Friday, October 31, 2014

The Verbal Math Lesson - Review

I have had the opportunity to use some really fun Math books with Captain America over the last few months. I was contacted by Nina Levin from Mountcastle Company and asked if I would like to review a series of books called The Verbal Math Lesson.

There are three books in the series book 1 is aimed at children 5-7 book 2 is for ages 7-8, and book 3
 is for ages 8-10. They cost about $11.00 each on Amazon in paperback form.

I was told that I was sent the 2nd edition of these books but not seeing the first edition I can't really comment on the difference. However I can tell you that these books have been a huge hit. We haven't replaced our other math programs with the books - as I am a little math obsessed. I struggle with math (see there is a reason opposites attract - thanks math genius husband). So, I really want my kids to do well AND enjoy it.

I started out using book 1 with Captain America. Each lesson builds upon the other so for example lesson 1 is called 'Working with nothing' then we go on to 'Counting and simple adding', 'Addition up to 6' until the last chapter 'Subtracting double-digit numbers ending in 0'.

The course is designed to make math fun for young children. I know when you enjoy something you tend to do better at it. Of course this is verbal - in your head math that seems to be skipped so often now since everyone carries a calculator everywhere. I have to talk about my Mother in Law here for a second - She is awesome at mental math. I mean you can have a huge list of things to add up and boom...she beats my use of the calculator every time, and her accuracy is much better than mine (with the calculator). This is probably where my husband gets his math talents from (hopefully the kids get their math skills from him not me!)

Because the first book in the series is designed for grades K-1 it is important to remember that the lessons must be read to the child and then the calculations are done mentally and without the use of paper and pencil. We managed to get through the first few chapters without having to repeat. The guidelines are that the child should be able to do the majority of the problems correctly the first time. If not, you should repeat the lesson the next day. Before progressing to a new lesson it is important to make sure they can do most of the problems in the current lesson easily and quickly (4 seconds is given as a guide.)

So how do you know if your child is ready for this course? Here's some clues that are given in the front of book 1;

1. Child can count to 100. (Occasional errors OK)
2. Can identify written numbers. (Single and double digits)
3. Understands 'same as', 'more than', and 'less than' when referring to numbers and quantities.
4. Knows the difference between right and left and right and wrong :)
5. Recognizes basic shapes.
6. Has a basic, conceptual understanding of measurements of length and weight.

This book has been a huge hit at our house. It is on the list of one of Captain America's favorite things to do.

I haven't used them with my older two since they are above the age range. However I have already decided that these books are going to Disney with us next year. I mean why not practice mental math when you are stuck in a car for 17 hours! I know big kids won't be able to help themselves!


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