I spent most of last year using Miquon maths as the basis for our maths program. Although cuisenaire rods are an extremely valuable tool, my boys passionate dislike of worksheets meant that regular practice was something of a challenge.
We tried exercises from the books, counting piles of money, checking shopping receipts, and playing various board games. It worked reasonably well for an introduction, but it was clearly time for something with a bit more structure. I found that Mathseeds really filled this need.
The content of Mathseeds starts at kindergarten level with very basic counting. There are 120 lessons at the moment with plans to take this up to 140. These lessons follow a fairly typical Australian maths curriculum, introducing concepts up to a year two level.
Although the boys started off with a tremendous flush of enthusiasm, they have slowed down a fair bit now. Still, I was surprised to realise that we are just a couple of lessons off finishing the whole thing.
Each lesson takes about half an hour. The whole thing is presented as something of a game, so there is also plenty of opportunity to wander off into different parts of the program.
The lessons follow a theme and also revise concepts previously covered. They are all introduced by cartoon animals which makes the whole thing appealing to kids. They win acorns along the way and each lesson finishes with a funny little video of a cartoon animal breaking out of an acorn and doing something silly. This small prize at the end provides more incentive than I would have thought. A similar concept also worked well for my boys in other maths games we have played – Elements and Dragon box.
Each set of five lessons is drawn together in a theme such as ‘India’ or ‘The Great Barrier Reef.’ An avatar moves along a map showing your progress. At the end of each map of five lessons is a review quiz. These are always approached with a sense of achievement and curiosity at what the next map will contain.
The acorns the kids win along the way can be used to dress their avatar, buy a house, and fill it with stuff. There are also different games to play which all apply different concepts covered, but do not directly link to any lesson. This aspect adds a lot of fun to it for the boys, and also gives a break from focussed learning all the time.
Due to the logistics of dealing with two boys at once, I only bought one subscription, and both boys play at the same time. They take turns being the one to control the keyboard.
Inevitably, my four year old has found it has become a bit hard for him, and now guesses at about half of what he attempts. Given that he is doing problems designed for a seven year old, I am very impressed that he can get through half of it with no problems. My oldest boy rolls along though it quite comfortably. He has obviously learned a lot from this, and it has all been done with a sense of playfulness. At no time have they experienced any ‘maths dread.’
It comes with a two week free subscription to try it out, which is time enough to realise if your kids will like it or not. After that you buy an annual subscription. One year should be enough. I have enjoyed this program a lot, largely because the kids have enjoyed it a lot. It has been an excellent way to introduce primary school mathematics.