Review of King Joe math storybooks
King Joe is a series of six math storybooks for 1st-4th grades, designed to introduce, teach, and reinforce math vocabulary. The six books cover subjects of
- Data Analysis, Statistics & Probability
- Geometry & Spatial Sense
- Number Sense & Operations
- Problem Solving
Each of the books is near 100 pages long (some more, some less) and comes with a set of flashcards that have the math words on one side, and on the other, explanatory pictures from the story.
I got to see two books from the series: King Joe's Garden, and King Joe Goes to the Fair.
In King Joe's Garden, King Joe wants to know if a fellow king Fernando might have a better garden than his... So the group of friends plans a visit to king Fernando's castle, sending King Joe to 'spy' out which vegetables/fruits are growing in the garden. Ed the Exercise Expert makes an exercising schedule for King Joe with line plots so he'll be in shape to climb the wall... The king and Leonardo play games all night, making a Venn diagram, a pie graph etc... It's quite an amusing story; I smiled several times about King Joe's or Leonardo's silly endeavors or remarks.
King Joe Goes to the Fair finds King Joe and his friends spending a day at the fair, playing different games, which just happen to be geometrically oriented. They enter a house of mirrors and learn about flips... They see shows and learn about symmetry, angle, perpedicular... The princesses talk about the radius of the Ferris wheel... etc.
The purpose of the books is about math vocabulary - words children don't encounter often and so may have difficulty in learning. It's all wrapped up into a delightful, engaging story. These books do not just show some pictures with explanations of the words. The whole idea is that you remember much better an interesting story than plain words without a context.
The main characters have their own personality, there is a definite plot or storyline, the story is amusing, with full-color pictures on every page, so it is wonder it keeps children interested.
Many of the math words used are such high level that they are difficult for even adults to remember. But when it's a line plot about King Joe's exercise schedule, or a Venn diagram of King Joe's and Leonardo's favorite foods, or a cloud shaped like a trapezoid, it can truly fix those words into a child's mind. Or, think about the Fair book, which is about geometry. How many adults even do you think remember such complex words as congruent, counterclockwise, tangram, trapezoid, hexagon, or vertical line segment? Yet all those are easily accesible to children when King Joe and his friends play games at the fair.
King Joe books and the educational idea in them are definitely of professional quality and can lead to very good learning results. The only downside in this is the price - the books cost between $35 and $40 each. Maybe there are sharing possibilities between families, or you can consider reselling the books to recover some of the cost. They are definitely a great buy for schools, public libraries, home school co-ops or associations, etc. Maybe all you homeschooling folks can ask your local library to invest in them!
Also, there is one situation, I think, where King Joe could really help even a single homeschooling student. If your child has gotten 'stuck' somewhere in his/her math studies and has lost interest in math so that it's more of a chore now than fun, consider taking a little break from your usual math book and reading some King Joe books. That could get the spark back.
Review by Maria Miller, MSc, author of HomeschoolMath.net
Price: $49.99 per book & flashcards. See website www.KingJoe.com for more info and example pages.