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TOS Crew Product Review - Looking At Lines, Algebraic Thinking Series (AIMS Education Foundation)

If you are not a math person, or you feel a little intimidated about teaching higher math as a homeschooler, then Looking at Lines (Algebraic Thinking Series, AIMS Education Foundation) could be just the resource you need.

I'm not exactly a math person, and not all of my kids are math people. In addition to that, my kids have unique learning styles, and I have my own teaching style. Mix all those ingredients together and you end up with a recipe for math that is, at times, less than tasty. Sometimes the solution is as simple as trying something new - and the new thing I was able to try was Looking at Lines.

Looking at Lines is a 298 page book that comes with a CDrom, published by AIMS Education Foundation (a non-profit organization aimed at helping students succeed in math & science). Geared toward students in grades 6-9, Looking at Lines is an algebra course that teaches linear function concepts in a hands-on, activity laden manner while meeting benchmarks and standards. It provides mastery in five ways: in the real-world situation, with a data table, via a graph, with a written statement, and by applying a rule. Using Looking at Lines enables the student to translate any of these forms into any other form. In other words, it uses a variety of learning methods in order to teach complete mastery of the subject matter.

The book is divided into six parts - Part 1 Algebraic Thinking - Linear Functions; Part 2 Linear Functions in Science; Part 3 Constructing and Reading Data Tables & Graphs; Part 4 Linear Functions in Objects; Part 5 More Interesting Objects; Part 6 Equalities & Inequalities. Which, in what order, and how many activities are used should be based upon the progress of each student. This is perfect for flexible homeschool families who desire their children move ahead at their own pace. However, Part 1 activities build a solid foundation for algebra and should probably be completed by all students.

Basically, the curriculum is best used by working through each activity at the student's own pace. Hands-on activities are laid out with easy to follow instructions. You simply do what it says, one step at a time! A handy reproducible (found on p. ix) contains a generic set of questions that can be used with any of the activities. Students should be able to answer these key questions if they have mastered a topic. This "Looking Back" page is a quick and easy review that requires no testing. I really, really like this feature of Looking at Lines.

Students can use a graphing calculator to help with slope, y-intercept, and uniform change - and I personally recommend every high school student taught at home be sure to learn to use a TI-83 or TI-84. This one aspect of Looking at Lines is a good start for students who might take the ACT or SAT in the future. Middle and high school students need to be comfortable with these concepts if they plan to attend college. And in our family, we prepare our children for a variety of possibilities, narrowing our focus at the Lord's leading, but always leaving room for Him to make changes to our "man-made" plans. College prep coursework is one of the ways we keep every door open for His guidance.

If you happen to teach math in a co-op setting, Looking at Lines could be worth looking into. The purchaser is allowed to make 200 copies of each page, and AIMS has an option for unlimited copies should you need more than the allowed number. The CDrom contains all the activity pages in an easy to print format. The book/CDrom set sells for $24.95 and can be purchased at

The only thing I really didn't enjoy about this product was completing all the activities. I am a multi-tasking mom, and I am not artistic by nature, so I found myself struggling a little bit. But most middle school students would jump at the chance to do algebra in a hands-on way, so that enthusiasm balances out my "blahs"!

Other products from AIMS Education Foundation reviewed by the TOS Crew include:

What On Earth? (grades K-1) $21.95
Earth Rocks! (grades 4-5) $29.95
Fabulous Fractions (grades 3-5) $21.95
From Head to Toe (grades 6-9) $24.95
It's About Time (grades K-2) $21.95

To read those reviews, click HERE.

To read a review I did in September 2011 of another AIMS product, click THIS LINK.

And to visit their website and see all they offer for math and science, go to

Disclaimer - I received this product free of charge for review purposes. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Lord bless you as you homeschool for His glory!

Day 176 done :)

Jan L. Burt


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