Category Archives: Homeschool Math

No-Nonsense Algebra From Math Essentials: Our Review

You know, I have pretty much ALWAYS had a hate/hate relationship with math, something I have tried very hard to keep from passing on to my children. When this review came along, at first I really, really did not want it. Not at all. HOWEVER, after filling out my interest form (OK, let’s be honest, my LACK of interest form), I found out that when kids are getting ready for their ACT and SAT tests for College, it was suggested that this book is a good one for them to review Algebra, as that is something that is definitely tested. I was given to understand that the further one is away from Algebra, the less proficient they become. I also discovered that the book No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials has, in fact, been used quite successfully as a good review before taking these tests.  So, I went back and redid my interest level so that hopefully, we would be blessed enough to receive it for “The Artist” to use.
And we were indeed so blessed in that regard!

Just looking at the cover told me that this would be a no fluff curriculum. It is fairly plain, with no distracting images or colors, which I consider a plus for “The Artist.”

Another thing which I feel is helpful, especially for “The Artist,” is the access to free online video lessons, which are available for each lesson in the book. Now, at first, “The Artist” did NOT take advantage of the video lessons, saying “Mom, I don’t need them, I KNOW how to do this stuff!” Of course, he slammed into a wall pretty quick and I convinced him to give the video lessons a try. In doing this, he discovered that he learns best with a combination of viewing and hearing the lesson, along with the written lessons in the book.

Here he is, resolutely using only the book:

A little while later though, he hit another wall, when it came to working on positive and negative fractions. He was really getting upset, even with the video lesson, and I was busy writing another review, so I finally told him to set it aside for a little while then to look at it again. He did do that, without me realizing it. What happened? He screamed “I got it!” and about scared me right out of my desk chair! LOL!

Here is “The Artist” finally giving in and using the video lessons:

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One of the best things about No-Nonsense Algebra as far as “The Artist” is concerned, is that the lessons are fairly short, and the video lessons explain things quite well.

This book has 10 chapters:

  • 22 lessons on necessary tools for Algebra plus a chapter review
  • 9 lessons on Solving Equations plus a chapter review
  • 6 lessons on Graphing and Analyzing Linear Equation plus a chapter review
  • 7 lessons on solving and graphing inequalities plus a chapter review
  • 4 lessons on systems of linear equations and inequalities plus a chapter review
  • 13 lessons on Polynomials plus a chapter review
  • 10 lessons about rational expressions (algebraic fractions) plus a chapter review
  • 10 lessons on radical expressions and geometry plus a chapter review
  • 6 lessons on quadratic equations plus a chapter review
  • 8 lessons on algebra word problems plus a chapter review

Beyond this, there is a final review, a glossary, pages of important formulas, important symbols, the multiplication table, commonly used prime numbers, squares and square roots, fraction/decimal equivalents, access to the online video lessons, and the solutions section for checking the work.

I am going to recommend this book. At the price of only $28.95, this would be a good choice whether you have a student studying for his or her ACT and SAT, or you simply have a student who is ready to learn Algebra.

To read 59 other fair and honest reviews about No-Nonsense Agebra from Math Essentials from the Homeschool Review Crew Members, please click on the banner below

No-Nonsense Algebra {Math Essentials Reviews}

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UnLock Pre-Algebra, Our Review!

I had never even heard of UnLock Math before this, but I am sure glad that being a member of the Homeschool Review Crew showed it to me!

We were given a number of options to request for review, and have been blessed with the one that would truly work for us (or should I say, work for “The Artist)! We were given for purpose of this review a one year subscription to UnLock Pre-Algebra.

One of the things I particularly like is that UnLock Pre-Algebra breaks the lessons down to small sections, so the student is never overwhelmed. Concepts are built one on top of another, so that the student can understand what is going on in a logical manner, and not fall prey to math anxiety (which is something that I have always had a problem with!), thereby building more confidence, skill and understanding.

