Saturday, August 27, 2011

Review: Steps4Kids to Multiply

This has taken me absolutely forever, but I'm finally getting around to writing a GLOWING review (or two) of a set of three DVDs that we've been using off and on over the summer.

Steps4Kids is a company I hadn't heard of, but a friend hooked me up with them.  Wow, wow, wow...

They produce DVDs that teach kids how to write, plus one on the multiplication tables.  Now, you have to know that I have struggled so much with teaching handwriting.  My kids write S-L-O-W-L-Y and painfully and mostly I just gave up and tried to teach them to use a keyboard.  <sigh>

This product changed that.

So - first - what I received -- I received three DVDs, that you can purchase as a bundle.
  • Steps4Kids to Write Their ABCs
  • Steps4Kids to Write Cursive
  • Steps4Kids to Multiply
Let's start with math.   Steps4Kids to Multiply is over an hour of instruction that includes information for the parent/teacher, a great section with math terms, and a track for each number 0-12.   That means you can choose just the number family you want to work with... you can use this to supplement the multiplication tables in the order your curriculum uses, or in their suggested order, or just to pull out those one or two sets that your child struggles with.

Each number track starts off showing a multiplication table, with that fact family's row and column highlighted.  There is a general overview of how to do that particular fact, with hints as appropriate.  Then they go through each fact -- showing it, talking about it, and giving the answer.

After that, they show the math problems (some vertically, some horizontally) and give the kids time to answer before they give the answer on screen.

What we are doing with this is to watch a segment a day, and then cycling back around to the beginning.  This is giving my older kids (in 7th and 5th grades) repeated exposure to these facts.  My 7th grader is severely dyslexic, which means he does fabulously with math theory but struggles with things like memorizing the times table.  I am seeing tremendous improvement for him.

This also means that my 2nd grader is going through things a little faster than maybe he should.  But he's a lot like all his big brothers... he understands the concept of multiplication and has for years.  It's the pesky detail of learning the facts that he needs to work on.  So cycling through seems to be a good thing for him as well.  He's not getting bogged down in having to memorize them all before moving on.

One thing I especially love is that when you get to the 10, 11 and 12 tracks, they are showing it in the traditional format of multiplying a two digit number by a single digit number.  So 12 x 6 would be talked about (this is MY paraphrase, they do it better) as taking 6 times 2 = 12, so you write down the 2 for the ones/units place and carry over the 1 ten.  Then 6 times 1 = 6 tens, plus the one you carried over, so a total of 7 tens... or 72.  When the "drill" part is done, it is much quicker.

I LOVE this aspect.  Introducing them to the "harder" format makes it so much easier.  I dearly wish I had this a few years ago for my 12 year old.

I love that it is straight-forward and pretty basic.  No little songs, no flashy animations.  Nothing that is terribly distracting.  The voices are soothing, yet aren't lulling you off to sleep...

Coming up in another post:  The two writing ones.  I'll link when I get it posted.

Disclaimer:  I received these DVDs in exchange for an honest review.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own.  

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