August 2012: I moved the reading section to it's own page. It's the best page in the blog.
General math and arithmetic is fine 12 to 3 months before the test. By as that date approaches, switch to word problems, shapes and vocabulary, series, anything but arithmetic.
|AGAT Books for Math||
These books introduce math vocabulary and concepts and a prerequisite for critical thinking. It's so much easier to teach math when you have a vocabulary base to work with. I started using these at age 3 and my son started to comprehend them at about 4.
Since these are so hard, I've created a few easier ones that are more focused: Book 4 - series.
Book 5 - lines.
This leaves about 40% of kindergarten math concepts and vocabulary (working on it). When I'm done with this, I'll move on to critical thinking and test prep.
To print: Print these on a colored printer, with the printer setting of "2 sided - flip page on the short edge". Then you cut the stack in half, place the top half on the bottom half, and it magically comes out in book form, like a Bob book. Then staple in the middle like a book.
|eduplace.com||For more "school math", I print the worksheets 2 grades up and go through them, 1 to 4 pages per night. This is my bread and butter for math. It's free. Here is the link I use. If you are home schooling and need a script, use can use this material. I also use ixl.com as a supplement to a basic math course. I'm not sure any of this will help on the GAT test, but it will help you child from getting crushed in acelerated math.|
|Sylvan||At some point, you might get stuck with eduplace material. I stopped at the chapters on addition and subtraction and moved to the Slyvan Kindergarten math workbook. It's more conducive to teaching K math to a 3 year old. We did one or 2 pages a day. You can save any computation (like adding/subtracting) for after the test. This material is the closest I can find to "test prep" math. After first Kindergarten, math diverges from test prep.|
|Building Thinking Skills, Primary||I got this for my older son but never used it. The math is too easy for K, and the writing is too hard. At least in my house. But for a 3/4 year old doing a page here and a page there, it works fine. I alternate with the Sylvan and the eduplace.com material. So every day there is something to do, and it doesn't have to be the same. If we get stuck on one, I pull out the other. Before you know it, at 2 pages a day, we're done.|
|Every Day Math Journal||Once we're ready for 2nd grade math, I switch over to these. No text book. But I do supplement with flashcards, worksheets, and work books as needed.|
|Basic Workbook||Gifted and Talented material is long on thinking and short on rote practice. We take a break every few weeks to do some good old fashion arithmetic. I am using Spectrum math for 1st grade. You can find many of these for a low price at any bookstore.|
|Other Home Grown Material||When you train for athletics, there are certain days where you do big activities, like a marathon. For example, I created a worksheet that has 200 addition and subtraction problems. (This needed a big incentive.) I'll post some of this stuff after I get through pre-K.|
We never had much success before school, although we bought many science kits. I also replicated at home for my 3 year old, the experiments that my 1st grader was doing in school. These were fun:
- freeze and boil water
- pour water in a variety of containers
- plant a flower or grass on the window sill
- talk about the weather
- mix unpopped popcorn, rice and cornmeal in a bowl. Separate with a variety of colanders.
- Vinegar and baking soda in a variety of containers
- Food coloring - mix primary colors to make blue, purple, orange, and brown
For preTest reading, we switch to books by National Geographic or DK - things with lots of names, classification, vocabulary that might be fodder for a test.
|Toys||I find that the toys that require building get more play time that the junk that just makes noise and shoots. So, we tend to have lots of building toys. But we don't have a lot of time for "test prep" toys and games. You can find these on many web sites.|
|Workbooks||My older son never met a workbook he didn't like. I tend to stick in the $10 prices range and just let him do these on his own. Any will do - mazes, puzzles, cutting. The younger one is just now inching toward skills needed for mazes and connect the dots.|
Gifted and Talented Test Prep Cramming
My review of popular test preparation aids. I am not affiliated in any way with any of the sites or books I recommend here, which is why I don't recommend any of the over priced ones. If there is an (R) next to the item, I recommend it. If there is a (V) next to the item, it's a good value or free. My area of focus is 3 to 6 year old. In Chicago, by this time, the child has already tested for the Gifted and Talented Program (renamed Options Program). One Barnes and Nobel store near us carries most of these now
|http://www.eduplace.com/math/hmm/ (R/V)||Eduplace itself is a great free resource. The link I provide here is my math curriculum for my 3 year old. Click on the link with the duck. I am printing each worksheet, 3 per subsection. Nothing good for test prep.|
|www.ixl.com||This is a great way for a parent to orient themselves to math curriculum. For gifted children, this means one to two years ahead. I find it easier to work with workbooks than websites for my child. I might try this again for child #2. Nothing good for test prep.|
|edhelper.com||Not a bad website. If I had an older child in need of additional help outside of school, I might use this more. I don't think the primary target is gifted children. I have a subscription but use it sparingly. Might be very useful to English as a second language families.|
|Building Thinking Skills Book series (CriticalThinking.com)||I know parents who have used these books with their children. They seem to go too slow for me, and the concepts are pretty basic and I abandoned it as not effective given my limited time frame. To use these effectively, start in the summer and pick a level a few years ahead of your child's age.|
|Blank Index Cards and a Sharpie (R/V)||My kids get flash cards about every 6 months for reading or math until they have the basics down. I make them myself.|
|http://www.free.ed.gov/||I haven't finished reviewing this yet, but it appeals to me because it's free.|
|Pathway Readers at Timberdoodle.com (R/V)||After the Kindergarten/1st Grade level Dick and Jane, we switched to these readers and went about 1/2 way through the second grade level. These cost about $6 a piece. Of course, this won't help you with test prep.|
|Timberdoodle.com||This site is notable because it's a store for homechoolers. It's interesting to see what they offer. I think I can do the same for about 10% of what they recommend you spend.|
|pbskids.org (R/V)||It is the only "computer" or "video game" my children are allowed to play at home. Not suitable for test prep.|
|BrainQuest Workbook by Workman Publishing Company (R/V)||Right now this is the go to workbook I use (in conjunction with other learning activities) specifically to prepare for the gifted and talent test.|
|Test Preparation by Steck-Vaughn (R/V)||Yes, practice tests for 4 year olds. What have we become? My older son had fun doing these, since he likes puzzles, challenges, and figuring things out.|
|Iowa Basic Practice Tests||These were challenging and super hard. Of course, the test is way harder than you think. I gave these to my child (2 grades up) to teach him the test taking strategies, like guessing, which back fired. These aren't bad ways to prep for the OLSAT, for certain types of questions, primarily reading comprehension. I also like finding material that throws in unexpected questions from out of the blue, like 'what's a compound word.'|
|COGAT Test Prep||These are super expensive and very challenging. Turns out our test contained none of this content. My son is an expert at test question formats, so I'll take his word for it. Over a 6 month period, however, I found these to be an awesome way to teach math and visual/spacial skills for a 3 year old. I would recommend these become part of preschool curriculum. Now 4, my son will be taking Freshman math at the University of Chicago next year. (Just kidding, he could only get into Northwestern because his grades weren't good enough.)|
|OLSAT Test Prep books||I tried these as well. These are expensive, not hard, and not a good way at all to study for the OLSAT. They are not bad at evaluating which areas require further study. These are truly "practice" tests. I feel like the $10 general test prep books, Flash Kids, and Brain Quest actually taught something, but these did not.|