Tag Archives: math

Math Essentials for middle school ~ a Crew review

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

As we prepared for this fall, my youngest daughter asked to be taken off of the computer math program we had been using and to be able to do her math from a printed book. It was really good timing because Math Essentials had just come up for review with their prealgebra program. Basic Math Skills Rescue Parts 1 and 2 is a two book set of softback, consumable workbooks. Together, these two books set the stage of a strong foundation for algebra, creating an algebra readiness for the student.

Creator and master teacher Richard Fisher knows that success in math relies on readiness for the upcoming ideas and concepts. In designing Basic Math Skills Rescue, he deals with what he terms the Critical Foundations of Algebra. He feels that success in understanding these ideas will result in long-term math success. There are three areas to deal with – whole numbers, fractions, and some areas of geometry and measurement. These are all addressed in this two book set.

Basic Math Skills Rescue Book 1 includes work with whole numbers and integers, fractions, and decimals and percents. Basic Math Skills Rescue Book 2 includes work with geometry, problem solving, and some more specific pre-algebra concepts. Each book is designed for a single student to work in and includes several helps at the back as well as an answer key.

Each page has a short review section up top. This is followed by a short teaching example and two sample questions to complete together. Following the samples, there are a number of questions for the student to work independently. It ends with a word problem to solve. As noted, the answer key is in the back of the book to check work. If needed, there is also access to online instructional videos to help teach the concept. The access information for this is in each book. We have not utilized these videos since she is wanting more one-on-one help this year but it is great to know they are there if she needs help when I am unavailable.

There are some really well thought-out parts to Basic Math Skills Rescue. Every lesson includes review so you never completely drop a concept until it is the main focus again. Each lesson seems to flow smoothly into the next concept focus, never big jumps in ideas that leave a student confused. The flow of each individual lesson makes sense. Each lesson is self-explanatory but does not make it hard for a teacher to guide the lesson. There are tests for each section. There is also a “resource center” at the back of the book.

The resources at the back of the book will come in quite handy as she gets into more complicated ideas. Included at the back are a glossary of terms and examples, a list of important symbols, a multiplication table to 12s, a table of common prime numbers to 1013, a table of squares and square roots, and a table of fraction/decimal equivalents.

My 7th grader has begun in book 1 and often tackles it while she eats her breakfast. This is a solid review for her of whole numbers at this point. Each concept generally has two lessons on it. She is completing one or two lessons a day at this point. As we move into concepts she is less familiar with and needs more help, we will move to a single lesson each day. Because there is not a lot of white space on each page to work the math of the problems, she also has a notebook in which she writes her problem and does the work. She then transfers the answer into the book. Using the answer key at the back, we check the work together.

If you have seen my review of previous math products from Math Essentials, you will note that they have a book titled Mastering Essential Math Skills. Because we have reviewed it before, I was quite curious to see how it relates to Basic Math Skills Rescue. Mastering Essential Math Skills Book 2 (the one we reviewed and aimed at middle and high school students) covers the same topics as our current review. However, it is all in a single book and has only one lesson per concept. Additionally, there are two speed drill wheels in the review section. I do think those are fabulous and would make a great addition to this book, also. Because it is moving twice as fast, Mastering Essential Math Skills is better suited to a student who is reviewing or is fairly familiar with chunks of the concepts and just needs a bit of review help.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about other families’ experiences with Basic Math Skills Rescue Parts 1 and 2.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

CTCMath is still our go-to ~ a Crew review

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

We have been using CTCMath for our main math curriculum for several years now. It has been enough years that I would have to go back and count them. It fits our needs so well that we have used it for elementary, middle school, and high school math classes. One subscription is good for a year for your whole family at all levels. Can’t beat that deal!

CTCMath is a full online math curriculum for kinder-12th grade, including calculus. They are so confident in their teaching processes and curriculum that there is a money back guarantee on the program. CTCMath believes in teaching and learning through traditional methods and thus is not aligned with common core. They are based our of Australia and so a few of their processes are a bit different than I know. But that just provides additional teaching points, right? More than one way to solve a problem is not a bad thing.

The website does take a bit of maneuvering but it is not burdensome. It is fairly intuitive and easy for kids to learn how to access their own lessons. It does not immediately open up to the next lesson for each student. Each student has their own login information (remember it is all in one price for the whole family). Once the student logs in and gets to the lesson, it is open and go.

You can see the student dashboard here. To access these lessons after she logged in, she clicked on high school, then geometry, the Part 3, then circles. Then she chose the next lesson that wasn’t complete. You can see her completions here. The grade is an average from the number of times it has been completed.

