Category Archives: Math Curriculum

Math Essentials: No Nonsense Algebra Review

Is your student ready to learn Algebra?  Then you might want to try No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials.

No-Nonsense Algebra

Softcover Book

275 Pages

95 Lessons

Online Access to Video Lessons

10 Chapter Reviews and Final Exam

Retails $28.95

The No-Nonsense Algebra book includes access to online instructional videos that can be used for teaching the lessons if desired.  This book is self contained as a textbook and workbook all in one and is designed to help your student master the concepts of Algebra.  The online videos are optional and require an access code that is found in the book.  It is not required for the student to use the online videos, but they are available if they need audio visual help from an instructor in completing the lesson.

The book contains 275 pages with 10 chapters, 95 lessons, 10 chapter review tests, a final exam, glossary, Solutions (answers key), and many help pages such as important formulas, symbols, fraction and decimal conversions, charts, etc at the back of the book.

10 Chapters:

  1. Necessary Tools For Algebra (22 Lessons + Chapter Test)
  2. Solving Equations (9 Lessons + Chapter Test)
  3. Graphing and Analyzing Linear Equations (6 Lessons + Chapter Test)
  4. Solving and Graphing Inequalities (7 Lessons + Chapter Test)
  5. Systems of Linear Equations and Inequalities (4 Lessons + Chapter Test)
  6. Polynomials (13 Lessons + Chapter Test)
  7. Rational Expressions (Algebraic Fractions) (10 Lessons + Chapter Test)
  8. Radical Expressions and Geometry (10 Lessons + Chapter Test)
  9. Quadratic Equations (6 Lessons + Chapter Test)
  10. Algebra Word Problems (8 Lessons + Chapter Test)

Final Exam


Important Formulas

Important Symbols

Multiplication Table

Commonly Used Prime Numbers

Squares and Square Roots

Fraction and Decimal Equivalents


Our Experience

My oldest son is ready to learn Algebra.

He has taken pre-Algebra, and uses an online math curriculum.  When we were offered the opportunity to review No-Nonsense Algebra, I thought this would be a perfect supplement to his main curriculum.

After looking through the program with my son for this review, including the HUGE book and online video lessons, I can see that this is a complete Algebra 1 program that can be used as the main curriculum or as a supplement.

My son can easily access video lessons from his dashboard.  Each video listed corresponds to a lesson in his student book.

I am personally most excited about the student book.  It is easy to use. It follows the same structure for each lesson.

  • Introduction to Lesson
  • Examples
  • Exercises
  • Review

In addition to the reviews at the end of each lesson, there is also a larger Chapter Review at the end of each chapter.  So students are getting a lot of review to be sure they have mastered the concepts.

He has used an online math curriculum for a few years now.  However his other program does not come with a written workbook.  We have an option to print his pages but he usually just answers them online.   I like the fact that No-Nonsense Algebra combines both online video instruction options with text book lessons as well as written assignments.

Learning Algebra can be complicated for many students, but following a few simple steps can help make it go as smooth as possible.  It is recommended that each time he sits down to do a lesson, he gathers his student book, a pencil, ruler, graph paper, and a notebook.  Then he watches a lesson on the computer and reads the lesson in his book.  Next he writes the examples down in his notebook.  Then writes and solves the problems, and completes the text book problems and the review.  By following these steps each time, he is setting himself up for success with this course.

The huge student book contains written lessons with lots of examples, easy to read instructions, and fully explained step-by-step solutions.

Rick Fisher, Author

Rick Fisher has been a math teacher for over 31 years.  He is the founder of Math Essentials and Americas Math Teacher and he is the author of several award winning math books, DVD’s, tutorials, online courses, and more. 

Math Essentials offers several award winning math courses.  They have a progressive series called Mastering Essentials.  Students move from Mastering Math Skills in upper elementary school, to Mastering Math Skills in Middle and Highschool.  Then they progress to Mastering Essential Maths Skills in Pre-Algebra Concepts and then to No-Nonsense Algebra.

