Favorite Chapter Books for Reading Aloud During the Early Elementary Years

Today, I wanted to bring you a list of some of my favorite read-alouds over the past couple of years.  It’s my hope that this list helps you as you are looking for great books to read aloud to your younger elementary school children.  Some of these books are high quality literature and others are just pure fun!  I asked my kids for input and that’s how most of the “pure fun” came in!!

I tend to think of this as the list of books we enjoyed last year after we exhausted the possibilities of Magic Tree House, Charlotte’s Web and Mr. Poppers Penguins the year before.

Favorite Chapter Books

Affiliate Disclosure:  Most of these links are Amazon affiliate links.  They’re just here because it’s an easy way to point you towards the book.  Don’t feel like you have to purchase through them :-)

Whatever After #1: Fairest of All by Sarah Mlynowski.  This is the first of the Whatever After series.  We’ve read and own the whole series up to this point because it is fun and silly.  We also love all the fairy tales that these are based on, and for the children, finding out that some of these fairy tales have different versions from what’s in the Disney movie was the perfect bridge to introduce The Blue Fairy Book and get us reading some classic fairy stories.

The Story of the Treasure Seekers by E. Nesbit.  The scheming Bastable children and their ideas for how to gain wealth were really fun and silly.  We laughed out loud as we read their exploits.  Since we read this book for bookclub, we ended up also making a treasure seeking snack  and craft to go with this story!

The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo.  This is one of Firecracker’s very Favorite Read-alouds.  It has adventure, morals, castles and princesses as well as talking mice.  There’s just something so appealing about the story that I always feel enchanted when I read from it.

Homer Price by Robert McCloskey.  Homer Price is an adventurer and a hero.  He’s always involved in the exploits in his town and often has a great solution no one has ever thought of!  We loved the illustrations as well, and were completely enchanted by the stories.

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink.  This is about a tomboyish young girl living in the pioneer country of Wisconsin during the time of the Civil War.  There’s plenty of young girl and boy fun in this story, but what really steals the show is the white people’s interaction with the Indians.  There’s a lot of suspicion and distrust, but there’s also a lot of communication and hope.

Little Pear by Eleanor Francis Lattimore.  Little Pear is a naughty little boy, and he’s often getting into trouble.  We liked this one for the gentle humor, silly situations and Chinese backdrop that is so different for us.

The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich.  We read all four of the beautiful books in this series last year, and I even wrote a post about the activities we did while learning about Omakayas and her family.   These are wonderful and magical books.  I think of them as books like the Little House books only showing the Native American side of life instead of the pioneers.

All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor.  This is a great book to read when studying immigration, introducing your children to Judaism or teaching through the Jewish holidays.  We read this book for bookclub and it’s on my list of books to get back to and unit study Jewish holidays with my children.  I’m just waiting for Monkey and Owlet to get a little older to join in the fun too!

Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski.  This is a great book on farming life in the south and the rural south near the turn of the 20th century.  It’s also a great book for thinking about the themes of vengeance and forgiveness in a concrete way that the children can relate to.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.  The language is old and the situations are ridiculous, but my children were enchanted.  We read this and used a literature lapbook by Confessions of a Homeschooler with it.  We also made our own jam tarts and watched the Disney cartoon.

The Bears on Hemlock Mountain by Alice Dalgliesh.  This short books is pure fun!  There are no bears on Hemlock Mountain, are there?  Although my then 8 year old could have read this on his own, this was too much fun to not use as a read aloud!!

Paddle-to-the-Sea by Holling C. Holling.  The chapters on this one are so short that it’s almost cheating to call it a chapter book.  This is a sweet tale of a carved wooden boat that makes it’s way from Canada to the Atlantic Ocean by way of the Great Lakes.  My children would wonder every day what was going to happen to Paddle next!

