Monday, March 18, 2013

With TouchMath, Math is a Touchy Subject Around Our House!

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Almost since the beginning of our homeschooling journey, I heard about Touchmath. We even were given or downloaded bits and pieces of the Touchmath curriculum. It always looked interesting and looked like something that I might want to try with my children at some time in their homeschool career, but the opportunity never seemed to present itself. When I found out that the TOS Review Crew would be reviewing different levels of the Touchmath program, I jumped at the chance to try the Touchmath Kindergarten curriculum. We were given a free download to all four of the Touchmath Kindergarten units containing 6 modules in each. We were also separately shipped the complementary Touchmath Tutor Kindergarten Software and two different types of manipulatives, the Touchmath 3-D Numerals and the Touch Shapes. Our main goal was to review the Touchmath curriculum, and that's what Jacob and I concentrated on. I will, however, touch on the complementary materials at the end of this review.

First, however, let me tell you what I liked about the Touchmath program that we used.

Like #1 - Ease of use - This is an extremely easy curriculum to use. Everything is explained in detail. That is very important to us. We are very busy and, with two children on the autism spectrum, I don't have time to have to sift through curriculum in order to figure out how to use it. Oh, Touchmath does have all of the extras. For those of you who like to sift through reasoning behind the curriculum, detailed scope and sequence charts, overviews, etc., it has those. I have a teaching degree, and, when I have spare time, I enjoy reading those types of things as well. However, most of the time I just like being able to pick up a curriculum and run with it without having to do a lot of preparation.

Touchmath Kindergarten is like that. It has complete instructions on what to do each day. It even has pictures of the completed worksheets right beside the instructions so that you know exactly what is expected and what the correct answers are. I really like that! It even has a stop sign for when you are to end the day.

Usually there is an introductory activity using items that around the house. Usually the activity has to do with counting or some type of math operation like adding or subtracting so the items required are small. Since Jacob enjoys using colored pencils, I generally used those, although you could easily use buttons, toothpicks, counting bears or what ever you enjoy using. After that, there is a series of worksheets that are to be done. Again, even dialogue to be used with you and your child to explain the worksheet and the concept is suggested. Sometimes Touchmath produced manipulatives can be used but are not required. I will touch more on this in a minute, but I really like the fact that Touchmath is not just a pencil and paper curriculum. It involves all of the learning styles. After a few worksheets, you are done.

It all took really no more than about a half an hour for us. The curriculum is made, however, to be flexible. I'll talk about the different units and modules next, but, as stated, there are four units with six modules in each. Although I can't speak for how long the later modules will take, we have found that each module so far takes about six days. So, if you do the math (pun intended!), then you will figure out that there are a few days left over. That allows for you to break up days if your child is getting restless or not understanding, review trouble spots (in fact the curriculum tells you to do that), or, if you have co-op days or something like that, then you can easily work with Touchmath four days a week and still finish in one year.

Like #2 - It covers everything! - As mentioned above, there are four units that make up Touchmath Kindergarten. Unit A covers Counting, Adding, and Subtracting Within 5. Unit B covers Adding and Subtracting Within 9. Unit C talks about Understanding Numbers 1-20. Unit D finishes with Measurement, Data, and Geometry.

I was quite impressed with how much this kindergarten program covered. I don't recall learning that much math in kindergarten. In fact, one of the reasons we began homeschooling (a small reason, but a reason nonetheless) was that I felt that public schools were really pushing kids too hard but not producing results. So, teaching a heavy math curriculum to Jacob was not on my radar. However,
Touchmath eases the child along so nicely that it's not a strain for them to learn. I don't feel like I am "pushing" Jacob when I use their curriculum. I am enjoying it and so is he!
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Like #3 - It covers all learning styles! - Okay, I didn't talk about this at the beginning for one main reason. This type of learning has always been commonplace to me and so, I just kind of forgot. There is a reason for the name "Touchmath". I remember adding when I was a little kid. I would use little tricks like counting the three points on the number 3 or the four points on the number 4. Well, that is the whole idea with Touchmath. They have different touch points. The numbers one through five have single touch points while the numbers six through nine have double touch points. Here is an example using the numbers four and six:
So, I child not only hears and visualizes the numeral and what each numeral stands for, but he touches it as well. I really like using curriculum that uses different learning styles. When I taught school, I taught learning disabled children. We always tried to use the different learning modalities.
Touchmath Kindergarten does this and does it well. From the 3-D Numerals that we received to review - which are just like the pictures above but made of sturdy plastic and actually have the bumps and circles that Jacob can touch - to the Touch Shapes that we received that can be used with different worksheets to help visualize the problem - all materials are thought out and work excellently together. The Touchmath Tutor Kindergarten Software that we were sent even offers a way for students who learn well on the computer. As mentioned above, the main thing that we were to review was the curriculum. The curriculum can be used excellently without these added manipulatives by using the worksheets and other suggested activities. However, if you are able to, I would highly recommend purchasing some of the manipulatives as well.

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So, what does Jacob like? He likes the whole thing! When a child asks to do math, then you know the curriculum has to be good. He has enjoyed the worksheets, and always runs to show Mommy as soon as he is done, and he enjoys the manipulatives as well. He loves it all!
Although Jacob is just in kindergarten, we have tried many, many other math programs and math helps over the years. I have never been one to have a cookie cutter curriculum that I use with all children. I always try to choose curriculum that matches the child's strength. We have had this only a few weeks, but already I think that this curriculum is an excellent match for him. We plan on continuing to use it.
So, how much is this excellent curriculum? Each one of the four units sold separately is just $59.95. However, if you buy all four units together the price is only $199.95. The manipulative mentioned above are priced at $79 for the 3-D Numerals, $30 for the Touch Shapes, and $99 for the Touchmath Tutor Kindergarten Software. You can find out more about Touchmath Kindergarten by clicking  here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above.
Many other members of the TOS Review Crew and their families reviewed other grade levels of the Touchmath curriculum and you can find what they had to say by clicking on the banner below. Happy Homeschooling!
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