Friday, March 15, 2013

Touch Math

Teaching math is much more than just opening up a textbook and filling in the answers. Only one of my children has been able to learn math this way; the other three needed a more involved curriculum that gave them a more multi-sensory approach. And Touch Math does just that.

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What It Is:

Have you ever thought of mathematics as a language? Well the creators of Touch Math do, and have developed a strategic way to teach math. What makes Touch Math a unique math program is the Touch Numerals. The curriculum begins by teaching about the TouchPoints on numbers. Each numeral, 1-9, has TouchPoints, which correspond to that digits value. Each of the TouchPoints on a number is counted in a consistent pattern; this really helps your child learn and remember how much each number is worth. Once your child has mastered understanding numeral value, addition and subtraction begins.

The First Grade Homeschool Module has four units and covers many topics:

Unit A
  • Counting to 120
  • Mastering TouchPoints
  • Adding and Subtracting within 5
  • Adding and Subtracting within 9

Unit B
  • Introducing Place Value
  • Adding and Subtracting within 13
  • Adding and Subtracting within 20

Unit C
  • Adding 2 Digit Numbers
  • Adding2 Addends
  • Subtracting 2 Digit Numbers
  • Adding and Subtracting with Strategies
  • Adding and Subtracting  within 100

Unit D
  • Measuring Lengths
  • Telling Time
  • Representing Data
  • Defining 2-D and 3-D Shapes
  • Fractions in Geometric Shapes

Within each of these units are modules, which contain the worksheets. Some of which are guided and meant to be done with your child, while others are meant to be done independently. The teacher manual is scripted for ease of teaching, with suggested hands-on ideas and questions for you to use.

What You Get:

 I received all four of these units as downloads, which included implementation ideas, worksheets, answer keys, assessments, and math vocabulary lists. You can buy all four units for $199. 95.

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These conveniently come in an email to download. The curriculum also contains lots of help for the teacher. An extensive introduction and overview are very constructive, and give direction to the program. I especially appreciated the overview page for each module, which at a glance explained the objective, listed the math vocabulary words, and showed the materials needed. These four units are the core curriculum, but Touch Math does offer many other helpful manipulatives.

The 3D Numerals are large, plastic numbers, with raised TouchPoints.  They are $79.00 and come with a Teacher's Guide CD which includes reproducible student worksheets and activities to help learn the numbers.

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I also received the TouchPoint Posters. These 8x11 cardboard posters are very versatile. Obviously you could put them up around your house or in the area where your child does school. They can also be used in a more tactile way by providing small markers (checkers or buttons) for your child to use to place the TouchPoints on the numbers. One set which includes all ten numbers is $43.00.

The Desktop TouchLines  for $19.00 are another helpful resource. These vertical strips, which are approximately 11 inches by 1 1/2 inches, have the number line (1-9) on both sides. On one side the numbers are vertical and on the other side they are horizontal, which makes it easy to either place on your child's desk or on the dining room table.

The Touch Numerals are another helpful manipulative. This sturdy foam set contains 3 sets of numbers, and enough colored dots to place TouchPoints on all of them. Base 10 containers are also included which is very helpful when adding and subtracting 2 digit numbers. And the Teacher's Manual has ideas to help your child learn skip counting, re-grouping (carrying and borrowing), and division. This set is $99.00 and even includes all the operation signs.

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Another great manipulative is the Math Fans. These provide a tangible way to teach number value, money, fractions, and even geometric shapes. Each set which is $239.00 comes with two sets of 1-9 fans, ten 10's blocks, and one hundred block. A helpful CD gives instruction on teaching counting, greater than/less than, addition and much more. Reproducible worksheets, lesson plans and suggested activities are also on the CD for the teacher's convenience.

The Student Number Cards were a big hit in our family. Maybe it is our love for games, but my younger two had a blast playing with these cards, arranging them in order, and lining them up to match their worksheet math problems. You can purchase a set of ten number cards for $24.00.

