Hands-On Equations Product Review

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Do you ever feel like all of the wonderful math manipulatives and hands-on activities for teaching mathematics disappear by the time your student reaches Pre-Algebra and linear equations?

Gone are the days of snap cubes, base ten blocks, and geoboards because now it is time for “serious math”.

Well, guess what?

That’s just not true. There are still math programs that introduce and reinforce concepts through the use of manipulatives and Hands-On Equations is one that we have had great success with this year.

Hands-On Equations is an affordable and effective program to introduce your 3rd-8th-grade children to linear equations in a visual and tactile way.

Introduce your children to linear equations in a fun and hands-on way with Hands-On Equations.

{I requested this math program for our family and was given a set in exchange for my review. The opinions and enthusiasm are my own. You can read my full disclosure.}

Hands-On Equations: The Basics

Hands-On Equations makes learning how to solve linear equations easy and fun.

No, I am not kidding.

Fun. Easy. Solving Equations. It’s all true. Every word of it.

The Hands-On Equations curriculum is an innovative approach for introducing algebra to students in grades 3-8 through the use of manipulatives. Students are taught to approach an equation by first creating a visual and pictorial representation of the problem.

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Students will learn how to correctly manipulate the visual representation in order to solve the equation. While students are encouraged to use the manipulatives for as long as they desire, the program does teach how to transfer their learning to a written representation.

Once your child completes all three levels, they will be able to solve equations involving the distributive property, negative numbers, and negative unknowns.

Hands-On Equations teaches all of this in such a way that the abstract ideas become tangible and understandable.

Hands-On Equations: The Learning System

The Learning System is a complete program for use with one student. In the kit, you’ll receive:

  • lesson manuals for Levels I, II, and III
  • student classroom worksheets
  • answer key for all classroom worksheets
  • and one student kit with game pieces with flat laminated balance

If you want to use the kit with more than one student at a time, then you can add on additional student kits for only $5.

Hands-On Equations: What I Love

  • As a former math teacher, I appreciate that the visual representation of the equations takes place on a balance. I can easily show my children that equations are balanced and must remain balanced even when you are manipulating them.I tried to explain the concept of balance over and over when teaching in the classroom. Describing it never worked as well as showing it with a visual balance.
  • My daughter can see, move, and manipulate the quantities and variables in the equations. Instead of understanding the concept of “taking away 5 from both sides”, she actually took a 5 away from both sides. The visual representation and manipulation are powerful tools for understanding.
  • The lesson manual is organized in incremental steps so that by the end of Level I, my daughter could solve an equation such as:   2(x + 3) = x + 8  with confidence.
  • Each guided lesson was followed by a worksheet with 10 problems. Five problems reinforced the new concept while five reviewed previously learned concepts. The reasonable number of problems and the built-in review was ideal.
  • You aren’t left using the manipulatives wondering how to help your child solve problems using pencil and paper. The lessons guide help you transfer your child’s use of the manipulatives to a pictorial representation and then to the traditional method of solving the problem by the end of Level III. The curriculum doesn’t leave you at the manipulative stage, though manipulatives are encouraged as long as your child needs them.

Hands-On Equations: See It In Action

Hands-On Equations: Final Thoughts

Can you use it with several children at once?

I began trying to use this program with my 7th, 5th and 3rd graders at the same time. Unfortunately, it didn’t work in our house. Their abilities were too diverse and their levels of impatience ran high.

In the end, I took my 7th grader through the 7 lessons in level Level 1 in less than a week when we committed to it daily. She was able to progress through one lesson a day and we only had four remaining. Now we are working on the Hands-On Equations Verbal Problems Book so that she can gain confidence in a variety of types of algebra word problems.

You could work with one child at a time during the day if you wanted them all to work through Level 1 at the same time.

Can you do it once a week?

I also began by attempting to use this program on Fridays for fun, but that wasn’t well for us. It definitely worked better when we used it each day and progressed through the lessons.

Now that my daughter is finished with Level 1, we choose 2-3 words problems for her to solve a few times a week in addition to her regular pre-algebra program.

Is this a complete Pre-Algebra or Algebra program?

No. This program is focused on introducing linear equations, which is only one part of a complete pre-algebra program.

It could be used in lieu of the introductory lessons on equations, but children would still need to learn how to apply these skills to more advanced linear equations involving fractions and decimals.

Do you recommend this program?

I absolutely recommend this program as a meaningful and fun way to introduce the concept of linear equations to your children. I plan to use it with my younger two students before they begin a regular pre-algebra program.

I also recommend the Verbal Word Problem book as an excellent supplement for any algebra program.

Hands On Equations Review

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  1. Do you still recommend this program? My daughter is doing Teaching Textbooks pre-algebra now, and she hates. I’m considering switching to Mr D, but I’m also considering trying this first.

  2. Did you use this to supplement Mr. D for your older daughter? We’re just starting Mr. D’s pre-Algebra course after a few years of manipulatives & games with Right Start, and I’ve wondered if there was something out there that uses manipulatives for pre-Algebra and above.

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