Monday, April 23, 2012

Balance Math Teaches Algebra TOS Review

Balance Math Teaches Algebra
The Critical Thinking Company

PhotobucketBalance Math Teaches Algebra is an introduction to solving equations and the processes of algebra. In solving the equations students are introduced to the skills of filling in proofs, simplifying equations, and substitution.

Rather than employing just a straight row of symbols and numbers, Balance Math uses a balance scale to represent the equation and geometric shapes for variables. In some of the equations the shapes have numbers in them, others are blank inside. The pages of the book are non distracting black print with no extraneous decorations, with 3-8 scales to solve on each page. Students are given several equations to solve with proofs to fill in to acquaint them with the type of equations they will be working with then they move on to several pages on which they practice those skills and types of problems. This practice may include activities such as matching equations which are equal or determining which equations are equal to a simplified balance scale shown at the top of a page. There are also several pages where the student matches equations to the mini word problems which are missing their variables.

 While the equations progress in difficulty throughout the book, the types of activities generally remain the same.

The book contains 52 pages of student work, a tip sheet for the student with guidance and ideas to solve different types of equations, and an answer key. It is recommended for 4th through 12 grade.

Balance Math Teaches Algebra is $14.99 from the Critical Thinking Company.  Samples are available by clicking the cover on the product page.

Critical Thinking Company has core and supplemental books in the subject areas of  language arts, math, science, social studies, and logic for preschool through high school. Some subject material is also available on CD format for use on the computer.

My Thoughts

My 11 year old is eager to start learning algebra, so when I had the opportunity to review this book. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity for her.

Balance Math starts out fairly easy and my daughter found it enjoyable. However, by the time she was about a third of the way through she started having difficulty as many of the problems require multiplying and dividing by fractions and she is not comfortable with that operation yet. This is not a problem with the curriculum, but simply her level of knowledge at the present.

I liked the simplicity of the book, there was nothing there to distract her from work as is often the case with other materials. It is also small enough not to be overwhelming to the user.  Another great aspect of the book is user are presented equations with the geometric shapes rather than a long string of variables. This helps students to focus on the skill and process rather than the letter otherwise used.

Despite the challenge my daughter enjoyed working through Balance Math Teaches Algebra and getting a taste of algebra. Using this book has opened one of the secrets of upper grade work to her.

Other members of the TOS Crew had the opportunity to review this book as well as other publications from the Critical Thinking Company. See what they had to say at the Crew Blog.


Disclaimer: I received a gratis copy of the above reviewed books through the TOS Crew to enable me to write this review. I have not been compensated in any other manner and all opinions expressed here are solely my own.

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