Tag Archives: Homeschooling Math

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.

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Filed under education, home education, Homeschool Math, homeschool products

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.


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!

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Filed under education, educational games, home education, Homeschool Math, homeschool products, Language Arts, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post, TOS Review

Time4Learning . . .A TOS Review

Well, I was really excited when I was selected to review Time4Learning with one of my children, because over the years, I’ve heard so many positive things about this online educational program.

I was given a six-month subscription to Time4Learning to use with one student, in exchange for giving an honest review, and I chose “The Batman” this time around. Because he was born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, mental retardation, and is also on the autism spectrum, he is severely deficient in several areas of education, most particularly in arithmetic. When I asked him questions given by Time4Learning to figure out where to place him, I was primarily asking him simple arithmetic questions. Based on his answers, I chose 1st grade level.

I did later, discover that I could change his level in separate subject area, and while I have left the math level alone, I’ve been raising his level in all of the other subjects.

Surprisingly, “The Batman” is actually really enjoying Time4Learning! He likes the variety of things to do in each subject area, and especially loves that for every hour he does in the lessons, he earns 30 minutes in the “playground” area, which is just really fun educational games. We did have to get past an initial problem with that part of the program though, which was NOT fun for me, because it was so upsetting to “The Batman”. He earned his playground time, but then the program wouldn’t let him into it, not at all. Of course, by then, it was late in the afternoon and we are in mountain time, so I told him we’d have to call tech support the next day. This did not go over well. 😦 The following morning, however, I did, as promised, call Time4Learning. They have very good support at the other end of the phone, and I was told that ever since the internet explorer browser had updated, it has been causing some glitches for some people in Time4Learning. I was advised to install the Firefox browser, as it seems to be much more compatible with Time4Learning, and once we did that, and started remembering to use Firefox whenever we wanted to log into Time4Learning, it has worked just wonderfully! 🙂

One of the things I like about Time4Learning is that once you’ve gotten set up, you really don’t HAVE to do anything other than let the child get on and learn!

Really, the only things I have needed to do is help “The Batman” with printing out the available resources (such as worksheets, poems that go with the lessons, etc . . .)


There are other things you can print out though, which I think would be helpful if you live in a state which requires you to keep records of your child’s education.

You can check out the lesson plans, if you need to have them printed out . . .

You can print out and keep detailed reports for your record keeping . . .


Time$Learning has plenty of tools which are useful to you, the parent . . .


Time4Learning can be used for home-schooling, summer learning, and after school learning. My son has been using it during the review period, along with a few other things, as his home-school program.

I like that it is accessible at any time, it isn’t a regularly scheduled class, so you can, as I like to do, work in school around your life, instead of having to work in your life around school.


The lessons are automatically sequenced, with Time4Learning building on what your child is learning as he goes.


As you can see below, “The Batman” is very intently working through the Time4Learning online program.



In this shot, “The Batman” is using the story starter. He chose the background scene, the characters, and a selection of words for his word bank, then printed it out to get a page to write a story on. He’s still working on the story, though, so no picture of that yet! 🙂



We really like Time4Learning! All of my home-schooling friends who have suggested it over the years were right, it really is a good program, especially for kids who need to work at different levels depending upon subject. And that’s another thing, when “The Batman” sees Time4Learning, it doesn’t say “grade 1” or “grade 2”, etc. It just shows as levels, as far as I can see. I think this is a plus, especially with my special needs child who worries over whether others will see what “grade” he is using.

If I were to consider this for all of my kids, it would be too pricy for my budget, but if we can manage it, and it continues to work for “The Batman”, we may consider continuing with it after our six-month subscription runs out.

You can sign up here, and Time4Learning promises that there are no contracts, if it doesn’t work for your child, you may cancel at any time.

Time4Learning is available as a monthly subscription. For the lower grades (pre-K through 8th grade), it will cost $19.95 per month for your first student, and $14.95 per month for each additional pre-k through 8th grade student. If you want to use Time4Learning with older students, it is available for high school at $30.00 per month.

Overall, we are happy with Time4Learning, and we think you should give it a try!

Other crew members also reviewed Time4Learning . . . please, click below to read what they thought of this online learning program!


