## Saturday, March 16, 2013

### Touch Math {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

As a homeschool parent, I like to think that I would notice as soon as one of my children started to have problems in a subject. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case. Apparently, Lauren has been faking her way through her math work for a while now. I knew she hadn't memorized all of her addition facts, but I thought she understood all of the concepts we had covered. I was so confident in her abilities that I chose to review second grade math materials.

For more than thirty years, TouchMath has brought multi sensory teaching methods to elementary classrooms. Recently, TouchMath introduced their materials to homeschoolers. We received the complete Second Grade Homeschool Curriculum (divided into 6 modules) and many of the wonderful hands-on manipulatives that add an effective hands-on learning component to the curriculum.

I downloaded the instructional files and was almost overwhelmed with the amount of material that was included. The second grade curriculum was divided into four units, each containing six study modules and ninety student activity sheets. Thankfully, the materials were well organized and easy to implement. I printed the activity sheets for Lauren and transferred the teacher explanations to my iPad.

During our school time the next day, I pulled out my instructions, Lauren's activity sheets, and a few of the manipulatives.  Many of the activity sheets had an apple symbol on the top indicating that they were to be completed with together with a teacher. As we worked together, I realized that Lauren did not fully understand the concept, especially if the problems were presented differently than she had seen previously.

I pulled out our TouchMath manipulatives and illustrated the idea of addition and subtraction by using the TouchNumerals.

We have spent several weeks practicing addition and subtraction with the help of TouchMath materials. Because we had so many optional manipulatives to choose from, Lauren didn't ever complain, "I've already done that." We counted the TouchMath dots on the foam numbers, set up our own number line to walk along, and then did some written work.

I was immediately impressed with the way that the basic concepts were taught so thoroughly that children will fully grasp the math principles and cannot merely fake their way through figuring out which numbers to put in the blanks. After practicing for a few weeks, Lauren now has a better understanding of basic number concepts.

After using this program for just a few days, I wished I had access to more worksheets to use for extra practice. I learned, however, that Lauren didn't necessarily need more worksheets -- she needed more practice using the hands-on manipulatives. This program forced us out of our worksheet based math-rut and helped Lauren fully grasp the concepts I was teaching.

For us, the TouchMath program might be the perfect math choice. It showed me how to use a variety of hands-on materials to better help Lauren understand the math concepts. The TouchMath activity sheets require Lauren to apply her math knowledge to a variety of situations, not just to similar problems she's seen on other assignments.

I'm thrilled with the way that TouchMath has helped Lauren make strides in her math understanding. I'm also thrilled with the way it challenged me to reconsider how I teach Lauren; she thrives on this hands-on approach.

TouchMath offers their Second Grade Homeschool Program as either four individual units (\$59.95 each) or as an entire set for \$199. The manipulatives are available separately -- TouchNumerals for \$99,  tens sets of Student number cards for \$24, and FlipCards for \$19 per set (12 sets are utilized in the second grade level). TouchMath also offers corresponding computer software for \$99. Depending on the student's learning style, only some of the materials will be needed. For our family, the TouchNumerals have been very helpful. We use either the numerals, the touch point dots, or the base 10 trays almost every day.

Disclaimer: I received the TouchMath Second Grade curriculum and several hands-on manipulatives as a member of the 2012 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, and I received no other compensation. In return, I agreed to give an honest review of the materials and how they worked for my homeschool family. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.