It’s time for a Right Start Update! We have almost completed Level A-with only about 10 lessons left for this year.
The gentle spiral of Right Start has been a great fit for Curly who needs repetition in a math program.
We started with Right Start Level A even though I knew Curly would be familiar with some of the topics covered. I wanted her to have experience with the program from the beginning and to understand the approach and the use of the abacus. The lessons in Level A begin with counting and then switch to lessons regarding shapes and patterns. After these lessons, odds and evens are introduced alongside the concept of zero. The remaining lessons cover numerous topics such as tally marks, place value, money, time, understanding the teens, commutative law, graphing, length, measures, fractions, and geometric shapes.
The lessons are varied and at times seem to skip around without logical progression. In the first months I was unsure how the lesson progression would benefit us and if it would actually hinder Curly. Now that we have almost completed the level, I can say that her math skills have greatly improved and she has a solid understanding of the material covered thus far. She is able to think through problems quickly and in her head and is able to take what she has learned and apply it in various scenarios such as word problems.
The manipulatives included in the lesson plans have been an invaluable tool. We attempted flash cards with no success, understanding, or retention. Curly is able to commit facts and concepts to memory through working with the different manipulatives and I am able to test her understanding as I watch her work with the manipulatives.
One manipulative included in the program is the clock and time cards below. We play memory with them and we match them with the correct times. These manipulatives are vital to the program and, although they are difficult to keep track of and store, they keep the lessons interesting and varied.
Another manipulative that we have recently begun using is the small geared clock to use while learning to tell time.
The games are another integral portion of the program. There are numerous card decks included with the program. The lessons contain instructions for playing games which reinforce concepts taught in the lessons. Curly enjoys game time and Tiger likes to play along with us.
I had never used an abacus before starting Right Start but I have discovered what a valuable tool it is for visualizing numbers and understanding mathematical concepts. The colored tiles have been a fun resource for counting, sorting, and patterns. The money pieces are another manipulative used in multiple lessons to introduce money concepts.
Tiger’s favorite manipulative is the geometry solids, and I appreciate that the program teaches correct geometry terminology from the beginning. The place value cards have been helpful to Curly as she understands place value. I make numbers using the cards and she has to read them to me. I also call out numbers and Curly has to create the number using the correct cards to demonstrate place value.
All lessons begin with a list of objectives to give an overview of what material will be covered.
The next section lists the materials needed for the lesson-this lists any manipulatives, worksheets, or printed copies of appendices that will need to be gathered.
Next is the warm up section. This section reviews concepts taught in previous lessons.
The last section lists the various activities which make up the bulk of the lesson.
Here’s a sample of Lesson 54:
Objectives: This lesson reviews 10s and 1s and uses the commutative property to add 1 + a number.
Materials: Needed materials are the abacus, place value cards, worksheet 22, and colored tiles.
Warm up: Warm ups are saying the odd and even numbers, calling out a number and the child responding with the number directly following the initial number, counting backward, saying a number and having the child respond with the number that precedes that number, and asking the child to visualize the abacus while completing some simple addition problems such as 5 + 1 or 7 + 2.
Activities: The first activity is to make a color graph using the colored tiles. Pull out a handful of tiles and graph them by color, discussing which color occurred most frequently and the least often.
Next, the child enters quantities on the abacus as they are called out. Then the child finds the correct place value cards to correspond to the number indicated on the abacus.
The third activity contains word problems in which one more thing is added to a group so the child practices determining which number directly follows the number indicated.
Next, the child draws a part-whole circle to illustrate addition problems. The child completes word problems using the circle diagram, placing numbers in the correct spots to show which two parts equal the whole when added together.
The last section contains extra practice with additional problems that can be solved using the part-whole circle or the abacus.
After these portions of the lesson are completed, the student completes the worksheet.
Each lesson contains many activities and utilizes various manipulatives to teach the same concept. The student receives practice in solving a problem in different ways to master the concepts. Only a few of the lessons in Level A contain short worksheets for reinforcement. Overall, this program is very hands on and is strong in mental and conceptual math.
The variety of the concepts and the order in which they are introduced has made math time more exciting for Curly. The repeated practice has reinforced the information she has learned. The manipulatives have enabled her to solve a problem in more than one way, as well as to visualize solutions.
We are still pleased with the foundation that Right Start is building for us in math skills. I do plan to supplement the next level with some worksheets from Math Mammoth to provide additional practice. However, we plan to continue with Right Start for now and are glad we switched from the mastery method of Math U See to the gentle spiral of Right Start.
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