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Filed under education, home education, homeschool products, homeschooling, Kids, special needs education, Time4Learning, TOS Review

Math Mammoth . . . a TOS Review

When given the opportunity to choose from an abundance of different worktexts from a company called Math Mammoth to review with my children, I spent some time looking at all of the choices.

Rather than going with a full curriculum, I chose to focus on two worktexts which would specifically focus on areas some of my kids have problems with because of various special needs. I was actually thinking mostly of “The Batman”, who will always have problems with time and money as a result of pre-natal damage due to his birth mother having drank alcohol during pregnancy. He has Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). So, I chose two supplementary workbooks, Clock and US Money.

I chose to have “The Batman” work with these topics, but wanted “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” to do them, as well, so when I received access to the pdf downloads, I printed three copies of each workbook.

I really like the trend lately of curriculum being made available as a pdf download. First, it’s almost always less expensive, because the vendor doesn’t have to add in the cost of printing a book, or charge you shipping to mail it to you, second, because you can generally use it for more than one child, and third, as those who know me well are aware, I don’t wait well. I like the instant gratification of getting my product as soon as it is ordered. As I have mentioned many times, my motto appears to be “instant gratification takes too long”, lol!

So, you can purchase the instant download of Math Mammoth Clock for $4.00, or a black and white printed copy for $10.85, by going here.

There are also links to sample pages here.


From the Webpage:

“Math Mammoth Clock is a worktext that covers telling time and reading the clock, telling time intervals, and understanding the calendar. It is suitable for grades 1, 2, and 3.”

The pdf worktext is fully printable, which is how I chose to use it, printing out the pages as needed and having the kids fill in the answers on the paper. However, if you prefer, this pdf is enabled for annotation. What this means is that you could, if you choose, have your student work directly on the computer, by using the typewriter and drawing tools in Adobe Reader version 9 or greater.

More from Math Mammoth Clock:

“Math Mammoth Clock covers reading the clock, figuring out simple time intervals, and using the calendar, all in one book. The topics progress starting from the first grade level to the third grade level. Therefore, you also can let your child work the pages of this book in different time periods, and not go through it all at once, depending on your child’s current level.

The lessons are divided to the grade-levels this way: reading the clock to the half-hour is first grade material; reading the clock to the five-minute intervals is second grade; and reading the clock to the minute is third grade level. I realize this is somewhat arbitrary, and there is no need to follow it exactly but I want to explain it so you can keep it in mind that the material in this book does get more difficult towards the end.”

Here are some pictures of my kids doing clock pages:

First, we have “The Puzzler” . . .


Next, we have “Mr. Loquacious” . . .


And finally, “The Batman”!


In the Clock worktext, the only real issue my kids had was that when they were learning about time to the half hour, they kept wanting to put in answers such as “5:30”, instead of “half-past five”, the latter being the format being taught. It was mostly just a matter of this being the way they had always heard it referred to, and once they caught on that this was the way the book was teaching it, it became easier.

This is a 78 page worktext (including answers), covering time from learning the clock all the way into elapsed time, calendar, and changing time units. We are still working our way through the clock, as these particular three boys need a lot of help learning to read an analog clock. However, I was pleased to see how quickly “The Batman” picked up on it, as he is the one who has always had trouble in this area. “The Puzzler” was actually the one child who had the most problems understanding it, and “Mr. Loquacious” picked it up very quickly. I did find similar results when we worked in the US Money worktext, which I will go into next.


The Math Mammoth worktext US Money can be purchased here. The pdf download is $3.25, or you can order a black and white printed copy for $9.50.

Math Mammoth Money is also available in the following:

Canadian Money
European Money
British Money
Australian Money

This is a 51 page worktext, including answers, and there are sample pages available here.

From the webpage:

“Math Mammoth Money is a worktext that covers U.S. money-related topics usually encountered during grades 1-3. The book contains both textbook explanations and exercises, and is designed to be very easy to teach from, requiring very little teacher preparation (you do need to find some practice coins before the lessons).”

The pdf version of this worktext is also enabled for annotation, just as the Clock worktext is, meaning, as I said above, should you choose to have your student fill in his or her answers on the computer, you can do so if you have Adobe Reader version 9 or greater.

Here is a description of what the US Money worktext covers, from the webpage:

“The book starts with first-grade topics such as counting pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. While the lessons use pictures for the coins, practicing with real coins is, of course, even better and you should have real money on hand to practice with.