Rick Fisher has also developed award winning online math courses in Basic Math, Advanced Math, Pre-Algebra, Algebra through his website.

Be sure to check out all of the great Math curriculum resources that Rick Fisher has created at Math Essentials and Americas Math Teacher.

FREE Resources

Rick Fisher offers a 14 Days Free Trial for his America’s Math Teacher online math courses.  Be sure to check it out if you are interested in seeing his teaching style, or if you are interested in an online math course.

Social Media

Be sure to check out the social media links for all the latest news and product updates.


Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about using this product with their families.

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Metric System Project Pack Review

Our homeschool has officially started our 2013-2014 school year!!!  Yeah!  The very first project we are working on is a math lapbook or project pack called The Metric System Project Pack by In The Hands Of A Child

The Metric System Project Pack

Project Packs, Lapbooks, Notebooks, and Unit Studies are a great way to start a new school year.  They are fun and really ad excitement to a subject.  Let’s face it, MATH (and many other subjects too), could use a little excitement!  Can I get an AMEN?!!

The Metric System Project Pack is designed for students in grades 5-9.  It retails for $12 (on sale now for $5) for the eBook, and $20 (on sale now for $13) for the printed version.  Other versions are available too, please check the website for a version that suits your needs.  

They are currently running a BACK TO SCHOOL SALE.  All of the E-BOOKS are on sale, and many other things are on sale too.  This is a great time to buy!

                                            50% OFF eBooks
                                        ENTIRE Month of AUGUST!!! 

                         Plus all other versions are discounted too! 

                                        No coupon codes needed!

                    Sale Begins August 1, 2013 and Ends August 31, 2013

In the Metric System Project Pack, we did vocabulary words, reading and research, history and math, hands on learning and application, cooking, writing, cutting, coloring, and more.   We love doing unit studies with these because it is easy to adjust, can accommodate a flexible schedule, and flexible learning styles.  It is easy to include your younger children in some of the learning too, even if the subject mater is mostly geared toward older learners.  But you can also order a similar project pack for younger learners so the whole family can enjoy the fun.

So what is a project pack or lapbook you might ask?  It is a re-folded file folder filled to the max with printable mini-book activities and worksheets. It can be expanded to hold several file folders or flaps.   It becomes a fun memory scrap book of the learning that is done around a specific subject.  Subjects can be on anything as simple or as complicated as you desire.  

The great thing about Project Packs from In The Hands Of A Child is that they can be used as a stand alone unit study, or as a supplement to your other curriculum.  They are flexible and you can do as much as you want.   You can use them with all ages of kids too.  They are adjustable to accommodate various skill levels.

My kids love making lapbooks and these Project Packs from In The Hands Of A Child are perfect for them.  I need to write more about the HOAC Unit Studies and Project Packs we have done as I have a huge collection.


Before starting a project pack, we like to print out the worksheets and mini-books, put the shutterfold file folder together, and cut out the mini-book activities.  In the past, I have also purchased the pre-printed worksheets on colorful paper, and pre-folded and glued folders as a kit from HOAC.  This is so handy and cuts down on my prep time and they are more colorful than printing it out on black and white paper and black ink at home.  But either way, we love using these Project Packs.  They run several sales through out the year, and I always try to take advantage of these sales and buy a few units for our school year.

Overall, In The Hands Of A Child has made the process to complete this project pack easy, and all it takes 4 STEPS or less for each unit section.  You can condense this study into 6 days by doing one unit section a day, or stretch it out to 6 weeks by doing one unit section and various activities a week, it is up to you.   The project pack comes with a complete set of directions, research reading materials, vocabulary, and printable templates for mini-book activities to include in your completed lapbook folder.  There is a list of suggested books to acquire through your local library, and website links to use in your research too. 

