Math is not my favorite subject. Anyone who reads my blog even occasionally knows that. Thus, I am always very excited when a math product comes up for review. On the one hand, I am a little afraid because it means that I will have to pay extra attention to math. On the other hand, I am excited because it means one more line of defense in the math war. For some reason, fractions seem to flummox even the smartest math kids, so Mastering 5th Grade Math - Volume 1: Essentials of Fractions seemed like a great product to try from ScienceandMath.com.
This 5th grade math program is available as a physical product consisting of two DVDs. The first DVD contains 16 fractions lessons covering every aspect of fractions from finding the Greatest Common Factor to improper and mixed fractions. You can see exactly what the lessons are like by watching one of them!
Each lesson has an accompany worksheet, which can be found on the second DVD. To experience every aspect of this lesson, be sure to check out the worksheet!
Michael and Fractions
I decided to use this fractions program with Michael, my 9 year-old. Michael is quite good at math. He moves through any curriculum very quickly. I am very aware, though, that even the brightest math kids sometimes come to a squealing halt somewhere around Pre-Algebra. I don't know if I can lay all the blame at fractions' door, but I'm willing to be that they play a role. That's why I think it's so neat that there is an entire product dedicated to mastering fractions. What so many kids (and a bunch of parents!) don't realize is how much of higher math revolves around fractions. If you don't nail them from the start, I truly believe that you will always be running to play catch up!
Technically, Michael is only in 4th grade math, but because he is inhaling his math curriculum, I figured he was ready for fractions. It turns out I was right. I was so right, in fact, that he did multiple lessons of this DVD each day and had no problem finishing it in the review period. He asked to do it every day (yay!). He found Jason's manner of teaching extremely easy to follow and relate to. He had no problem completing the worksheets at the end of the lessons. I didn't ever feel that the pace was too fast or that there were gaps in what was being taught. After having seen a couple of kids through fractions already (each with different curricula), I found this approach logical and complete.
Because I wanted to be able to see what Michael was doing, I hooked my laptop up to the TV. That way, we could both watch the lessons and I could make sure that I would be able to answer any questions he might have "the right way." (Have you ever tried to answer one of your kids' math questions only to find out "they don't do it that way anymore, Mommy!") It turns out that Michael didn't actually have any questions, though. I think he's better at math than I am.
What We Thought
As it happens, both Michael and I *really* like this program. I think that using it as his sole math program for the last six weeks was a great idea. Focusing only on fractions has given him a very solid grounding in something that I think is vitally important for math success. Michael enjoyed doing math this way so much that he wants to continue with Volume 2 in this series - Adding and Subtracting Fractions. I am definitely going to buy that DVD set, too. Now that Michael has learned all of the basics (GCF, prime factorization, proper and improper fractions, and mixed numbers) he is set to start actually playing with fractions - the fun stuff. I don't want to deviate from what has proven to be a winning formula thus far. As I flip through one of his older sibling's 5th grade math books, fractions seem to make up, like, half of it! As I said earlier, fraction mastery is hugely important and Jason's teaching style in this DVD series just works for us.
The kicker is always the cost, though, right? It's actually not too bad, especially if you have multiple kids! I still have Michael's twin, Mary-Catherine, coming so I'll get more use out of this series, but I would buy it anyway. Mastering 5th Grade Math Volume 1: Essentials of Fractions is only $15.99 for the two DVD set. It's $14.99 if you choose to do the download, rather than the physical product. Altogether, there are four DVD sets in the 5th grade math series: three deal with fractions, while the 4th is a multiplication/division set. The grade on them is, of course, 5th, but that doesn't mean that you can't use them with a child of another age who is either ready for them or who could use some fraction remediation.
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