Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Review: FactsFirst

We've been blessed with so many wonderful resources this year with the Crew, and Saxon provided my family with yet another one of those.

I have to admit that I've never thought Saxon Math would be a good fit for my children, and as a result, I hadn't really looked at their online facts drill program, Facts First.  That meant I was missing out.

What a terrific program!

All that Facts First does is drill math facts... addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.  My children can't go doing money, or time, or weights.  The only thing they can work on in Facts First is drilling the math facts.

And it is even fun.

Basically, you start with one type of fact (let's take addition) and you begin by doing some little quizzes to establish what facts you already know.  When you get to the point where you start missing (or getting them slowly), then you start doing lessons.

The lessons all follow the same basic format:
  1. Learn two new facts
  2. Work on the commutative property -- i.e. that 2+3 is the same as 3+2
  3. Work on those facts
  4. Work on those facts plus a few you've struggled with in the past
  5. See your results and updated chart
  6. Learn two new facts

I have all four of my boys working in the program, though Connor isn't exactly enthused. He thinks he doesn't need it, however his fact table does prove differently (see above screen capture).  While he can do his math facts, he doesn't have the automaticity going for him on all of them.  So, he is going in roughly twice a week and spending a few minutes drilling.  In three weeks, he has pretty much filled in his addition chart.  I'm tempted to encourage him to do more like three days a week, as it is the multiplication table that I want to see him working on.  (He insists that he has to do them in order!)

William is excelling with the program, and is working on it most every day, for a few minutes at a time.  He enjoys it, and loves seeing his chart fill up.

Thomas is doing great as well.  I have him in there daily for sure, doing at least a few minutes.  He's trucking right along, and finds it enjoyable to do.  He likes earning game time, but is also motivated by the chart filling up.

Richard... wow, Richard is doing fantastic with this.  I wasn't totally convinced that I was even going to have him try, but since I can adjust the amount of time the kids get (the minimum is 2 seconds, I gave everyone at least a bit more time than that as we are working on notebooks without a number pad), I moved him up to 9 seconds, and he is doing fantastic.  He loves getting to the arcade time, and he truly loves working on it when Dad is watching.

The other aspect of this is that working on the lesson will earn you time to play games, or to change your "guy" -- but you only get 5 minutes.  I love that.

And the cost isn't bad either.  $50 for a year subscription, which is good for up to four kids.  Seeing as I have four kids who can use this, that's $12.50 per child, or just barely over $1 per month per child.  You can go see some screen shots, and try a demo lesson or two here.

I am very tempted to purchase a subscription for my family when my 90 day subscription ends.

And you can check out what my fellow crewmates have to say about Facts First at:

Any questions? I'd love to know what you would want to know in deciding whether or not this is something you want to purchase.

Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive a complimentary 90 day subscription to Facts First from Saxon Publishing.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

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Nikki said...

I am also seriously considering subscribing! The price for up to 4 kids really isn't bad. Especially since it is so much fun for the kids! While I have been busy packing, I've been having the children take turns on this site and do their math:) We love it!

Debra said...

Nikki -- so you got sucked in too? I was positive that I wouldn't purchase another math thing... but wow, I do like this.