I personally love making learning units last as long as we can by adding in as much learning materials, books, related science projects, crafts, etc. as we can acquire.  Our family enjoys Unit Studies!   Here is a run down of how to study the units in this project pack in 4 steps or less:
        1. Complete vocabulary words.
nbsp;2. Read the scheduled research guide sections.
        3. Read additional books (or do science kits, crafts, recipes, field trips, etc.) 
            you have collected on the topic for that research guide section.
        4. Complete the scheduled mini-book and worksheet related activities for that 
            research guide section of the project pack.

The six units in The Metric System Project Pack (and what is in each unit) are:

          1.  Research Guide: 
                    Introduction To Early Measurement
                      Vocabulary List
                      Pro & Con

        2.  Research Guide: 
                    “Why Metric?” The Metric System

                     Basic Units

         3. Research Guide:
                    Using the Metric System To “____” In The Kitchen
                    Liquid Volume

                    Metric Prefixes
                    Classify Units
                    Kitchen Help
         4.  Research Guide: 
                    Blueberry Muffins
                    Metric Time Saver
                    Convert Recipe
                    Time Saver

         5.  Research Guide:
                    Converting One Metric Unit To Another
                    Metric Equivalents Of US Customary

                    Convert Everyday Activities: a cup of milk, desk length, pencil length,
                         volume of toothpaste, car travel, area of your room, temperature, etc.
                    Converting One Metric Measurement to Another
                    Measure Your Feet in Inches and Centimeters

          6.  Research Guide:
bsp;  Metric Conversions
                        Your Weight
                        Unit Pricing


You can see how fun it can be to take a potentially boring subject such as math, or metric conversions, or measurements, and turn these into a fun learning adventure with your kids.  They will always remember the fun time they had learning in a hands on way, and when they are through, they will have a unique lapbook / scrapbook record of their learning adventure.


In The Hands Of A Child is a wonderful company providing awesome learning activities for kids.  Their products are a perfect main course or supplemental curriculum for homeschoolers and there is a huge variety of subjects to choose from.   They offer a FREE product on their website, and this changes from time to time so keep your eyes open if you already have the current one.  The current one is a downloadable project pack all about Metals.  You don’t want to miss this freebie! 

They also offer a new $5 project pack each week.  This is a great value.   If you want join as a special member and use their unit studies through out the school year, they have an optional membership program available and you get lots of great units, a yearly schedule, support, and more.  You can sign up for their newsletter to learn about special deals, and also follow along on their blog, and learn great tips and deals on Facebook too.


Be sure to check out what other homeschool families on the Schoolhouse Review Crew had to say about this product.

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Mastering Math Essentials

My oldest son, age 12, is working through a math workbook called Mastering Essential Math Skills: 20 minutes a day to success.  


This is Book Two in the Math Essentials math program and is geared for middle school and high school.  Book One is geared for elementary students in grades 4th-5th.  You can read the program overview for both books here.  The next book in the set is Pre-Algebra Concepts. Then the next book is  No-Nonsense Algebra.   Each of these books are available as a workbook, as a DVD, and as a set containing both.


The focus of the Math Essentials program is a system of progression in teaching the essential math skills.  It is accomplished by doing 1 page each day, a 20 minute daily assignment, that covers:
                two speed drills
                review exercises
                helpful hints / teacher tips
                introduction to new material
                a daily word problem

Mastering Essential Math Skills has 8 chapters full of 1 page daily assignments covering: 
                                        charts and graphs
                                        problem solving


Book Two in Mastering Essential Math Skills is 144 pages and included a sample day of how to use the program in the front of the book, followed by daily worksheets, and an answer key in the back.  Assignments are on pages 5 – 127.   This workbook can be finished in 122 days if you follow the 1 page for 20 minutes a day plan.

The workbook and DVD set retails for $33.95. It is also available for $15.95 for just the workbook, and $24.95 for just the DVD.     The sets (book and DVD) also come bundled with book one, book two, and Pre-Algebra for $89.95  You can buy all these products from the Math Essentials website.
Math Essentials keeps it simple and straight forward.  There is no glamor, color, fun stories, or games.  It is basic problems geared to help you master a basic skill.  The introduction explains the reason for this is that often kids miss learning the essential skill when all the “other stuff” is mixed in to the learning process.  