The video lessons are approximately 10 minutes in length, and are watched after doing the warm up section. After the video are the practice problems, generally about 10 of them, focusing on what was taught in that particular video. After this, there is a stay sharp section, which covers everything the student has covered since the beginning of the program, and then a challenge yourself, a difficult (in my son’s opinion, anyway) word problem. I understand that, because I myself have always hated word problems.

UnLock Pre-Algebra can be used as a full program for the year, or as a supplement to your main program. This program is 16 units in length, and covers topics from whole numbers all the way to probability and statistics. The entire UnLock Pre-Algebra Scope and Sequence is available for you to read before purchase.

I also like that the program does allow the student to redo the practice questions if he or she feels they could do better. Afterwards, the system will use the highest score they get for their grade. I ESPECIALLY like that this is parent/teacher friendly. I didn’t have to prep or teach anything. I don’t have to grade anything, the system does it for me, and “The Artist” can see how he’s doing from his side as well, so that (as I said before) if he feels he didn’t do well, he can do the practice questions over and the system will take the better grade. I don’t have to decide how to schedule lessons, either, because there is a downloadable scheduling guide already made!

My favorite thing? The absolutely phenomenal customer service! The day that I was out-of-town with “Mr. Loquacious” when he needed surgery for his broken nose, I asked my husband to please make sure “The Artist” kept on schedule with this and one other school assignment. Well, he found a mistake in on of the tests. He had the right answer, his dad (the math geek) said it was right, too. so after I came home, I got into chat on the UnLock Pre-Algebra site, where I got an immediate response, no waiting. Devon came on, he told me he would fix the grade right away and check on the glitch. Then, he emailed me because he forgot to ask my son’s name in the chat, lol!

Then, a few days ago I received an email from Matthew Blackwood, founder of UnLock Math letting me (and apparently everyone else with this program,) to let us know that the testing and assessment platform was updated a couple of weeks ago. An unforseen result is that graphing questions were not grading correctly, and it is a bug they are working on fixing. With apology for any inconvenience, Mr. Blackwood hs told us that we can simply send a list of any questions that the student has answered correctly, but the system is grading as incorrect or incomplete, and it will be manually changed for the student.

In the beginning, I set up my log in and “The Artist’s” student log in, gave him a brief explanation, and away he went! Pretty quickly, he decided to keep paper and pencil at hand in order to work out on paper some of the problems.

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The very first day that “The Artist” began UnLock Pre-Algebra, I was hearing an awful lot of “Boo-Yah!” coming from the computer area, which I thought was funny, coming from someone who didn’t even really want to do a math program. 🙂

What does “The Artist” like about UnLock Math? Here are his answers to that question:

  • I can just look at my screen and visually see how  I’m doing percentage-wise
  • UnLock Pre-Algebra made it easier to learn Roman Numerals by explaining it better than other programs I have tried
  • I like that this is all on the computer and I didn’t have to do work sheets
  • I liked the short lesson videos
  • I liked that there was only one problem on the screen at a time, it made it easier to focus.

“The Artist” mostly uses a pair of head phones while working in UnLock Pre-Algebra, so that he can actually focus. With a six person household, it’s not often going to be quiet, hehehe.

I have decided I am a definite fan of this program! Now that the review period is over, we have decided this is a wonderful program to help “The Artist” get going on being where he may need to be in math. I highly recommend it to you!

To see what 64 other Homeschool Review Crew members think of

please click on the banner just below:

Pre-Algebra, Algebra and Geometry {UnLock Math Reviews}Crew DisclaimerAs always, I would just love it if you would join me in all of “My Journeys Through Life.” Just go to the subscription box at the top of the blog and enter your email information. After that, you will always know when there is something new happening. I hope to see you here very soon! -)

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GPA LEARN: A T.O.S. Review

We have been using the online math program called GPALOVEMATH from GPA LEARN.

