For parents who are trying to help their child master the addition facts, there are many methods and instructional tools available that can be very helpful. From an abacus, to flash cards, worksheets, and math-based computer games, parents can try many approaches before their child finally masters the addition facts. One new product on the market, which is designed to help children master their addition facts, is the Addition Problems Write-A-Mat, produced by the Melissa & Doug Company. As a parent who needed to help a child master the addition facts, I purchased an Addition Write-A-Mat, to be used along with all of the other approaches I was utilizing. This is a product review of Melissa & Doug’s Addition Write-A-Mat.
Pros: The Addition Write-A-Mat is inexpensive. It retails for approximately $3 at our local Ben Franklin art & craft supply store. This product also saves trees, as it can serve as a replacement for all of the worksheets you were previously printing out for your child’s addition practice.
Cons: The Addition Write-A-Mat only goes up to the 10’s, whereas most schools require children to learn their addition facts through the 12’s.
Additionally, the addition problems appear in order, as opposed to being mixed up. Because of this, each column and row will end up having answers that progress in order. So, for instance, if the first answer in a column is 5, then the next answer will be 6, then 7, then 8, and so on. The same is true of the answers in each row. Clearly, this is a real problem because most kids are very quick to pick up on patterns. As soon as the child realizes all of the answers occur in numerical order (and most kids will figure this out before they have even completed the mat their very first time), then the entire activity becomes quite pointless. Even if a child isn’t typically one to try to take the easiest route, most kids have been conditioned in their math learning to recognize patterns extremely quickly, and therefore most children will simply fill in the answers on the Addition Write-A-Mat without really thinking about the problems they are supposed to be solving. In my opinion, this fact alone rendered The Addition Write-A-Mat by Melissa & Doug completely useless. We used it once.
Finally, the Addition Write-A-Mat by Melissa & Doug is really a hassle to clean. It can only be used with either No. 2 pencils, or the special Melissa & Doug Straight Edge Learning Mat Crayons. The crayons are problematic because they write in thick lines, and there isn’t much space for writing answers on the Addition Write-A-Mat. And using No. 2 pencils proves quite inconvenient because every problem must be erased manually with a traditional eraser. Being that there are 110 problems on the Addition Write-A-Mat, this is a real chore. It takes twice as long to erase the answers as it does for the child to complete the activity.
As far as this product is concerned, the drawbacks far outnumber the benefits. I would not recommend the Addition Write-A-Mat by Melissa & Doug to parents or teachers who are trying to help children to master addition facts.