Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Review: Mad Dog Math

Math Drill.  While my kids all excel at math theory, memorizing math facts is a lot more challenging for them.  I am always on the lookout for math drill that is effective, inexpensive, easy on Mom, and most importantly, drill that moves them along without a lot of thought from any of us.

Mad Dog Math was developed to allow each child to progress through a series of short, timed practice sheets.  It is paced individually -- if the child passes (misses two or fewer problems), he moves to the next set of facts, if he does not pass, he works on that same set again.

There are three levels, plus a challenge level.  Each level is intended to be done over a schoolyear.  Each worksheet consists of twenty math problems (Levels 1-2) or twenty-four problems (Level 3 and the Challenge Level), and if done in order, the child would alternate between addition and subtraction (Levels 1-2) or multiplication and division (Level 3).
  • Level 1 is addition and subtraction, and starts off with the 0-3 facts.  This would indicate answers... so it would include facts like 0+0 and 1+2.  All answers will be 0, 1, 2 or 3.  The sheets continue to progress through levels, so the next level (after mastering addition, then subtraction) would be 1-4, then 2-5.  The final level is for 12-18 facts.  There is a lot of review built into this level.  This is where I started Richard, my first grader.
  • Level 2 is addition and subtraction also, starting off with the 0-6 facts.  The facts continue through the final level, which is the 18 facts.  This level would include subtraction facts such as 18-3 and 18-12.  This is where I had William (6th) and Thomas (4th) start.
  • Level 3 is multiplication and division.  This level has a fair amount of review built in, and starts with the 2 facts, ending with the 0-12 facts.  This is where I had Connor (8th) begin.
  • Challenge Level has all of the operations in each worksheet.  This level starts off with a worksheet that includes the 2 fact family for multiplication/division and the 0-6 facts for addition/subtraction.  It ends with the 12's for multiplication/division and the 18's for addition/subtraction.
For Trina (age 5), I had her start in Level 1, but she is doing it using the untimed mode.  That means that she gets to work on the math facts without *any* time pressure at all.
The idea behind the program is that you start your child at the appropriate level, set the time allowed to two minutes, and have them work through all of the worksheets at that two minute time.  At the end of that, they earn a Student Club Sticker for the "2-Minute Club."  At that point, you have the student go back to the beginning of that level, choosing the one minute time.  Completing everything earns them a "1-Minute Club" sticker.  Then, the go through a final time, this time setting the timer at the 30 second mark.  When they pass all of the drills at this time, they will earn a "30 Second Club" sticker, and be a Mad Dog Math Top Dog.  At that point, they can move to the next level.

What do we think?  The kids find the timing part of this to be very motivating.  I was shocked at that.  Connor doesn't want to do the facts in the suggested order, so he ends up bouncing around a bit.  I let him, as this really is review for him.  He is motivated by getting those stickers.

I like that this is straightforward and it is very easy to see what you should do next.  I wish there was some sort of teacher log-in so that I could see all the progress reports without logging in as each student.  However, the reporting is straight-forward and informative.  And you can have as many individual students as you like.  I love that.

We are seriously considering purchasing this when our review subscription is done.  It is simple and effective.  Nothing flashy.  It gets the job done.  Now, if it were available for a Mac, well, I would be happier, but it is nice to have some things they can do on the PC too, I suppose.

You can try Mad Dog Math out for free at their website, and that gives you access to the first fact family in all three of the levels.  To purchase, you can choose a one or two year license ($19.99 and $29.99 respectively), or a perpetual licence ($39.99) and download the software immediately.

You can check out what some of my fellow crewmates had to say about Mad Dog Math 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 short subscription to Mad Dog Math in exchange for my review of the product.  All opinions are my own, and receiving complimentary products does not factor in to my opinions.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

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