The Lemonade Crime by Jacqueline Davies.  We’ve read almost the whole Lemonade War series, but this one stands out in my mind.  It deals with trials, proof and accusations and gives the young reader a preview into how a courtroom works.  It’s a great book!!

These are all some great books, and most of these were read aloud to a first grader and a third grader, so they’re definitely early elementary appropriate!  I hope you find some that you enjoy on this list!

This post is going to be part of a Schoolhouse Review Crew blog hop that goes live on 9/3.  When I have a link to the main blog hop, I’m going to come back and update this post with that link, so you’ll have more options for chapter books to explore for reading aloud!

Let’s All Be Brave Review

lets all be brave

I didn’t realize it, but when I was looking through the Booklook Blogger review options this month, God had a perfect plan for a way to spend my reading this month.  I picked out the book Let’s All Be Brave: Living Life with Everything You Have by Annie F. Downs to review solely on the lovely script and hand-drawn look of the cover without considering that I was about to read a book I was going to relate with on so many levels.

Annie Downs is not afraid to admit that she’s not a brave girl.  Even though she felt it was God’s will to move her to Nashville, she cried at the entire time she left her parents house.  Even though she felt called to do some missions work in Scotland, she let a decade pass by before bringing though dreams to fruition.   In fact, Annie says quite frankly, “I don’t think it is fun to risk, to gamble, to possibly lose.  I like safety, smart choices, and learning the easy way.  Tell me it’s a bad idea, and I’m going to believe you.”

Yet, despite Downs’ admissions in the beginning of the book, throughout the book we hear of her doing courageous things because it’s the next step and because it’s what God is telling her to do.  And this is what she wants for her reader.  She’s not asking for you to take unreasonable risks.  What Downs wants to inspire you to do is to be secure enough in your relationship with Jesus and with God’s care for you to take the next reasonable step to follow God’s call in your life.

I found this, as I followed her book through its entirety, to be inspiring.  Sometimes, I feel like because so much of my call is at home with my four little ones and in the children’s classes at church that I love to help out in, I find that I don’t feel very brave.  It’s because I’m taking what seems to me to be the next reasonable step in God’s will for my life, and often what is very brave to me isn’t as brave in someone else’s eyes.

This book was a great read for me because it helped me to reaffirm that I could answer God’s call in all the little things in my life and that they would add up to some pretty amazing big things.  I also was reminded of God’s love and of my security in him.  Every reminder I get of that makes me grateful!

Disclosure:  I received this book as a part of the BookLook Bloggers Program.  I was not required to write a positive review, and my opinions are my own.

August Cross-Stitch Update

I have continued to frame some of the stitches that I had finished and have done nothing with over the past month.

stitches

I also finished stitching “Santa’s Sleigh Ride.”  It’s about 5″ x 5,” which makes it fairly large for an ornament, but I still think I’m going to finish it as a pillow ornament.

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I also finished stitching an ornament called, “Partidge in a Pear Tree.”  It’s from Pam Lewis & Susan Rohm of Praiseworth Stitches.  I’ve still got to go back and add some button pear trees to this one.  I stitched this one on 32 count polar ice which is a very light blue.

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I made a nice new kitchen towel too on a Showcase Huck Towel.  It’s called “Cafe Towel” and was designed by Jennifer Mitchell.  I felt like I needed a new towel to make me smile while I worked in the kitchen!!

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I also started a new project by Kathleen Hurley called “Our Daily Bread.”  I think it’s really starting to look nice.  I’m using a 28 count off-white color for this one that I had in my stash.

