Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Memorizing Math Facts

One of the critical things Little Bean had to master this year as a first grader is memorizing his math facts. Our math program gave him plenty of creative ways to solve 1 digit math problems like 5 plus 8, but in the end, he needed to have them memorized. Leading into the last part of our first grade year, Little Bean was introduced to mental double digit addition (and eventually paper and pencil 4 digit addition!), and at that time it was critical that he know his math facts by heart. Actually he did struggle at first with mental 2 digit addition because he didn't quite know all his math facts.

As a part of the Homeschool Crew this year, I have had the privilege of reviewing so many products, and among them was a computer software program that teaches math facts. The program is called Mad Dog Math, and I was given a 12 week subscription to try out with Little Bean.

Mad Dog Math is a simple drill computer program that has some cute graphics, but is otherwise pretty no-frill. The child is moved through the math facts in an orderly fashion, and the computer will keep track of his or her progress. The tests can be timed, but whether or not to time and how long to give is controlled by the parent. There is a series of awards that the child "wins" when completing a section of math facts. Math Facts now is a subscription-based purchase, so it's $19.99 for one year, 29.99 for two years or for a perpetual license, it's $39.99.
Math Facts now drills all four operations, but Little Bean was only working on addition. It appears that it starts out with addition and subtraction drills together and the child must do both to get the awards. Therefore Little Bean did not get an awards because he was only doing the addition drills. That was okay because for one, he had no idea that he was missing anything, and for another, since our math program doesn't follow the typical school schedule for what they are learning in first grade, he wasn't ready for the subtraction portion anyway. I was glad that he could still utilize the drills without doing the full program.

Little Bean could take or leave this program. A plus was that I really only made him do a few drills daily, which is what was recommended to us by the company, so even though he wasn't super excited about it, he could deal with doing a few drills a day. Also, doing a few drills on the computer was infinitely better to him that doing a few drills orally with me, which is what we had been doing prior to receiving this program.

Would I extend my subscription or buy this again? No, probably not, but not because it's a bad program. It's a perfectly good program, and for a child who is really struggling with math facts and who likes computer time, this would be a great program to try. But for us, I have to prioritize my homeschooling purchases, and because this can be done for *free*, I really can't justify purchasing it. Mad Dog does offer a free trial version, so if you are interested, give that a try! It can't hurt, right?!

Additionally, Mad Dog offers supplemental products on their website like flashcards and award certificates and a math timer for oral drills. The software is available for home or school use. Read more on their website here. Click the banner below to see what other crew members thought.
Please note, I received Mad Dog Math for free in exchange for my honest review.

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