Math is my son’s least favorite subject. And because he dislikes it so much, well, I dislike it, too. Math creates a great deal of tension, anxiety, discouragement, confusion, and, to be honest, tears, in our home. It’s a constant source of frustration. With all the trouble math gives us, I am always eager to try out new math curriculum and programs!
This month we were so excited to be able to review a supplementary math program called Algebra for Breakfast. We received grades 5/6 for our review. What a delight to be able to give it a real trial run in our home!
Algebra for Breakfast
Algebra for Breakfast is an online video-based math program created by Bob Hazen. This math enrichment program is available to children in grades 3/4 and grades 5/6. For my review, I received 6 months access to the online program, a set of math dice, and a download to 10 skip count songs.
This program also requires the use of special manipulative blocks, which I did not receive, but can be purchased through the Full Membership Pack.
Grades 5/6 contains approximately 40 online video lessons with accompanying PDF worksheets available for download. The video lessons are very short, most ranging from about 5 to 10 minutes long.
Some of the topics covered include:
- Defining Countability
- Building What is Written
- Thinking with Pictures
- Skip Counting
- Adding and Multiplying Polynomials
- Binomial Factoring
- Trinomial Factoring
- Visual Factoring
- Multiplying Positive and Negative Numbers
The program also includes a “Parent’s Corner” which includes the answer keys for all lessons. There are even some video notes for parents as well as introductory videos to some of the lessons. These videos prepare you and your student for the math games that are included in the program.
- Addition War
- Multiplication War
- Integer Addition War
- Integer Multiplication War
- Double Integer War
- The Game of Ten-Twenty-Thirty
Thoughts and Usage
I used Algebra for Breakfast with my son, who is in the 6th grade. I wasn’t sure if this program would fit my son well or not. My son has completed most of the 6th grade at this point and will be moving on to the 7th grade in the fall. However, I’m glad we decided to review this program because my son did learn a few things and better understand a few concepts that he had been struggling with. Anytime that happens, it’s a great success in my book!
We used Algebra for Breakfast as a supplement to our current math program. My son would watch the video for the lesson we were on and then complete the worksheet. We did this about three days a week. The videos are super short, so they are easy to watch and don’t take a lot of time. My son liked it when Mr. Hazen would add a little humor to his presentation!
The videos are of Mr. Hazen in a real classroom teaching to a real group of students. Sometimes there is a lot of waiting for the kids to get their blocks out or for Mr. Hazen to help a child out. The video quality wasn’t always the greatest, as it was difficult to hear sometimes and difficult to see, but it was okay and we were able to get everything out of the videos that we needed to. The worksheets are just a page long and don’t include a lot of computation. Most of the worksheets focus on the manipulative blocks and working with those.
Our favorite lesson was Lesson 15, “Red and Black War”. My son has had trouble with understanding negative and positive numbers. Adding a positive number to a negative number was just confusing to him. I’ve tried number lines and other ideas but without much success. Thanks to Mr. Hazen, positive and negative numbers are not scary to my son anymore!
Mr. Hazen teaches that black means positive and red means negative. You use a deck of cards for this and put combinations of red numbers and black numbers together to solve an equation. The lightbulb moment for my son was when Mr. Hazen used the blocks to show positive and negative numbers. By placing a positive number block (right side up) next to a negative number block (upside down) my son got a clear visual and understanding of how negative and positive numbers relate to each other. It made the world of difference!
The skip counting song were a bit childish for my son so we didn’t use them a whole lot but my son did like the games that were part of the program! The Math Dice was a lot of fun. To play, we always multiplied the two white twelve-sided dice and then we would add, subtract, multiply, or divide the blue six-sided dice to get as close to the number of the white sideded dice. Whoever came up with the closest number won!
Overall Algebra for Breakfast is a great enrichment math curriculum. We plan to continue using it to fill in gaps and help polish areas that my son struggles in.