What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Thinking Blocks is a clever and faithful representation of the Singapore Math method, which uses blocks as visual tools to model word problems. With an exclusively instructive approach, this learning site offers plenty of practice and guidance for solving sometimes complicated math problems.
What kids can learn
Thinking & Reasoning
- defining problems
- part-whole relationships
- applying information
Engagement, Approach, Support
Simple, straightforward setup means information and usage is clear, but there's not a whole lot to excite kids. Kids who like math will have fun playing with new ways to represent math concepts; kids who don't might need encouragement.
Kids get good hints when they make mistakes, which guides them in building their math models. However, the purely didactic approach makes it feel like work, and the site is only as successful as the Singapore Math method it represents.
Each activity has an accompanying demo video. A simple tracking tool tracks progress but only in a single session. The only resources for extending learning are links to other Singapore Math method sites.
What's it about?
Kids choose from four math topics -- addition, multiplication, fractions, and ratios -- and then a subtopic, such as adding two quantities. After reading a short word problem, kids get guidance to construct a model with blocks, label the blocks, assign numbers to each block, and finally solve the problem. Kids can see videos demonstrating each subtopic and can choose to track their progress and print a certificate of completion. The modeling tool allows kids to use preloaded word problems or write their own and then design their own block model from start to finish.
Is it any good?
THINKING BLOCKS uses a unique approach to representing sometimes complicated math concepts. The exercises force kids to think about each problem in a systematic step-by-step way, and videos and well-positioned hints help kids at each step (except when it's time to finally solve the problem, at which point the limited guidance is good but available only after kids enter an incorrect answer).
The site is clearly educational, but that's also its downfall. The alternative way to represent math might help some kids understand math better, especially if they're strong visual learners. Coming to understand something that was previously difficult can be rewarding in and of itself; however, interacting with the site feels like more work than fun, which might turn kids off.
Families can talk about...
Discuss how using the blocks to represent math problems can change the way your kids think about math.
Help your kids create their own word problems to solve.