Full disclosure time… as most people who know me well are aware, I am NOT a math person. In fact, as soon as I had enough math credit to graduate when in high school, I never took a math class again. I would really like this to be different for my kiddos, though, so I was pleased to see how great GPALOVEMATH turned out to be!

I have four kids, and so far, three of them have been using this program, and enjoying it! I mean, even asking to do more of it, though I expect that has a lot to do with the motivational feature, which I will talk about a little later.

GPALOVEMATH is, as I said above, a web based program which covers grades from Kindergarten through fifth. I currently have kids working in grade 1, grade 1, and grade 3, but one of our twins “Mr. Loquacious” is finding it too easy and asked to be bumped up a grade, as did “The Artist”, who is deficient in math, but is finding this time around that 3rd grade is too easy. “The Puzzler” needs help in the first grade level, so he’ll stay there for now. One of the nice things though, is that I CAN change the grade level they are in, by myself, as opposed to having to ask the company GPA LEARN to do it for me.

One of the things that my kids like for any homeschool program is having it be interactive. This one is! Each grade level has a learning coach who interacts with the student. In the levels we’ve been using, first grade has an Australian penguin who’s name is PI, and in the third grade level, the learning coach is a robot named Abacus.

GPALOVEMATH is set up so that I can log in as myself and have access to each of my kids’ information. I can test drive anything they have coming up, and I can set up surprise rewards for them, which they earn after a certain number of lessons and quizzes are completed, depending on how many rewards I’ve chosen. I didn’t tell them about it, so when it happened, they were thrilled, and as I said up above, started asking for more time on the program, lol! Not only can they earn my rewards, but there are awards set up by GPALOVEMATH which they may work toward when available, such as ecards for places like Toys R Us and Target.

Regardless of which grade my kids are using, they will have over 150 lessons and 10,000 problems. In each lesson, they begin with instruction, then they practice the concept, and finally, move on to the quiz. I think the practice session is especially beneficial to my twins. When they finish a lesson, the program tells them how they did, and they can see how many points they have built up to that point. If they are working toward a specific thing, such as one of the ecards, the program will tell them how many more points they need to reach it. I like that, it’s motivational, and MAY help them develop more patience. 🙂

I had occasion to phone tech support at GPA LEARN, and was extremely pleased! “Mr. Loquacious” was having a problem with the final problem on a quiz, and even I couldn’t do it. It called for typing a number into a space. Neither of us could do it, and when I tried to send through the feedback button at the bottom, I couldn’t type into that either. Finally, I gave up and called for support, where a very nice man named Darryn answered. He and a coder named Chad spent a bunch of time trying to help me figure it out, and we just couldn’t do it. He took down my phone number and promised to call me back. Well, in probably 15 minutes, they did, in fact call back. They had me log in as me, and test drive the quiz to see if we could recreate the problem. It still didn’t work. After all of that time, we finally figured out that I had not been using Chrome, which is the browser that works best for this program. *I* felt completely stupid, but Darryn and Chad assured me that this is what they are there for, and I was doing fine. 🙂

We really like GPALOVEMATH, and would very highly recommend it.

You can have access to all 6 levels for one child at the cost of $149 for the year or $12.99/month. For a limited time, it is available at $129 with code GPAINTRO15.

Please check out GPA Learn via their social media:

Social Media:
http://www.facebook.com/gpalearn
http://www.twitter.com/gpalearn
http://www.pinterest.com/gpalearn

GPA Learn Review
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UberSmart Software . . . A T.O.S. Review

My boys and I have had the opportunity for the past few weeks to work with UberSmart Math Facts.

This little program, created by a homeschool dad whose wife wanted their children to have help with learning their math facts. It is available from UberSmart Software It is written primarily for students from K – 6, or anyone older (even adults) who need, or would like a refresher on the basic math facts, and can be purchased for $24.95.

I was intrigued enough at how simple this little program is for learning math facts, that I really wanted to give it a try with my kids. As it turns out, it really is a basic little program, which you download to your computer (which must have one of the following: Microsoft Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8), and you ARE permitted to put it onto multiple computers, which can be of some help if you have several children, and more than one computer.

