Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Review: Math Facts Now

Years ago, I was grocery shopping when the power went out in the store.  Generators came on to save all the frozen foods, but the computers and cash registers were still acting strangely.  You couldn't pay by credit card and for some reason, the cash registers couldn't tell you how much change to return to the customer.  It became painfully obvious that some of the clerks had no idea how to subtract in their heads--some resorted to pulling out paper, others just stood there befuddled.  The check out lines grew and grew.  In this age where we all rely on computers and calculators to do the figurin' for us, maybe we could all use a refresher course in the basic math facts.

Math Facts Now!  does just that.  There are no bells and whistles, no games or cartoon characters.  It is the computerized version of flash cards.  The parent begins by entering the names of the students that will be using the program.  I only added Schnickelfritz and myself, but I'm unaware of any limit on the number of students.  Next, you set up the lessons. Each lesson only needs to be set up once and can be used by all the students. 

For lesson setup you must choose which math funtion to drill (I'll use multiplication for example) and what facts to be includedby clicking boxes next to the numbers from 1 to 12.  For each number selected, the program may generate any problem multiplying that number by  all numbers from 0 to 12. 

Here's the next screen in lesson set-up.  The time limit per problem must be between 2 and 60 seconds.  Wrong answers must be re-entered between 2 and 10 times.  In the version I downloaded,  there must be 50-200 correct answers to finish the lesson--more on this later.   Next,  the parent gives the lesson a name and has the option to  type in a reward the student can earn by getting all the problems correct--playing outside or TV time for example.

Schnickelfritz was not crazy about the number of problems he had to answer and apparently he wasn't the only one.  Several Homeschool Crewmembers mentioned this to each other and one actually had the brilliant idea to contact the company.  The result is an updated version requiring much fewer correct answers (somewhere between 5 and 10, but I've exceeded my download limit for the month and couldn't get the update for myself).

  I was particularly pleased with how Math Facts Now handles incorrect answers.  First the student has to  type the correct equation  the required number of times.  For the remainder of the lesson, the previously missed equation will reappear frequently with a "Be Careful" to jog the student's memory.   When I purposely missed the first problem, it reappeared 8 more times in a 50 problem lesson.  For math functions with the commutative property, the corresponding equation will not carry the warning.  In this case,  the problem 6 x 2 will not include the "Be careful."

There is also a brief report available for parents listing what lessons the student has completed.   The list is based on the name you created so you might want to be more descriptive than I was. 

Math Facts Now!  is available as a download for $15.95 or a CD-Rom for the same price plus shipping. The program is basically a digital version of flashcards which only cost $1. And since Schnickelfritz only has division facts left, I'm not sure the program would be worth it if we had to buy it.  I'm assuming the CD version would still have the 50 problem minimum.   The program runs on Windows 2000, ME, XP, Vista and Windows 7 but not on Macs.   The program is basically a digital version of flashcards which only cost $1.  You can try the program online or download a limited version for free and decide if it is worth it to your family.

You can see what others on the Homeschool Crew think of Math Facts Now! by clicking here.
Disclaimer: I received a free download copy of the full version of Math Facts Now! for the purposes of completing this review.  I received no other compensation.

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