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Math for the Real World Upper Elementary Pack Review by Lisa Kjeldgaard

The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc.
29 East 21st Street
New York, NY 10010

Math for the Real World Upper Elementary Pack is a set of 18 paperback, full-color, glossy books designed to teach math concepts through the use of graded readers. The readers have a simple staple binding and large colorful photographs on each page that were very appealing to my children since the photos often featured other children. Each book teaches a simple math concept that is clearly developed through the storyline and also contains a glossary to explain new words. The set comes with a booklet of reproducible blackline masters containing one worksheet that corresponds to each title. The following concepts are covered in this set: identifying two-digit numbers up to 50, comparing size, counting by fives, ordinal numbers, subtraction to 10, directional concepts, thermometers, coins, addition to 10, bar graphs, counting by tens, initial fractions, sequential steps, basic time, problem-solving, shapes, math symbols, and adding three one-digit numbers.

The books are well written, placing the mathematical ideas in real-world situations that keep the student's attention and make the concepts easy to grasp. Many pages have graphics placed over the photographs to further develop ideas. The temperature book effectively communicates changing degrees with photographs in various weather and graphics of a thermometer showing what the temperature would be in that situation. The book subjects are cleverly chosen to communicate topics in engaging ways. One book teaches telling time to the half-hour by telling a story about a train trip--something most kids in this target age group would be eager to read about. Each page and photograph shows another portion of the journey; graphics of clocks show the time changing throughout the day. Many of the book topics could easily lead to fun activities to further solidify the math concepts. The problem-solving book is a story about a pizza party, while the story teaching fractions shows children making muffins--both fun things to do with your children that would help drive home the lessons. For any family following the delayed math recommendations of Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn in Teaching the Trivium, this series would ensure math was being talked about and learned in a natural way.

We love to read in our home, and having math time sitting on the couch with a book was a welcome change to our normal mathematical routine. The books were engaging and at an appropriate reading level for my six-year-old first grader. He was also thrilled with the worksheets and begged me to read more stories so he could do more of them. We don't use a lot of worksheets in our normal homeschooling, and he was intrigued with the concept! My kindergarten and preschool children were also interested in the books, and the stories provided good discussions about topics I hadn't yet introduced to my younger ones. I found myself explaining fractions to my five-year-old, and the book's story line and photographs made it easy for him to understand.

I do have two concerns with the series. By the time students are able to read these graded readers, I don't think any of the mathematical concepts will be new material. While my six-year-old enjoyed the books and worksheets, none of the topics covered were new to him. Some of the topics had been covered in his traditional math curriculum, while others were things he'd learned through real-life experiences. This leads me to question the value of purchasing this set, especially considering the high price tag. The set of 18 readers and blackline masters is over $100--a costly investment for many homeschoolers.

My children enjoy the books, and I'm thankful for the easy reinforcement of our math lessons. However, I'm not convinced they have enough academic benefit to justify the cost.

Product review by Lisa Kjeldgaard, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April 2009