Flashcards. I'm sure I'm not the only mom (homeschool or not) who finds loose flashcards under the living room rug, or stuck between couch cushions. When I'm reading, I can usually find a loose one within reach to use as a bookmark. I prefer to think this says something about the nuisance of flashcards in a house full of young children rather than attribute it to a lack of housekeeping skills. Surely I'm not alone.
Our flashcards are supposed to live in little school supply boxes on the bookshelf in the school area (also known as our dining room.) But they don't seem to stay there very well. Unfortunately, they aren't all over the house because we use them. They just seem to escape their boxes and run around on their own. I'm actually a flash card failure. I don't use them.
Which is why this review item from Math Facts Now is perfect for our home. My kids can get the drill of flashcards without the mess of flashcards. And it can be done alone, without a parent or sibling helping them. This software is not a game. Your children will not BEG you to use it. BUT they also will not break down in tears and throw a fit when you assign it. My children find it especially fun when I allow them to use Math Facts Now instead of their regular math lesson. Obviously, this isn't something we can do very often, but it does help when half the kids are puking or Mom is "up to her elbows" in canning. (Not me. I'm still afraid of canning.)
Math Facts Now is designed for grades K-6. It works with Windows 2000, ME, XP, Vista and Windows 7. It requires 4.5 Mb of free hard drive space to install it on your computer. It's very simple to install, and I had no troubles downloading it or installing it. (Though I was given the download version to review, it is also available for purchase on a cd-rom.)
How does it work?
When you open Math Facts Now, you first select which student you're going to drill. Then you can choose between a previously used lesson, or creating a new lesson. When you create a lesson, you choose which math function to drill: addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division. After you've chosen a function, you choose which numbers between 0 and 12 to drill. Then you set a time limit for answering each question (we used 60 seconds for our younger students), and set a number of required correct answers to complete the lesson. The lesson will continue until the student reaches that number of correct answers. I usually chose 20-25 correct answers, but this can be lower or higher depending your student's ability to focus and their frustration level.
When a student is drilling, and they miss an answer (or are too slow answering it), the program requires them to re-type the entire equation at least two times before moving on to the next question. I never had my children re-type it more than two times, but you can have them re-type it as many as 10 times. The program then retests the student on their missed problems later in the drill, with a "Be Careful" warning next to it.
Math Facts Now also allows the parent to set a reward for completing the lesson ... or not. I usually chose not to place a reward in the lessons, but some children may need an occasional reward for their lesson, or even a reward each time. This is fully customizable, allowing you to type in whatever reward you use in your family. It can be as simple as story time, a sticker on a chart, computer free time, or a snack. The student does not know in advance what the reward is or if there will be a reward. It is only stated at the completion of the drill, and is not dependent on how many they miss.
Once the student has completed their lesson, a lesson report pops up. It records when the lesson was started, how long the student took to complete it, their average time per problem, how many problems were correct, how many were incorrect, and how many were answered too slowly. You can then print a detailed report of their results, including which problems were incorrect.
What's the ElCloud opinion?
The program is straight-forward. It doesn't have bells and whistles to entertain the children, but it works. Its appearance is simple and not distracting. I like that it doesn't focus on how many are missed, or give a final grade. The lesson is over when a set number are answered correctly. It isn't indefinite, but it does require that the student work the problems correctly. They can't just type in 30 half-baked answers, regardless of accuracy, and be done.
Some of my favorite parts of the program are:
- it allows me to create customized drills for each of my elementary students.
- it isn't designed for only one math function, but drills all four functions.
- it lets me save the lesson drills with a title like Add3and4, so I don't have to set them up each time.
- if we re-do a lesson, it isn't exactly the same like a worksheet, but varies each time within the parameters that I set.
- it gives me a report in the end of what problems they're missing, so I can see where the student is having trouble.
- it's reusable.
- it works for multiple students.
- it's affordable.
- it's not a subscription-based online program.
Math Facts Now is very affordable, priced at $15.95 for the download version or $15.95 + $3.95 shipping for the cd-rom. You can read more about its features, or even see how to get a free trial at their website.
I definitely recommend Math Facts Now for families looking for an effective method of drilling their math facts without the use of flash cards which can get lost, pop up all over the house like legos, require two people, and don't create instant printable reports. Flash cards do have one benefit over Math Facts Now ... they make better bookmarks.
This item was provided free for our review as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew. We received no other compensation, and this review is our honest opinion. Visit the TOS Homeschool Crew blog to read more reviews on this product by other Homeschool Crew members.
Trusting In Him,