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Publisher: Flashmaster
Author: Chuck Resor
Reviewed By: Robin McDonald
This little item was difficult to review, because as soon as it came in the mail my nine-year-old son grabbed it, and he has continued to use it over many weeks! In fact, he loves it even more than his occasional Gameboy, and it's much more educational. He wanted me to tell everyone online that the best thing about it is that it's portable, that he can "bring it anywhere" including field trips.

Dubbed as "The Affordable 11-Ounce Computer That Replaces Flashcards" on its web site, Flashmaster does just that. As a homeschooling mom who, first of all, is a Liberal Arts major, and second of all, can't keep all of her math facts organized, I found this little tool to be excitingly simple and convenient. It is a great supplement to any math curriculum, and a great guide to remind parents where their child has mastered facts and still needs assistance.

Poor spellers have software programs to keep their spelling in line, and now those of us who may be numerically impaired can have a tool that teaches and reviews addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. There are times I can't remember if I've covered all the math facts from 1 through 20, fact families, the four functions, or any number of minor details in mathematics. Instead of calling my sister, the math major, I now get out Flashmaster, set up one of its functions, and test my son (without his knowledge, of course - he thinks it is a game) through a series of logical steps in mathematics. I can then ascertain where I've forgotten (or neglected) to teach him pertinent information.

Flashmastercomes with a guide for teachers and parents (which is also available for download on their web site), but I find it is extremely easy to use. It also has a quick-start guide printed on the back for people like me who don't take the time to read instructions. Even easier, it comes with three simple steps printed on the front, right next to buttons for choices, and you can set your child up for learning even before you learn the intricate details of the program.

First, you choose a learning activity by pressing one of six yellow buttons. Choices include the following buttons:

Timed Practice (missed problems are repeated)
Timed Test (missed problems are not repeated)
Timed Flashcards (time limit for each problem)
Table In Order (no time limit but all problems are presented in logical order)
Table No Order (no time limit but all problems are presented in random order)
Special Problems (presenting stored problems that have been previously missed)

Second, you choose one of three buttons to select:

Time Limit (allows you to choose a time limit of 30 to 180 seconds for the entire activity or per activity, depending upon which learning activity you choose)
Math Operation (addition, subtraction, multiplication or division)
Level or Table Number (Levels are included on the back of Flashmaster; tables include 0-9 for addition/subtraction, 0-12 for multiplication, or 1-12 for division)

Third, you push start and the flashcards begin.
Other buttons include:
Sound - to mute or allow sound (in case you are driving)
Pause - to stop the game in case your child is interrupted
Enter Problems - to enter special problems that are missed
See results - to review the last nine activities performed

There are also indented function buttons which allow a parent to hide or show the countdown of time limit, change the problem format, erase results, and erase missed and entered problems.

The screen itself takes up about 1/5 of the component, and offers a simple LCD image, with rather large numbers, in a horizontal format. As problems appear and the student attempts to answer them, Flashmasterlets them know if they answered the problem correctly or not by making different sounds. In the timed tests, once a problem is answered incorrectly, students are not given a second chance to answer, and are not shown the correct answer. In untimed tests, however, they are given another chance, and if they still give an incorrect answer, the correct answer displays.

After a session is completed, Flashmastershows the number of correct problems, the number of attempted problems, and the percentage correct. As a visual person, the only thing that bothered me about this product was the fact the numbers were presented horizontally instead of vertically, and the number buttons (for answers) are lined up at the bottom of the horizontal component from 1 to 0, which make it difficult to answer correctly in some timed tests (my mind works 0 to 9).

Flashmaster, which is about the size of a large PDA or a Gameboy Color, can fit inside a mom's purse, inside a jacket pocket, or even inside a glove compartment so that your child always has an exciting, interesting ... and most importantly, an educational activity handy.
More Information
Available From: Flashmaster
Address: P.O. Box 9321, Jackson Hole, Wyoming 83002
Phone: 800.884.3531
Website: www.flashmaster.com
Email: info@flashmaster.com
Cost: $
Other Notes:
Robin McDonald
Robin McDonald is a mom who actually does Windows, since she used to work at Microsoft! Robin resigned from her full-time writing job to homeschool her children. She freelances, and teaches art and writing classes.
Copyright 2004 Eclectic Homeschool Association

Reprinted with permission, the Eclectic Homeschool Online - A complete homeschool magazine for creative homeschoolers.

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Math Facts = Multiplication Tables, Division Tables, Addition Tables, and Subtraction Tables
The FlashMaster is the key to multiplication table mastery!