From there, the lessons advance towards second-grade, and finally to third grade topics. Therefore, you can also let your child work the pages of this book in different time periods, and not go through it all at once, depending on your child’s current level.

The lesson Making Change explains two basic ways of finding the change: counting up, and subtracting (finding the difference). This is all done with mental math. The next lesson also practices money problems using mental math.

In the last lesson we solve money problems by adding and subtracting money amounts vertically (in columns).”

We are going very slowly through this one, because of the various special needs we deal with. So far, “The Batman” is doing pretty well, though I imagine he will need a lot more help when we get to the “counting change” part of the lessons. “Mr. Loquacious” is doing exceptionally well counting various coins together to get to the total, but “Mr. Puzzler” still has considerable trouble when counting coins if we switch from one coin to another.

Here are the only pictures I managed to get of the boys doing worksheets from US Money:

First, we have “The Puzzler” and “The Batman” . . .


. . . and then we have “Mr. Loquacious” doing his!


Overall, and to my surprise, we really liked Math Mammoth Clock and Math Mammoth US Money. Whenever I tell them that we’ll be working in these worktext, they are all quick to come to the table, which just shows that they are actually enjoying learning about these topics. As far as I’m concerned, that’s all I need for an educational product to be a success, and the added bonus is that the prices are great, too!

The Schoolhouse Review Crew used many different products from Math Mammoth, and have written wonderful reviews to give you an idea of what they thought of this and other products. Please click the graphic below to see what they all thought!


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Math Rider . . . TOS Review

Oh, my twins, “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” have REALLY been enjoying “doing math” for the past few weeks! They have been playing a very cool computer game called Math Rider, which we have been reviewing for the Schoolhouse Review Crew.


Math Rider is a computer game which drills all four basic operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) while the player goes on various quests, with his or her trusty horse, Shadow.

Because it drills the four basic operations, and because it can be set so that the child must begin at the beginning and move on upon mastery, I feel this game would be good for even grade K and up, although the Math Rider FAQ says it’s designed for grade 2 through grade 6.

Math Rider can be played on either Windows or MAC . . . complete system requirements are listed here.

Math Rider allows up to eight players, each with their own log in, per license.

The game is personalized, in that it adjusts for each player, recognizing where the student is having trouble, and working those problems back into play until they are mastered. It “learns” what the rider knows, as well as what he or she still needs work on, so that it then asks the right question for that particular rider. It is not just a random facts generator. Each separate player has his or her every answer stored and analyzed by the software, so each rider’s experience with Math Rider will be his or her own.

A lot of computer games, even educational games, are (in my opinion) ruined for the child by the difficult controls. You miss aim something, it doesn’t matter if you knew the answer, you don’t get the point or the credit toward a win. In Math Rider, this is not the case. If you can type in the correct number, you win. The creators of this game felt no need to incorporate hand eye coordination as a necessary component into a math game.

If the student needs help with a question, he or she can click on it, which will bring up more information, including a visual representation of that question. I do like that.

Here is a quote from the creator of the game:

“An Intelligent Math Facts Game Created from Personal Need

I originally created MathRider out of personal need, because my kids were failing math badly at school, and I was desperately trying to help them.

I was unable to find good math games that really worked for my kids. So I eventually took matters into my own hands and created my own math training game.

After a while, teachers, friends and neighbours started noticing the improvement in my children. I engaged a team of experts, including teachers, psychologists and school principals, and now, about two years and many improvements later, we have MathRider in its current version: 3.10.”

I don’t care for the magical aspects of the game. It does involve a lot of searching for magical flowers, elves, sorcerers and the like. If this is an issue for you, or your children are too young to have any Biblical discernment regarding these things, you may not care for it, but I felt the benefits of the drill in Math Rider gives us an incentive to discuss with our kids why we don’t believe in these things.

You can purchase Math Rider for only $47.00, which will give you a 30 day risk free guarantee, plus free updates for life.

Here is a video from the Math Rider Website, to show you a little bit about this game in action . . .

My twins, especially “The Puzzler”, ask every single day, sometimes several times, to have the laptop started up so that they can “do Math Rider“. I mean, really, how often do your kids ASK to do something math related? I certainly never did! 🙂

Here is “Mr. Loquacious” playing Math Rider . . .

