Thursday, May 11, 2017

Homeschool Review Crew: Grades 3/4 Math Supplement from Algebra for Breakfast

Algebra for Breakfast

We recently received a 6-month subscription to Grades 3-4 content from Algebra for Breakfast to review and use as a Math supplement. The program was created by instructor, Bob Hazen. There are two levels available to purchase: 3-4 Grade or 5-6 Grade.

I love teaching Algebra so when I saw this review product I was curious and wanted to challenge my daughter's skill and ability level. I've always wanted to introduce algebraic concepts to her so that she would understand advanced math concepts better in the future.

We received access to the online lesson content, a set of colorful Math Dice, and a zipped file containing the Skip Counting Songs Album in M4A format. There were ten songs included on the album. The Math Dice set included two 12-sided blue dice and three 6-sided red dice. The dice may vary in color. The Math Dice set enables children to practice four basic mathematical operations: Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, and Division.

Algebra for Breakfast is an online video-based Math enrichment program. The 3-4 Grade level currently consists of 45 lessons with a total of 53 planned lessons to be added. The content is gradually released. One lesson usually contains 1-3 short videos in addition to a worksheet which reinforces the concepts being learned. The Parent's Corner houses the teacher answer keys for almost all of the worksheets. The teacher answer keys are downloadable files available in PDF format. Please note that there are NOT answer sheets for ALL of the worksheets. You will see a few screenshots of video lessons below.
Over and Up

How I Used Algebra For Breakfast
My daughter, Alyssa, who is 9 years old utilized this program. The program offered her the chance to attempt more challenging math concepts. She works at a 3rd-5th grade level and has strong Math skills so I placed her at the 3-4 Grade level as a way to review and learn material in a sequential manner. This enrichment program was implemented as a supplement to Alyssa's core Math curriculum We worked on this program 3-5 times per week for approximately 15-45 minutes a sessions.

She worked through 1-3 lessons per day on our 2008 Mac OS X 10.11.6 computer using Chrome 58 as our preferred browser. Adobe Reader was used to open PDF formatted files. No computer software is needed to access the content. Algebra for Breakfast suggests that students complete 1-2 lessons per week to maximize the learning experience.

First, we were given a username and password information to login in order to gain access to the content. We clicked on the Member Login Click Here Link. Then, I clicked on the Grades 3-4 ALL Lessons Access Page tab to open and view all of the lessons for that particular level as seen below.
Please Enlarge Image

The four preparatory activities were completed together while we waited for the Math Dice set to arrive via mail. We watched a short "how to" video tutorial. She made a set of playing cards using index cards which would be used during the Ten-Twenty-Thirty game. She made black and red digit cards for the numbers 1-10. Furthermore, we watched an Addition War and Multiplication War video. My daughter has already mastered addition and multiplication so we did not actually play these games during the review period. However, you could easily play them as form of review. I focused more on the new content and algebraic terms.
Preparatory Lessons
Next, we clicked on a particular lesson title link where we viewed a short instructional video lesson lasting approximately 1 1/2 - 20 minutes long. Most videos we've watched were on the shorter length range. You can easily rewatch the videos if necessary. If there was more than one video for a lesson, then usually one of the videos was a parent introductory video offering teacher tips or reminders about a concept. Bob Hazen is the instructor who presents the material in a recorded classroom setting. He teaches his elementary-aged students using the dice, manipulatives, and worksheets provided in the curriculum. Occasionally, the video lessons were watched on our iPad. The lessons gradually become more difficult and built on each other.
Writing Symbols for X-Squared
Video Lesson

Writing Symbols for X-Squared
Corresponding Worksheet and Teacher Answer Key
Square and Oblongs
FNLN (First Name Last Name)
Viewing Lesson and Completing Worksheet on iPad

Then, Alyssa completes the corresponding worksheet which reinforces the concepts being taught. The worksheets were usually printed before a video lesson by clicking the Download the Worksheet Click Here button below the video. The worksheets are not time consuming and require very little writing. The number of problems is also limited and is appropriate for the intended age group. Some parental involvement is required for specific lessons. For example, during several lessons my daughter was asked to build using the blocks. I needed to indicate on the worksheet whether she built and wrote the problem correctly as seen in the last photo. In the first photo below, you will see a variety of completed worksheets. Alyssa's favorite worksheet was titled, "Are They the Same?" She matched the pieces to the words and symbols. The other worksheets below practiced algebraic concepts such as Skip Counting and Identifying X-Squared.
Listen to Skip Counting Songs
Skip Count and Color Numbers
Parent or Teacher Lesson Involvement

Our Experiences and Results
We have completed the first 25 lessons from the 3-4 Grade level. The lessons were age appropriate for the grade level indicated. I noticed that Alyssa has a deeper understanding of the algebraic concepts being introduced. The method that Bob Hazen uses to teach has been effective and successfully implemented in our home. My daughter usually has no questions after a lesson and has no difficulties with completing the worksheets independently. The worksheets provide the perfect amount of practice. Not to mention, minimal parent/teacher preparation is required. I watched the videos with my daughter even though I didn't have to, printed worksheets, and viewed the answer sheets when necessary. I was involved in several lessons to check for understanding. I never had to force my daughter to use the program. She willingly asked when she could complete her Algebra for Breakfast lessons each day.  

Alyssa's Opinion
The Math Dice games were my daughter's favorite. She would add the two blue 12-sided dice and then use the three other red dice to add, subtract, multiply, or divide to find the closest number to the sum of the blue die. She was eager to play the Math Dice game during her free time. She also liked the worksheets, because they were quick and easy. She said that the worksheets were fun especially when using manipulative blocks. The videos were easy to understand and the teacher spoke clearly. They were informative not boring. She preferred to use our own Skip Counting CD instead of the album songs sent to us.  

I recommend Algebra for Breakfast to individuals wanting their children to learn algebraic concepts using an effective hands-on approach at an earlier age. The approach addresses several learning styles. A conglomeration of games, worksheets, block manipulatives, and videos keep the learner engaged. Children who like video-based lessons will appreciate this program.

This program could be used in a public or private school setting. It could also be used as an after school, summer school, tutoring, or co-op program. I believe Algebra for Breakfast is a Math supplement that could definitely enrich any 3rd-6th grade Math core curriculum.

Possible Vendor Suggestions

  • I wish there was some way to track Alyssa's progress or completed lessons as she works through the program. I am currently indicating the lesson number and title in our lesson planner. The vendor could possibly use a star, checkmark box, or a draw thru line. 
  • I would prefer having a PDF zipped file or set that contains ALL of the worksheets and teacher answer keys in numerical order to print out in one sitting. 
There are several package options on the website. I HIGHLY recommend purchasing the Full Membership Pack so that you will have ALL materials needed to successfully complete lessons. This package includes the manipulative blocks which will help children understand the concepts better and offer a more hands-on, interactive approach to learn Algebra. Visit the website store for more information:

$122 Full Membership Pack 
$42 Reduced Membership Pack
$22 AFB Membership (Content Only) With No Membership Pack

Special Notes: All prices are subject to change without notice. This program REQUIRES special manipulative blocks which are included in the Full Membership Pack. You will need these blocks to complete the exercises.
Algebra for Breakfast

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Read other Algebra for Breakfast reviews at the Homeschool Review Crew blog.
Bob Hazen's Algebra Lessons {Algebra for Breakfast Reviews}
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