Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Facts First Review

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew I was given a 90 day trial to review the website http://www.factsfirst.com/ . The site was created by the by publishers of Saxon-Harcourt (our family happens to use the math program published by them). I was interested to see what the site was like, for several reasons, primarily because we use the saxon math curriculum and I wondered if the site would provide a nice supplement that compliments our daily math lessons.

The website http://www.factsfirst.com/ states that it's purpose is to help children develop fluency in basic math facts using an approach that incorporates placement testing, lessons, reviews and practice on addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Once a student completes a unit, the student is rewarded by 5 minutes of arcade games that reinforce the math facts. To begin each child (up to 4 in each household) can create a unique student profile as well as a self portrait. The character the child creates is featured in each lesson. This was a nice touch, it let the children "own" the game and made it more fun because they immediately became invested in it. Another plus for me was the audio help from the game. This was great for my young readers, who were trying to concentrate on the math facts and were able to hear the instructions repeated so they could concentrate on their math skills.

The math lessons are broken down into 5 segments:
1. New Facts
2. Commutative property

New facts are introduced gradually as they work toward mastery (same philosophy as the math curriculum). There are more than 360 activities that allow children to practice the math concepts.
The last section is the "math fact matrix" which provides an overview of your child's performance on individual math facts. The "matrix" uses algorithms to present your child's performance on individual math facts. It is weighted based on speed, frequency, and other indicators of proficiency.

Overall, I enjoyed this product. We have had to review several math games this year for the TOS Review Crew and this is one of my favorites. The game is targeted for children and will hold their attention while reinforcing math skills. The price for a year subscription is $49.99, which may seem high at first glance however, consider that each household license contains four unique student profiles, the price then becomes much more reasonable, especially if you have 4 children who can use the program.

The site does offer free demonstrations, so it is worth a look. You can get a feel for the program before committing money to it.

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