Nutsy's favorite was the First Grade Tutor Software. This interactive CD contains activities, pretests, and reviews. She liked being in control of the mouse and moving the TouchPoints onto the numbers. This CD follows the same course of study as the main curriculum, and only seeks to reinforce what is being taught in the lessons. You can purchase it for $99.00 and see sample videos here.

And finally the Touch Math FlipCards. For each unit there are 3 FlipCard sets. These correlate with what is being taught and give a visual flashcard for your student to study with. Each set is $19.00 and includes between 50 and 100 cards.Some of the sets in the first grade material are Fractions in Geometric Shapes, Comparing Numbers, Adding and Subtracting, and Place Value. You can see the entire list of FlipCards here.

How We Used This:

I had Nutsy do this program with me. She has dabbled a bit in a textbook-type curriculum and had pretty much gotten up to adding numbers 1-5. We started slowly with this curriculum; after reading about the methodology I realized how important it was for her to grasp the TouchPoints. We got out the 3D Numerals and the posters, and got to work understanding how to recognize number value. The Tudor Software was especially helpful as well; she used her mouse to place the TouchPoints on the numbers, and then counted them in the correct sequence.

 Dasher would join us periodically (the manipulatives looked so much fun!) and really liked playing with the foam Touch Numerals.  She has always really struggled with math and has literally had to memorize the math facts, even though I pull out every manipulative I can think of when I teach them to her. It was during one of these play times that she had her own Aha! moment. She was lining the numbers up and placing the dots on the numbers like she saw on the TouchLines, when all of a sudden she realized that the number four meant 4 dots. And the number five meant 5 dots. She then used the Student Number Cards to create math problems, mirrored them with the foam numbers, and then saw all the dots and added them together. She got very excited, understanding that each number wasn't just a squiggly line, but had a meaning behind it. Now she is older and the excitement wore off quickly, but it did make me think how she might have taken to this type of a program when she was first starting math and how it just might have made things a little easier for her.

We did spend a couple of weeks on learning the TouchPoints; I then skipped Nutsy to Module 4A - Adding within 9. We did the worksheets together and reinforced the concepts with the FlipCards.Towards the end of this module the TouchPoints were removed and she was doing her math problems without them. We did use the CD software during our review period; this was very helpful when she was learning the TouchPoints but we were disappointed to find that she couldn't skip ahead like we had done in the curriculum. But regardless, the CD was very helpful in reinforcing math concepts. We also ended up mixing and matching the manipulatives; like I said, the manipulatives are not completely essential when using this curriculum, but they are helpful in reinforcing the concepts.

What I Thought:

This curriculum has so many components to it and all of them very helpful in teaching math. It does have a unique approach: the TouchPoints. If you think about it, we as adults know what the numbers stand for but some children, and even young ones with special needs, just see lines on a page and have a hard time putting a numeric value with a each number. The TouchPoint system takes some of the guessing out of math, and turns it into a tangible, visual, and kinesthetic exercise.

The foam Touch Numerals were very helpful, and with all of the operation signs that are included, this manipulative will be useful for many years. All of the FlipCards are useful; I am looking forward to using them when we get to the fractions and the measuring modules. I found it very helpful that on the back of each FlipCard set were suggested activities to do.

I found the First Grade Homeschool Program to be very helpful to me as the teacher; at times I felt like it was too scripted for me, but then there were other times when, glancing at the manual, I was able to re-word the question or statement and have it make more sense to Nutsy. There were times whn I wished that the curriculum was available to purchase as a hard copy; we only have one computer in our home and with four homeschooling students all using it at different times, it can get tricky. She was also ready to do more of the guided pages independently, but that might have been because she has had some experience doing math. The manual also had some real-life ideas to use to reinforce math, such as making up addition problems about the cars on your street or doing a neighborhood number hunt. I am not that creative of a person so I appreciated these fun ideas.

Overall I really liked this program. I would especially recommend it if you know you have a kinesthetic or hands-on child. All of the manipulatives can be purchased separately and can help to supplement any math program.

Touch Math also provides Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, First and Second grade programs...other members of The Crew reviewed those grade levels and you can read what they thought by clicking below.


Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest and humble review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

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