Friday, September 16, 2011

AIMS Education Solve It TOS Review

Question:  A  farmer wishes to build a fence 100 meters
long with fence posts every 5 meters.  How many does she need?

Keep reading to discover the answer. This question is posed in one of the activities
you will find in the following book.


AIMS Education Foundation

1-888-733-2467    8am-5pm PST M-F

Solve It! 3rd Problem Solving Strategies

Activities in Math and Science (AIMS) is an organization, begun over 30 years ago, dedicated to helping teachers integrate math and science in to most activities in their classrooms.  Their materials are hands on and engaging for students while providing clear easily implemented teacher instructions. They believe the most effective way for students to learn math and science is to experience it in a hands on, active way and to that end have developed a whole line of materials for Preschool through Junior High (several also suitable for High School).

PhotobucketI received a copy of the 3rd grade Solve It! book to review. Solve it! is a paperback book with simple and engaging illustrations for each of the 27 activities in 9 categories. Each activity begins with 2-3 pages of directions and explanations for the teacher, continuing with the student pages and concluding with a page containing several questions the student can ask themselves during or at the end of the activity.  These are designed to help the student think and apply what they have discovered. The activities have 2-4 student pages each. The book also comes with a CD containing all the activities in the book. By purchasing the book the buyer had permission to make up to 200 copies of each page to use in a coop or classroom type setting.

The first few pages of the book explain the reason for teaching mathematical processes and thinking skills as well as the benefits that can be seen in other academic areas.  Some activities use simply paper and pencil while others use manipulatives of various kinds.  Some of the manipulatives required include teddy bear counters, pattern blocks, paper clips, snap cubes, and a balance scale. 

There is also a simple chart showing 9 different problem solving strategies.  This could easily be copied and made into a small poster to help children remember the strategies.

Each activity also lists the NCTM standards and other benchmarks. Various state standards and correlating activities are listed on the website.

Many publications are available in either book or ebook format.  They also have all the manipulatives available to make learning hands on and concrete. They look like so much fun to play with, oops I mean learn from.

How We Used  Solve It!

Most of the activities both my 7 and 10 year old did together.  The teacher directions call for having the children do the activities in groups, but that is difficult with just 2, so I had them work individually, but at the same time. When they were both finished we would compare and discuss answers as directed in the teacher manual. 

My 10 year old is convinced the book was too easy for her, but I could tell she was being challenged and thinking in new ways while we completed several of the activities. She kept asking for harder things to do.

Most of the activities we did were just about right for my 7 year old.  I could tell he was having to think and reason his way through his work which is just what I hoped he would do. One of the activities we used was Sawing Logs, which challenges the student to determine how many cuts are needed to get a certain number of equal size pieces of wood.  It also asks the student to determine how many fence posts are needed to build a 100 meter fence if posts are placed 5 meters apart.  He struggled to understand 21 posts are needed because you have to put one at the beginning and end.  He thought it was only 20 because that is the number of 5's in a hundred.

He believes the book was too hard for him, but I think it was just about right.  He needs something that challenges and stretches his brain and I believe Solve It! does just that.

So the answer to the question at the beginning is 21.

Snappy Patterns activity
I just picked and choose which activities to use as I wanted to get a good feel for the whole book.  We ended up completing activities in 7 of the 9 categories. We were unable to do some of the activities as I do not have the required manipulatives such as a balance scale or teddy bear counters.  I just found a substitute for the bears so we will be doing those in the future. 

The book is extremely sturdy and very well bound.  It should hold up well for a long time.  However, this made it difficult to copy from, so after my first experience trying to copy I made sure I printed the pages I wanted to use from the CD.  This was truly effortless; just pop the CD into the computer, choose the activity I wanted, open it up and print the pages.  On the CD all the activities are listed as separate pdf files in alphabetical order, so they are easy to find.  In an effort to save paper and ink I just printed the student activity pages and read from the book and then showed my two the concluding question page.

Pumpkin Patches activity
For an activity practicing place value I just made one copy of the paper for each of them and put it in a sheet protector and used dry erase markers with it. 

While the teachers instructions are definitely written to a classroom teacher they are easily adaptable to a homeschool setting.  Most of the instructions direct the making of an overhead transparency to record students' findings, however,  it was simple enough to make a model of it ourselves or discuss it as we went along.  There is also "teacher jargon" present in the instructions, but not so much that they are unusable or not easily understood.

I really liked this book and found it immensely helpful and do not hesitate to recommend it.  I also would like to purchase several other items featured in the AIMS catalog.

There are some free activities available on the website.  A sample of Solve It! 3 is also available.

Read what other TOS Crew members had to say about Solve It and other AIMS Education Foundation books at the Crew Blog.


Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book to use for the purpose of writing this review.  I have not been compensated in any other manner and all opinions expressed here are totally my own.

1 comment:

  1. We reviewed a different book from them, but this looks like it could be a good fit for my 7 year old, too.