Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Solving Problems Using Critical Thinking: A Review of Dare to Compare Math: Beginning

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Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Critical thinking skills are very important. It may seem a great challenge to find unique ways to help children practice those skills but this does not have to be the case. The Critical Thinking Co.™ offers a wide range of products to help homeschooling parents. From a book that can help preschoolers to second graders evaluate problems to come up with their own solutions to Vocabulary Virtuoso: PSAT-SAT Book 1 which helps students become familiar with vocabulary, there are many products available that can assist homeschooling parents as they educate their children. (We reviewed Vocabulary Virtuoso last year; read my review here.)

We used Dare to Compare Math: Beginning with our soon-to-be second-grade son. I used it as a supplement to his current homeschool math curriculum. Each day I asked him to complete three to four questions on his own. If he needed help, he either asked me or his dad. Most of the time he was able to work through the problems independently. On those where he needed help, it was mostly because we have not done much work with two-digit addition or subtraction or division.

Dare to Compare Math: Beginnings book cover

What Is Dare to Compare Math? 

The format of Dare to Compare Math takes traditional math problems where children need to complete a single calculation and incorporates two or more calculations necessary for children to come to a final answer. Children will compare scores, patterns, cost of meals, fish caught, geometric shapes, and more. The problems are non-routine but accessible.

Children will work through a number of different areas of mathematics including (those in bold are addressed in Dare to Compare Math: Beginning which we reviewed)

    Text: Solving Problems Using Critical Thinking: A Review of Dare to Compare Math: Beginning; book cover of Dare to Compare Math: Beginning; background clip art of addition, multiplication signs
  • Number operations 
  • Counting 
  • Measurement
  • Logic
  • Geometry
  • Graphing
  • Elementary algebraic reasoning
  • Patterns 
  • Fractions 
  • Rates 
  • Ratios
  • Proportional thinking 
  • Percentages 

child work on Dare to Compare Math: Beginning Workbook

A Typical Homeschool Day Using Dare to Compare Math: Beginning 

On most days, I handed over the 96-page paperback book to our son and he worked through three to four problems independently. When he was finished, I would check his work. There were very few cases where he had not worked out the solutions correctly. I did tell him that he was allowed to flip through and try different problems from among the 150 presented. For the first 20 questions or so, he completed one question after another. But then around question 25, he began skipping a few.

child working on Dare to Compare Math: Beginning workbook

If he came to ask me for help, it was very easy to help him. Since most of the questions required him to complete multiple calculations, I could show him how to complete half the problem and then he could continue it on his own. He then could take the information to complete the comparison.

Dare to Compare Math: Beginning workbook page
We worked through the top question here about the knees of cockroaches together.

And what happened when I was confused? There are hints located after the problems in the back of the book. So if I was stuck, I could turn there to give our son some pointers and tips. And finally, we could check the work completed using the solutions which followed the hints.

What Did We Think? 

I really liked that while working on the problems in the workbook, I got to see how my son thinks and solves problems. There were more than a few instances where I started to explain things and he just wrote down the answer. He definitely seems like he can more easily solve math problems in his head than I can.

In the introduction, it states, "The solution process is open-ended, allowing students to create mathematical reasoning and to decide how to quantify to formulate a conclusion" (ii). Open-ended means that our son was able to get to the answer in whichever manner he was best able to do. This can prevent difficulty in math learning (e.g., our oldest struggled in math class when he attended public school because he could not show his work the way his math teachers wanted when he intuitively would try to solve problems via another method).

The fact the solutions do not just give you an answer—but provide you with a method of how to complete the answer—is a great bonus. For example, question number 36 asks children to determine whether each animal shelter has more dogs or cats. They are then given the total number of animals and how many of those animals are dogs. The hint prints the subtraction problem needed to find the number of cats while the solution provides each subtraction problem necessary to find the answer that both Furry Town and Happy Hairy have more cats while Fuzzy Village has more dogs.

Dare to Compare Math: Beginning solutions and hint pages
We could look here for help and the answer to which shelter had more dogs or cats.

What does our son think? Our son enjoys the problems which require you to fill in the blanks (for example, _____ + 4 = 15). He said, "I just love the book." Completing questions in Dare to Compare Math: Beginning for homeschool is not a chore for our son as he enjoys answering the various questions. He thinks it would be helpful for children who need to practice addition, subtraction, geometry, and more.

I think Dare to Compare Math: Beginning would be a great addition to one's homeschooling mathematics curriculum. On those days when you need to push mathematics a little bit more, you can very easily incorporate Dare to Compare Math: Beginning into your day.

Do You Want to Know More? 

The Critical Thinking Co.™ offered the Homeschool Review Crew several different books to review. Please be sure to check out the rest of the reviews! You can also review sample pages for the various books including the one we reviewed: Dare to Compare Math: Beginnings.

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