In August 2010, I went to a local homeschool book sale and had the chance to connect with a company called QuickCheck math that offers a hands-on creative fun way to reinforce math skills. This product is made by Kinesis Education (Brault & Bouthillier). Their sets are for Grades K through 3. They sent me out a set to see how we liked it.
How it works:
When you order a grade, you get a set of 5 coil-bound books and a plastic case with 6 tiles.
There are 5 books in the series, one to cover each of the 5 areas in the Ontario math curriculum: Data Management & Probability, Geometry & Spatial Sense, Measurement, Number Sense & Numeration, and Patterning & Algebra. The tiles have 2 sides – one has symbols, the other a coloured triangle.
The idea is that the kids open a page of one of the books, place the tiles with the symbol side face up and the checkmark covering the picture at the bottom of the page that tells them the pattern of triangles that’s the right answer. The tiles get moved to the top section of the case, and one by one you figure out where they go on the bottom. When you are done, you flip the case over and see if your triangles match the bottom picture. If so, you got it right! If not, check to see what you did wrong.
Under many of the pages’ titles there’s a little square – which is a note for the teacher on a way to expand or explain the exercise. At the back of the book there is also a Teacher Section, which gives learning connection activity suggestions and lots of tips that can help the experience be better.
I love this set for a few reasons.
- It allows the kids to do math both manipulatively and visually.
- The kids can see exactly what they get right or get wrong and can correct themselves.
- It’s a different way to reinforce math ideas and concepts, instead of just reviewing through worksheet problems.
- It’s fun.
- It can be used over and over – allowing me to reuse it with my younger kids when they reach that grade level, or again and again throughout the year as review of skills.
In addition to this tile/book system, they also have teacher resources, one ongoing assessment book and one diagnostic assessment. Although intended ideally for a teacher in a classroom setting these can be very useful for the homeschool environment too.
The Ongoing Assessment book is divided into each of the 5 areas and builds on what you have been doing with the tiles in different ways – making sure that the student “gets” the concept behind the game and isn’t just winging it. There are step-by-step activities all laid out: materials needed, questions to ask, what to do, and includes templates and worksheets like base 10 manipulatives as well. There are sheets you can copy to write down your observations on a student if you want, and a great way to compare how they are at the beginning of a season with the end of it.
The Diagnostic Assessment is designed to be used as checkpoints throughout the program to make sure the student has understood what they’ve been working on. Instead of expanding the skill sets, it’s more of a testing opportunity. This book also includes templates and evaluation sheets.
While both of these books are fairly pricey – as most teaching tools are, but they are handy ways to work on math in a creative and more hands-on format.
I do admit that alone, these kits do not teach your children about the skills or concepts, but they are a great way to reinforce ideas and learning by making math fun and tangible. These are a perfect addition to other workbooks or lesson plans you have in place. And – good news! Completely reusable!