## GPA Math – A TOS Review

Math, you either love it or hate it. Around here we love math. AJ would do math any day over reading or writing. When I was given the opportunity to review an online math program GPALOVEMATH from GPA LEARN I thought it would be the perfect math program for AJ. I was given a year long subscription to GPALOVEMATH. There are over 150 lessons and 10,000 problems in each grade!

GPALOVEMATH is a math program that is completely online. Using animated characters, lessons that are to the point, and step by step directions, your student can master math standards. GPALOVEMATH is really broken down into three parts – Learn, Engage, and Motivate. When you purchase GPALOVEMATH your child will have access to all six grades of math, from K-5. We used fifth grade for the majority of our review, but we also looked around at some of the other levels.

When your student logs on to the program they are taken to their dashboard. On their dashboard they will see how many lessons they have completed, the number of stars they received for each lesson, their progress, and how many rewards they have earned. From there they have the option of clicking on one of the three tabs; Learn, Engage, or Motivate.

When your student clicks onto the learn tab they are taken to a screen with three different paths to work on. The paths vary a little by grade, but in 5th grade they were:

• Green Path – covers order of operations, problem solving skills, and variables.
• Purple Path – covers place value, decimals, fractions, multiplication, and division
• Blue Path – covers the coordinate grid, graphing, geometry, and measuring

The lessons can be completed in recommended order, or by topic. If you are going in recommended order, there may be times when one or more of your paths are blocked and you are forced to complete other lessons before you can continue on the blocked path. This can be bypassed manually, if you want.

When the student clicks on the desired lesson they are taken to a lesson that is broken up into three parts. The first part is the Introduction.

The 5th grade lessons start off with Nina Numerator and Dino Denominator needing your help to stop the Evil Dr. Division from trying to ruin the world. In order to stop Dr. Division you have to solve math problems and earn clues.

After explaining why the topic is important to learn, any new math words are defined.

The concept is explained in detail. Then the student is walked through four problems on the topic, earning a clue after each problem.

During this time the student should work the problems out, but they can not click on anything or submit their answer in any way. Once they earn all of their clues Dr. Division is defeated until the next time and the introduction is over.

Following the introduction is the practice section. In this section you practice solving problems. If you get it right then your learning coach gives you positive feedback, a green check appears, and you can go on to the next problem. If you get it wrong, your learning coach points out what you did wrong, a red refresh button comes up, and you are given another chance to solve the problem. When practice is over, it is time for the Quiz.

The quiz is 15 questions (10 for younger grades) long. During the quiz the learning coach doesn’t provide any feedback, and you won’t know if you answered a problem correctly until the end of the quiz. The quiz is made up of multiple choice, drag and drop, and fill in the blank questions. When the quiz is over you are given your score and your points. You are also able to go through any missed problems.

The second tab your student can click on is the Engage tab. Under that tab they can send messages to approved people including their teacher. This section may be great, but we didn’t use it. With just the two of us, it would be silly to communicate over the computer, but it might work well if your student has friends using the same program.

The final tab is what makes GPA LEARN different from other math programs, the Motivate tab. For each lesson your student earns points depending on how well they did. They can then use those points to purchase things. There are numerous options from staying up late to cooking with parents, and even having the parent do the child’s chores. There is also the option to earn a gift card (provided by GPA LEARN) to different retailers. During this review we saw Toys R Us and Target, I don’t know what options there will be in the future. **** As you can see AJ earned quite a few gift cards, but policies have changed and now there is a limit of earning 3 per year*** There are also random awards that parents can select in the beginning that are given out as surprises when the student has completed so many lessons.

GPALOVEMATH can be played on your MS Window or Apple MAC computer; Apple iPad, or Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 (10”). You can use it with your favorite browsers, Google Chrome (recommended), Apple Safari 6 & 7, MS IE11 and FireFox. We used it on my Windows 8 laptop using Chrome.

AJ is in 6th grade, but since we have been doing a mastery based math, there are a few holes, especially in geometry. AJ used this program in place of her normal curriculum for the six weeks. I had her do about 5 or 6 lessons a day. She was able to log on and navigate the program very easily and did the program mostly independently. All she needed was my computer, some scratch paper, and a pencil and she was off.

