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Using RS Activities for the Al Abacus vs. the graded curriculum

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Isn't it funny how you think that because you are a math kind of person that teaching math will be easy? Not in this house!


Ok, my dd is 9 and conceptually understands math, but struggles with her math facts. She is severely dyslexic and it seems like everything she does is SO much work. I've already had level B and sold it because I just couldn't find a groove with it and for the last year or so she's used Developmental Math and it's worked great for understanding math... but we have some gaping holes.


Fast forward to this week and I just can't stand to watch her use those fingers for the rest of her life. How is she ever going to get to higher math?


So, I pull out my Activities for the Al Abacus and the RS Math Games and we've been having a great week. My question is this... has anyone REALLY used JUST the Activities and Games books and found success?


And just in general, how much time daily do you RightStart folks spend on lessons? She needs so much of my time and I have two other kids and work part-time! I feel like I am drowning here!

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:lurk5: Bumping this up for you.


(In theory there is no reason why it shouldn't work. AFAIK, the Activities for the Al Abacus book contains all the concepts in RS - RS just fleshes it out into scripted lesson plans. If you have no trouble teaching from the info in the Activities book, then you should be fine. And certainly the RS games ought to provide plenty of drill. Add in some word problems, and you should be all set. But I have zero firsthand knowledge. Hopefully someone will have some btdt advice for you.)

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Perspective here: Dyslexic son (finally reading at grade level now at 11 years old). Two youngers. Feels like we did almost nothing but fret about ds's reading issues for years, but looking back, we did do math.


Our lessons took about 40 minutes to an hour when I did them by the book. :glare:


I think you could use "Activities." You have a huge advantage in that she gets concepts (Is she a spatial thinker like some dyslexics? The abacus really works for this type of kid, in my experience). I'd let her know that for a while you're going to do easy math until she no longer has to count. (Remember that the patterns she learns while playing "Go to the Dump" are the same patterns she will use with larger numbers.


Now that I'm starting with dd, I find that I'm probably keeping more to the "Activities" than to the actual lessons.


Often I will familiarize myself with the objectives and have us do active math - jumping, tossing beanbags, using number lines, telling stories (The Man Who Counted).


As to the basics and progressing, I often just keep in mind our next objective and just play the games with that in mind. Ds (and now dd6) absolutely memorized "Yellow is the sun." with and without the abacus.

I think because of his dyslexia, ds really sees the abacus. He totally understands why it's laid out how it is. I won't let dd progress until she automatically moves the beads in groups of multiples (ei. for 9, she moves 5 and then 7, 9) NO COUNTING. We tend to repeat concepts until they are simple and then jump a bunch of lessons. We especially made sure that place value is totally "pat" before moving on. This made trading and borrowing a breeze.


Hope this helps, good luck!

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Thanks ladies, that really does help. While I understand that helping a struggling student takes time (I am a reading tutor), I just can't spend 40-60 minutes a day on a regular basis. So looks like the Activity book is just what I need instead of the full caboodle


While she is a strong visual learner, she isn't very visual spatial. She just has major issues with rote memory because of her dyslexia. I'm amazed that after playing Go to the Dump for three days, she can easily recall pairs that add up to ten, just like that with little to no frustration. I am able to tell that she is relying on one-to-one correspondence vs. just seeing 7 as 5 and 2. So, that's our next step.


I spent a little time on the RS website today and see that their worksheets for the activity book are on sale, so I'm going to get those and a few of the manips. I think we'll continue with Developmental but supplement with the Activity book and Worksheets for the AlAbacus. What I need is a week off with nothing else to do so I can correlate the two!


Thanks for the input, I think I'll be able to sleep tonight! :D

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I assume you've noticed this, but the games in the RS Card Games book go in the order Dr. Cotter presents the concepts in the leveled instruction books. So when you play the games in order, you are building the skills in the order they logically develop. I wouldn't worry about correlating the other math program and Activities. I'd probably alternate, doing a few days of one, then moving to the other when you hit a block.


I did the leveled programs, but I've often thought that another program with Activities would have been quite good. Even though you've gotten no respondents to that effect, I know I"ve talked with people who have done it. (long ago, on a planet far, far away) Clearly it's working for you, so I would proceed.


You might also like to do a learning styles assessment like the free one at just to make sure your methods are taking advantage of her best learning modality(ies). My dd was much more a visual learner than I realized, and she only made progress with nailing facts when we switched our approach to work with that. We actually ended up tossing the RS card games (too auditory) and giving her a multiplication table to use. Sounds crazy, but it worked. And of course a flashmaster and a bit of small chunk drill. But my main point is to work with how their brains work. And don't be surprised if it takes a while. I think that's just normal development and maturation for it to take a while, not necessarily only the dyslexia in play.

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