Math Essentials was created by an award winning math teacher named Richard W. Fisher.  On the back of the book, it states: “At least a third of the 6th grade students who use his program, bypass math in the 7th grade and go directly into 8th grade algebra”.  

This statement really peeked my interest.  Not because I want my son to bypass 7th grade math, but because I want him to feel confident in his math skills, something I personally never mastered.

About a year ago, I went to hear a guest speaker talk about Math at a homeschool mom’s get together.  He stated the biggest problem he see’s in kids who reach 7th and 8th grade and older, is they failed to learn the basics of math.  They don’t know their multiplication facts. They don’t know the fact families.  They aren’t confident in the four basics of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.  He encouraged homeschool parents to practice the math facts with our kids from k-6th grade, so they were ready for higher level math by the time they reached highschool age.

Math Essentials has several wonderful math books and DVD’s to help your child master the essential math skills. In addition to the Mastering Essential Math Skills books 1 and 2, they have pre-algebra, algebra, and lots of workbooks that specialize in specific areas.

We are also working at Fractions by Math Essentials.  It is available on the Math Essentials website and retails for $11.95  It is an 80 page workbook that specializes in mastering fractions.


It is also a simple book full of black and white pages of math problems.  Again, no more than 20 minutes a day is expected to master the workbook.  Check out the table of contents to see what is covered.  Assignments are on pages 4 – 63.  This book can be done in 59 days.

Both books are a great addition to our homeschool.  These would also be wonderful to use in a coop situation, an after school program, schools, and math tutoring programs.  Both books are easy to use and implement.  I definately recomend these books to my homeschool friends.

122 days to master essential math skills and 59 days to master fractions.  We are planning on success!  We are planning on mastering essential math skills!  We decided to shorten our goal into one simple statement:

                   Math Essentials + 20 minutes a day = success!!!

Please check out what others on the Crew had to say about this product.


Disclaimer: We received a copy of the above mentioned product in exchange for writing an honest review.


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enVision MATH

Pearson Homeschool has many products to help the homeschool family with their curriculum goals.  You probably already familiar with several of their educational products. 

Pearson has been publishing educational products for schools for many years.  It was began as a construction company in England that contributed to the direction of world economics in transportation, trade, and communication links in 1724.  It began publishing a newspaper The Economist in 1843 and many authors in 1848. They began printing in the US under the Scott Foresman imprint in 1880.  And the rest, as they say is history.  

Pearson is the world leader in educational products.   Now, they have a homeschool line of products too.


Description about Pearson Homeschool from their website:

“Since each home environment is unique, our homeschooling programs are created to adapt to your needs. We help you create a solid foundation in reading and language arts that is fun and engaging. In science, you can explore with your child, opening their eyes to the wonders around them. You can fine-tune your approach to math, to take the time you need for your child. In social studies, a journey around the world will help your child understand, connect with and experience various cultures and civilizations.

Thousands of parents like you are already using popular homeschool products like “Sing, Spell, Read & Write,” “Plaid Phonics,” and “MCP Math” to bring lessons to life. Your child will learn core fundamentals in ways that are meaningful to each child. The built-in reviews help students master the concepts, while the assessments guide your way to easily pace the programs to meet your child’s needs.

Pearson Homeschool has a new product called enVision Math by Scott Foresman and Addision Wesley. 

We received the enVision MATH Homeschool Bundle grade 3 for review. Homeschool Bundle retails for $124.99, or you can buy each piece separately.

The homeschool bundle includes:
Student Hardcover Text
MindPoint Quiz Show CD-Rom
Teacher Edition CD-Rom
Parent Guide

There is also a math manipulatives kit and a student workbook you can order seperately too.  We have lots of math manipulatives at home so I did not order those.  Some are made by Harcourt a subsidiary of Pearson, so I felt pretty good that we already have what we need in that department.  But I would like to purchase the student workbook to go along with the hardcover textbook.

