Friday, July 1, 2011

Daily Word Problems, A Rich Resource Review with Thanks to Timberdoodle

One thing I love about the nexus of homeschooling and blogging is that I am constantly introduced to new resources.  As a former classroom teacher and current tutor and homeschooler, I am a bit of a resource hound. Thus, I was thrilled when Joy, from Timberdoodle, offered our family a chance to review two curriculum workbooks.

Today, I am happy to finally have a few moments to share about one of these resources, Evan-Moor Daily Word Problems, Grade 6+.

* * * *
Since my own children are still too young for this book, I opted to use it with students that I tutor.  That is not to say that my own children did not enjoy the book, however.  In fact, they had fun paging through it while I lesson planned, and Luke even did some finger tracing practice on one of its pages. (Never overlook a spontaneous opportunity for fine motor practise and visual tracking.)

What are my thoughts on the book?

As any workbook-type book should be, Daily Word Problems  Grade 6+ is quite easy to navigate.  It begins with a “How to Use This Book” page that describes ways to present the lessons, important considerations when using the book and guidelines for doing matrix logic puzzles (which happen to be my students’ favorite problems in the book.)

Then, there is a Scope and Sequence chart which allows one to see at a glance, which week of lessons contains which target math concepts/topics:

-          Addition and subtraction
-          1, 2 & 3-Digit Multiplication
-          1-Digit Divisors
-          2 & 3 Digit Divisors
-          Fractions
-          Decimals
-          Percents
-          Time
-          Money
-          Linear Measurement
-          Weight and Capacity
-          Interpreting Graphs
-          Geometry
-          Probability
-          Logic Daily Word Problems
-          Averages, mode, Range
-          Area, perimeter & Volume
-          Integers

After that, there are 36 weeks worth of daily word problems, with each week focused on a specific theme, such as Swim Meet, Hiking Trails and Pancake Breakfast.

Finally, there is an Answer Key.

Not only did I find a handy resource for tutoring, but my students also found it relevant to their interests and abilities.  The range of weekly themes in the book is great enough that most students could easily find some aligned to their personal interests

Also, as a side note, I found that the book was a great way to get some basic reading practice and comprehension in with tutoring students who prefer Math to English Language Arts.  Because each problem in the book ranges from a few sentences to a couple paragraphs long, one of my ELA-shy students was not “threatened” by it and eagerly read through and solved more than a week’s worth of problems in one sitting.  The word problems in the book are written in a concise, not overly complicated manner, which I found helped my students build confidence with both reading and math as they progressed from the easier problems at the start of the book to the more challenging ones later on.

I found Daily Word Problems practical on two levels:

  1. It helps students connect math to life.  Too often, math becomes just numbers on a page to students.  Daily Word Problems Grade 6+ overcomes this unpleasant fact through presenting problems that students might face in real life.  My students appreciated this and, more than once, seemed to connect problems to situations they are familiar with. 
  2. It builds skills in a cyclical fashion.  The earlier problems for each week are “easier” and help students build skills for more advanced problems at the end of each week.  From week to week, familiar skills are applied to new themes.  By offering math practice in this way, the book follows a favorite learning guideline of mine:  Use it or lose it.  Specific math skills are not simply touched upon in the book; they are used for multiple applications. 

What I did not find practical about the book was:

1.      its difficulty level.  Rated at 6+, I would expect the book to be on the more challenging side for a sixth grader.  However, one of my students, who is a fifth grade that struggles in school with both Math and English, found the problems we did fairly easy.  This could indicate that on-grade level students or advanced ones might not be as challenged by the book as they could be.  Thus, I might recommend checking out a sample of the book to see if it’s at the right level for your child.
2.      its lack of solutions.  Although the problems in the book are not too difficult for a layperson to solve, some may find solutions, as well as simply answers, a helpful addition to the Answer Key.

A 1/2  * for LONGEVITY
Each of the problem pages in the book is perforated to make them easy to tear out for such things as photocopying, handing in when finished, assigning in, say, a workbox.  While this is helpful for daily use, it might not do much for long-term wear and tear on the book.  So, if you’re intending to use the book for a while, putting pages in protectors in a 3-ring binder might be helpful.

Also, since this book is geared toward one grade level only, it inherently does not have much long-term staying power.  However, because I am a tutor, as well as a homeschooler, I can see how Daily Word Problems might serve me for years to come. 

A * for VALUE
At the economical price of $12.25 on the Timberdoodle website, Daily Word Problems Math, Grade 6+ definitely earns a star for value.  How often can you find a book that provides a year’s worth of well-laid out and relevant math practice with such a doable price tag?  And, since the book’s copyright allows copies for a single classroom (or home) use, traditional educators, homeschoolers and homeschool co-op teachers alike can get a lot of bang for the buck.

In fact, Timberdoodle offers many reasonably priced materials for your homeschooling, (tutoring or classroom) needs.  Check out their website or request a catalogue by clicking, here.  Also, if you’re a full-curriculum type of person, take a peak at their complete curriculum packages.

NOTE: Please see my initial Rich Resource Review post to read more about my rating criteria.  Also, stay tuned for an upcoming review of the other fantastic resource Timberdoodle sent us, Daily Geography.

DISCLAIMER: As a member of Timberdoodle's Blogger Review Team (if Timberdoodle is kind enough to forgive my tardiness in getting this post out due to the need to take a break from blogging to concentrate on home and family recently!), I received this free copy of Evan Moor Daily Word Problems in exchange for a frank and unbiased review.  Though I have been compensated by the free product, I received no cash for my review.  The opinions I offer are mine alone and are not influenced by Timberdoodle nor the receipt of a complimentary resource.


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