This spring I started searching for an algebra text for Anna. She’s starting 7th grade and is ready for algebra. David is very happy with his math program, but it’s a bit unconventional. It does not appeal to Anna at all! (I used to think I could buy the same curriculum for all my kids! Ha.) So I searched message boards and read reviews. This program has too much drill. That program is too easy. I felt like Goldilocks searching for the “just right” algebra curriculum.

I had finally settled on a program, but had not purchased it. I was still not totally sure, since I had not actually seen the curriculum, and it was a textbook only. I was not sure how we were going to handle the lessons. But then I was given a fantastic opportunity to review No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials. Based on the title alone, this program would be a perfect fit for my no-nonsense girl.

The soft-cover book is divided into 10 chapters.

1. Necessary Tools for  Algebra
2. Solving Equations
3. Graphing and Analyzing Linear Equations
4. Solving and Graphing Inequalities
5. Systems of Linear Equations and Inequalities
6. Polynomials
7. Rational Expressions (Algebraic Fractions)
10. Algebra Word Problems

The chapters are divided into lessons. Each lesson begins with an introduction, followed by examples, exercises, and review of previous material. There are 10-20 problems (usually closer to 20) in each exercise along with 4 review problems. That seems to be a good number of problems for practicing the concept. At least, I think it is the right number for my daughter. She generally grasps new mathematical concepts fairly quickly, but she’s not opposed to doing practice problems (unlike my son).

But I haven’t mentioned the best part! Each of the lessons has a video component! The on-line videos are found easily on the No-Nonsense Algebra web site. In the videos, author Richard W. Fisher, teaches the new concept. The videos are relatively short (about 10-15 minutes). They are, like the title suggests, no-nonsense as well. It’s simply a math teacher demonstrating and explaining how to work algebra problems. There are no bells or whistles, just good, solid math instruction.

At the risk of this sounding like an infomercial, I just have to ask…

How much would you expect to pay for an Algebra 1 text that includes on-line video instruction?

\$100 or more?

No-Nonsense Algebra is only \$27.95! In reviews, I usually just state the price without making a comment because very often what one person considers a good deal, someone else considers too expensive.  But this is an unbelievable value!

I have found the Algebra 1 program for Anna next year and I couldn’t be happier!

I should mention, that as I read on the Math Essentials website, No-Nonsense Algebra seems to be marketed as a supplement. But they are also marketing to public schools. I’ve looked over the topics and I do not see any reason why this cannot be used as a stand-alone algebra curriculum.

In addition to No-Nonsense Algebra, I also received a copy of Mastering Essential Math Skills – Geometry. This is a smaller workbook, that I do think is more of a supplement. There are review, helpful hints, and problems for each section, but it doesn’t include the introduction, examples, and video instruction. Although it is for geometry, it covers geometry topics that are usually covered in elementary math curricula. It would be a good practice program to review for the SAT or ACT because students tend to forget many of the geometry terms.

Mastering Essential Math Skills – Geometry is available for \$11.95.
Both these resources, plus many more can be purchased from Math Essentials.net.

Disclosure: I received a copy of No-Nonsense Algebra and Mastering Essential Math Skills – Geometry in order to write this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

I don’t think I’ve made it a secret that I’m a math geek. I love algebra, especially word problems. And even though I call(ed) myself a classical educator, I’ve differed in my philosophy of math education. I’ve always stressed conceptual understanding over computational skills. (In hindsight maybe I should have stressed computational skills and memorization a bit more. But I’ve got more kids, so hopefully I’ll figure it out eventually.)

My older daughter is finishing up the 6th grade and has almost completed the Singapore Primary Mathematics series. She’s done very well with it and is anxious to begin algebra next year. I’ve been waffling a little over whether she is ready for algebra or if she needs a pre-algebra course. Needless to say, I was very happy to receive Balance Math Teaches Algebra! by The Critical Thinking Company to review.

Balance Math Teaches Algebra! is part of the Balance Math series. I have not seen any of the other books in the series, but I have used several different products from The Critical Thinking Company, and I’ve been impressed with them all. Balance Math Teaches Algebra! is no exception. Like the other products from Critical Thinking,

• The lessons are short and focus on understanding.
• The pages are reproducible for your family or classroom.

Balance Math is a fantastic way to introduce basic algebraic concepts. I love the way it demonstrates visually how to manipulate equations. But it also explains how to move from the visual balance concept to the using variables and adding and subtracting from both sides of an equation.

Here is a sample page so you can see what I mean.

I am really impressed with this resource. My daughter enjoys it and thinks it’s almost like a puzzle.

Is it a complete algebra curriculum?
Absolutely not.

But it is a wonderful introduction so that the student can begin algebra with confidence, not fear. I feel this is just the bridge that my daughter needed before beginning an algebra curriculum.

Balance Math Teaches Algebra! is available from The Critical Thinking Company for \$14.99.

Disclosure: I received a copy of Balance Math Teaches Algebra! in order to complete this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.