Math Rider Review 002

And here is “The Puzzler” taking his turn . . .


Overall, I do think this is an excellent game for learning the four basic operations, but I also wish there would be a version without all of the magic elements. I know that is not a popular view these days, but it is mine. I will let “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” continue with it while we have it, because they ARE learning, but we will continue to discuss the magical elements, and our reasons for not believing in them.

To see what other Schoolhouse Review Crew Members thought of Math Rider, please click the graphic below!


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Exact Change Card Game . . . My TOS Review

My family was recently given the opportunity to review Exact Change, a card game that
uses cards of various colors and values to teach your kids how to count money. The
cards come in four colors and all the basic denominations up to one dollar. In addition,
there are “Loose Change” cards, Wild cards and others I’ll detail a little later in this

Game play is fairly simple. Each player gets seven cards, with the remaining cards
placed face down in a draw pile and one card placed next to it face up to start the discard pile. The player then draws a card and has several possible options. They can: 1) discard a card of the same value
2) discard a card of the same color
3) discard multiple cards that add up to the value of the card played
If the player has nothing they can play on the top card in the Discard pile, they must continue to draw cards until they get a play. The first player who gets rid of all the cards in their hand wins that round.

For example, my son discards a blue $1.00 card. I look in my hand and see a blue card and a yellow $1.00 card. But I also see 3 quarters, 2 dimes and a nickel. Guess who just got rid of six cards on one play!

That quickly taught the kids a basic strategy of the game, which is to discard your lowest-value card for the next player to deal with. This discovery, coupled with the fact that three of our 4 boys were beginners to the concept of counting change, made the first round a little long . . . be prepared for this.

The instructions also recommend starting with the basic denominations before adding the extra cards. These include:
• Wild Card: can be used for any color or value, but the player must state the color and value they are claiming for it
• Loose Change: these are cards of various amounts which require the player to add up multiple cards to play ($1.06, for example)
• Bank Withdrawal: you can choose another player to randomly draw a card from your hand and add it to theirs
• Collect Tax: everyone EXCEPT the player who play this card must draw a card from the draw pile and add it to their hand

Scoring is somewhat random. The player who has discarded all of their cards gets to choose one other player who still has cards and add up all the currency value of their hand. This is the amount they get to add to their total. The first player to get to $2.00 wins!

As mentioned earlier, play can take a while if you’re working with beginners. On the plus side, our boys caught on quickly, and we were able to start incorporating the other cards. We started with the Wild cards, then the Loose Change cards. Then, finally, we added the Bank Withdrawal and Collect Tax cards. We found this was the best process for introducing this game to our kids.

We found that once we mastered the learning curve in Exact Change, our boys couldn’t get enough of it! My husband calls it a “stealth” game, where they’re having fun while learning something under the radar. Exact Change has become a welcome addition to our game night rotation, and in my opinion, is a bargain, retailing on http://www.continuumgames.com for only $9.99. Further, I discovered a number of other games on the website that interest me for our family, along with finding a store locator which showed me three different stores in my city that carry games from this company. Since I am trying to focus more on educational play for my family, this company was definitely a good find for me!

To see this review, and reviews of MANY other products, please go to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Reviews


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Another Day In The Life . . .

Today, we did laundry. Yes, laundry can be part of a homeschooling day . . . I do want my kids to learn how to be part of maintaining our home and family. We also worked on some upcoming review products, a lapbook about the Earth (you all know how much the boys enjoy doing lapbooks!), “The Artist” worked on 3 lessons in his A+ TutorSoft math (and the other 4 grade levels we ordered with their 50% off discount which expires at the end of this month arrived today in the mail, yay). All four of the kids did a read aloud of part of an ebook we’re reviewing about Sacagawea, and in between, they watched a few educational programs. Right now, they are watching the last half hour of Disney’s Earth on DVD before they all go to bed.

Because we’ve had a stomach virus going through the house (“The Batman” got it first, and got hit the hardest Monday night a week ago), and “The Artist” is still suffering some of the effects slightly, we will be waiting until next Thursday to attempt resuming our weekly home school park day. I HOPE everyone is all better by then, the kids miss going, and I miss it, too, because I get to spend the time visiting with other moms!