The UberSmart Math Facts program works just like your traditional set of flash cards, but electronically, on your computer. First, learn, in which your student tries to answer the problem and then hit the answer key to check your answer. Another section, practice, allows him/her to click on the answer they think is correct, and they may also choose test when they are ready, which causes the program to give them a timed session with a certain number of cards.

Depending on whether or not you allow online activity, your student may also choose compete, allowing them to compete against others around the world in a timed session. We haven’t done this one.

This program also has a “report” and a “maintain” tab for the parent. If you like to have printable reports to keep for your records, or if you need them in a portfolio to turn in to your state, UberSmart Math Facts gives you the ability to have them. You can also maintain things like how long you want a student to have on timed activities. The default (4.5 seconds) is too, too fast for all but one of my boys, but you can adjust it, as I said.

Here are some of the different ways you can have the program set up, depending upon the age or ability of your child.

Traditional flash card format:

Keyboarding (practice typing the digits in quickly):

Dot cards:

There are other possibilities as well, such as showing the dots and numbers together.

I wanted to try UberSmart Math Facts because I feel that my boys can use a LOT of help when it comes with the memorizing of math facts, in particular “The Batman”.

I, personally, like this program. My kids, not so much. They thought it was boring, because they have, in the past, used math fact programs that were more like a video game, and they love video games, of course! They love the flash, excitement, and “leveling up”. However, since I can SEE some improvement, I’ll continue using it. We most often use it in the “practice” mode, because it is very hard for some of my boys to actually memorize the facts and have them stick. As with many things, we need to sort of tweak educational materials for our special needs kids, and given that we CAN continue under “practice” until such time as they are ready

A number of other crew members also were given the opportunity to review UberSmart Math Facts, Please, do click the banner below to see what they thought of this program!
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Filed under education, home education, Homeschool Math, homeschool products, Math Facts Drill, UberSmart Math Facts

Learning Wrap-Ups: A T. O. S. Review

Let me just say right now, WOW, WOW, WOW! I had heard of, and seen in various catalogs, Learning Wrap-Ups many years ago, but never really checked them out. So, when I was given the chance to receive them as a review product for my kiddos, it was a no-brainer, I went for it!

I had no idea that Learning Wrap-Ups was a company which carries educational products other than the original Wrap-Ups.

We received so much in our package! Here is a list of all the wonderful, colorful, hands on products we were given:

Learning Wrap-Up Math Intro Kit W/O Cd’s – $44.99

This kit contains one set each of Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, and Fractions. As you can see in the picture, they are in a sturdy storage case. There is also a teacher guide with ideas for use.


Learning Wrap-Ups Vocabulary Intro Kit
– $35.99

This kit comes with four sets of Wrap-Ups, covering the following concepts: Antonyms, Synonyms, Homonyms and Compound Words.

We also received two workbooks, 10 Steps To Addition Mastery and 10 Days To Multiplication Mastery, each of which comes with the appropriate Wrap-Up for the price of $12.99 each.

Next out of the box, more fun hands-on learning tools. This was something which before this review, I had never even heard of, so I am REALLY grateful to have gotten the chance to check them out! This additional product from Learning Wrap-Ups is called Learning Palettes, and they are very cool!

We received:

1st Grade Math Learning Palette 1 Base Center Kit – $71.99. This set covers Numbers 0 – 10: Intro to Addition & Subtraction, Numbers 0-100, Money, Simple Fractions, Addition & Subtractions with sums and differences through 18, Algebra Concepts, Geometry & Measurement, and Probability & Statistics. This kit comes with one Learning Palette base and 6 curriculum packs which each contain 12 cards, giving a total of 864 questions and answers covering the concepts I’ve listed here. The whole set comes in a very nice, sturdy, clear carrier, and the palette base has a sturdy, clear cover to keep the parts contained.

and

http://learningwrapups.com/learning-palette/reading-lp-titles/1st-grade-reading-1-base-center-kit.html – $61.99. This covers blends & digraphs, reading comprehension, nouns, verbs and adjectives, vocabulary and phonics. This kit is just like the math kit, except it comes with five curriculum packs, containing a total of 720 questions and answers that cover the concepts I’ve listed here.