Each lesson is a single new concept and begins with a video. For the younger grades, it is typically just a few minutes (less than 5). As the concepts get a bit more complex, the videos do get longer (some up to 15 minutes for high school). Each lesson includes a PDF summary of the concept and the examples worked. This can be printed off or used directly from the computer. This was extremely helpful when a student was struggling with how an example could be applied to a question being worked.

In this high school geometry lesson, you see that they are viewing the video. The PDF summary is found below the video. There is a questions tab next to the video tab. This lesson does not have a worksheet to complete but that would have a tab next to the questions tab if it were included in the lesson.

After the video, there are online questions to answer. These are automatically graded. The default standard is that the student get 90% correct. This is a tough standard when there are sometimes only 6 or 7 questions. Thus one mistake would fail the student. A reset to 80% worked well for our family. That reset was easy to do from the parent dashboard.

In the middle school and high school courses, there were also worksheets to complete with additional questions on the same concept. Sometimes we have found these to be too burdensome for the student to do on the same day as the video and online questions. (She was taking over 2 hours per math lesson and still struggling with the concept.) Other times, we have found that the worksheet was not needed because the student really understood the concept with just the online video and questions.

Are you catching the vibe here? This is a really solid curriculum with a ton of flexibility. I have only touched the tip of the iceberg on the customization available. The reason I’ve only hit that much is that we don’t use a ton of the features because simplicity works for us. But there is so much more!

  • You can schedule weekly check-ins where the student completes an online set of questions review previous topics.
  • You can create a worksheet that works on a particular topic that you student is struggling with.
  • You can have your student repeat a lesson as often and as many times as needed so that it is well understood before moving on.
  • Your student can work at his/her own pace and never fall behind.
  • You can access this program at any time, on any device.
  • You do not have to be online at a scheduled time. If the student works best at 10:30 PM, that’s okay. (Well, it is fine for the program. If you are like me, you might not work so well at that time if the student starts struggling. Ask me how I know!)
  • You can schedule which lessons are attempted each day by setting a task list for the student.
  • Or, you can simple work through the lessons in the order that they are on the course listing. (This is what we do.)
  • Your student can do a diagnostic test and you can then use that to set the parts of the topic the student needs to work on.
  • Or, you can use the diagnostic test as a final test for the course.
  • Worksheets include an answer key that shows the work for most questions and is only accessible after the student has entered their answers.
Parent dashboard view where you can create worksheets, assign tasks, and keep up with student progress. You can also access the student lessons without affecting their work or scores from here.

I can go on and on. One feature that I really like is having a parent dashboard where I can access the courses to see what the student is working on. When one of my girls struggle, I can go in and get to the exact lesson to watch the video and work the questions without it affecting their scores at all. I can find the struggle and then be better prepared to help the next day.

Weekly email report sample.

I also get a weekly update that shows how many times each student logged in and how they did for the week. (This is a week where the girls were gone to camp so they did not access the program at all.)

I will say that I am thankful to have a husband who understands math because in some of the upper level courses (Algebra II for sure!) our oldest daughter needed additional help outside of the video. He could do that without having to watch the video. It was great that he could help her and he even learned some new ways of doing things. Frustration can definitely creep in with math for this daughter but another bonus of CTCMath was that she could move to a different course or topic for a while when it got too overwhelming. She took right at 2 years to complete Geometry and Algebra II. She went back and forth a bit between the two courses. It was wonderful to have that ability since it helped minimize her frustrations. We could only do this because CTCMath allows us access to everything K-12 with a single subscription.

My youngest daughter? She loves math. She loves that she still gets streamers on the screen with CTCMath when she gets 100% on her lesson. This means she is still striving hard for that perfect score. And she likes the simplicity of the lesson video. She grabs her white board to work each problem and can complete a lesson at the 6th grade level in about 15 minutes. She will often do 2 lessons or complete the questions over and over just because she likes it. A win in my mind.

CTCMath has a mission for the students to be successful and the program is set up to guide the students to that success while truly understanding math concepts. There is so much with CTCMath that it is impossible to touch on it all. So what a wonderful thing that you can try it out for free. Visit the website to learn more.

Want to know more about how other families have utilized this program in their education? CTCMath can act as a supplement or a full curriculum so visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about how it has worked for other homeschooling families.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

Baggin’ The Dragon Online Math Supplement ~ a Crew review

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

Many times there is a need for additional support with math and a game would be just the thing. Enter EdAlive and their online app Baggin’ the Dragon Maths Online. The program is available for ages 5+.

