Sunday, March 15, 2015

Testing a Boy who Does Not Take Tests {A Math Analogies Review}

Are you interested in making your children better problem solvers?

I am.  That is why I was happy to be offered a chance to review Math Analogies Level 1 by The Critical Thinking Co.  For, even though my husband and I are not proponents of test-taking (which is what I previously related The Critical Thinking Co. name to), we value analytical skills, reasoning and problem-solving skills highly, and, as we looked over what
Math Analogies Level 1 promised, we felt the product would encourage such skills.

We were not wrong.

What is The Critical Thinking Co.?

Critical Thinking Company Review

The Critical Thinking Co. has been around as a family-owned business since the 1950's and is well-known as a trusted producer of materials that help children to improve critical thinking skills.  

They currently offer over 150 national award-winning books and software products in the areas of math, reading, science, social studies and writing.  These products aim to develop students' critical thinking skills for success in life and, as might be expected, higher test scores.

What is Math Analogies Level 1?

Critical Thinking Company Review

Among The Critical Thinking Co.'s software download products is Math Analogies Level 1, a product our oldest son just finished using.

This product currently sells for $6.99 and requires
a Windows 8/7/Vista operating system, 1 GHz or faster CPU, and 512MB of RAM to work.  (It will not work on Mac OS X, but an iPad version is available.)

In a nutshell, the program is a straightforward one that presents 152 analogies for students in grades 2-3 to master over four attempts.  These problems center on:

  • Algebra
  • Data Analysis and Probability
  • Geometry
  • Measurement
  • Numbers and Operations

Our Experience

When we first received a link to download
Math Analogies Level 1, we easily downloaded the program onto our family laptop, listed our son as a user and helped him understand what an analogy is by clicking on the obvious words, "How to Solve and Analogy" that came up on the program screen and can be found in a free online demo.

Once our boy, who had hitherto never seen an analogy, understood what an analogy is and how to approach solving one, we simply let him go to town with the program at his own pace.

One hundred and fifty-two problems proved a lot for our son to focus on right away, however, so he did not complete his first attempt at all the analogies in one sitting.  Rather, after about 10 minutes, he simply moved onto off-screen pursuits.

I was not sure how the program would handle being abandoned part way through a series of problems like that and was happy to discover that the next time our son logged on, the program simply picked up where her had left off.  In fact, it did the same for all four attempts our son made at mastering the 152 problems over the course of several sittings.  That was a handy feature!

It was also helpful for me to simply observe my son at work during his Math Analogy Level 1 times.  

As I watched my son approach the analogies, and sometimes helped him by offering guiding questions when he asked me to do so, I noticed both strengths and weaknesses in his current math knowledge as well as in his problem solving skills.  I also marveled at the way his mind worked to solve problems which included skills and topics we have never formally gone over.  

Indeed, Math Analogies 1 proved an interesting "test" of knowledge and skills for a child that rarely takes any sort of formal evaluation.  Better still, it did not feel like a test to him, but rather a challenge!

Within the six week or so review period, over the course of several 10-20 minute sessions and four overall attempts, our son met the challenge of mastering all 152 problems with 100% accuracy.

Now, I can erase him as a user and, when my daughter is ready, set her to challenge.  For,
since Math Analogies Level 1 is a downloadable program, once you purchase it, you own it forever. That means that after completing four attempts at mastering the program's 152 problems, you can use it again with the same child or with other children.  For me, with three children, that is a bonus!

Final Thoughts 

Would we recommend Math Analogies Level 1? 
You bet we would.

Granted, when I asked my son for a quote about Math Analogies Level 1 for this review, he said, "It was not horrible and it was not great.  I learned a little."  However, I know his experience was better than his words imply.   My proof?  This:

That is my boy cheering just after he mastered the last of the 152 analogies presented in the program on his fourth attempt to do so.

It was so fun to see his victory call!

It was also telling to see which problems challenged my boy the most.  In fact, I found myself using the "click to review" to click through all the problems he attempted and to note which ones he initially answered incorrectly.  Doing so illuminated what topics we might include in some upcoming focus lessons and hands-on activities soon.

I did, admittedly, wish I could just pull up a report of the missed problems instead of having to click through all 152 to find them.  I also wished that the program would present similar, but not exactly the same problems, during subsequent attempts.  Further, I would like to be able to use the program concurrently with more than one user, instead of having to wait until one user completes the cycle of 152 problems before beginning a second user on it.

These wishes aside, I found that Math Analogies Level 1 is an effective tool for practicing problem solving skills and encouraging higher order mathematical thinking.  It is also an excellent value for families with multiple children.  For, even though it cannot be used concurrently by more than one user, it can be used by multiple users in succession, giving families more bang for the buck.

The program is not flashy, fancy or filled with handy user options, but it is what it purports to be: an engaging
program that helps students break problems down into their component parts in order to come up with solutions.
Learn More

Want to see if Math Analogies Level 1 is right for your child?  Try a FREE DEMO.

Interested in other products?  Read what 100 Schoolhouse Crew Review families thought about The Critical Thinking Co. products.  Each family reviewed one of these products:

Critical Thinking Company Review

Want to connect with The Critical Thinking Co.?  Find them online at:

How have you even empowering your children with critical thinking and problem solving skills lately?  
Crew Disclaimer


Related Posts with Thumbnails