The Math-It series by Elmer Brooks is not a math curriculum, but it's not simply drill-oriented either. Instead, the author's goal is to teach kids simplified ways of looking at basic math functions to help increase speed and accuracy. This is not an end in itself: if kids can learn to think mathematically, Brooks says, this will lead to proficiency in basic mathematical functions, which will in turn lead to proficiency in more advanced concepts.

Pre Math-It comes closest of the three available sets to actually teaching concepts, introducing preschoolers to basic addition facts using double-nine dominoes. The author stresses that this is not intended for formal learning, but that kids should have fun while gaining a foundation for further math study. The set includes double-nine dominoes, a game board, and a teacher's guidebook.

For kids who can count backwards from twenty while tying their shoes (literally), Basic Math-It provides a series of games and mental reminders to help students increase their speed in computing addition, subtraction and multiplication problems. The kit includes everything you need to play the three games explained in the teacher's guide, an audio CD, and a CD-Rom with the teacher's guide and student workbook (older editions include cassettes instead of CDs). Some of the methods implemented in the games for helping kids arrive at solutions quickly are off-beat and probablyunfamiliar, but they are effective. These aren't shortcuts—each device is more like a memory tool so students won't have to count on their fingers to get the right answer.

Advanced Math-It tackles more challenging concepts for older students, including division, percents, and even basic algebra and geometry. The emphasis is less on speed and more on mastery, though as the author indicates, with mastery comes speed. Again, this is not a curriculum, nor is it primarily drill-oriented; it is a series of reinforcement strategies mostly in the form of games so kids will become mathematically minded and reasonably proficient. The kit includes cassettes (or CDs), game equipment, and a teacher's guide. We rarely get the entire kit, usually selling the guide by itself.

Each of these sets is only supplementary, but depending on the math curriculum you're using it can be a great aid in cementing fundamental math concepts in your kids' minds. The easy-to-understand nature of the text and the simple but fun games will help your kids want to get good at math, and really that's half the battle. These are especially good for students who need help understanding why math problems are solved the way they are, though it can be equally effective for kids who understand the concepts but have a hard time putting them to repeated use.

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