Right at the starting gate I was impressed with the problems in the student text.  It was colorful, relatable, and parts of it reminded me of the Living Math approaches I have read.  Though it is not a living math book.  But much of it is relatable to everyday life and our cultural history.  

One thing that really impressed me in addition to the fun and exciting pages, was that it tied math problems: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, measurement, and geometry in with history and geography right in the beginning.

The Hardcover Student Textbook is divided into 20 units and has daily lessons, a review, and a test.  Within each unit, the learning sections are color coded and include:
            Number and Operations
            Data Analysis and Probability
            Problem Solving Activities
            Review Tests

The teacher CD-Rom has wonderful helps to walk you through teaching the class.  It has planning pages, lessons with overview of objectives, essential understanding, vocabulary, guided practice, teaching tips, ideas for engaging students, and materials lists to aid in teaching.  The teacher CD-Rom also contains the answers to the test questions. 

There are lots of printable materials and teaching resources on the CD-Rom you can use.  
            Center Activities
            Vocabulary Cards
            Interactive Math Stories that introduce the learning ideas to your student
            Lesson Masters
            Problem of the Day
            Quick Check
            Extra Help
            Practice Problems
            Assessments including a variety of tests for each lesson.
            Printable Games
            Grid Papers
            Number Cards
            Material Guides
            and more.

The enVision MATH is set up to cover one lesson per day, and there are 20 topics covered in 160 school days.  But you can progress as fast or slow as you need to.  You can read the 
table of contents and see the subjects covered.

I really like the tests. They are bright and colorful and show many descriptive pictures for the student to use when computing the math problem.  This is such a welcome change from other boring, black and white tests.  These test problems give the student a point of reference when answering the questions.

The MindPoint Quiz Show CD-Rom is a fun multimedia game that makes learning math fun.  It helps the student understand and apply what they are learning.  One or more students can play at a time.  They can race the clock, each other, or play as a team.  

How many peelers does it take to peel an apple?  Peeling an apple comes to mind as I think about peeling away at the complicated task of teaching math to kids.  And it also comes to mind as I ponder the various authors and creators of this product.   It is amazing how many people collaborated on the enVision MATH product.  You can read about the various authors and writers and consult
ants here on this page from their website.

Our Opinion (based on a 5 star rating):

enVision MATH

Quality:  5 stars.
Very well made with quality material and colorful too.

Price:   4 stars
$124.99 is pricey, but is reasonable in today’s market for a quality math curriculum.  We generally pay anywhere from $50 to $170 for homeschool math programs.

Ease Of Use: 4 stars
Very easy to implement, and your student can work independently, or with little or a lot of teacher guidance depending on what you want to do with it.  It does require reading skills to read through the problems.

Adaptable: 5 stars
Easy to adapt to various skill levels.  Easy to skip around and work on various sections or leave out sections if you choose too.  Easy to use as a full curriculum or a supplemental resource.

Faith Based: 3 stars
It is neutral and is not for or against biblical teaching.

I used enVisionMATH 3 grade with my 9 year old son.  He stuck with the problems and really liked the interaction of the material.  He is a child that is hard to keep focussed on books for very long at his age.  But this math program did keep his interest.  Sometimes he needed help reading the pages.  He does not particulary like to read alot, though he is getting better at this skill with age.  He did not complain while doing this math book.  Trust me, he usually complains some.  He enjoyed the CD-Rom game and we plan to continue using this product in our homeschool.  He gives it two thumbs up!

I think that enVision MATH is a good product. It comes with helpful teaching resources. It is well made, covers all the learning skills for the specified age, and is a fun math program for kids to learn.

Read the TOS Homeschool Crew blog to see what others had to say about Pearson Homeschool curriculum products and enVision MATH.


Disclaimer:  I received the product mentioned above, as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, in exchange for writing an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own honest opinion.

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