The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

With so many products available we often need a little help in making our curriculum choices. The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine family understands because we are in the same boat! Do you need more information on a product before you buy? With over 5,500 products listed in 52 easy-to-use categories, much of the information you need to know is only a click away! Let our reviewer-families help yours.
Do you want to get the word out about your product or service to the homeschool community? Email Jenny Higgins and share a little about what you´d like showcased, and we can help with that!

Casting Nines Review by Heidi Shaw

Instructional Resources Company
P.O. Box 111704
Anchorage, Alaska 99511-1704

Susan Anthony is a teacher with a passion for kids. It shows in all the books I have reviewed. Susan lives and teaches in Alaska and graciously sent me a bunch of books to review after I read about them on her web site.

These books were written for teachers, with permission to photocopy for their classes. I have found they work exceptionally well in the home environment, particularly for review and practice on basic skills. I will write a short bit about many of the books I have seen but you really should check out her website for the full spectrum! Mathematics and Language Arts are her fortes.

Casting Nines is the name given to a fascinating method of checking accuracy in math problems. Susan found, as I have, that many of her students' mistakes were the result of small errors, generally in areas they were proficient in. The kids just slipped up; going too quickly or not taking care because they were sure they 'knew it already'. But in math an error is an error and accuracy is important. This fun and easy to learn method has kids not only checking their answers but also wanting to check their answers. They were having fun and the increase in their scores showed that the method really works! It's fun and simple once you learn the basic idea. This workbook will walk you through the method and then you can copy the sheets and teach your kids. I think this is one of those life skills things that you will use in so many applications. I have found myself casting nines to check the balance on my checkbook and then when multiplying with my son, we used the method again to check his answers. Basically you can use it for any math application but it is important to have mastery over the basic skills. This is a method to check your addition or multiplication, not to do it for you. The idea is that you check the answer in an equation such as 255 + 673= 928 by adding the addends and casting out any that equal 9. You then add up again and again till you have only one digit numbers. The number you wind up with in your addend check must equal the one you get by adding up your answer. So in the example, I would add across 255 to get 2+ 5+5=12, then add the 1+2 to get 3. Same with 673; 6+3=9 so cast them out=0 the digit left is 7. Add the 7+3(from the first number), get 10; 1+0=1. Okay, now to check the answer; 928; 9 casts out leaving the 2+8=10; 1+0=1. Both numbers match so you know you are correct. It's a bit hard to explain in this forum but I have been so excited to learn this method and I use it all the time. The workbook takes you step by step through the method and at the end you have a skill that you can use in any application from the grocery store to the restaurant. Perfect for kids taking math tests where accuracy in the small stuff matters and for reviewing on the big tests as well. I like Susan's books and I am sure you will too.

The perfect accompaniment to this book is Susan's 'Facts in Five Minutes A Day' series. Available for Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, and Division; these books are inexpensive and perfect for review, drill and mastery practice. The Casting Nines book is fun and useful, these books are fun, practical, and extremely helpful in just making sure those skills are embedded for life. You can add the Math Facts workbooks in to whatever curriculum you are using and they are great for 'on the road' or holiday time refreshment work as well. There are neat flash cards in the back of each book you can cut out and carry for review. I know my son will benefit from these. We are currently working on subtraction facts and his work has visibly improved. Highly recommended and please check out Susan's poetry and Language Arts reviews as well. All of these books can be used for short reviews, or for those times when you need a bit of a change but don't need a whole new curriculum. Please check the Resources section on Susan's web site;

She has listed so many cool resources-all for free! Some of the topics I found helpful included Dictation Sentences from the Bible and Teaching while Traveling. Susan has traveled extensively and her knowledge is so helpful. Good stuff all around!

- Product Review by: Heidi Shaw, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine