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Math Analogies From The Critical Thinking Company: A Schoolhouse Crew Review

I've probably confessed (many times) that math is pretty much my least favorite subject. I'm also not very good at it. And, unlike the other subjects I wasn't crazy about when I was in school, I've not gained any love for math as a homeschool teacher. But, we must do math anyway. Although we've settled on math programs that we like- for the most part- I'm often on the lookout for anything I can use to strengthen math skills. So I was glad to be able to review a math supplement from The Critical Thinking Co. 

Rachel, my youngest child, has a knack for patterns. She's often able to figure out math problems in ways I never would have thought of. So when we received Math Analogies Level 2, I thought it would be something she would particularly like.

We received Math Analogies Level 2 as a Windows based software program digital download. You can also choose to install it on a ipad or an android tablet. Or you can receive it as a physical paperback book. The program is geared toward grades 4-5, and sells for $6.99 as a digital product or $11.99 as a book. (There is also a Level 1 for grades 2-3 and a Beginner for grades K-1.)

If you've never worked with math analogies, here is an example:

An analogy helps kids to think critically and to recognize patterns. Some of them also require the kids to use basic math skills to problem solve to reach an answer. They help kids to realize that there is often more than one way to think through a problem to reach the correct answer.

When you first begin the program, you come to a login screen where you can enter your name as a new user. You can change users, but doing so deletes all data from the previous user. So you may not want to change users before a child is through with a problem set.

From the home screen, you can choose to watch how to solve an analogy. The program takes you through several basic analogies and talks about how to solve them so that the kids can get an idea of what they need to do.

After you see the examples, you can begin solving. A problem set has 150 problems in it. (We did not do that many at one sitting!) When you see the analogy, you can drag and drop the answer to the question mark. The program will let you know whether the answer is correct or incorrect. But it will not give you the correct answer. So the child doesn't learn how to solve the analogy. We did notice that the program will sometimes give a similar analogy later, presented in a different way, to let the user look at the problem from a different perspective. After all 150 analogies are completed, there is a percentage given for how many were correct over the whole 150.

I wanted Ashlyne (grade 5) and Rachel (grade 4) to use this program. I knew that Rachel would probably like the problem solving and both could use some extra practice in critical thinking skills and problem solving. We do daily speed drills, so I used the analogy program during that time. I wanted each girl to be able to complete a problem set before the other started and deleted the data. So I had them do 25 analogies at a time while the other did her regular speed drills. After 6 times of working (when all 150 problems were completed) we switched and the other used the analogies program during speed drill time.

One frustration they had was that the program never gave them answers, and they didn't know what they had done wrong. So after both had a chance to work with the program, I sat down with them and walked them through about 20 problems, talking through how to get the answers. This was very eye opening for me because I was able to watch their thinking process and see how they used the math skills they have for problem solving. It also revealed to me some gaps we have in our math learning. (Not surprising because we've had such issues with finding math curricula that works for us!) I was able to have a chance talking through a few math concepts I realized they had not covered yet.

As I had expected, Rachel really liked this program. Her problem solving skills are very good. And there was one time in particular that I had talked through the problem with them, and she had a different way we should be working it. I worked it my way, and we got the answer wrong! But then she wrote out for me the way she was thinking, and we got the answer right.

I really like using the analogies program to supplement our regular math. I think it does an excellent job helping the girls develop problem solving skills and thinking critically. Not being able to see the correct answer is a little frustrating for the girls and for me. But I understand the method of bringing back the problem in a different format to see if it can be solved that way. I like taking the time to sit down with them and work some problems so that we can talk through them, and I can see those basic math skills that they have or lack. Now that each girl has had the opportunity to use it, I'll probably not worry about changing users and keeping up with percentages, but I'll just have the girls alternate doing this and speed drills occasionally. And I definitely want to continue having times to work through some of the analogies together.

The Facts:
Company- The Critical Thinking Co.
Product- Math Analogies Level 2
Ages- Grades 4-5
Connect with Critical Thinking Co.-


Crew Disclaimer

The Schoolhouse Crew reviewed Math Analogies Levels Beginner, 1, and 2 and several other products from The Critical Thinking Co., so be sure to click on the banner to see what other reviewers thought.

Critical Thinking Company Review

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