GPALOVEMATH sounds like the perfect program. It is visual, interesting, and full of bells and whistles to make learning fun. Unfortunately, we found some major flaws.

The voices of the characters are horrible, on top of being annoying and computerized, there were times that math vocabulary words (along with others)were pronounced incorrectly. The audio was at times playing so fast that nothing could be understood and at other times there was so much static that the sound had to be turned off. I contacted the company and they are aware of the problem and are in the process of redoing the audio for the 5th grade level. Currently the only fix is to turn the volume down and read through the lesson, but for AJ that was a major issue.

The other major issue was that there were a lot of math errors. I know there will be errors with any program, but this was a bit much. The first few we just talked about, but by the fifth or sixth time that her correct answer was marked wrong on a quiz she was frustrated. She actually used the feedback button herself and contacted them about the issue. She was right, and the problem was fixed.

Most of the issues were simple errors, but a few times the errors prevented her from getting the highest score and the correct points.

As you can see in this picture, they have that point D would be at -6,2. The correct answer would be -6, -2 but she was marked wrong for that answer and another one that was really correct on the same lesson. After reporting quite a few errors we were informed that the 5th grade team would be going over the problems to check them. When we looked at the other levels there were errors as well. In one kindergarten lesson the question asked which picture showed the snowman after it melted, but none of the pictures had anything to do with snowmen.

AJ’s biggest complaint aside from the audio and the math errors was that the introduction was too long. In the beginning, saving the world from Dr. Division was exciting, but after a week it became old and boring. In fact, because of the awful audio and the long introductions AJ decided to skip most of the lessons and just do the practice and quizzes.

There were some really good things about the program too. I love how step by step everything is. I also appreciate that after each lesson she completes I receive an email telling me what she worked on, how long, and what her score was. I can even see if she skipped the lesson or watched it. I love the detailed feedback that shows me how she is doing. The customer service is top notch, and very professional – even when dealing with an 11 year old.

Overall I think it is a great idea, that is just poorly executed at this point. Would I recommend it? No, not now, but once the audio is fixed and the problems are rechecked for accuracy I think that this would be a great math program.

There were a lot of reviewers, and most of the ones that I have read were very positive, so go check them out!

## Free Saint Patrick’s Day Math

This year is going by so fast! It is hard to believe that it is almost March. I created a really fun math packet for AJ in honor of Saint Patrick’s Day, “Lucky Math” and I can’t wait to share it with you.

The packet includes 5 different worksheets focusing on different math skills. Some of the skills included are:

• Operations with negative numbers
• Math Vocabulary
• Absolute Value
• Prime and composite numbers

But there is a neat twist! At the end of each page, the answers from the math problems become ordered pairs that you then need to graph on a coordinate grid. Each worksheet adds another piece to the picture, and when you finish the 5th worksheet there is a picture made from all of the graphed points.

I have also included a list of points to graph that will make the same picture, in case you don’t have time to do all 5 worksheets, or in case they are too hard. AJ is in 6th grade, but I think with a little help the worksheets would be good for kids in grades 4 and up!

This post is part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew Round Up of free printables. Click on the graphic below to find even more free printables. This post is also linked to Dear Homeschooler.

## Standard Deviants Accelerate – Review

AJ learns better if she doesn’t have to read about a subject. She can read all about science or history in a book and the information may or may not click. If she can see the information or interact with it in some way it brings learning to life. We were contacted by Standard Deviants Accelerate to do a review, and after looking into their product, I thought it would be a great fit for us.

What is Standard Deviants Accelerate?

Standard Deviants Accelerate is an online learning system for select subjects for grades 3 to 12. Videos explain/teach the information and then follow up activities are completed online. Currently the subjects offered include the following.

•  AP US History Grades 11+
•  AP American Govt. Grades 11+
•  AP English Composition Grades 11+

The AP classes are only 1 chapter long and while they don’t exactly teach all of the information you need to pass the AP test, they teach how to take the test and then some important information. Topics covered include when you should guess at an answer, what to expect on the test, test taking strategies in general, and the topics you need to know. There is some material covered, but just an overview of the topics.