IMG_8691

 

This month was a very productive month, but as AWANA and CBS start this month, I expect my productivity to dwindle as I spend more of my spare time prepping crafts and interest centers.  I’m still hoping to have some time to cross-stitch though :-)

This Week: Perler, Bunnicula and Bees

Things are really picking up steam around our house.  I feel like we’re on a roll, and that makes me feel good…(My house, on the other hand, is not appreciating all the creativity and “work” that’s going on here.  I guess you can only do so much in a day…)

I’m going to start with sharing some of what my preschoolers have been doing this week.  We’re concentrating on the letter B, and we’re still using easy-peasy with that and supplementing it with our own crafts and a book time for picture books each day.  The children love it more than the curriculum I spent money on.  That’s live and learn for me.  I’ll also be adding some seasonal touches as we go along, but for now, this is enough for my littles :-)

Other than easy-peasy in the collage below, the only two sources I have to give you for outside activities on the collage are these.  We did the bumblebee craft and used the coloring sheet for fingerpainting from Wildflower Ramblings again.  I have found that the felt bumblebees and alligators are great for using to act out the animals and make our “aah” and “buh” sounds.  I also used the felt bee craft as a way to review bee anatomy with the older children and I love being able to double purpose something!

I also made Owlet a cutting box from the cutting practice strips at Royal Baloo.  She really needed something like that to practice with because she’s been cutting everything in sight!!

As far as the blue Bs go in the collage below, expect a separate post from me on those soon, but you can probably figure them out just from the collage :-)

B is for Bee

We also continued a project we started last week on creation mobiles.  There’s a lot of painting, cutting, sprinkling, etc. going on in these!

mobiles

They are very proud of the finished projects!!

finished mobiles

While we were focused on creation, we decided to make our own starry sky and constellation projects.

starry sky

And we even made our own earth models out of rice krispie treats.

rice krispie earths

We also started back to Cubbies with a focus on Jesus loves the little children.  As I’m teaching Monkey and Owlet’s Cubbies class this year, I’m going to be bringing you many posts of the Honeycomb guide in-action along with additional ideas I might find along the way.  It’s been a year or two, and it feels good to be back with those preschool kids.

cubbies

I worked with the big kids too this week!  We read Next Spring an Oriole to go along with our history program.  We’ve been studying the California gold rush and the settling of the Oregon territory.

We also continued our Bunnicula reading.  We read The Celery Stalks at Midnight and Nighty-Nightmare.  Both are completely full of silliness that I can spot much more easily than they can.  I especially found Nighty-Nightmare to be a fun and ridiculous use of the Dracula story.  I read Dracula for the first time when I was not much older than Firecracker, but I don’t think it would hold his interest yet.  If it would, this would be a perfect place to introduce the classic novel.

books

We did some writing (and both kids kept it brief) about our favorite Bunnicula characters this week, and Rose spent a bunch of time making perler bead versions of the characters.  She also made some of their accessories and I thought it was quite cute.  Especially since she then used my phone and Hubby’s phone to record four installments of Bunnicula stories of her own using her new perler bead characters!!

bunnicula

Rose also started working on a paper mache version of Chester’s head.  (Chester is the cat in Bunnicula.)  She also worked on a colored pencil drawing based on one of the main events in a story Chester tells in Nighty-Nightmare.

We also worked on verbs and some action verbs to describe our characters.

We made cream filled chocolate cupcakes since they’re the dog’s favorite treat.  That was Firecracker’s suggestion and project this week!

bunnicula 2

While Rose was making her perler bead Bunnicula characters, Firecracker got out the perler beads as well.  His creations are mostly characters from Mario or Pikmin, and he has spent long hours playing with these characters since he created them.

perler mario and pikmin

He also did a bit of papercrafting this week.  He made these simple Kirby boxes using some templates he found on Pinterest.  Of course, he even used my exacto knife himself for the first time in making these, so his crafting ability is coming some ways.

kirby

We also continued dipping our toes into our horse unit this week.  We discussed hands and converted things from inches to hands and we discussed the story of the Exodus.  This was really cool because we looked online at some drawings of Egyptian chariots and we found Egypt on a map.  It was really interesting to me to find that the Egyptians didn’t ride horses, but they used them to pull their chariots.  Rose used the 1-2-3 Draw Horses book I bought them to draw these pictures of horses while we were reading this week.  I’m looking forward to really digging deep into this one as time goes by.

horses

 

I guess that about does it for this week.  Whew!  As you can probably tell, I’ve been hard at work this week helping children do their things!  I do feel like I’m finally starting to get a good rhythm between time spent working with the older two children and time spent with the younger two.  As many of you know, this is something that has bothered me for a while, and I’m pleased that those imbalances are mending themselves.

