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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.