We were also given a Full Online Family Subscription for all levels of Reading/Math Palettes instruction at LearningPalette.com up to 5 users for a full year – $59.99. I also have a coupon code for you that will give you a 20% discount for the online subscription. Just use the code HOMESCHOOL. How great is that? 🙂

So, now that you know what we received, would you like to know how they worked out for us? Well, let me tell you, I knew right away they would be great for our family when my most reluctant reader, “Mr. Loquacious”, was the first one to get ahold of them, LOL! He knows what they are called, but often asks “can I play with the Fun-Wraps, mom?”
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So far, I’ve only managed to get photos of him and “The Artist” playing with the Learning Wrap-Ups, but the others think they are pretty cool, too.
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Wondering how they work? Well, it’s fairly simple. For each concept, we have a set of key type shapes, which are fastened together at the top so they can be swiveled when we wish to change to the next one, and a sturdy string that is attached. For example, in addition, on the first key there is a large number 1 in the center. on the left, there are numbers going down, as well as numbers going down on the right. There are notches next to each number, on each side. The idea is that you wrap the string from the first number to the notch by the answer. When completed, you turn the key over, and if the string is going over each of the raised lines, you know you did it correctly!

The Learning Palettes work a little differently. In each kit there was one palette, with a clear cover, and the colored circles to match when doing the various cards. “Mr. Loquacious” would place the card of his choice onto the palette in the correct position (which is very easy, as there is a guide peg and a hole to put it on). Then, he would simply look at the card (math or reading), and figure out which color circle went with each answer. When done, again, this is self-correcting, as he simply now would flip the card over. If all of the circles match the circles on the flip side of the card, he got them all right.
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You can see, he’s very intently working on them, because they are FUN! I personally feel that whenever possible, learning SHOULD be fun, don’t you?

With both the Wrap-Ups and the Learning Palettes, one of the things we like best is the portability. “Mr. Loquacious” even brought the Learning Palette kit to church to play with during my choir practice time this past Sunday afternoon. 🙂 I think they will be nice to have in the car on trips, as well, but maybe I’ll need to purchase additional bases so that more than one child can use them at the same time, since there are TONS of cards!

So far, “Mr. Loquacious” has been the only one to go onto learningpalette.com, but he is really enjoying it. It works much the same as the physical Learning Palettes, but with a computer and mouse instead of the physical pieces. He enjoyed going back and forth between choices of card and topic, math and reading both.
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What *I* love about the online version is that it allows you to have multiple children with log ins, and *all* of the levels, whereas the physical product is purchased one level at a time.

When it came to the workbooks though, my boys were not yet ready to apply the Wrap-Ups to them. They do work with the Wrap-Ups, so I am hoping that as they become more proficient with them, the workbooks will be something they can handle without a lot of the “oh, woe is me” stuff that generally comes with workbooks around here. 🙂

When it comes right down to it, this is a wonderful product! As I said before, I firmly believe that learning ought to be FUN. Remember, if you want the Full Online Family Subscription for all levels of Reading/Math Palettes instruction at LearningPalette.com up to 5 users for a full year – $59.99, just use the coupon code HOMESCHOOL and get it for 20% off! That coupon code is good at the time of this review, but I do not know how long it lasts, so if this is something you want, jump on it, you won’t be sorry! 🙂

Don’t just take MY word for it, definitely do go and check out what other Review Crew members thought of Learning Wrap-Ups! There are several different levels being reviewed! Just click on the banner below, and it will take you right to their reviews!

Learning Wrap-Ups Review
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