Thursday, September 5, 2019

200 Essential Math Skills for First Grade {Reading Eggs Review}

Reading Eggs is well known for its online learn-to-read program, but it has expanded over the years to include Reading Eggs Jr. (reading readiness), Reading Eggspress (reading comprehension) and Mathseeds, the companion math website for early elementary.  Now there are physical workbooks to accompany the online reading and math curriculum.  We were recently given the opportunity to review 200 Essential Math Skills for First Grade, and to trial the online subscription for Mathseeds and Reading Eggs.



We actually reviewed their Kindergarten Math workbook last year, and my daughter was very happy with it, so I was interested to see how the workbooks progressed!  

The First Grade workbook follows the same format as the Kindergarten workbook, and is designed to complement the online subscription lessons, so Math Skills for First Grade picks up at Lesson 51. The book includes a table of contents, but the Year Planner really breaks down the lessons to explain what skills are covered and what additional Driving Tests you can take through Mathseeds. 



Then you will find three pages of Learning Activities—these are suggestions for general hands-on activities that you can use throughout the year to enhance a lesson or weave into your daily life. For instance, there’s an activity for teaching fractions with a sandwich, or playing shop to practice money skills. The activity they suggest for telling time can become part of your daily routine. They’re not specific to the lessons, so you can use them when and how you see fit.


Each unit includes five lessons that correspond to the online Mathseeds maps (the sequence of progression through the program), a Map Quiz, Certificate and finally, a Fun Spot for each unit.  The Fun Spots are exactly what they say - they're fun ways to review the material through activities like dot-to-dots, maps, unique coloring pages, and crack the code puzzles.  There is a cumulative review to cover lessons 51-75 and one to cover 76-100, and a final course certificate. The end of the book has a few cutout pages that correspond to different lessons in the workbook, and these pages are clearly labeled and referenced in the appropriate lesson.

The Kindergarten book ended with lessons on Numbers to 20, Geometry, and subtraction, and since the books correspond to the online program, the 1st Grade book picks up with (reviewing) addition to 10, sorting 2D shapes, subtraction, telling time and near and far. 

The lessons build on themselves throughout the entire curriculum, so review happens naturally. One thing I really appreciate about Mathseeds is that even “minor” topics like telling time, money and data are done in this way. Many math programs focus primarily on operations and relegate these topics to a final unit or two at the end of the curriculum. Instead, my 1st grader will cover telling time in progressive detail, as it is covered in at least Lesson 54, Lesson 70, and Lesson 87, as well as having the skill of skip counting covered in different ways, which naturally helps with telling time. I think having these skills covered incrementally is nice because my child can build a foundation and let the information ruminate while she begins practicing the skill in real life, before adding in more layers. The topics covered are appropriate for the intended grade and they move at a reasonable pace, but you can work as slow or as quickly through the material as needed.

The workbook pages are colorful and engaging, and utilize a variety of ways to teach. Counting, addition and subtraction are taught through objects, number lines, and ten frames, but the student is also seeing the equations because they’re often instructed to fill in the blanks to complete an equation. Children may write answers, draw pictures, or color in the workbook, and there are those occasional cut/paste activities.  If you need more hands-on activities, it is easy to do on your own, as long as you're comfortable with this level of math.  There is no answer key, but at this level, I don't need one.



There are 50 workbook lessons, so with the 50 corresponding online lessons, you could easily have 100 "school days" worth of lessons if you alternated between them.  Then you could round out the year with the Quizzes, Fun Spots and online Driving Tests as needed.  We only do math 4 days per week to accommodate a weekly co-op, and we just "do the next thing" anyway, so I appreciate that the lessons aren't scheduled out by days or weeks - I love having the flexibility to make a curriculum work for us!

There are also printable materials included as part of the Mathseeds subscription.  The Color Activity Sheets include a colorful, corresponding worksheet for each lesson.  The Homeschool Worksheets, however, are black and white, but more in-depth.  These homeschool worksheets are more like "lesson plans" that include the learning objectives, and how to break down the online lesson in conjunction with these included worksheets.  There are also suggestions for more hands-on and group activities to reinforce the concepts.  For instance, one idea is to draw a large number line in chalk and practice number lines by jumping back and forth following instructions.


My 1st grader likes the workbook, but she made it clear last year, and still asserts this year that two pages of math per day is enough. I actually agree with her. The pages seem to average about 5-8 individual problems, so I think two pages is a fair amount of work for a 6 year old.  We tend to work by time limits, because as a Charlotte Mason homeschooler, I strongly believe in short lessons, so two pages is just the right amount of work.  She does well with math and enjoys it, so I'm happy with this.

The online lessons take a little longer sometimes, but since she's playing on the iPad and she isn’t writing, she can get through an entire lesson without losing focus.  The online lessons are also broken down into shorter activities, so there might be a "teaching video" and then the student practices, then there might be some review activities built in.  The student must "pass" the interactive activities for the next section to be unlocked, so they shouldn't be just moving along without understanding the material.  Having the workbook for reinforcement can really show strengths and weaknesses in a way that online work can't do.  



Like the original Reading Eggs, Mathseeds is set up like as a series of maps.  When we got access to Mathseeds again, I bumped her up to Lesson 51 so that she would be working in the same material as the workbook.  After each successful lesson, a surprise animal hatches from an acorn!



The workbook connects to the online material not just with the content it covers, but the characters are the same, and the workbook contains a cute little area for children to keep track of what they've completed and learned for each lesson.

The program is geared towards younger children, so it is full of cutesy graphics and songs.  So while it would likely not be appropriate for older children working below grade level, it is enjoyable for my six year old, and my 4 year old likes watching over her shoulder when she's doing the online portions.



The Reading Eggs and Mathseeds subscriptions are separate, but can be purchased as a package deal as well.  There are workbooks for K-5th grade reading, and K-2nd grade math.  You do not need the workbook to use the online subscription, but the workbooks complement the program nicely.

Overall, I really like Mathseeds and the Essential Math Skills series.  The books are colorful and high quality paper, and the lessons are age appropriate.  It's easy to switch between the online program and the workbook, and there isn't a lot of "stuff" required to implement the program.  We usually only need a pencil, crayons or colored pencils, and occasionally scissors and glue.

I have been using Reading Eggs on and off over the years with all of my children, and you can see a more comprehensive Reading Eggs Review done with my 1st grader when she was 4 years old, as well as our review last year of 200 Essential Math Skills for Kindergarten.


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240 Essential Reading Skills & 200 Essential Math Skills  {Reading Eggs Reviews}

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