So, tomorrow, we’ll finish the laundry I didn’t get to today, and work some more in our educational projects, and then some errands with my husband.

G’nite, all!


Filed under education, family, health, home education, homeschooling, Kids

TouchMath . . . T.O.S. Review


For a little over a month now, I have been working with a new (to us) math curriculum with three of our kids. It’s called
TouchMath, and after looking over what would be covered, we chose to review the first grade curriculum.

touchmath 1st<

This is a downloadable curriculum, and as we received the full first grade, it took some time to download it all, but it was quite worth the time! There are four units, and each one includes the following:

Implementation Guide
6 Module Guides with Instructional Strategies
90 Student Activity Sheets
6 Assessments (one per module)
Real World Connections
Answer Keys
Progress Monitoring

This curriculum can be purchased by the unit, at the cost of $59.95, or you can get the full year at once for $199.95, a savings of $39.85.

In addition to receiving the download of the full first grade curriculum, the company shipped us a very big box that contained a number of manipulatives. In our box were the following:

TouchNumerals with Base 10, which are available for $99.00
Flip Cards, available for $19.00 per set
TouchMath Tutor First Grade Software, available for $99.00
Student Number Cards, available for $24.00

The Student Number Cards come in a pack of ten sets, and it is suggested that they be laminated and then cut apart. I chose to take a set for each of my children (including my step-son, “The Artist”, who is currently working at a different grade level in math) to an office supply store and get them laminated. The person who did the work at the store suggested that in order to keep the laminate from separating, we break the cards apart at the perforations and THEN laminate them, cutting them apart after that. I am happy with the results of that choice, and it cost exactly the same as if we’d done it the other way. Now they each have a set, and they will be nice and sturdy, and last for a long time. When and if they DO wear out, or are lost (again, these are boys, who often-times do not take really good care to be very organised with their belongings), there are six remaining sets in the package, and if it becomes necessary, I can take them to the office supply store and do the same thing again, although I AM hoping for a laminator of my own soon, along with a binding machine, since a good deal of curriculum we are finding ourselves using these days is downloadable and printable . . . (big hint here, to my husband, LOL!)

The following free resources are available here:

Sample Pages
First Grade
Second Grade
Upper Grades
Money Educator Materials
Instructional Guides
Scope & Sequence
Pre-Post Tests
Fun and Games
Software Demo
Calendars and Fun Sheets

The scope and sequence of TouchMath is here, and you may view the
detailed standards and correlations here.

My twins (“Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler”) are actually age 11, but when we adopted them a few years ago at age 8, they could not read, even a little, and over the first few years they have been with us, we really had to prioritize working on behavioral issues before they could manage to focus on academics at all, so even though I could tell that the very beginning of the first grade curriculum would be mostly review for them, we are fairly quickly getting into things they do not have a good handle on yet.

My oldest child, “The Batman” has always had problems with math as a result of his fetal alcohol syndrome, so once the twins were past the very beginning portion of the first unit, I added him in with us.

TouchMath was an entirely new and different concept for us, but makes a lot of sense when working with special needs children, as I do in our home school and our life. My children are extremely hands on, and visual, so it seems to be working for them.

Some examples from the “About TouchMath” section of the website:


“Using pictorial objects and our trademarked TouchPoints, we teach young children to associate numerals with real values (number quantities).
The three is touched at the beginning, middle and end of the numeral while counting: “One, two, three.”


“The six begins the use of double TouchPoints (dots with circles). These double TouchPoints should be touched and counted twice whenever they appear. Six is touched and counted from top to bottom: “One-two, three-four, five-six.”

We are just finishing up with Unit A, module 2, a lot of which was review for my boys, but since, as I said previously, we are brand new to the TouchMath system, I really wanted to get them grounded with it before moving on.

The worksheets (15 per module, plus a post test worksheet) are fun for them, and they enjoyed coloring the pictures on each of them after finishing with the instructed work. They ended up wanting to also color in the double touch point circles as well, once we reached the numbers that had them.

With some of the worksheets, there was a suggestion at the end to have the child turn the page over and draw a picture having to do with the number they had worked with on that sheet, and tell me about it. My boys enjoyed doing that, each one either drawing and telling about (for example) their three favorite toy cars, sports cards, or games, or making up a little story about seeing five of something while out and about.

