Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Review: FactsFirst (Saxon)

FactsFirst is an online math supplement designed to help elementary students achieve basic math mastery. Through the use of colorful graphics, animated characters, and plenty of repetition, students receive instant feedback while developing strong "instant recall" skills. As they work, they're rewarded with Arcade time (games) which operates a bit like online recess. :)

Program Details

To begin, each student creates his/her own avatar, like this: (-->) Pretty cute, huh? I must admit, this part seemed to take the longest for my children. For some reason, they were really fixated on making their "Mini Me" look as close to the real deal as possible.

Once the avatar is created, students can then take a little assessment test which determines the type of facts to be drilled (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division). Students then work on 2 related facts (like 6 + 3, 3 + 6) in a little "game" over 'n over 'n over 'n over again. Once they have those facts down pat, more facts are introduced. As they continue to progress, facts they have missed previously are thrown back into the mix for extra practice.

When it comes time for the quiz, students then race against the clock (which can be adjusted by the parent if they so choose) to provide the correct answers in the fastest time possible. Huge competition factor here! (And very fun, I might add.)

After each lesson is completed, students gain access to the oh-so-popular Arcade. For a whopping 5 minutes, your students can choose between 5 different games to play. Once the time is up, that's it. Back to class! :)

Parents have access to the Math Matrix, a handy graphic which details the facts your student has mastered, and which ones still need work.

Being the visual person that I am, I thought this was especially cool. :) My son, Ethan enjoyed peeking over my shoulder at his Matrix, then hopping back on his computer to "fill in the empty spaces". Apparently he's a visual person, too. Oh yes. These can also be printed off for your records. Extra handy, eh?

FactsFirst offers over 350 interactive learning games spanning all basic math computations. It was developed by Saxon Math's sister company, Skills Tutor and makes a nice supplement to any basic math program you choose. (It is not specifically designed to coordinate with Saxon Math.)

Our Opinion

The children started out enjoying this program. However, after several minutes of ongoing repetition, they quickly became bored and frustrated. My youngest exclaimed, "Why do I have to keep answering this? I typed the answer four times already!" (Ahem) Not one of her more patient moments, I'm afraid.

I, on the other hand, liked the premise behind FactsFirst. Indeed, the ability to recall your basic facts with finger-snapping speed is a worthwhile skill. However, for some reason the format just bugged my kids too much to continue past our review period.

A one year subscription to FactsFirst costs $49.95 and covers up to 4 students. You can also check out a free demo by clicking here.

To discover how my fellow Crew Mates felt about FactsFirst, please click here.

*As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received a free trial of this product for the purpose of this review. No additional compensation was provided and the thoughts expressed are strictly my own.*

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