I was seriously on the fence about whether I wanted to review AIMS Education Foundation- Solve It! for 3rd Grade. I should know better than to judge a book by it's cover. My first impression was that this product was going to be a boring workbook for math that Ms. Q would balk over adding in. We were both pleasantly surprised!
Solve It! 3rd Grade isn't a workbook at all really. The book itself is a softcover manual that includes 29 hands-on student activities for problem-solving and teacher instructional pages (240 pages all together). The activities are grouped into nine different problem-solving strategies and a grid is included to show you which activities follow which strategies.
From the website:
Solve It! 3rd: Problem-Solving Strategies addresses:
• use manipulatives,
• write a number sentence,
• draw out the problem,
• guess and check,
• organize the information,
• look for patterns,
• use logical thinking,
• work backwards, and
• wish for an easier problem
You can see a sample of some of the activities in Solve It! 3rd Grade HERE.
We have added Solve It! 3rd Grade to Ms. Q's Friday math assignment and used four of the 29 activities so far. We will be using activities from the book every Friday and plan on finishing the book by the end of the year. The activities are grouped in regard to the type of problem-solving strategy that will be used but as the teacher you have complete freedom to choose the order of the activities. Although Ms. Q was a little perturbed that the book stated it was for 3rd grade and she is in 4th grade this year she had some difficulty working out the problems. Problem-solving is not one of her strong suits. She is really good at math drill. She is not so good with word problems when the type of math problem needed to find the answer is not so clear cut. She really enjoyed the activities. Even though sometimes it was difficult for her to find the solution, the problems weren't so difficult that she felt frustrated or wanted to give up. Ultimately she was successful in finding the solutions with a little bit of help and this gave her more confidence for the next week's activity.
Solve It! 3rd Grade is written to be used in a classroom setting and therefore needs to be adapted somewhat for use in a homeschool. The instructions for most of the activities are for a group of students. We, of course, only have one student so she works independently. This hasn't been a problem in any of the activities we have done so far. Some of the manipulatives we don't have and just don't have the budget to get right now. In most cases we found substitute items (like buttons instead of bear counters) or made what we needed (like paper shapes printed from the computer instead of wooden shape blocks). There is also alot of teacher jargon in the instructions and some procedural information that was irrelevant to me. Each activity includes 1-2 pages of teacher information but I really skimmed most of this information looking closely only at the learning goals and the procedure.
However, I love that it comes with a CD-ROM containing all the student pages for easy home printing. I dread having to schlep all the kids to Staples and try to wrangle them while I make a few photocopies. The Key Question and Learning Goal pages make it easy for Ms. Q to know what the point of the activity is and the Connecting Learning pages are great for following up and discussing the activity when she finishes.
All in all I would say that I am really glad that we were able to review AIMS Education - Solve It! 3rd Grade. It isn't a product that I would have chosen for our homeschool but I will be taking another look at the AIMS catalog and online store to see what other products might be hidden gems just waiting for us to discover them.
AIMS - Solve It! 3rd Grade is $24.95. The Solve It! series has activity books for K-1 through Grade 5. You can get all five books bundled together for $99.95 (that's like getting one for free - see I know a little math). The AIMS Education Foundation specializes in Math and Science and is dedicated to engaging students through hands-on activities. They have so many products to choose from!
To see what other TOS Reviewers have to say about Solve It! 3rd Grade and other AIMS Education Foundation products, check out the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog.
Disclosure: As a member of the 2011-2012 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Homeschool Crew, I was provided this product for free in exchange for my review. No other compensation was given and this review reflects my honest opinion.