators. The student is also introduced to the idea of a fractional amount of 1, such as 5/5 = 1. So the student adds the fractions and then determines that the amount is actually equivalent to 1. Subtractions of fractions comes next and quickly is followed by the concept that fractions are just a form of division. Several pages are spent on this concepts, since it is one that often trips students up.

Equivalent fractions are where we are at now and the workbook will spend a number of pages on it. We had to introduce multiplying fractions, using the concept of 5/5=1. By the time we finish this book, Miss J will have dealt with equivalent fractions in many ways, reducing fractions, and working with fractions through different operations. Because she has not dealt with fractions nearly as much, I am actually teaching her a good portion of the time on the new concepts instead of this being a practice. But it works this way, also. I just sit beside her while she begins each page, seeing if she understands it.

Each of the workbooks has an answer key at the back.

Since these are only one page a day programs and we are doing two of the simultaneously, we are spending between 20 and 30 minutes on math. This is a solid amount for Miss J, as so much of that is intensive thought for her. These two combined have been just wonderful.

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Channie’s is a company that has a large selection of products to try. Each of their products is designed to have a unique practice approach to an area that children often struggle with, whether it be letters, numbers, handwriting, or math concepts. When you look at their shop, there are over 70 items! These include the items I have shared with you here, as well as the items that the Homeschool Review Crew are sharing in other reviews:

Channie’s Dry Erase Flashcard For Alphabet & Number  (Better for ages 4-6)

Channie’s Dry Erase Flashcard for Sight Words (Ages 5-6)

Neat Numbers (Ages 3-5)

And who knows? There could have been others like our family who were blessed with something not on this list! And I may just order their One Page A Day Beginning Division workbook for some more practice in that area. Channies workbooks for math

I want to point out that there are some practice pads and dry erase boards for some of the items in the shop. What a wonderful tool these would be for early writers and learners. I know when my girls were young, they really enjoyed using dry erase boards so these are wonderful products.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Be sure to click on the image below to see what other families from the Homeschool Review Crew thought about the products they used from Channie’s Visual Handwriting & Math workbooks.

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Online Times Alive ~ a Crew review

a multimedia way to learn the multiplication facts

Most parents will agree that the stronger a student’s recall is of basic multiplication facts, the better the student will do as they advance into higher and higher math areas.
City Creek Press, Inc. is one company that feels this way and they have created Online Times Alive to helps students memorize these multiplication facts.

City Creek Press desires to help students enjoy the learning process and to create products that helps students feel capable and smart as they learn. Judy Liautaud is the owner and operator of City Creek Press and is the bright mind behind the process of Online Times Alive. She was looking for a unique way for her students to learn the math tables in a meaningful way. By connecting visually appealing, interesting, and fun images, Times Alive is something that many students connect to and remember well.

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Online Times Alive is an online subscription program to an animated program that will help students connect their multiplication tables and facts to images and sounds. These types of memory devices seem to be very helpful for many students. Using a short story or rhyme, a song, and keywords, each of the multiplication facts is connected with visually bright and colorful images. Using these various styles reaches different learning styles, also, making this appeal to an even wider range of students.

To use this program, the student logs into their account using the chosen name. It is important for the student to capitalize and punctuate the name exactly the same each time. If once I log in as Mom and the next as mom, it will create two different accounts and all progress from the previous login will not be visible on the new account. Please also note that you must log in on the same device or computer each time. The account is only accessible from the same device; it does not store on the cloud.

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The login is simple and the student can just move through each of the activities, one at a time.  Just click on the next activity in the lesson list that has not been completed and off the student goes. The list is easy to see what has been done and what hasn’t as there is an open circle for not completed, a half colored circle for started but not finished, and a colored in circle for completed. Once an activity is completed, the student can just click the next arrow at the bottom right of the page to move to the next activity.

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This is a screenshot of the story for 8 x 8.

The activities include:

  • the story that helps created the relationship between the multiplication facts and the answers
  • a song to go with the characters and the facts
  • an activity such as coloring (just a click to color in large areas)
  • tests and quizzes that appear in different ways; sometimes the student will choose the picture to show the story for a particular fact while other times the student will solve number problems and type in the correct answer

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This is a screenshot of the song for the fact 8 x 8. You can see the two eights and then the 6 and the 4, for 64, on the sign.

There is a printable student report that is easy to access if you need a printed record. It includes the date the activities are each completed and the scoring on it, where appropriate. You can see in the image above that the student progress report is found right in the middle of the box in the bright orange space. Just click it to get the report.

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Our experience was not ideal. I was truly hoping my 10 year old would enjoy the musical stories and that it would help her. She knows how to get the answers for multiplication facts but she does not have them memorized. Since she seems to be able to remember anything set to music, I really thought she would adore this. She did not. It definitely felt “baby-ish” to her and the way it addressed things was for a student much younger than her. It is a great program but was just to young in content and tone of voice for her.

This is a good program. I think, for students up to about 3rd grade, it would be a fine fit. While students above that level could certainly need the help a program like this could afford, it could possible result in the same “talking down to” feeling as my daughter experienced. The idea is a wonderful one and many students can benefit from this program.

SPECIAL OFFER: When you sign up for Times Alive, the company is offering to waive your set-up fee, a $6.95 value, when you use the code lovetolearn.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Times Alive

Please click on the banner below to visit the Homeschool Review Crew and read about the experiences that other families had with Online Times Alive and the  Times Alive App, both from City Creek Press, Inc.

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