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TOS Crew Review — Math Facts Now

January 5th, 2011

Speed drills are seen by some as a necessary evil in teaching and motivating kids to learn their basic facts. Not so in this day and age. Now, they do still need to practice and memorize, but it doesn’t need to be the palm sweating”upside down paper on the desk until the signal” event of yesteryear.

Math Facts Now has created a program to help kids learn their facts through repetition and review on the computer. Parents can set up the program according to their own expectation and with the specific target areas needed. All that’s left is for the kids to get on their regularly and see their skills improve.

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Product: Math Facts Now

Details: A customizable, computer based program to help students learn their basic math facts

Price: $15.95 for download product. An additional $3.95 if  you would prefer a physical product shipped to you.

What we loved . . .

  • Focus on math not entertainment. Kids can sometimes be distracted by the “extras” that are included in many educational programs. Math Facts Now recognized this and offers a program that allows students to focus on the work they need to do and master their basic facts as efficiently as possible.
  • Requires them to review their mistakes. They program requires that students who make an error must retype the one that they got wrong at least twice (you can choose to make it more) before going on. This does take some time, but was a great way for kids to review what they missed. When I showed my son that feature he said, “I’m never gonna get one wrong!” Yep, it did motivate him to be extra careful in his work.
  • Warns them when they are on a tricky one. If they previously missed an answer the next time that some question comes up it will warn them to “be careful.” This could be a bad thing, because for my daughter she just remembered the one she got wrong had an answer of 18, so she didn’t look at the problem itself, just the warning. However, most other time they had multiple ones they had missed, so it was not an issue.
  • Customizable. I loved that we could set up whatever we wanted the quizzes to be. They could drill them on just “1+” or 1 through 4 or 1through 12 or whatever we were covering at the time. It automatically does 0-12 with whatever numbers you set, so it might not work well for really young kids, but all of my kids are past those early facts so we did not have to deal with that challenge.
  • Easy to set up. I took the time initially to set up multiple quizzes. I set up each drill set (1; 1-2; 1-3; 1-4; etc.) for each basic operation. Then I set up individual ones as well (just 2, just 3, just 4, etc.) That is a lot of quizzes, but it gave them a lot of options and had all the work from my end done. I also set the time higher on the ones I knew my younger kids were doing so they would not keep getting them wrong just because they type a little slower. If my older ones decided to do the early addition tests I could still see their average time although they would not get it wrong if they answered slow. This kept me from having to set up multiple versions of each test for older and younger kids.

Some considerations . . .

  • No lock for the changes you make. Technically students could enter the quiz set up area and change the amount of time, questions, or other content. None of mine messed with this, but it is possible.
  • Can’t pause in the middle of a goal.  If you set it for your child to get 50 correct before mastering a test and he takes a break after 35, he has to start again at the beginning the next time. This was a challenge when I made the goals longer, but as long as you keep the tests a reasonable length it should not be an issue
  • Takes some time to set up. Because this is fully customizable, it does not come with preloaded tests. You will need to take the time to set them up how you want them. It is very quick to do, and I went ahead and set up numerous ones when we first received it so i did not have to continually create new ones. A few minutes at the beginning and they had quizzes to last them for weeks. When you set up one quiz multiples students can use it, so you don’t need to recreate the same quiz for multiple students.

We really enjoyed the simplicity of use with this program and how versatile it was for a wide range of students. The price seemed quite reasonable for the length of time you could benefit from the product, and it did its job in helping my kids improve the speed and mastery of their math facts.

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 Math Facts Now 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.

TOS Crew review: Facts First (from Saxon)

January 29th, 2010

Math cannot progress well if we do not have a hold of the basic math functions of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. However, the drill or repetition required to master these is rarely exciting. Until now.

Facts First offers an affordable, entertaining way for your kids to learn, master, improve, and excel at their basic facts. They want your child to have fun developing an instant recall of these facts, and based on our experience with this program over the last month, they definitely succeed at this goal.

Product: Facts First
Details: A web based math program that was created by Skills Tutor, a sister company to Saxon, and is being distributed by Saxon Homeschool.
Price: $49.95 per year, this includes a one year household license for up to four users.

What we loved . . .

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  • Fun, fun, fun— Although entertainment is obviously not my chief goal during math lessons, my kids definitely ALL enjoyed this program. And, since it focuses on building their mastery and speed in basic facts, I don’t mind a little fun in the process. Or, even a lot of fun.
  • Limited game time — While it does reward the hardworking child with games, it limits these to 5 minutes at a time, and even the games often help reinforce their math facts.
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  • Tracking progress — You can easily log on and see how each child is doing. These easy to read charts show which facts they have mastered, and gives you an idea of how close they are to mastering other facts they have been working on.
  • Adjustable expectations — I clearly expect my seventh grade to know his facts more quickly than my kindergartner, and Facts First allows for that. You can go into the controls and change the standard for mastery. This alters how fast the program expects an answer, any where from 1/4 of a second to 60 seconds, or even untimed if that works best to motivate your child.
  • Audio! — Even my kindergartner can use this program fairly independently. A voice reads everything that she needs to know in order to continue to improve in her basic math facts
  • Instruction and drill — The program doesn’t just drill the facts (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division), but it also introduces a new fact before drilling it and then adding it to the list of facts they might see in their quizzes.
  • Great graphics — Just take a glance around their site, and you can’t help but enjoying what you see. Colorful, eye-catching, this site is fun to use and fun to explore.

Some considerations . . .

  • Limited in scope. This program is just about basic math facts. These are extremely important to master, but don’t expect something else from this program. It drills and redrills, and encourages kids to improve in their basic math facts.
  • One license for the house. My daughters didn’t like that my son could also look at their accounts and see their mastery grids. Simple solution, I just made other people’s information off limits, but as far as I am aware, there is no setting to prevent this.
  • Still may have too much game time. While I generally felt this offered a good balance of games and instruction, 5 minutes of play for a few minutes of work is still quite a bit. Of course, the games do include further reinforcement.

Facts First has a limited scope, but one critical to your child’s success in math in the years ahead. Especially for multiple children, the cost is reasonable, and since the program is fun and able to be used independently, this is a great way for kids to work on their own and see their mastery grow without groans.

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This web based membership was provided to me free of charge from Facts First 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.