The regular classes are broken into chapters. Most of them have the same structure; a chapter introduction, between three to five lessons on the topics, and then a chapter review. Within each lesson the activities also follow a similar structure.

Each lesson starts off with a video. Next to the video there is a copy of the video transcript where you can follow along if you want. Under the video there is a place to take notes on the video. You can even copy and paste information from the transcript directly into your notes.

After the video there may be vocabulary. This is simply a screen that lists any new vocabulary from the lesson along with the definitions. The words are clickable, and once they are clicked the word and definition are read to you. Some lessons do not contain a vocabulary section.

The next section is the diagram. In this section there may be a list, a matching activity, or a picture where you need to label the parts. There is a word bank at the bottom and the correct answer will stick once it is put in the correct place.

Next comes the quiz. The quizzes are about five questions long and are multiple choice. Once the quiz is submitted it is automatically graded and any incorrect answers have a link to the section in the video that explains the correct answer.

The final section is the written answer. In this section they are asked a few questions about the “big question”  that they are thinking about throughout the chapter. The answers are typed in and the submitted to the teacher (you) for review.

You can purchase each class based on your needs. There is a monthly or yearly subscription option.  It is accessible 24/7 on your computer, laptop, iPad, or any device with an internet connection.

How we used it

AJ is in 6th grade so unfortunately there were not many classes for her age. We had a choice of Earth Science, Nutrition, Arithmetic, and Fundamental Math. We could have also tried the Algebra or Biology that is for grades 7 and up.  She was really beyond most of the chapters in Arithmetic, and Fundamental Math had a few topics she hasn’t mastered. I gave her the choice on which math to use and she wanted to try Algebra.

We used algebra as a supplement to her current math program. She hasn’t ever had any algebra prior to this course and while she enjoyed it and learned a lot, she was not quite ready for it. My plan is to go back over some of the things she needs to work on in Fundamental Math and then try the Algebra course again. In my opinion this course would be a great supplement for an algebra course or even a remedial class for someone who needed more information. It wasn’t a good fit for someone who was just learning about algebra. There simply wasn’t enough practice and the pace was too fast. The explanations provided in the video were wonderful but they only showed how to do a few problems and then it was off to the activities and quiz. I saw no retention, and when she was asked to do a problem that was similar to the video she couldn’t figure it out. On the other hand she did learn a lot of vocabulary that I think will help when we do get to algebra later on.

We used the chapter on Mountains, Volcanoes, and Earthquakes to finish out our study on geology. This is a secular program so it does refer to millions of years, (and there is a section on evolution in Biology) but I am ok with that. The fact is that a lot of people believe differently from us, so before we try any new science or history AJ and I always talk about our beliefs and why we believe that way. She learned a lot of information from the videos. Some of it was a review of things we had learned earlier in the year, but most was new information. It was great to see the science explained visually. She seemed to retain it and enjoyed watching the videos. I think the main downfall for the science section was the lack of experiments. It is wonderful to see things explained  but hands on learning is a lot of fun too. She ended up watching a lot more of the videos just for fun.

What we liked

• I love the idea of Standard Deviants Accelerate. The student logs on and there is little involvement needed from the teacher.
• The videos had a “Bill Nye the Science Guy” feel to them. They are kind of corny, funny, and full of information. I didn’t care for them at first, but they grew on me. AJ loved them from the start and was laughing and learning at the same time.
• There is a lot of information covered in each video, and taking notes is encouraged.
• One of AJ’s favorite parts was that there is no physical writing, everything is done on the computer.
• The lessons are fairly short, an entire lesson usually took about 45 minutes. They can even be broken up into shorter sections if you want.
• There was a big focus of vocabulary – something we often struggle with.
• Your work can be saved in your locker and you can go over it at another time when you want to study. It can also be printed out.
• The final chapter review takes questions that you originally answered incorrectly and asks them again. I love this because if you got it wrong the first time you were suppose to watch that part of the video again and you should be able to get the right answer now.

What we didn’t care for

• I didn’t like that all of the answers were multiple choice. I think that on the quizzes it would have been nice to have some fill in the blank or matching questions as well. Often some of the choices on the quizzes were obviously incorrect.
• We didn’t care for the writing section of the chapters at all. We honestly just skipped it. The idea of thinking about a main idea throughout the chapter is good, but we felt discussing the main idea was more than sufficient.
• There isn’t enough practice in the math sections.
• There were no hands on learning opportunities.