Essential Skills Advantage Review

I have two children who are hideous spellers.  One child is a strong reader but poor speller and the other one is still a beginning reader.  So, when I got the opportunity do a review for Essential Skills Advantage, I knew exactly which skills I wanted to target and had high hopes that it would help with some of our spelling and reading woes.

We received received a full year subscription to their entire premium online program to play with and learn from.  These subscriptions retail for $9.99 per month per child, and are meant for students in grades K-6th (or as remedial work for older students).  I used this program with my three older children who are 9, 7, and 4.

Essential Skills Advantage Review

When you go to the Essential Skills Advantage log-in page, you can choose from the following options for your children:

  • Complete Reading (offered for grades K-3)
  • Fun with spelling (1-3)
  • Vocabulary Builder (4-6)
  • Spell Master (grades 4-6)
  • Grammar (grades 3-5)
  • Spelling Stumpers (two levels offered)

I decided to go ahead and choose a complete reading level for each of my children.  Underneath the log-ins to the complete reading levels, parents are given an activity guide so that you’ll know which skills are targeted in which levels and have a better idea of where to place your child.

For my four year old, Monkey, I started him with the Kindergarten level complete reading.  During our review period, we worked completely under the “Readiness Skills” portion of the Kindergarten level and completed the “Picture Vocabulary” section and the many of the “Visual Skills” activities.

Many of the activities in these sections were very easy for Monkey.  In the picture vocabulary section, he would have to match the pictures with their sounds, identify whether or not a picture was the same as a word that was said, and play concentration by matching the pictures with their words.  In the visual skills section, we would have to look at different shapes and click on the ones that were the same color, the same shape or the same size.

He loved and looked forward to the the picture vocabulary section, but as we progressed deeper into the visual skills section, many of the activities were so similar that he quickly grew bored with the work (even though he was comprehending it), and I ended up letting him quit using this program.  After all, the activities were written for a Kindergartener, and he won’t even turn five until February.

matching animals

My seven year old is still learning to read, so after looking through the lists of skills targeted in the first grade complete reading for Essential Skills Advantage.  She started with the phonics and went completely through the “short vowel” portion of the phonics and through portions of the “long vowel” phonics sections.  The activities in these sections are repetitive but different enough to maintain her interest.  The student is guided through word families, seeing the word and matching it on the screen, hearing the word and matching it, finding rhymes, filling in the blanks in simple sentences, typing what you see and typing the words you here as the student approaches mastery with the words that they are working through.

Rose went about this with great enthusiasm and even loved it as she worked through the short vowel pages.  When she reached the long vowel portions, even though she was able to do it, she had much greater difficulty and some of her enthusiasm fled.  She still has enjoyed working through the phonics sections, however, and usually just as she’s starting to get frustrated with the activities, one the more fun activities is next on the page and she returns enthusiastically to her work.  Rose loves the see and type, word search, gumball and concentration activities, and usually those are enough to pull her through any difficulties she might have with other sections.

First Grade Phonics with ESA

Firecracker was much more difficult to pin down to a single level, so I let him pick and choose activities between grades 2 and 3.  For example, Firecracker is a poor speller, so I allowed him to do the phonics from grade 2 so that he could bolster his hearing and spelling, but he’s also ready to focus on higher level reading skills, so we worked on some compound words and reading sections from grade 3.  While he did the amount I required him to do, there were very few activities that truly interested him so he ended up spending the least amount of time on the program of the three that I had trying the program out.  He got a little over halfway through both the second grade “short vowel” section and the third grade “compound words” section.

second grade phonics

As a mom, I really liked using this program.  I felt that it was systematic in a way that was much more fun than it would be to use these skills to complete paper worksheets.  The children, while they weren’t begging to do English each day, did their work without complaining, and often asked to start their time with this program.   While Firecracker usually only did the 3-4 activities per day that I required, Rose often completed twice as many or more in a single setting.  This was a way for her to do English that she really enjoyed.