EdAlive is a company that has launched online programs that are research based and contain adaptive learning to really focus the content the student is working with. All of their newest programs include real-time, automated, and adaptive learning, multi-player content, and built-in reports. Research has found these elements to be instrumental in best practices for learning. They also know, however, that there is a need for specific content to be addressed. Baggin’ The Dragon has this option available as well.

Baggin’ The Dragon Maths Online has four different options, actually, for presenting content.
1) Using the adaptive learning content with all content
2) Using adaptive learning with specific content
3) Manually selecting questions with specific content
4) Playing the game with adaptive learning

So, what is the game that adapts to student’s understanding?

The student clicks New Game. The player then selects an option for a quick game (I didn’t find it any quicker than other options), hosting a game, joining another player’s game, or going against the computer. These all seemed to be about the same to me as I played. After selecting the game, the game board appears with the character piece shown. The character piece can be changed with a click of the mouse over the image prior to selecting which type of game is going to be played.

The game board appears and the die starts rolling. The student clicks on the die for their move. Then the other player(s) rolls and moves. A box telling the student which adaptive level the math question is selected from appears with the value of the correct answer shown. The question then appears and the student answers it.

A correct answer will grant the student additional points that can be beneficial for shopping (in the forms of the game other than quick game) for things that can help them win against other players or the computer. An example is this shield. As you can see, it costs 60 strength points but it is always on and it protects you against things like the hunting dog your opponent my have or choose to buy with thier points.

These points also go towards rewarding the student with hero cards. You do not get to choose which hero cards you earn.

These are the hero cards I had earned after 2 games. One game was the quick game and one was against the computer.

At the end of the game, 21 turns or rolls and questions, a report will pop up showing what content questions were attempted and whether they were rightly or wrongly answered.

You can also access additional reports from the parent dashboard. Also available on the parent dashboard are certificates to print as they are earned and options to set or lock content.

So, what are the benefits of this game supplement for math?

  • You can choose which curriculum to align it with. Depending on where you are, you get a different set of options for curriculum correlation. In the US it is Common Core State Standards and the EdAlive Curriculum. The range of curricula covered is: The Australian Curriculum, NAPLAN, NSW Syllabus 2014, The Victoria Curriculum, NZ TKI, UK National Curriculum, and US Common Core State Standards.
  • The game format will appeal to a large number of students.
  • The variety of questions keeps things interesting and students will not tire of the same type of question over and over.
  • Hero cards can be motivating to earn.
  • Being able to play with others online is exciting for some students.
  • Swords, dragons, courage, knights – these appeal to many students and will make the math practice fun.
  • Mixing the difficult questions with simpler questions allows success when a student is struggling.
  • Over 10,000 questions of all levels of difficulty
  • Adaptive learning allows students to concurrently experience difficulty mixed with simpler topics in Addition • Subtraction • Multiplication • Division • Fractions • Percentages • Ratio & Proportion • Numeration • Shape • Space • Measurement • Geometry • Data • Statistics • Graphs • Probability • Patterns • Algebra
  • Incorrect answers are handled gently with a second chance at the solution.
  • Younger players who are on lower levels can play against older players with higher math levels since each plays their own level on the same game board.

Why this might not be for you –

  • It does require internet access and screen time.
  • It is a bit slower than I would like to work through each player’s turn and the game. But I could just be impatient. (Been known to happen.)
  • The jumping back and forth between question types can be a challenge for a student to stay engaged with, especially when one needs scratch paper to work and the next is a question that can be done almost without thought.
  • You like to have interaction with your student as they are learning or practicing. You would have to sit beside the student while they answered questions or played the game.
  • It might not be right for your student if this student is distractable, likes to talk to others while playing games, or doesn’t like slow moving games. My 6th grader did not enjoy this game. She fits all of the above statements. While she does like to play online games some, she likes it to be with someone else she can talk to.

Baggin’ The Dragon is compatible with all major browsers. It can be used on Windows PCs, Apple Macs, Surface Tablets, iPads, Chromebooks and other Android tablets. It is an app that is fully delivered via the web so there is no need to download anything. It is available 24/7 wherever you have an internet connection.

Homeschoolers, there is even a special page for you to read more about how EdAlive works to support you with your student’s instruction. It includes information on curriculum, all programs, and discounts and special group buys to get a great price.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about what other families experiences have been like with EdAlive. There were reviewers for Baggin’ the Dragon Maths Online, for Volcanic Panic Reading Success Online, and for Words Rock Online.

Blessings,
Lori, At Home.

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

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