Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Review: Saxon factsfirst


If you have been homeschooling for any length of time, I'm sure you've heard of Saxon Math. It's been around for quite some time and was the first math program we tried out when I began homeschooling B13. I was actually a bit hesitant to find they were one of the vendors for the TOS Homeschool Crew as we found that it really wasn't a good fit for us.

I was surprised to learn they now offer an online math fact drill program for a yearly subscription price of $49.95 which allows up to four student accounts. Saxon gave me a 90 day free trial of the program so the boys and I could check it out. If you'd like to view a demo of how it works, please click HERE and you can chose to try out either the addition or the multiplication demo.

The premise behind  factsfirst (which up until the point of me writing this review I have been calling "first facts") is to help children learn the basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts.

To begin, students first go and create their character or avatar. This was one of the things my boys really enjoyed doing.

From there they enter in to a lesson where they are drilled on facts but they are presented in a fun way and even use real world situations such as the "Math Mart." Two new facts are introduced in each new lesson and review facts from previous sessions are brought in. A quiz is given at the end of each lesson to check for mastery of facts. The student then earns five minutes in the game arcade area. They can either change around their character or play games that continue to reinforce the facts they are working on. My boys all enjoyed the game arcade area. 


Finally a chart similar to the one below would be shown to the student.

Facts in green are ones that are mastered. Yellow ones are facts that occasionally are wrong or not given fast enough. If there are red facts shown, those are ones given consistently wrong. White facts are ones that haven't been taught yet.

Parents can go in and change settings for each student. For example, the mastery time limit default is two seconds. You can move this up or down. You can also take it off completely which is what I did for J6 as I didn't want to frustrate him. 

In the same area, you can view the progress chart (the chart shown above) for each student and even print it off to add to your records.

What I liked:
There is a soothing female voice that reads everything to the student. This allowed even J6 to work on this program without help. Although, he did need some reinforcing with how to work the program to start with, he would ask to play this every day. To him, it was a game - the whole thing. 

I also liked that it's an intelligent program meaning that it tracks what the student needs to work on and continues drilling those facts until they are mastered. I know we'll definitely continue using this program. I have to say it has been one of my favorites so far.

*Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review. All opinions shared are my own. TOS Crew Members are given the product free of charge in exchange for our unbiased opinion of the product.


  1. I sent this link to my dil who has six children, two with Tourette Syndrome and one with specific learning disabilities. She homeschools her son with LD, but all the children are computer literate. I think this would be a wonderful way to "learn the facts." I can see even her 11-10 year olds doing it for fun. Thanks.

    Wilma in WV

  2. Thanks for the review. Is it worth that much of an annual fee is what I want to know. We have Math Blaster, Quartermile and some other game type drill programs which are a one time purchase. I like to change things up a bit now and then, but I usually stay away from annual subscription types of things.


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