The manipulatives, while not necessary to use this curriculum, are a very nice add-on, especially when one has special needs children to work with. I’ve already told you about the Student Number Cards, and now I’m going to talk about the TouchNumerals with Base 10. From the website:

“This set contains brightly-colored 6” foam numerals, operation symbols, TouchPoints and Base 10 trays. Students place the TouchPoints on the numerals in the correct Touching/Counting Patterns, remove them and practice on the other numerals. As students explore basic computation with the numerals 1–9 and higher using the Base 10 trays and TouchPoints, they begin to make the connection between concrete objects and numerical values. A complete teacher’s manual is included.”

What was included in our set:

Three sets of numerals 0–9
205 TouchPoints
Operation signs
Ten Base-10 trays

There are sample views of things you can do with this set here.


Here are my boys putting together an addition problem with the Touch Numerals and the Touch Points . . .

These hands on manipulatives are wonderful, although I personally wish they were constructed of something much sturdier than foam, if only so that they would last a lot longer when one has four rough and tumble boys, like I have! 🙂 They are quite nice, though, and good size, at six inches. They make it very easy and fun to spread out and use the floor for learning. We can set out the numerals and put the touch point circles on them to practice touch point counting, we can add the operation signs to practice addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. The base ten trays are nice for holding the touch point circles, as well as using them as a hands on visual of grouping in tens.

The Flip Cards are pretty impressive. There are twelve different sets for the full curriculum. They are, as I said above, $19.00 per set, but I find them to be worth it, if you have children who like a hands on approach to learning and they can be fit into your budget. When you get all of the sets, they will cover the following:

Counting Cards 1–120, Addition and Subtraction 0–9 with TouchPoints, Comparing Numbers with Multiple Representations, Addition Fact Families 10–18, Subtraction Fact Families 10–18, Place Value Cards 10–20, Adding and Subtracting 10, Adding and Subtracting 2-Digit Numbers No Regrouping, Place Value Cards 10–60, Measuring Objects Using Objects, Defining Geometric Shapes 2-D and 3-D, & Fractions in Geometric Shapes Halves through Sixths.

At $19.00 per set, they may seem pricey, but they are extremely sturdy, they are large, two-sided cards, and the number of cards varies in each set, ranging from 50 – 100 cards. So far, we’ve gotten into just the first set, which can be used in a variety of ways, such as making a memory game on the floor by laying them all out, or even choosing a set number to lay out, removing some and having the children figure out which number must go either before or after the number showing.


“The Batman” replacing one of the missing cards after drawing from the deck . . .


“Mr. Loquacious” putting his card into place . . .


. . . and finally, “The Puzzler”, taking his turn!

Because of the benefit the flip cards, the Touch Numerals and the Student Number Cards are to my special needs children, I can honestly say that if I had not received them to review, and would be able to fit them into my educational budget, I would purchase them.

The TouchMath Tutor Software is not a NECESSITY, but it is a fun reinforcement game for the kids, which also incorporates some geography. If it fit into my budget, and had not been generously given to me by the company, I would probably purchase it. My children love computer games, and my personal preference when it comes to the purchase of them is to try to get educational games as much as possible.


Here are all three of the boys learning how the game works while “Mr. Loquacious” is playing . . .


“The Puzzler” is giving it a try . . .


. . . and now, “The Batman” gets a turn, too!

I really like this curriculum, and my children seem to be enjoying it a great deal.


Other crew members reviewed this and other grade levels of TouchMath. To read their opinions, please click on the graphic below.



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My Review of A+Tutorsoft Interactive MATH

We recently had the opportunity to test drive the A+ Interactive MATH from A+ Tutorsoft.

tutorsoft banner

We decided to use our son “The Artist” as our Guinea Pig test subject. In addition to being the highest functioning of our 4 special needs kids, he was recently assessed and found to be lacking in math skills. We wanted to see if we could help him catch up, so we chose to review grade 3. Given the options of a CD or online curriculum, we decided on the CD due to various internet challenges we’ve had recently. The Premium Edition that we are using is available at A+ Interactive MATH, and the price is $124.99.


The CD was easy to install and setup in Windows. The CD is not Mac-compatible, but the company reports good results using Parallels to let your Mac run in a Windows environment. The company’s FAQ’s does mention this use is not supported. You do need an internet connection to activate the software, and we recommend you set up a Parent Profile . . . while you can use the program without this profile, you’ll lose some neat security and student tracking features we’ll go over later.

