Monday, August 6, 2012

Schoolhouse Review: Math Made Easy Addition

Math Made Easy is a curriculum designed to teach math skills through a memorization process that will help your child memorize 36 math facts in just 6 week.  This keeps children from counting on their fingers and enables them to move on to higher levels of math successfully.  They offer two product sets: Addition Teaching and Learning Made Easy for 1-2 grades plus Special Education (Kindergarten optional) and Multiplication Teaching and Learning Made Easy for 3-4 grades plus Special Education (5-6 grades optional).  I was given the Homeschool Addition Package for the purpose of my review and of course with Gess having Down syndrome I had the Special Education aspect in mind.

The Homeschool Addition Package includes lesson plans, pre-test, six weeks of daily activity sheets, post test, games and flash cards.  Based upon that description I expected to get an entire package in the mail and instead I only got a book which happens to include all of those things in it.  The flash cards and games were simply on perforated pages in the back of the book which was a bit of a let down from what I had been expecting.  I just wish they had been more clear in the description by calling it a book rather than a "package."

I also found the lesson plans inadequate.  It briefly touches on their philosophy and gives a very brief statement of what to cover with very little information about how.  Basically you teach the 0s and 1s (which Gess already knew) and then start just doing each page and game at your own pace drilling with the flash cards.  I suppose it does not really require much for planning but when I read that I will be getting a Lesson Plan I expect it to include more than one page of instructions for the entire 6 weeks.

Gess started with the pre-test which you had to answer without counting on your fingers and basically was  able to answer all the 0s, 1s and double problems which was pretty good going in. Then we started drilling with the flash cards. 

The flash cards are double sided.  The 0s and 1s cards have a different problem on each side while the other cards have the same problem but invert the addends.  One side will be 3+9 while the other will have 9+3.

I do love how this material has games and activity sheets that are hands on and more fun than your typical math worksheet and I am hopeful it will help Gess in an area where she really struggles.

I started off following the lesson plan but because of Gess' special needs introducing that many new math problems at once immediately caused her some confusion.  So we backed off and taught one math fact at a time.  I tried one a day, but even that got her confused so we stuck with each math fact for a couple of days at a time. I am hopeful that she will eventually memorize them all.  She is good at memorizing things with words, but she struggles with math facts. This may just take more time but I am willing to put in the effort to at least see if she can do it.

After introducing the math fact using concrete examples and drilling with the flash cards we began playing the games.  I couldn't use the worksheets until we got all the problems for the week memorized but since some of the problems are doubles which she already knew we could play some of the games right away.  The game we used the most was the one where they pinned bows on a doll head.  Each bow had a math problem on it and you glue that to a clothespin.  Each place on the doll where a bow goes has a number on it.  The goal is to attach the bow to the corresponding answer.  Here is Gess playing the game.  Note where she is pinning her bows.

They have a doll head and set of bows for each of the six weeks.  Gess actually enjoyed this game the most and I found it to be very good practice for her.  My only problem is that I do not think that some boys will enjoy pinning bows on a doll.  I think it would be better to have a non gendered type of game. I don't know what that might be, but I do know my boys would not have liked playing this game.  It's a good one for girls though and a fun way to practice.

Another game they have is in the style of a board game but it had a serious flaw.  It's a gumball machine that you go through by pulling a math problem from the pile. If you answer it correctly you get to move one space and follow the instructions if there are any.  Here's the board. 

This game actually has a serious flaw. One of the instructions on the board calls for moving back one space.  Well, if you only ever move forward one space then you are going to have to land on that space.  Once you do, you are stuck there for the rest of the game going back and forth. Therefore Gess and I changed the rules and went forward the amount of spaces the answer to the problem was. Our only problem with that was the game ended pretty fast since some of the answers were large, like 14. Here is Gess playing the game.

As you can see, Gess still enjoyed playing this game, but I would be upset if I had paid for a curriculum that came with a game that was apparently not very well thought out.  There is also a spin the answer Ice Cream game as well though it's not really a game, just a spinning wheel where you answer the problem and then check your answer.

I love the worksheets that come with this because they are fun and interactive.  They have a color by number where you answer the problem to find the number, puzzles, codes, matching and a math problem of the week.  Here are a few examples.

I loved the concept of Math Made Easy but I was somewhat disappointed with the implementation of it.  It has some great potential, but at this point I do not think it is worth the price they are asking for it.  If they would advertise it for what it is (a book that includes games and flash cards) and improve the instructions for the lesson plans as well as the functionality of the games it would be worth it.  However, if you like what you saw, and knowing what you know you still want to give it a try, you should.  Now that I own it I do plan on continuing to use it.  It at least makes math more hands on and that's a great thing, especially for kids with special needs. 

The Addition Teaching and Learning Made Easy book sells for $24.95 and includes everything you need to teach the 36 math facts in 6 weeks.  To learn more about it or the multiplication package they offer visit the website or why not see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about them by clicking on the banner below.


Disclaimer: As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew I received a copy of the Addition Teaching and Learning Made Easy Package for giving my honest opinion and assessment of the product in my review.
Note: All pricing is current at the time of posting and is subject to change.

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