Overall we enjoyed Standard Deviants Accelerate! I plan to have AJ continue to use it to supplement our current courses. If you have a student that learns well visually this may be the answer for you! They are currently offering a free two month trial, so check it out.

## SchoolhouseTeachers.com – Review

I am excited to announce that I am now an official member of The Schoolhouse Review Crew! One of the first things that I was able to review is a product that I had been contemplating purchasing for a while now, SchoolhouseTeachers.com

## What is SchoolhouseTeachers.com?

SchoolhouseTeachers.com is an online product with downloadable, printable elements as well as online classes. It is a collection of over 100 different courses ranging from math and grammar to film making and violin. Classes are available  for every age from preschool all of the way through high school. There are classes and resources for mom too. Resources for mom include planners,  homemaking classes, and even menus.

The classes are done at your own pace, and one membership covers your entire family for all of the courses that you wish to take. It could serve as a full year of homeschool, or a great supplement.

We used the website on my PC laptop. The site loaded quickly and was fairly easy to navigate. Once you click on the course you want to take, you are usually taken to a page with all of the lessons  hyperlinked and ready for you to start on whatever lesson you are looking for.  A few of the courses I looked at didn’t list all of the courses on one page, in those courses I had to click through a couple of pages to go back to the beginning lessons of the course. It didn’t make the navigation any harder, but it did take longer to get to the lesson I wanted.

I did most of the site navigation when we used my computer,  but AJ  used her Kindle Fire to watch some of the sign language videos on her own. It was great that she could watch the video lessons and practice even away from the computer.

Most of the courses require typical school supplies like; pencils, notebooks, and paper. There are a great deal of printable elements in the courses that I looked at, mostly worksheets, notes, and lapbook pieces.

## How did we use it?

With so many different options available I began looking around the site. There are really online learning courses for just about anything you can think of. While I was clicking around I found so many amazing things. I found math lessons that will be a great supplement in a few weeks when we move to a new topic, I found an amazing lapbook for the Gift of the Magi that we will be reading in a few weeks, and then I found the Dailies tab.

Under the Dailies tab there are numerous daily lessons. There are daily lessons in math, copywork, spelling, geography, and so much more. I really liked this section because the lessons were short and easy. I decided to pick two of the Daily lessons for AJ to work on.

## Daily Puzzlers

The first course AJ started was Daily Puzzlers. The idea is simple. You print off a list of letters and cut them out. Then each day you are given a list of a few of those letters that you will be working with.
Using different clues you make words with the letter tiles that were printed out. For example, AJ was given the letters : T L E T L I and given the clue “Make a word meaning allow.” Her job was to use the tiles to spell the word LET. Then she was told to add or take away letters to make a new word.
I expected the first puzzle to be simple for her, but it wasn’t. She had a lot of fun, but it became obvious that we need to work on reasoning skills. I had to really talk her through the thinking process for the first two puzzles. The first day we did three puzzles, and she wanted to do even more. The next day I saw a great improvement on her ability to think through the puzzles. I still had to talk her through a few steps but overall she was doing the puzzles mostly on her own.
These Daily Puzzlers help with spelling, vocabulary, reasoning, and thinking skills. The best part is that AJ enjoys doing them. She even wanted to “play the new letter game” over the weekend. Language arts is her weakest subject, so if there is something she wants to do that will help her to improve, I am all for it! She has already asked to keep doing the Daily Puzzlers, so I think it will be an activity that we add as a part of her morning work.

I printed the letters on pink card stock and used a piece of blue card stock for her workspace. When she is not using the letters they are stored in a Ziploc bag. I then stored everything in a small folder.

## Daily Grammar 6/7

The second course I had AJ work on was Daily Grammar for sixth and seventh grade. I had a hard time deciding where to place AJ in the grammar course. She is in sixth grade, but I was afraid the 6/7 course might be too difficult. After looking at the fifth grade course I decide to try out the higher level.

The idea for Daily Grammar is brilliant! Each week you have just one sentence. Each day throughout the week you use the same sentence to practice different elements of grammar.

