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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

factsfirst.com Review

Being a member of the TOS Crew gives me lots of chances to check out resources I never even knew were out there. factsfirst.com is one of those resources. factsfirst is an online math site that allows students to drill the basic math facts of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Before they start any math though, they create an avatar (online person) for themselves that appears in all their math drills (for example, their picture is on the wall as "Student of the Month" in the background of some drills).

The avatar is surprisingly customizable. It is good fun to create it, and you get the opportunity to change it if you want to later. The example above is a bit trendy (a.k.a. worldly), but there are plenty of traditional and modest choices available.

The math drills themselves contain a pretest and post-test as well as individual lessons that cover two facts at a time (for example _x1 and _x2). They also contain short, practical instruction for those facts with real life scenarios such as the one above.

After completing a certain amount of "work", the student earns arcade time, where they can chose a game to play for 5 minutes. The games feature critical thinking skills and some even include math. All have a few math questions upon completing each game and before moving to another.
After they have completed a drill, they see this screen that shows them how they have done. This information is also available to the parents so you can see what your student has worked on, and where they are in terms of mastery.
The pros: This site is engaging without being over the top and without sacrificing effectiveness for flash. My kids have really enjoyed creating their avatar and because they enjoy the site, they tolerate doing the math, LOL. Actually, they don't mind practicing math on this site at all. I like that the site encourages speed as well as accuracy and that the students can't help but develop keyboarding skills while they are doing their math drills. I also like the parent reports that I can pull up for each student so I can see what they've worked on and how they have done on it.
The cons: The one thing that bugs me and my kids is that they have to do 36 questions before they can move on. These are grouped into 4 sets of 9, and by about the third one, you are ready to move on. My kids felt the same way. I wish they grouped them in sets of two, even if you had to do twice as much to pass a level. The other "con" would be that compared to other math sites, this on does not go beyond the basics. There is no geometry, algebra, or higher level math at all...just the basics, which is perfect for my kids, but definitely limits what ages groups profit from this site.
The bottom line: I'd definitely check this one out if I was you! I've spent quite a bit of time on this site myself, and it's fun. It definitely has me rethinking my math prowess...or at least my math prowess in light of my pathetic keyboarding skills. I enjoy the math mahjong game and the spot the differences game in the arcade, and they are clever in the way they work math into even the games. At $49.95 for a one year household account (includes up to four children) it is probably the most affordable thing like it on the market. And I forgot to mention that factsfirst is brought to you by Saxon-a well known name in the math homeschooling realm. To order factsfirst, or check it out more, go HERE. To see what other members of the TOS Crew had to say, go HERE.

As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a 90 day membership to this site so that I could review it. That is the only compensation I received for my review.


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