Discover the Basics: Multiplying and Dividing is a simple
text that focuses on the basics: understanding and remembering
the multiplication and division facts up to 12. It does not include
word problems or cover remainders. (Mastery Learning Systems does
have another program that covers those.) Designed for second grade
and above, this 128-page text helps children truly understand and
remember the math facts. It comes in a sturdy three-ring binder
and is plain black and white (no color).
Mastery Learning Systems desires for children to learn math without
stress and anxiety. Their goal is for kids to understand concepts,
not memorize meaningless facts or formulas. It is suggested that
the instructor tell the student what to do instead of
explaining the lessons. Students can then figure the concepts and
facts for themselves, allowing kids to have their own "A-ha" moment,
which seems to make the facts stick so much better. Very clear
directions for providing this type of instruction are given in
the introductory section.
Discover the Basics: Multiplying and Dividing is a little
different from most math programs. Each number family is introduced
with a picture rather than a rule or plain math fact. For example,
for multiplying by seven, a calendar is shown. Kids can easily
see that each week has seven days and that three weeks make 21
days in total and so on. Kids work with this calendar to figure
out problems. By associating each number family with a picture,
children are able to experience multiplication and division.
After this initial experience, questions are asked which help the
child process the experience and start understanding the concept.
Kids then practice what they have learned by solving problems.
This practice is quite repetitious and helps develop fluency. It
isn't long before they are able to instantly recall the facts.
Problems are solved with the use of number lines and charts, which
makes this a hands-on experience. How to use the number lines and
charts is explained in the introduction, which is essential reading
since these are not average number lines. (For example: when multiplying
by 11, the chart is made up of soccer teams!) Multiplication and
division are taught together. This makes sense and has been fairly
simple for us to do. In fact, it seems much less painful to teach
division right alongside multiplication than to do so separately!
My math-despising nine-year-old told me that she likes this program
because "it is easy to do and you learn things fast." She is able
to feel successful because the program moves at a slow pace. That
doesn't mean it takes a long time to complete. If kids are doing
well, they can move through the exercises quickly or skip a few
pages. The fact that the program does not leap ahead or cover a
concept quickly and then move on is very appealing to me. Facts
are not presented in order from one to twelve. Instead, multiplying
and dividing by tens is taught first, then elevens, fives, twos,
fours, eights, threes, sixes, nines, twelves, and sevens. Reviews
and post tests are at the end of the book.
There is very little writing in this program. Children do write
answers, but they also speak them. Every exercise is not a long
worksheet. Much of the practice is done using the number lines
and saying the answers aloud. The ability to instantly remember
the facts hinges on the practice pages. These pages consist of
math problems (as in 11 x 7) that the students strive to answer
in the quickest time possible. They practice these until they can
beat the clock. Students are allowed to use the charts and number
lines, which enables them to get the right answer every time. As
they do this over and over, they build familiarity and come to
know the answers without struggling.
The practice pages begin with the real-life concept that was used
to demonstrate the math fact when it was first presented. For example,
when studying 11s and using the soccer teams chart (which shows
twelve soccer teams each made up of eleven people), the first practice
pages show: 2 teams = ? players. Then next shows: 22 players =
? teams. This helps kids connect math to real life. Only after
these do children move on to problems with math symbols.
We have found this curriculum to be very helpful and easy to use.
The only issue we have is that my daughter occasionally tires of
the practice pages (but her complaints are much less than with
any other program we have used). She is very happy to beat the
clock and is also pleased that she is learning multiplication and
division so quickly.
I like Discover the Basics: Multiplying and Dividing because
it is straightforward and understandable. As a busy homeschooling
mom, I also appreciate that I don't have to prepare anything ahead
of time, it's all there. This math curriculum is useful for teaching
multiplication and division at home or in the classroom. Excellent
as an aid for struggling learners, it is also wonderful for those
who are just beginning this subject.
I recommend Discover the Basics: Multiplying and Dividing to
anyone who desires to teach (or learn) the multiplication and division
facts without a lot of fuss. This unique method builds confidence
in children and enables them to understand and remember math without