• Monday – You identify the part of speech for each word in the sentence.
• Tuesday – You label the functioning parts of the sentence including things like; subjects, predicates, direct objects, and indirect objects.
• Wednesdays – You identify the clauses, sentence type, and purpose.
• Thursday – You fix capitalization and punctuation.
• Friday – You diagram the sentence.
A lot of the topics were difficult for AJ, and admittedly myself as well. The best part is that for each day there is a note page that explains everything in detail about the topic. On Monday you grab Monday’s notes and start identifying the parts of speech. If you come to a word that you don’t know how to label you can go through the notes and figure out your answer.
The first week was very difficult! I couldn’t figure out why some of the answers weren’t making sense. Then I realized that there was a typo on the worksheet. Once we fixed the typo things were easier.

Tuesday’s work was by far the hardest because it contained things that AJ hadn’t learned before.

We decided to use Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s work as a way to learn new material. We used the answer key and the notes to learn why the sentence was marked the way it was.

It just takes a few minutes a day, and already she is learning so much!

## What did we think?

We both LOVE SchoolhouseTeachers.com! It is flexible since there are so many different classes available. We plan to continue to use the website throughout the rest if the school year. I think I could easily use this website as an entire year’s curriculum for AJ. The amount of resources it places at your fingertips is amazing. I am already looking into some courses that AJ can take next year.
The only draw back I see is that there isn’t a way to save what courses you are working on. Each time you log on you have to click through to find the course you want to use. Overall, I feel it is more than worth the price!
Are you looking for an inexpensive supplement to your homeschool?

## Finished With Fractions!

Fractions, they are all around us yet they are so difficult for kids to understand. I think that fractions are about the most difficult part of elementary math. They involve so much thinking and often there are many steps to solve a problem. We have been working on fractions for a while now. (It seems like forever) AJ started her first fraction book about two months before the end of school last year and has been working on them for the first three months this year. Last week she took her final fraction test and got 96%. We were both amazed.

She worked through the Key To Fraction books, and I really can’t say enough about them. They provide step by step instructions, adequate practice but not so much that it is overwhelming, an answer key with everything worked out, and they are very inexpensive. Finding the Key To Math website a few years ago was really a blessing because these workbooks really work for AJ.

She has an amazing understanding of fractions now. With each book, even as the material was getting harder, she was having an easier time understanding it. After finishing the four books she can; add, subtract, multiply, divide, and simplify fractions. She can work with different denominators, mixed numbers, cross simplify, rename fractions, and so much more.  I am certain that she has a good understanding of all fraction operations.

While working on the Key To Fraction books we did a few extra things to work on fractions.

First she played this fraction game a lot. I found it on sale during back to school time for \$2 and it was well worth it.

The game really helped her to visualize what it meant when she had to add 3/8 and 1/2. It is a quick game so we were able to fit it in when we had a few extra minutes for math.
She did a lot of cooking and measuring. There is no better way to learn about fractions than to double cookie recipes.
I made her a few different worksheets as well. The first one I shared in October, and the second I will be sharing soon.
This week we started with percents. The first few weeks will be simple and then it will become a little bit more complex. We both feel a great sense of accomplishment that she has finished with fractions and really knows her stuff!
What are you working on in math? How is your school year going?

## When I Grow Up I Want to be a Missionary – Review

For as long as I can remember AJ has wanted to have a million different jobs. She is 11, and just last week she asked how much longer she had to wait to get a job and make her own money. Over the years she has wanted to do many things. Her job choices have ranged from working at Disneyland as Princess Bell, to becoming a marine biologist. I don’t know what she will end up being when she grows up, she has plenty of time to figure it out. She is very interested in learning about different careers, so when I was asked by the Schoolhouse Review Crew  to review the e-book, WannaBe – When I Grow Up I Want to be a Missionary I thought it would be a great fit.

When I Grow Up I Want to be a Missionary is part of the WannaBe series from the Old Schoolhouse Magazine. It is currently available for \$8.95 and is geared for kids ages 4 to 10. As with most unit studies, the age range is just a guide. In this book there are plenty options for the older kids.

