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Kids' Education for Number Sense (KENS Math) Home School Kit Review by Tess Hamre

Ken Newbury, Ph.D.
Young People’s Press, Inc.
814 Morena Blvd., Suite 102
San Diego, CA 92110

Kids’ Education for Number Sense (KENS Math) focuses on “helping young learners develop a deeply rooted number sense.” Number sense is a key foundational skill that young children need for future success in mathematics. KENS Math has 3 main objectives:

  • “Teaching young learners to subitize or quickly identify the number of items in small set without counting.”
  • “Teaching young learners to order numbers on a number line and recognize the relative magnitude of these numbers.”
  • “Teaching young learners to compose and decompose numbers.”

To accomplish these goals or objectives KENS Math utilizes a variety of activities and teaching strategies. These activities include games that improve number line skills, number identification and arithmetic skills, and manipulatives that provide a hands-on approach. The Home School Skit includes:

  • Teachers Edition:  a spiral bound book that includes the philosophy of the program, the instructions for using the leveled cards, game instructions, structure lessons, and more.
  • Resource Masters- This includes the assessment test pages, reproducible number lines, boards/mats for the games, as well as progress charts.  These pages are full color.  I found it helpful to remove the staples from the center of the book so that I could lay pages flat to make copies.
  • Leveled Card Decks (1-12):  These are the GO, SHOW, and TELL cards that teach subitizing.  The GO Cards have groups of dots arranged in different ways.  The SHOW card has number sentences with circles.  The student is encouraged to use the circle number lines to show the number sentence and TELL cards are similar to show but do not have the circles underneath.
  • Number Lines & Marker: There are 4 number lines laminated sheets. These are large number lines approximately 17 inches long and 6 inches tall. The four number lines are: 0-10 , 0-100 by tens,  0-20 by twos and a blank circle numberline. The marker is a lion character.  The marker has two magnets so that it holds itself to the number line.
  • Wooden Number Lines with sliding Bead (2): These are used to help young students estimate where a number would be on the line.
  • Foamies (12): These sponge like circles are used in games to show groups of objects and as manipulatives for number sentences. Two of the foamies have the black circle 5 for work with circle lines.
  • Game pieces for 2 players: Included in this resealable bag are two pawn shaped game marker pieces, 1 die and 8 colored disks.
  • 100s Chart This is wall size and intended to be displayed
  • Carrying Case this cardboard box has a convenient plastic handle.  The box is perfect for storing all the parts of the program in one place.

The heart of the program is the Level by Level Instruction. Each level has a deck of cards. In the Teacher Edition you will find goals, vocabulary, list of materials and list of games for each level.  Each level has 1 to 5 lessons. Teachers are encouraged to repeat lessons as needed for students to gain mastery.

I found it very challenging to start this program. I struggled with how to implement the program because the program recommends using the Level Cards daily, recommends using the games 3 times a week and also includes structured lessons for every level. It is not designed nor intended to be a stand- alone curriculum. KENS Math is intended to complement your regular curriculum. I had to wrap my mind around how KENS Math works and still fit in our regular curriculum.

After reading and re-reading the Teacher’s edition and trying a few sessions with my daughter I found a way to make it work for us. The Level Cards only require 2 minutes per day. The games can be as short or as long as needed. I kept them to 15 minutes so that my daughter would not be overwhelmed or bored. I choose not to use our regular math program on days that we did a structured lesson. On the days that we did both KENS and the regular math, it worked better for us when we did KENS first then did something non-math related and came back to regular math in the afternoon.

For us a math session starts with the current level GO and Tell cards. Once or twice a week I would include previously mastered level Tell cards. Then we would use the SHOW cards rotating days between using foamies, colored disks, or a blank number line to show the number sentence. We alternated days between the lessons and the suggested games.

This program is written for a classroom setting which I think contributed to my difficulty in figuring out how to implement the program. Many activities and games are geared for multiple students in a classroom. Most of these can be adapted for the home school. For the games, I only had one student so I played with her even though the instructions were for students to be in pairs or groups.

Despite the difficulty of getting starting, I have found that with consistent use my daughter is making progress with subitizing. She has always been very weak with number sense. She is making the connection between the groups of dots/circles and the number sentences. While I wouldn’t recommend this for the home school environment with children who do not struggle with number sense concepts, I do recommend this program for home school co-op groups, families with several young children who could use the program at the same time, and families with one or more students in grades PK-1st grade who struggle with number sense.

Product review by Tess Hamre, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March, 2013