However, the problem areas that were problem areas before we started using this program remained problem areas and even made Rose cry while using the program.  For this, I must say that I wouldn’t use this as a complete reading program, even though the levels we used were billed that way.  While great for systematic practice and a fun supplement, this is no substitute for direct teaching and lovingly re-teaching concepts.  In fact, as the children progressed to more and more difficult work, I found myself spending more time at the computer with them giving them direct instruction and reminders as they worked through the activities.

I wanted to make mention, if you’re interested in trying this out before you purchase, that there are two versions of ESA.  I tried out the premium version which is $9.99 per month and gave my children each their own log-ins, kept track of their progress and was ad-free.  Essential Skills Advantage also has launched a sponsored version of their program that is completely free to users.  There are ads and you lose some of the nice features of individual log-ins and progress tracking that paid subscribers have.  You also won’t have access to quite as many activities as paid users have, but  it would be a great way to try the program out before you decide if it would work for your family.

If you’re ready to plunge into signing up for a premium plan, you can use the code TOS50 to receive fifty percent off your monthly membership fee.

 

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Crew Disclaimer

Can I be Spiderman when I grow up?

This month’s Poppins Book Nook theme is “What will I be when I grow up?”  I was really unsure what to do for this month because I made the mistake of actually asking my children what they wanted to be when they grew up.  This is what they said.

My nine year old: “A rapper.  The music kind.”

My seven year old:  “A weather girl…or maybe a nurse…or maybe a teacher…or a mom”

My four year old: “Spiderman”

My three year old:  “A princess!  I’m going to be Anna!!”

With such great guidance, I didn’t know where to start as I began to sift through the possibilities for this month.  Being a little bit of a free spirit, and always having unrealistic career goals myself, I decided to say “Why not?” to the idea of being Spiderman!

Can I be Spiderman

We read 5-Minute Spider-Man Stories which is a really nice illustrated book of little Spiderman stories that we picked up at BJ’s a few months ago at the begging pleas of my young Spiderman in training.  They show some of Spiderman’s great fights against the really bad guy like “Lizard,” “Dr. Octopus” and “Sandman.”

We already have a Spiderman mask, but if you don’t, you can find some helpful tutorials here or here.  (I don’t know how Hulk got into that picture!  He just always tries to come in and smash things up!!)

Hulk and Spiderman

The next thing we found that was a really cool must-do was this Spider-Man goes Jumping Jack craft from M Gulin.

spiderman paper doll

We’ve spent most of the rest of our time enjoying Spiderman by watching both Amazing Spiderman movies and watching lots of Ultimate Spiderman on Netflix.  Of course, there’s been a lot of playing with superhero toys too!

Of course, who could talk about Spiderman without drawing him and some of his arch-nemeses?  There’s a whole world of possibilities!!

venom vs spiderman

This post is a part of Poppins Book Nook’s “What Do I Want to Be When I Grow Up?” link up.  I’m sure there are many other bloggers you should visit below if you want to see some who’s children are going to have viable money-making careers when they grow up!  Go see them!!

