Sunday, April 15, 2012

Review: Looking at Lines (AIMS Education Foundation)


Until this past fall when I was assigned a review of AIMS Earth Book, I had never heard of AIMS. AIMS, which stands for Activities Integrating Mathematics and Science, is a non-profit organization.  It has been publishing hands-on instructional materials that build conceptual understanding in mathematics and science since its beginning in 1981 with a grant from the National Science Foundation.

You'd think after being around for 30+ years and providing materials specifically geared toward hands-on learning, that AIMS would have been more familiar to this veteran homeschooling mom of a kinesthetic learner. However, while they do have one product that specifically mentions homeschoolers as the target audience, AIMS has been more popular among traditional teachers and underutilized among homeschoolers.  A friend of mine recent wrote an article about The Great Divide among resources targeted toward either traditional schools or homeschools. In the article she writes:
Another surprise that I observed is that non-homeschoolers tend to know and use resources marketed to schools, while homeschoolers tend to know and use resources marketed to homeschoolers, and often, neither side knows what little gems the other has to offer.
AIMS is definitely one of those "little gems" that homeschoolers should be exploring.

This time, I received the print version of Looking at Lines for review. Looking at Lines, covering algebraic concepts, is geared toward grades 6-9.

Introduce algebraic concepts in their natural setting with activities drawn from real-world phenomena. Covers three sub-groups of linear functions: proportional relationships, non-proportional relationships with positive slopes, and non-proportional relationships with negative slopes.
Thirty-two activities are provided within three sub-groups and 232 pages. All of the student pages in the book are also provided on a CD in PDF form for easy printing. A 31-page sample, including a complete Table of Contents, is available for viewing.


While users can pick and choose activities and the order of exposure, it is recommended that students start with those activities in Part One in order to build a foundation. My son is currently in Pre-Algebra and the earlier activities seemed best suited to his current level.  Interestingly enough, the very first activity was about Celsius and Fahrenheit conversions, which happens to be the very concept that is being covered in his current math program. The activity guides students through the process of determining the proper equation to figuring out one measurement when given another by having students graph and analyze temperatures using a standard thermometer. Similar activities in Part One involve analyzing measurements and conversions of jumbo versus standard paperclips and inches versus centimeters.  Of course, students can simply be given conversion factors for their math work, but these activities help them understand them by doing, given them a better foundation.

Having now reviewed both science and math activity books for AIMS, I've found the math activity book is much easier to adapt classroom activities to one for a single student.  The materials are not as involved, and the activities can easily be done by one student with a teacher to guide.  Each activity gives very detailed information for the teacher on the goals of the activity and how to best provide direction for the student. I am now taking a much closer look at the AIMS math resources and Activity Books for supplemental math resources.

Looking at Lines is available for $24.95 in either a PDF version or print version with CD at the AIMS website.

Disclaimer: This review was provided as a result of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew. I was provided the product free of charge in exchange for my honest review. I have received no other compensation. I strive to give a balanced overview of each product, detailing my opinion of both pros and cons and how the product worked for my family. What works for one family may not work for another. I encourage you to read reviews of other Crew members and research sufficiently to determine if any product will be a benefit to your homeschool. You may read more reviews on this product by visiting here.

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