I am so not an algebra person. I always refer to it as fake math, which tends to make the algebra-minded people in my life cringe. I guess to me, math is arithmetic. All this algebra stuff is too abstract to me. So, I tend to worry about teaching this kind of math to the boys and being able to explain it to them so that it makes sense (since it doesn't to me!). So today, I'm going to tell you about Bob Hazen's Algebra for Breakfast - math enrichment program which is a monthly subscription.
Algebra for Breakfast offers two levels of instruction, one for grades 3/4 and one for grades 5/6. We used the 3rd-4th grade video exercises. I was a bit nervous about algebra at a young age. It seems like algebra is generally taught with any depth in junior high. I didn't need to worry. Algebra for Breakfast gently introduces algebra concepts to young students.
These courses are online, but you do need a few things to get you started at home. The Full Membership Package option includes the video lessons for one grade level and
- A Mortensen Math Combo Kit - a set of manipulatives (math rods)
- A set of Math Dice (two 12-sided dice and three 6-sided dice in a drawstring bag)
- The Original Skip Count Kid’s Skip Count Songs OR The Skip Count Kid’s Bible Heroes Skip Count Songs both by James McGhee (available on iTunes)
If you already own the manipulatives, there is a Reduced Membership Package option which includes just the videos and the Math Dice.
When we log into our account, there is a column to select a lesson range for the grade level we are using. From there, we select a prep activity or a lesson.
The prep activities are videos that guide you through making a special set of playing cards and provide instructions for a few games. We enjoyed 10-20-30. Here, you lay down cards face up and try to find a sum of, well, 10, 20, or 30. Another game we especially liked was the Math Dice game. With them, I had the boys add the two 12-sided dice together, then they used the 6-sided dice to add, subtract, multiply, and divide their way to get as close to the first number as possible. Merrick thought he was playing this game also. Basically, he just counted the dots on each die.
Generally (with some variation), each lesson has a very short introductory video, a lesson video about 10 minutes long (sometimes shorter), worksheets, and a parent corner where I can see or download the answer keys for most of the worksheets. There is sometimes a video for parents, as well. The grade 3/4 option currently has 45 video lessons available. Several more are listed, but not up yet. The lesson videos take place in a real classroom. With real kids and real manipulatives of their own. The instruction is sound and the lessons are often quite fun for the boys. One of the things I like best about the program is that each lesson page has a form where you can submit a question. If something is not clear and you can't find it in the parent's section or a previous lesson, Algebra for Breakfast is happy to answer any question you or your children have. We haven't needed it, but it's really nice to know it's there.
The classroom setting for the videos is kind of distracting for my boys, however. Listening to the children's chairs, rods, and voices, as well as the instructors corrections *can* be overwhelming to students who need a bit of quiet to remain focused. In order to keep things a bit more low key here, I have them first just watch the video rather than try to work along with the video. Then we work through the lesson and I explain the worksheet. After that, they head over to our math rod collection. We no longer have a nice tidy tray (I'm so jealous)! They're divided in baggies and stuffed in a drawer! You can rewatch the videos as many times as necessary.
Algebra for Breakfast is not a full math curriculum. It is a supplemental math program specifically designed to introduce students to algebraic thinking. The intended pace is 1-2 lessons per week in conjunction with your regular math curriculum. We have been using it for 4 weeks and have completed ten lessons, so we're right on track. I think that is a great pace for us and the math games make everything a bit more fun.
Bob Hazen is an instructor, speaker, self-published author, and a lesson designer on SchoolhouseTeachers.com. His love for math and desire to see children develop the same interest in math that he felt, led him to becoming a teacher. It wasn't long before he realized the 7th grade students were coming to him ill equipped to learn algebra. He put together six principles of algebraic thinking and, with his wife, he eventually created an algebra summer camp which later became the online lessons of Algebra for Breakfast.
On social media? You can find Algebra for Breakfast on Facebook.
Other members of the Crew tried out the two levels available from Algebra for Breakfast.