Poppins Book Nook main image 2014 - 2015

Enchanted Homeschooling Mom ~ 3 Dinosaurs ~ To the Moon and Back ~ Planet Smarty Pants ~ Farm Fresh Adventures ~ Growing in God’s Grace ~ Chestnut Grove Academy ~ Learning and Growing the Piwi Way ~ The Usual Mayhem~ Preschool Powol Packets ~ Monsters Ed Homeschool Academy ~ Adventures in Mommydom ~ Teach Beside Me ~ Life with Moore Babies ~ Kathy’s Cluttered Mind ~ Are We There Yet? ~ Our Crafts N Things ~ Hopkins Homeschool ~ ABC Creative Learning ~ Joy Focused Learning ~ P is for Preschooler ~ Laugh and Learn ~ A Mommy’s Adventures ~ Inspiring 2 New Hampshire Children ~ World for Learning ~ Ever After in the Woods ~ Golden Grasses ~ A glimpse of our life ~ Journey to Excellence ~ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Little Homeschool Blessings ~ Raventhreads ~ Tots and Me ~ As We Walk Along The Road ~ Stir the Wonder ~ For This Season ~ Where Imagination Grows ~ Lextin Academy ~ The Canadian Homeschooler ~ School Time Snippets ~ Peakle Pie ~ A Moment in our World ~ Every Bed of Roses ~ Finchnwren ~ At Home Where Life Happens ~ The Library Adventure ~ Embracing Destiny ~ Day by Day in our World ~ Our Homeschool Studio ~ A “Peace” of Mind ~ Thou Shall Not Whine ~ SAHM I am ~ eLeMeNo-P Kids ~ Simple Living Mama

When I Grow Up Bundle Giveaway! Every month the Poppins Book Nook group will be offering readers a chance to win a brand new storybook or product that ties in with our theme for the month. This month one lucky entrant will win a bundle of fun for the theme of When I Grow Up.  This bundle will include a copy of the storybookWhen I Grow Up by Mercer Mayer, one copy of Community Helpers Puzzles by Trend, and one copy of Community Helpers & Careers Pocket Flash Cards by Trend.

Entrants must be 18 years or older and reside in a country that receives U.S. Postal mail. This giveaway is brought to you by the company Enchanted Homeschooling Mom who is owner and founder of the Poppins Book Nook. By entering this giveaway you are also acknowledging that you have read and agree to all of the Rafflecopter terms & conditions as well as Enchanted Homeschooling Mom’s disclosures found here {http://enchantedhomeschoolingmom.org/disclosures/}.  Just enter the Rafflecopter below to win:

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

And now, it’s your turn….Have you blogged about what your child wants to be when he grows up?  Join in our link-up below!!

 

Next month’s theme is “The Wild West.”  I have to tell you guys that unless something really changes with my children over the next month, I have a feeling I’m going to be blogging about my older children’s studies of the Alamo!

(clip art used in this post by: http://www.etsy.com/shop/melonheadzdoodles)

UberSmart Math Facts Review

As many of you know, math is a sore subject in our household, and much of our math drama revolves around children who don’t know their math facts and so have a difficult time solving various problems.  So when I got a chance to do a review for UberSmart Software, I was pleased to add a new math tool and hopeful that it would help with our math difficulties.

UberSmart Math Facts Review

 

UberSmart Math Facts is a downloadable Windows-based software program that focuses on helping people master their math facts.  To operate this program you must have either Windows 7, 8, XP or Vista.  

This program can be used by eight or more students and has several modes enabling your student to practice the following:

  • Dot cards (domino like faces with our without the numbers printed on them)
  • Keyboard entry (on the number pad)
  • Flash cards (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division)

The addition and subtraction cards go up to the nines fact families.  However, multiplication and division have an option to open them up to go all the way from the 0 family to the 20 family.

This program is meant for K-6th grade, but it can be used by anyone seeking to practice and master their math facts.  My nine and seven year old children used this, but I also occasionally practiced my math facts using this program.  It currently sales for $24.95.

I found it easy to download and run the install program for the program.  Then, all I had to do was to input my access code/license key and get started.  As I began to add myself and the children to the computer, I decided to do the pre-assessment test for each of us that is offered under the testing portion of the top menu screen.  You’ll click on “Testing” and then go to “Beginner” and “Assessment Test.”

