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Right Brain Math Book and Pattern Power Math DVD Set Review by Dawn Huffmaster

Thomas Biesanz
Right Brain Math
4025 State Street #9
Santa Barbara, CA 93110

Right Brain Math is an innovative, supplemental math program that teaches children to have fun with numbers by using visual and auditory patterns, which will increase their knowledge and retention of basic math skills. This set includes a 96-page soft-cover book with reproducible worksheets, as well as the Pattern Power Math DVD. Children using Right Brain Math will have the opportunity to "play" with numbers by using the included worksheets to find patterns and relationships that make sense to them.

The book begins by showing children how to create an interesting times table without the need to know any multiplication skills (known as the EZ Times Table) in a format they will understand and can easily use. Once they have completed the EZ Times Table, they can use the chart for basic addition, subtraction, and multiplication as well as division, factors, squares, place value, and prime numbers. The Pattern Power Math DVD has a short introduction to the concept of right-brain math for parents to watch before beginning the program. Children who are considered left-brain dominant learn best through rote memory and hearing concepts explained, but children who are right-brain dominant learn best through visual experiences, such as patterns, emotions, and seeing the full picture of a concept. Both types are able to learn sufficiently, yet knowing which type of learner your child is and how he best learns will help you create a more suitable learning experience. The DVD also provides visual instructions for completing the "Playing with Patterns" and "Advanced Tables" sections, where interesting number patterns are created using number circles, wheels, and tic-tac-toe squares.

This program was created for elementary-aged children as well as persons of any age who may need remediation of basic concepts. It works well for all types of learners but especially those who learn best through visual examples. For review purposes, I used it with my 6-year-old who was still working on basic addition and subtraction facts, with my 8-year-old who had just started learning about multiplication, and with my 11-year-old who was struggling with multiplication. I reproduced the blank EZ Times Table worksheet from the book and worked with the children individually, beginning with my 8-year-old. The book gives thorough but easy-to-follow instructions that should be read by the parent and/or the child before creating each number column.

We started with the ones column and then did the twos, the threes, and so on until we had completed the table to the tens. As we completed each number column, I showed my daughter how to use the table, instead of waiting until she had completed the entire thing. The premise is that the child will be able to take the table, look at a specific problem (for example, 4x8), go to the 4's column, and count down 8 squares. Or they can go to the 8's column and count down 4 squares to get the right answer. We found that process so much easier than the traditional multiplication table, where the child has to find one number at the top and one number on the side and then figure out where they meet. When she had completed her chart, I was able to ask her any multiplication problem from 0-10 and she found the answer in seconds! I then had my 6-year-old and 11-year-old create their charts -- with the same results. I was amazed that my 6-year-old, who had never even seen multiplication aside from glancing at her sibling's schoolwork, was able to find the answers quickly!

Once we had practiced using the table for multiplication, I showed the younger ones how to use it for addition or subtraction as well by finding the largest number of a given problem in the 1's column and counting forward or backwards the appropriate number of squares to the answer. My older child was able to use his table for division, which he had previously not been able to grasp, by using the concept of reserve multiplication (described in the instructions), where one simply reverses the process for finding products to find the quotient. Though the EZ Times Table can be used to work with fractions, squares, factors, place value, and prime numbers, we did not get to work with those concepts at length due to lack of time and our desire to review the basic principals in the program. But by quickly glancing through those areas, I could see where it would work well.

Finally, there is the Pattern Play portion of the book. The instructions in the book were a bit difficult for me to grasp at first glance, but after I watched the included DVD, they made much more sense to me. I then had the children watch them as well. All the children grasped the number wheel and tic-tac-toe patterns, but the younger ones had a more difficult time grasping the "Rules of Tens" pattern and the Advanced EX Tables. Despite those few difficulties, every child had fun learning math. Math can be fun! I have been trying to teach them that for years, and this program helped me do that. The Pattern Play portion of the program is not used so much to teach concepts, but rather to promote further interest in numbers as an amazing creation and to emphasize the fact that numbers can make understandable patterns when you have the tools to create those patterns.

I found no negatives with this program, but as I started to review it, I realized it was not what I was expecting. I expected it to be something that would teach the children their multiplication tables. This program does not do that, it does teach children to think outside the box and to use their own creativity to create tools that they can use to make learning math concepts more fun. If a concept is fun, children are more eager to learn it and learn it well. This program costs less than $20 for both the book and DVD, and I consider it a great value and an exceptional product. I always disliked those standard multiplication tables myself, but I found Right Brain Math to be enjoyable. No tears, no complaining, and I learned a few new things about math myself. I now consider Right Brain Math a supplemental staple to our homeschool program.

Product review by Dawn Huffmaster, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2011