There's simply no escaping the fact that certain fundamentals of math require loads of practice and drill. Parents often turn to workbooks designed for home use as supplements to their children's schoolwork. Now they have the opportunity to get much of the job done on their personal computer. Based on School Zone's excellent printed workbooks, Math Grade 2 presents electronic worksheets with just the right amount of bells and whistles to make practicing math facts, dare we say, fun!
Kids progress through virtual workbook pages that include work with "fact families" (5+3=8, 3+5=8, 8-3=5, 8-5=3), play connect-the-dots while skip counting, and perform addition and subtraction using a number line. Along the way, they are treated to animated surprises and "recess" breaks in the form of arcade-style games.
Certainly, kids can expect to face some tedium when practicing math facts. This program helps beat some of the boredom by adding enjoyable animated interludes and by interspersing 3 different kinds of bonus games (with no educational content) throughout. There are 30 virtual workbook "pages" per session, and children can opt to go back to the pages with mistakes at the end of the session or redo them right away. But, redo them they must before they receive their printable award! Though awards have become so commonplace in software programs that some kids might be desensitized towards them, others will feel a sense of accomplishment once their session is through and their award is bestowed upon them.
This CD-ROM is packaged with the printed math workbook on which it is based. Many parents are already familiar with School Zone's good-quality, age-appropriate workbooks, and its presence here serves almost as a gentle reminder that children need to work with pencil and paper as well. Second-graders, though they've usually mastered the basics of writing, are still in formative years and writing practice continues to be important.
The interface allows kids to work independently, unless they need help with math problems. They'll have to ask for human input for this, as the program provides encouraging words, but not lessons. Skill practice is the name of the game.
Two of the three arcade-style games are tricky to master, but these only served as compelling challenges for kid testers.
Minimum requirements are Windows 95/98 or higher, Pentium, 24 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM. Mac users require a Power PC 601 or higher, 24 MB RAM, System 7.5.5, and 4X CD-ROM. It requires 50 MB of hard drive space.
addition, subtraction, multiplication, skip counting, addition with regrouping, subtraction with regrouping, place value, fact families, number lines, numerical order
This electronic workbook emphasizes math skills practice, not lessons. Its educational value lies mostly in its very solid, age-appropriate content. Opportunities for off-the-computer activities are provided through a nice printed workbook as well as printable and personalized worksheets.
Though math is not "disguised", enough variety and entertaining interludes are included here to dress up the drill.
An intuitive design allows children to progress through the program independently. Instructions for each virtual page are clear.
Exercises are sequential but varied enough and randomized so that children should remain engaged from start to end. "Recess" breaks act as rewards. Though there is not a whole lot of depth to the program, there is enough content to ensure some longevity.
This CD-ROM is well priced at approximately $20 US, and comes with a quality companion School Zone printed workbook.
Reviewed: February 2001