Math is one of those subjects where it's easy to see how it applies to everyday life. I can remember being in school and listening to my peers ask in various classes, "Why do I need to learn this? When am I ever going to use this?" Math is not like that. Ok, maybe some math is not super essential to daily life--I cannot remember the last time I used the calculus knowledge I learned in high school--but regardless, math as a whole is vital to know. Whether you're doing something as simple as shopping at the store or following a recipe or doing something more difficult like a career in engineering or as a computer programmer, you're using math. My kids enjoy math, as far as using it to accomplish something, and they're very good at it. They're not overly thrilled with sitting and performing math equations though. Since we hadn't drilled simple math facts in a while, I noticed that their response times had lengthened. I was please to receive a program from UberSmart Software to review.
UberSmart Math Facts is a Windows-based (XP, Vista, 7, and 8) downloadable software program that helps teach and review basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts. The idea came about when David Kocur began looking for a flash card program for his kids. After searching, downloading, and reviewing dozens of programs for hours, he couldn't find one that he truly liked. It was then that he started to write his own, and UberSmart Math Facts was born. It worked so well with his own daughters that he decided to offer it to other families as well.
The program teaches math skills using dot cards, flash cards, and keyboard entry. Addition and subtraction facts are reviewed through the 9s family, while multiplication and division are practiced through the 20s.
As soon as you download the software, you are able to make profiles for up to 8 students. I used this with Jake (8) and Alyssa (6). The each know how to get to their own profiles and can pick up practicing where they left off without any help from me. I can easily customize it to fit their needs. There are sections labeled Learn, Practice, Test, and Compete for the students.
In the Learn section, the student receives an equation (dot cards for beginners or flash cards for intermediates) on the screen and can answer it, either audibly or mentally, before clicking the show button to display the correct answer on cards. This option gives the student the ability to learn the facts without the pressure of answering correctly and finding the numbers on the keyboard within a given time. This is Alyssa's preferred way of practicing.
The Practice tab has 3 options: dot cards, keyboard entry, and flash cards. Here, the student can practice finding the correct answer by clicking the correct card to answer the problem (dot card), typing in the given number (keyboard entry), or typing the answer to the equation (flash card). This is a timed section. If the student does not answer correctly within the proper time, the answer will show on the screen.
The Test option is Jake's favorite. After learning and practicing, the student is given the opportunity to showcase what he knows. It is much like the practice part, except once all the problems of an operation and family are answered correctly in a round, it is marked as mastered. Jake loves working hard to master the individual families. Seeing that Mastered! acknowledgement gives him a sense of pride.
The Compete section allows the student to test their skills against other users around the world. You can choose who is competing: elementary, middle school, high school, or adult. When the series of questions on the flash cards is completed, the score and rank is shown on the screen.
The final two tabs, Report and Maintain, are for the parent/teacher. This is where I can see each child's progress or adjust things accordingly. For instance, for Alyssa, I've changed her seconds per problem from the suggested 4 seconds to 6 seconds because she was getting too frustrated if she couldn't answer in the appropriate time. She's my little perfectionist. It was too-overwhelming to her to get the problems wrong because she was running out of time to remember the answer, find the numbers on the keyboard, and enter them all before the 4 seconds were up and the answer was displayed on the screen. Once she'd get 1 or 2 wrong, she'd lose interest and focus. Once she becomes more familiar with it, I will change it back to the 4 seconds to increase her response time. For now, I love having the option to adjust it according to our needs. She's currently working on her addition skills, whereas Jake has mastered all the subtraction families and is working his way through multiplication mastering those as well.
When we first started using this program, Jake, especially, was a little intimidated because he thought it would be too difficult to learn (or in many cases recall) the facts. Like I said in the beginning, his response time had slowed down drastically. Almost immediately though, even he saw major improvements in his skills. Having instant results drove him to try even harder to succeed. They each practice their facts for about 10 minutes a day 4 days a week. I've been very pleased with what they are learning and remembering. The program is not a flashy, fun game, but a program that is right-to-the-point and streamlined. Most importantly, it's a program that works.
UberSmart Math Facts costs $24.95 and is available for instant download. It's recommended for grades K-6, but can easily be used for anyone wanting to brush-up on their math facts. The software license can be used on all the computers in the home and for up to 8 users.
Personally, I'm glad to have this program for my family to use.
If you'd like to see how other families used this program, head to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read more reviews.