The pre-assessment test tests on keyboard entry, number order, greater than and less than, even and odd, and all the math facts as you go along.  Then, the program makes recommendations on things that you need to work with.  On my assessment test, I found that there were still three division fact families that I could use a little reinforcement with.

Below, I’ve posted my seven year old’s assessment test results as an example of what the results portion looks like.  For example, it shows that she has difficulty with sequencing and odd and even numbers that goes beyond the scope of this program but that we should work on more before we actually begin truly memorizing math facts.

Also, both Firecracker and Rose were so dreadfully slow at keyboard entry that the computer recommended that they spend time practicing keyboard entry before trying to use the program for memorizing math facts.  Rose took this advice to heart and would subsequently spend much of her time on this program trying to lower her keyboard entry time.

Preassessment Test

With the keyboard entry, you are randomly given numbers to enter exactly into the computer keyboard using the number pad and the enter key.  If you make a mistake, you can always go back and renter just by pressing the space bar.  At the end of your practice session, you are given a time and told whether or not you completed the entry with 100% accuracy.  UberSmart recommends that you have a keyboard entry time of 3.00 seconds or less for each 2-digit number that you type in.  Rose’s current best time is 3.61.

Keyboard Entry

Firecracker took a different strategy and went straight for the practice session with the dot cards.  We looked at the learn section, but these are mostly looking at slides of flashcards, and the children weren’t really interested in that aspect of the program.

Under the Beginner part of the practice session, you can access either keyboard entry or addition and subtraction practice using dot cards.  With these dot cards, you can either have the number printed on or not, depending on your preference.  We preferred to have the numbers printed on.  Once you have made a 100% on a particular fact family, when you choose it off the dot card menu, it will say learned beside the fact family.  At this point, practicing with 2 or 3 families a day (3-4 times a week), Firecracker has scored a 100% on almost all the dot card addition and subtraction families.

Dot card practice

 

Once your child has learned some facts with the flash cards and practiced them with the dot cards and flash cards, it’s time to move on to testing.  With testing, there’s a timer (adjustable by parent) running across the screen at the bottom and the student is expected to use keyboard entry to enter the numbers of the answer.  The standard option is to be able to see the problem you just completed along with the problem that is next as you test.

So far, Firecracker has tested out of his +0 and +1 families, but hasn’t attempted testing on anything else.  His keyboard entry is a little slower, and so he hasn’t been able to type fast enough to test out of more families.  He is probably capable, and I could adjust the timer to give him more time, but this evil Momma wants him to improve his speed as well as accuracy.

Testing Math Facts

Once your child has attempted testing, you can open the report section and see what your child’s score has been on each attempt to master different fact families.  There’s also a compete mode, but since my children are still struggling just a bit on keyboard entry, we haven’t really used it yet.

As far as the program goes, as a Mom, I love it.  It’s a great way to practice facts.  It’s easy.  It’s completely randomized each time you practice the different families.  You can pull up your child’s testing scores at any time to see what they’re still struggling with.  I can tell the children to just go an practice “at least 2 different fact families” or “do some keyboard entry, practice a family and take a test” and it’s easily done.  I can also see the results of increased fact knowledge and increased confidence with math computations.

My children don’t love it as much as I do.  In fact, they’ve both used the word “boring” to describe it.  This is not a program with a bunch of bells and whistles.  It is exactly what the program promises–a way to learn, practice and test your math facts.  The reward is seeing the words “learned” and “mastered” beside the fact families on the drop-down menus.  Despite their claims of “boring,” they both get pretty excited when they get to see that beside their names.

As foundational as learning math facts is to elementary math, if you have a child who is struggling to learn them, or who doesn’t automatically (within less than 3 seconds) recall their math facts, this is a comprehensive and painless way to practice and learn them.  I plan to continue to use this program with the children because although our addition recall is getting much better, there are many families of subtraction, multiplication and division facts just waiting for us to learn them.

 

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