The program comes with a recommended lesson plan, which you can fill in on the computer and print a copy. I found it easier for me to do both . . . use a blank copy of the lesson plan for the day to day, then enter it into the computer later.

The Lesson Plan recommends taking 2 weeks to go through most chapters. We started out at the recommended pace, but our son wasn’t really being challenged at this point. We decided to step up the pace a little. Starting with Chapter 2, we upped the pace to one chapter per week. We just started Chapter 4 (Multiplication) this week, and he seems to be showing signs of reaching his level . . . we’ll be slowing things down to the recommended two-weeks-per-chapter pace fairly soon.

Please be assured, you do not have to do this fine tuning for your child/children. There is a free placement test available at the web site, so you can evaluate your kids and determine where to start. A+ Interactive MATH is available in Grades 1-6, Pre-Algebra and Algebra.

Each Chapter is separated into sub units. Each sub unit has a Curriculum, an Interactive Lesson and Q&A (which lets you print a Certificate of Achievement) and a Worksheet, and there is a Chapter Exam once your student completes each Chapter. Coming soon in the 3rd and 4th Grade curriculum (and already available in the 1st and 2nd Grade CD’s) are Cumulative Reviews which not only include the most recently worked chapter, but one or two of the previous chapters.

The process we’ve worked out is starting the day with a quick review of the Curriculum. Depending on your child, you may just let them read it on-screen and see if they have any questions before starting on the Q&A. Once he’s printed the Q&A Certificate, he starts the Worksheet, a 10-question reinforcement of the lesson. We then grade the Worksheet before moving to the next sub unit.

A+ pic

The Premium Version we’re using also allows you to track these results by entering the Q&A, Worksheet and Exam results in a Student Tracking area (if you’ve set up a Parent Profile). This not only helps you determine what your child needs, but I imagine would be incredibly useful if you home school in a state that has mandatory reporting.

For this type of math, and taking into account the student involved, we set a pass/fail level of 80%. On the one Worksheet he scored 60%, we pumped the brakes to see what happened. We reviewed the worksheet with “The Artist”, and determined the problem was not the lack of understanding of the subject matter. It was back in Chapter 1, and he was basically blowing through the problems and not checking his work because he wasn’t feeling challenged.

We did allow him to re-do the worksheet, just to make sure he understood the subject matter (he got 100% on the 2nd try). But, in order to help him in his future focus challenges, he was told the original 60% is what was entered into the Student Tracking. This might seem harsh to some, but he hasn’t failed a single Worksheet since we instituted this policy! This is also what made us decide to quicken the pace of the Lesson Plan.

More on the Parent Profile . . . when you’re signed in as the parent, you have access to the Solutions Guides for the Worksheets and Chapter Exams. Plus, you have the option of setting up some security so the student does not have access to these Solution Guides and Tracking. We do not allow our son access to the Solutions Guides or Tracking. However, if your child works better with minimal assistance and can be trusted not to peek, you do have the option to give them access so they can self-manage their progress.

A+ TutorSoft Interactive MATH is available in either CD or online curriculum. While A+ TutorSoft does provide ability for parents to very easily check and track student work, the CD version does not automatically track the student assignment grades. However, the online edition DOES track all assignments completed online in addition to providing option for the parents to print the assignments and have them grade/track using the tools we provide.

The CD version is designed that way so that parents can be more involved in their student’s homeschool MATH journey and can check/track their work using the tools, which include the parent’s solutions manuals and electronic grade book among others. Parents are NOT expected to have the mastery of MATH in order to grade student’s work. A+ TutorSoft provides all of the tools that make it really easy for any parent to check the student’s work and enter them into our program to track and view various reports.

Overall, this program gives “The Artist” the structure he needs for learning math, and allows the Parent/Teacher to set the pace of the course. We intend to continue on with A+ Interactive MATH in the future.

A+ Tutorsoft is currently offering an AWESOME special promotion to you, my wonderful readers . . . through the end of March, you will receive 50% off your order with the coupon code SPOFFER50!


Sail on over and read what other crew members thought of this and other grades, as well as the online version of the curriculum!



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