Friday, November 20, 2009

Gymathtics - A review

Product: Gymathtics

Price: $24.99 (currently free shipping)

Company: Exploramania

Where to Buy:

Brief Overview:
Exploramania is a 30-minute DVD to work out your brain and your body. The exercises are for all ages. The math facts are targeted to the 2nd-5th grade level.

In-Depth Look:
Carrie Scheiner's story is an interesting one. The path that lead to the creation of the DVD is a good read. One of the major factors was an incident where her son couldn't go out for recess because it was raining, so his class watched a cartoon instead. It is amazing how a random event in your life can lead to the "next big idea". Keep yours eyes open, because you never know when you might be inspired with a great idea.

Carrie has a passion for helping children and for math. She has combined the two into this DVD, helping children keep their bodies healthy, while reviewing basic math facts.

The DVD is 30-minutes long. The cast includes Miss Carrie, Kelsey, Jonathan, Aaron and Felicia. Aaron and Felicia are Miss Carrie's children. The quality is professional, with the beginning filmed in a colorful circular room and the ending on a deck overlooking a relaxing beach.

Part 1 is "Shape Stretches - Warm Up". As the name implies, this part involves stretching and warming up. Miss Carrie explains a math term, such as circle or polygon. Then the group will do an exercise symbolizing the shape. For example, the arms are made into circle shapes and the legs are bent to make a rectangle shape. While the child does the exercises, the shapes will appear on the screen, along with their names...while a voice-over discusses them. This applies all 3 ways of learning.
Kinesthetic - doing the shapes in exercise form
Auditory - hearing Miss Carrie and then the voice-over
Visual - watching the shapes appear on the screen

Part 2 is "Counting Calisthenics". This part gives you an aerobic workout and gets your heart rate up. Some of the counting includes odd number, even number, skip counting and prime numbers. The group does various activites such as punches and high stepping, while counting off the numbers. The numbers appear on the screen with a bouncing ball, while you count along. Again, most of these include all 3 forms of learning.
Kinesthetic - exercising while you count off
Auditory - hearing the group count
Visual - watching the bouncing ball go over the numbers

Part 3 is "Pattern Power". It covers growing and repeating pattern exercises and focuses on strengthening muscles. In some exercises, you do a repeating pattern. Doing the same set of exercises (or pattern), several times. In the other routines, you do a growing pattern. So, each time you do the set, it increases by a certain amount. Again it uses Kinesthetic, Auditory and Visual.

Part 4 is the "Well-Being Wind Down". This section helps you cool back down and slow your heart rate. It doesn't cover math facts. Instead, it focuses on healthy lifestyle choices: eating in moderation, getting enough sleep, being kind, helping others, etc. It includes the BIG DREAM Stretch, reaching for your dreams. You will also learn the Nice Wave, with an acronym for being kind.

Some of my favorite moves were the "wavy line" and the "superman". Some of the more difficult moves for this 30-something mom were the push-ups and the jumping jacks. I guess I didn't do the warm-ups well enough, because the jumping jacks caused me some pain. My 7-year old had some trouble keeping up with the pace during the Pattern Power section. But my 10 year old managed fine with the whole routine.

I think that most ages would get a nice workout from this 30-minute routine. Not as much as spending an hour or so outside. But it could definitely come in handy on bitter cold or rainy days. It will get the kids up and moving, without tearing the house apart.

I also think that it is a nice math review for the elementary age. It uses all 3 learning styles to review shapes, prime numbers, odd/even, patterns, etc. The drills are for 2nd-5th grade; I agree that it would be pointless with most children older than that. But I do think younger children would benefit from a good deal of it. They would get practice with what they might already know, like their shapes. And they would be introduced to new terms that they might come across later, such as congruent vs. similar.

With that said, what did my daughters think of it? Honestly, they didn't enjoy it. They felt the DVD was asking them to do the exercises simply for the sake of getting the math lesson in. It didn't feel like "real exercises" to them. They would rather do "real exercises" when it is exercise time and do math lessons when it is math time. My girls weren't too keen on combining the two. They also weren't receptive to "feel good" messages at the end. Based on my 10 year old's comments, I don't think it was the messages themselves, but instead it was the way that we were being talked to. The goal, I am guessing, was to be a relaxing voice. But to my kiddos, it sounded like she was "acting".

With that said, I feel I should mention that a lot of the other crew members' children did enjoy the video. So why not read some of their reviews and then decide for yourself? You know your children best.

Disclaimer: I received this DVD free of charge to review, as part of the TOS Crew. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.

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