#### How did we use the product?

After downloading the 93 page e-book I soon realized that it was so much more than just a book. It is a full unit study all about missionaries. There are so many suggested activities available that AJ and I were not able to complete everything. We read the book on the computer and printed off some worksheets and the vocabulary.

We started our missionary unit study by reading all about different types of missionaries. AJ’s first question was, “What is a missionary?” As we started to read she learned so much. She learned about both foreign and domestic missionaries. She even learned about missionaries in closed countries. After reading all about missionaries, there were different suggested activities to do.

First up for us was math. There were a few different story problems that she had to solve. She practiced a variety of topics including; converting currency, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and elapsed time. The best part was figuring out a missionary’s budget. She practiced so many math skills and had a ball doing it.

The next activity AJ completed was translating a few the Bible verses into different languages. She picked Spanish and German. She thought it was the coolest thing ever to translate the Bible.

AJ completed the worksheets that I printed off earlier.  She did a fill in the blank story to practice vocabulary, a word search, a crossword puzzle, and copy work. The copy work is provided in both cursive and print.

To wrap up our missionary study we attempted to make resurrection rolls.  They didn’t turn out exactly right, but AJ understood the message and had a blast making the rolls.

There were so many other activities that we just didn’t have time to complete including; reading a biography about a missionary, a science study and project, an art project, a useful craft, and even directions for making a fish shaped cake. There are also ideas for practicing vocabulary, and games that focus on a missionary theme.

#### What did we think?

AJ loved this unit study! In fact, she was upset when I told her we were going back to our normal school work tomorrow. We both enjoyed reading and learning about the different missionaries. I liked that this was a true unit study, and that it incorporated so many different subjects. It included numerous options so I was able to pick and choose things that I felt would work well with AJ’s learning style.The unit study was very well written and I feel that you could easily spend a few weeks or longer on just one book. After reviewing this book I am really considering getting the When I Grow Up I Want to be a Veterinarian e-book.

If you are looking for a well done unit study that has numerous activities, the Wanna Be series might be exactly what you are looking for.

## Free Pumpkin Fraction Worksheet

This year it is my goal to make math a little bit more exciting for AJ. One day a week we try to either do a fun worksheet that I make up to review previous skills she has learned, play a game, or do a hands on activity. Since this week is Halloween, I decided to make a pumpkin themed worksheet for her.

AJ has just started learning about mixed numbers and the worksheet should be quite simple. It is meant to be a quick review of fractions that are less than, equal to, or greater than one.

Click on the picture to download a copy of the worksheet for FREE. Be sure to print it in landscape for best results.

## First Day of 6th Grade

I can’t believe that AJ is in 6th grade this year. She has grown so much over the last few years and I am excited to start the new year. My favorite year of school was 6th grade, I had an amazing teacher and learned so much. If she was going to public school, AJ would be in middle school this year. The school she would go to is the same one I went to for the first part of 7th grade,(I was lucky enough to be accepted to a prep school after the first quarter) and it was a rough place way back then. I am so glad she will not have to go to that school!

AJ started the morning off with a shower and then got to work on her chores. She has to make her bed, get dressed, put dishes away, bring up the trash cans, feed the dog, and help make sure everything of hers is put away .

For her first day of school I got up early and made a good breakfast. We had homemade biscuits, eggs, bacon, a banana, and orange juice. It was a good start to the day.

Breakfast was just the two of us, and then I woke up Grandma and got her dressed while AJ started on her Language Arts book.
We had a few minutes before we had to leave so I reviewed fraction operations with AJ and made sure she understood how to do all of her grammar.
Then we took Grandma to her doctor appointment. Usually her appointments are quick, but today it took forever. AJ was suppose to finish her grammar and math work while she was in the waiting room, but she didn’t. She watched the tv in the waiting room instead. She wasn’t too happy when she found out that she would have to work on her math and grammar during her free time, but hopefully she will do her work next time.
When we finally got back home we had a quick lunch and then she started on literature.  I created a literature study for the book she is reading, The Fantastic Mr. Fox. She started by looking up vocabulary and then she read the first 2 chapters. So far she is enjoying the book.
After literature she should have had free time while I went to the dentist, but she had to do her grammar and math. The dentist should have been a quick trip, just two simple fillings, but it took almost 2 hours.
On the way home from the dentist I stopped by my favorite store, Fresh and Easy. I love this store! The prices are great, and the food is fresh. The best part is that I am able to find so many things that are corn free.
I went back home expecting to find AJ, but she was mistakenly taken to gymnastics. During the summer she went to gymnastics everyday, but now that summer is over she goes back to her normal days. Having her gone for those 2 hours really messed up my schedule because we were going to work on science.
When she got home we worked on her Bible curriculum and then had dinner. After our busy day I decided to skip science and work on it another time.
Our day was long and we didn’t accomplish everything, but we will make it up later in the week. I think overall it was a good first day.

