Recently leading math experts released a report saying that we are overwhelming our kids with math concepts. "Finally!" many parents are saying to themselves - a little recognition that less is better!
With less may come a bit more time to play with objects and numbers so that elementary math becomes less abstract and more, shall we say, a matter of playing with apples and oranges. But if you can't wait for the math textbooks and your school's curriculum to catch up with less is more, you might be interested in the latest version of a piece of software that we've recommended in the past to help kids play with words called Kidspiration now in Version 3. Released in February, it's been expanded to let kids play with objects and numbers as well as words- without the mess of counting pennies, matchsticks or whatever other objects you use at your house to explain why 2 +2 really is 4.
The word play and writing organization features of Kidspiration are still there. Similar in many ways to its big sister Inspiration and cousin InspireData, the program gives kids powerful tools to learn visually, enhance thinking skills, and experiment with creative ideas. This new version promises even more. In fact, it boasts over 3000 symbols (1800 are new to Version 3) that children can use as they pop pictures and other graphics into their reports and projects. There's a dictionary/thesaurus with 13,000 words, 1400 of which include images. There's audio, too, throughout the program that can be used as needed. For example, in the dictionary, if your children don't know how to pronounce a word, they click on the speaker icon and the dictionary will speak the word. If they want to do audio recordings, they can create 60 second sound bites.
In the past though, Kidspiration wasn't thought of when math resources came to mind. Version 3 changes that as the program brings manipulatives right to your children's desktop. They can experiment with fractions, operations, symmetry, and Base 10 by manipulating both graphics and numbers. They'll also get some valuable practice in writing as they are encouraged to write about what they are doing in math.
Tools included in Kidspiration's Math View are: Base 10 blocks in units of 1s, 10s, 100s, and 1000s that can be used for early learning with single digits or higher level learning with multi-digit numbers; Color Tiles for solving problems with math operations and number patterns; Pattern Blocks, stackable and moveable geometric shapes, that help the kids understand tessellations, symmetry, fractions, congruence, similarity, etc.; Fraction Tiles that take the drudgery out of operations like finding common denominators and understanding equivalent fractions; and Fraction Boxes, a dynamic fraction building tool. There's so much in the Math View to help your children understand what they are doing in mathematics. And there are no blocks or any other types of manipulatives to put away. Kidspiration 3 takes care of that for you.
The addition of the math tools to Kidspiration makes the program a complete product that can be used with social studies, science, language arts and other subjects to help students better understand what they are learning. It's visual learning on the desktop-a terrific way to inspire. And a wonderful way to play with apples and oranges without them rolling away.
Single copies, $69. and single upgrades, $39.95.
Check on the Inspiration/Kidspiration site for information about system requirements.