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Solve It! Book and CD, Grade 3 Review by Cindy West

AIMS Education Foundation
P.O. Box 8120
Fresno, CA 93747

I have used AIMS products for years. Way back when, as a public school teacher, AIMS books were my go-to choice for math and science related unit studies. Their material is always top-notch and I'm so glad to see they are actively marketing to homeschoolers!

With the above said, I think it's only fair to tell you that Solve It!, like all AIMS books I've seen, is written with classrooms in mind. In other words, lessons often suggest that groups of children work together to complete a task. In almost every instance, it's been very easy to do the activity with only one child, but I think it's important to know that you will be reading lesson plans written for classroom teachers.

AIMS stands for Activities Integrating Math and Science. Through very hands-on, well-documented lessons, children make real connections to math and science concepts. The fun lessons include reproducibles that help children keep notes, organize information and "see" the results of their experiences. These student pages are black & white, but very engaging with clear expectations. For your convenience, a CDROM comes with the book that includes PDF files of all the student sheets.

Sometimes, the parent will be expected to gather a few common materials or make other lesson preparations, but all needs are obviously noted in the teacher's section of each lesson. Additionally, the teacher's notes include some background information, notes about making the lesson flow well, and step-by-step procedures. You'll also find questions to ask at the end of the lesson which evaluate your child's understanding, as well as extensions to take the lessons further if you like. Each of these sections is easy to read and implement.

Solve It! is a math-based unit written for 3rd grade students that teaches problem solving strategies and builds problem solving skills. Like many homeschool materials, I think the age range could take in more than only 3rd graders depending on a student's abilities. In about 30 lessons, an array of appealing activities covers the problem solving strategies of:

  • Using manipulatives;
  • Writing a number sentence;
  • Drawing out a problem;
  • Guessing and checking an answer;
  • Organizing information;
  • Looking for patterns;
  • Using logical thinking;
  • Working backwards; and
  • Wishing for an easier problem.

Within each lesson, the learning goals are clear and a key question is given that your child should be able to answer by the end. Answers for most of the student activities are provided for you within the step-by-step lesson procedures, however, there is no simple-to-check answer guide. Since the lessons are very teacher driven, it's assumed you will be on top of the comprehension as the lesson progresses.

From my experience, most math textbooks lack in the area of problem solving practice. If you're brave enough to step away from the textbook (at least for a little while), Solve It! can take over the entire math time as an in-depth, comprehensive unit study. If you're not brave enough to let this book take the place of your regular textbook, I'm sure any child struggling with problem solving will find the supplemental, hands-on lessons to be a welcomed help.

Solve It! books are available for every grade from Kindergarten through 5th.

Product Review by Cindy West, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January, 2012