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Mad Dog Math Review by Marisa Corless

Julie Kotoff
Mad Dog Math
4562 Ocana Ave.
Lakewood, CA 90713

Mad Dog Math has three products to help children learn math facts: timed drill sheets, flashcards, and a computer program. Mad Dog Math is available for both addition/subtraction and multiplication/division. The idea is to entice the child to successfully complete all 24 facts in progressively less time by first aiming for 2 minutes, then 1 minute, and then 30 seconds (possibly even 25 seconds). The author recommends creating a "2 minute club," a "1 minute club," and a "30 second club" to make mastering the facts more fun. I received the 3 rd grade and up version of the binder and flashcards, which consisted of multiplication and division.

The Home School Mastery binder contained a few pages of instructions, two sets of drill sheets for fact families 2-12 for both multiplication and division, and the answer keys for the drill sheets. There are two sets of drills so that a child can alternate between the A set and the B set, thus preventing a child from learning the pattern of correct answers rather than doing the math problems. The division problems are presented with a division bracket. You will need to provide a plastic sleeve and a dry erase marker in order to use the sheets multiple times.

The flashcards are sold separately. They are hole punched, and a small ring comes with them so that one or more fact families can easily be put on the ring for easy use. Each fact family has a border of a different color for easy sorting and identification. The flash cards are a little smaller than playing cards, making them a nice size for children to hold.

The computer game, also not included with the Mastery Binder, tracks multiple children and drills both addition/subtraction and multiplication/division. It can be used for practice, which is not timed, as well as timed drills. There are four levels. Levels 1 and 2 are both addition/subtraction. The difference is which part of the equation the child is asked for. In level 1, the child is asked for the answer. In level 2, the child is asked for the addend in the addition portion and the answer in the subtraction portion. In level 3, the child is asked for the answers to the multiplication and division problems. In the challenge level, all previous versions of problems are quizzed simultaneously (addition, addition where the addend is required, subtraction, multiplication, and division). There is also a grid in the challenge section with an instruction such as "add then multiply by 4" in order to solve for the missing numbers. In order to track and achieve "Student Club Stickers," the student's name is typed in. When all facts for the operations are mastered within the given time, a sticker is awarded. While the program will track multiple children, as a parent, it is hard to see all the children it is tracking. The only way to access this information is to start the program and type in the child's name. After you type in the child's name, a bone labeled "progress" lights up. When a fact is mastered, a checkmark will appear.

Mad Dog Math was created by a schoolteacher for classroom use and has been adapted for home use. Over the years, many teachers have used timed math drills to motivate their students to succeed in mastering math facts. I remember my third-grade teacher doing just this--only instead of a "Mad Dog" math club, we had a rocket ship that traveled to the moon and back based on what facts we had mastered in the given amount of time. This program could work for any type of homeschooling family. The real issue is whether timed quizzes motivate or scare your child. For those who like to be timed and to beat themselves, this will work. For those who freak out about being timed, it might cause too much stress. In the case of my son, if he knows he can do it, he will go for it. But if he has any doubt in his mind that he will win, he won't try and it stresses him out.

Overall, I found the picture of the dog in the corner of each worksheet cute and the organization of the drill sheets in the binder nice, but the binder materials are so similar to other speed drill worksheets that I am not sure it is worth the cost. The binder is $69.99, the flashcards are $14.99 for the 3rd grade and up set, and the computer game is offered at three different price points: $19.99 for a one-year license; $29.99 for a two-year license; and $39.99 for a lifetime license. The flash cards have special features (color borders, size, hole punch, and snap-open ring) that make them superior in my mind to traditional flash cards. The real benefit to purchasing the binder portion is that all the worksheets come packaged in one neat and tidy place--no copying or printing or searching needed. The computer game tracks multiple children and drills both addition/subtraction and multiplication/division all in one game. Each of these items is sold separately and works on its own, or they can be combined. The price for all three together might be out of budget for some families. I would suggest to the publishers that they consider bundling the items at a discount as they are quality products.

Product review by Marisa Corless, MH, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2011