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Math for Puzzled Parents, Book 2 Review by Kathy Gelzer

Nancy Teas-Crain and Linda Thompson
Puzzled Parents Press
450 Summerhill Court
Alpine, CA 91901

This book is great for parents and others who help elementary and middle school children with their math homework, giving those homework helpers the information they need. Chapters on Algebra, Integers and Rational Numbers, Probability, Graphing and Statistics, Geometry, and Measurement cover the new concepts learned during this time frame in a student's life, and chapters are further divided into modules on specific problems. (The first book in this series covers fractions, decimals, and percents.) The authors suggest a four-step method of using this book: look at the student's homework to determine the topic, find a problem in the book that is similar to the one you are trying to solve, have the child explain as much as he can, and together do the optional extra activity.

Each module has an introductory section that serves as a review of the main concepts for parents. This is followed by step-by-step examples of problems with solutions immediately following. The optional activity to do with your children is a nice extra. These activities are fun to do and will help foster an increased interest in math. Many of these end-of-the-module activities are hands-on or multi-sensory

In the module on angles and triangles, a short introductory paragraph states that triangles are a strong design structure. The "Let's Get Started" section explains how triangles are described and defines the three types of angles: acute, obtuse, and straight. A photo and explanation of a protractor is also included. Key words are listed in the margin as well as a tip on quickly determining a right angle. On the next page, highlighted steps in the margin show how to use a protractor to measure and draw angles. (Although the authors clearly state to "align one side of the angle with 0 degrees on the first side of the angle," and although they point out the two scales on the protractor, they do not show how to measure or create an angle using the outside numbers on the protractor.) The third and forth pages of the module show examples of six types of triangles and show how to classify triangles and measure their angles. "Hot Tips" and definitions are included in the margins. The module concludes with six practice problems, the answers to those problems, and a "Something to Do with Your Kids" activity that involves cutting up a triangle into three smaller triangles and arranging them on a straight line to demonstrate that the sum of the angles of a triangle is 180 degrees.

Homeschoolers may not find this as useful as parents of children who go to school outside of the home simply because homeschool parents are already directly involved in the teaching of their students. They are their children's math teachers, and they are intimately involved in and knowledgeable of the material.

What I appreciate most about Math for Puzzled Parents is the easy-to-read layout and the excellent diagrams. If you need help helping your child with his math assignments, this book will demystify the process.

Product review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May 2011