## D is for Decimals

With so many different types of homeschool math available, finding the best option for your family can be difficult. Last year I looked at review after review of different programs. I viewed sample pages and considered my limited budget. Then I came across what I thought was the perfect math curriculum. Well it isn’t even a full curriculum, but a set of work books. The math program I picked was affordable, not common core aligned, and not grade level aligned. It was a mastery approach to math instead of spiral. So what was it? It was Key To Math.

*This is not a compensated review, I purchased the materials on my own and was not asked to write this review* The website says the books are not a complete curriculum, and I agree to an extent. Using these books AJ will not be learning exactly what her peers are, but by the end of 8th grade she will learn all of the same concepts just in a different order. We used the decimal books for more than half the year and are now working on fractions. I have added in a few worksheets here and there but really feel this program is quite complete.

I purchased Key to Fractions, Key to Decimals, and Key to Percent. The original plan was to start with fractions, but AJ was not solid on her multiplication tables at the time so I switched it up and we started with decimals.

The first book is Decimal Concepts. In this book AJ reviewed a lot of material that she had previously learned and also learned a few new concepts. The first book is very basic and includes simple topics such as; decimal place value, adding decimals, using 0 as a place holder, decimals as money, and expanded notation.

The second book is Adding, Subtracting, and Multiplying Decimals. This book was very informative and had AJ adding and subtracting many different combinations of decimal numbers. She learned about decimal placement and reviewed many rules of addition and subtraction in the first few pages of the book. The majority of the book focused on multiplication including some word problems. This helped us greatly. Not only did AJ end up with a solid grasp on the how and why of multiplying decimals, but she also finally ended up memorizing her multiplication tables.

The third book in the series is Dividing Decimals. When we started this book I was a little worried. Division was not AJ’s strongest subject. She could do it, but often in the past had made silly little errors that would end up with her needing to redo the problems. I was expecting to spend a while on the dreaded subject of division, so we started out slowly. The first few pages of the book were review and she seemed to do fine. Then the actual division started. The directions were so step by step, that she understood it. She learned so many different ways to divide decimals. We took a long time in the third book, but I think that working through it slowly and steady she really understood how to do the work. The best part is that a lot of the pages had grid paper for her to do the division in so she didn’t make as many mistakes. The book was very hard for her, but I would recommend it in a heart beat.

The final book in the series is Using Decimals. This book was by far our favorite. It brought together all of the skills she had learned in the first three books and showed her why she needed to learn the material. In this book the skills she worked on varied. She used the addition and subtraction skills to balance a checkbook and write out checks. She found out the best bargain at the grocery store by finding the unit price of different items. She learned about averages and even learned about the Dewey Decimal System. Near the end of the book she even learned all about Scientific Notation and when to use it. This final book really brings it all together and makes sure the student really understands decimals.

We loved the Key To Decimals books. AJ now has a solid grasp on all things decimals. She has grown stronger in both multiplication and division and I feel that the Key To books are the reason. Here are some of my favorite things about the series.

• The books are very affordable. Depending on where you purchase them, the 4 books and answer key can cost as low as \$18.
• The books have step by step directions and examples.
• The answer key has all of the problems worked out. This is great because when AJ made a mistake in her division I could easily see where she made the mistake without doing the problem myself.
• It is a mastery approach to math.
• There are enough practice problems to really master the topic.
The only thing I didn’t care for in the series was the way the lessons were broken up. Some lessons would be only one page long, while others were five. So we just worked a few pages a day doing more when she understood the concept and less when she was struggling.
Not every math program is for everyone, but for us we found the perfect fit.