The good folks at Galaxy Education generously gave the TOS Crew access to any of their products that we wanted to try. These are math tutorial and/or drill programs, as well as e-books.
The first thing we explored was their Fractions Fun. As you can see in the graphic above, a lot of material is covered. The red buttons lead you to submenus. Many of these contain explanations or review of concepts, as well as problems. You can set the program to go through problems step-by-step, where the student types in numbers for each intermediate step in solving the problem, or require the student simply to do the work mentally on on paper and submit the final answer to the problem.
Each right answer gives you a robot point. These points work out to be “lives” in the Labyrinth game, where you direct your robot through mazes and logic puzzles, avoiding menaces, to collect treasure. “Labyrinth” and the other blue buttons lead to games. In “Riddles” and “Word Jumble” you match fractions to alphabet letters, slowly uncovering a word puzzle (sort of like Wheel of Fortune[TM]) until you’re able to solve it. “Bridge the Swamp” is a logic game where you try to cross from one side of the gameboard to the other, all the while blocking your opponent, by solving fraction problems. The games are set up to be one-player (against the computer), two-player, and three-player games. See the lower right two screenshots, below, for an idea of “Bridge the Swamp” and “Word Jumble.” The other screenshots are from the practice portions of the program.
The graphics are primitive by today’s standards, but workable. Our girls really enjoyed challenging each other, and didn’t seem to notice that they were practicing fractions as they racked up robot points or strove to beat each other in the games.
The Math Riddler series contains worksheet generating programs. As you can see from the menu below, quite a few topics are covered, and within some of the topics are subtopics.
You can choose from worksheets containing riddling puzzles, where you solve the riddle by solving math problems; or worksheets with straight math problems. Worksheets display on the screen, whereupon you have the choice of printing the worksheet, or displaying (and printing, if you wish) the answer key, or generating another worksheet. Here are some screenshots:
The programs have no sound, which I find a wonderful change from so many of the educational games and drills we’ve used. Middlest has a little problem with the abstract display that appears as a section of the program is loading. She has to close her eyes or look away from the screen, as the whirling shapes are a migraine trigger for her (and for me).
We also downloaded Pre-Algebra Fun and Algebra Fun, which work much the same way as Fractions Fun. (See screenshots of the menus, below.)
Now that I’ve seen and used these programs, I wish I’d downloaded more of them! I can see that these will make for hours of drill and review, and a nice change from textbook work.
Math Galaxy Tutorials are available for many levels of math learning, from little ones just learning to manipulate numbers, through elementary concepts, middle school, even high school. I should think the Word Problem exercises would be especially valuable on all levels!
System requirements: Windows 98 or Mac OS X, and a printer for the worksheet programs and e-books.
Update: Pricing information has changed since this review was posted. You can now buy any of these programs for $19.95 (download) or $24.95 (CD with free shipping). Math riddle e-books are available for $9.95. You can see screen shots of these on the Math Galaxy Tutor website. I didn’t ask for any of the e-books as we’ve been having printer problems, plus I didn’t want to be too greedy.
To read more TOS Crew reviews of Math Galaxy products, click here.
Disclaimer: Members of the TOS Crew were given a wide choice of Math Galaxy Tutor products for download, for the purpose of review and personal homeschool use. No monetary compensation was involved.