TOS Crew Review — Mad Dog Math
With school age kids ranging from Kindergarten to eighth grade, my younger kids seem to have a greater drive to learn early because they want to do what everyone else is doing. Recently my younger two took an interest in learning about multiplication. Not typically part of the scope and sequence for Kindergarten and first grade, we decided to give it a try anyway.
At the same time we received Mad Dog Math to review and this was a great opportunity for them to learn their basic math facts on their own. We did a quick little lesson on what multiplication means and how to figure out the answer and then sent them off. They started with reviewing some of their addition and subtraction, and then could switch to level 3 and work on some of their new found understanding of “times.” Now they feel like big kids.
See a little more of what this program is all about in this video they put together (this is a little long — just under 10 minutes):
Product: Mad Dog Math
Details: A downloadable program that helps kids in K-5 practice their basic facts in a systematic, easy to use format. They get a set of problems to answer in a period of time and gradually progress to more difficult problems.
Price: $19.95 for a one year license, $29.99 for 2 years, $39.99 for perpetual license
What we loved . . .
- Basic presentation. Not a flashy, “read a 100 page manual” program. Download, read a paragraph of instructions, and start drilling. My kindergartener was on it within two minutes of getting it on and he flew through the first through levels as he got used to the program.
- Covers all the basic operations. This one program will cover addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division in one computer based program so you won’t have to keep flash cards around that mostly got used by your toddler to decorate the school room floor anyway.
- Different levels to start at. Each child can start at their appropriate level. Level one starts at the very basic, “0 + 3.” It then very gradually progresses through each of the groupings first through addition and then subtraction. Once they can add everything up to 18 they will complete that level and earn their sticker. They can redo them to improve their times trying to complete the facts in less than 30 seconds with only a couple errors.
- Good length. The speed drills vary in length and are appropriate for the levels they are at. As they progress they get a bit longer, but they are all able to be completed in 2 minutes by most kids. I could finish most in 15 seconds, so that allows a good bit of time for kids to find the correct number on the keyboard an move on.
- Varied presentation. Most of the problems ask for a solution (the sum, difference, product, or quotient), but some leave out one of the other numbers that kids need to figure out instead. I like that they vary this to help kids stretch their thinking, solidify their skills, and keep it fresh.
- Can be untimed. Some kids really struggle with the anxiety of a timed test. Mad Dog offers timings of 2 minutes, 1 minute, or 30 seconds. They also give you the choice of not being timed. This can be a great help to some kids struggling with success in this area.
Some considerations . . .
- Simple program. While this is a plus for ease of use, it also means that it does not have some extra features that I like to look for in a program. It doesn’t track specifics of how your child is doing. It lets them continue when they have made mistakes (I like to be able to set the mastery level and change it as I see necessary). It does what it is meant to do, but not with
- Kids need to advance themselves to the next level. Once a child has mastered one level it tells them what they need to do next, but they need to change the selection in order to move to that next step in the program. It will let you stay at the level you were working on, but you don’t earn anything new until you select the next level.
- Watch the bark. When I first started the program up I must have had my speakers on too loud. The program does not have any talking or background music, but it does have a loud bark now and then when you click on something or move to a new section. It about knocked me out of my seat. So, keep your speakers at a reasonable level when you are trying it out.
- Unique groupings. It seems most math programs I use learn all the “+ 1″ at once. Mad Dog instead does everything that adds up to 0-3 first. So it is working with a smaller sample set each time. This worked well for the gradual progress, but it was different than what we were used to.
- Rewards are a long time coming. While kids can earn rewards, they take a while to get there, especially at the lowest level. At level one I felt like I had been on it a while and the “encouragement” that showed up on the bottom after one quiz said something like, “Great job, just 35 to go to earn your sticker!” Wow, that was not encouraging.
- Explanation focuses on vocabulary. In the instructions there is a little button to click for the program to explain the math terms. I expected it to tell you what “addition” means, but instead it tells you the technical terms for each number in an addition problem (and for the other operations as well). This is interesting, but not really helpful if a student didn’t know what “multiply” even means.
Mad Dog math is basically a computer based flashcard program. It is easy to use and most kids would much rather drill their math facts on the computer as opposed to with real cards. It obviously costs a lot more than a deck of flashcards, but if it will get kids to learn their basic facts without an argument, that is money well spent. And, you don’t have to worry about your kids not learning “7 + 8″ because you lost that card and never realized it.
For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.
Disclaimer: This product was provided to me free of charge through Mad Dog Math as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.