Note to Readers

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Clap, Drum, and Shake It! - Marcia Daft

Released 2007

Marcia Daft/Moving Through Math/Missarmia Productions
Steven Sugar
Rebecca Sugar

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

I'm going to tackle Marcia Daft's Clap, Drum, and Shake It! from two perspectives. First, as a parent, I admit to being very tired of the different teaching methods being used to teach math today. Quite frankly, and I did spend a full year as a parent-teacher helper, so I've seen Everyday Math being used in the classroom, and for some students, it really just is a joke. Given that, after reading the information given with the Moving Through Math program, I was highly skeptical.

Let's start with why I was so skeptical. My daughter squeaked by with B's and C's in elementary school because her brain could not process the lessons taught with Everyday Math. Creating a grid to do a multiplication problem took more time than necessary and wound up with her feeling frustrated and often crying because she just didn't get it. I tried to teach her the way I'd learned and her teachers criticized me and would mark her papers as wrong because she didn't use the method they were teaching. It wasn't until sixth grade that her teacher agreed with me and re-taught all the students "Old School" math. My hat is off to Mr. Demar for doing that because her grades suddenly flew to A's, and now in high school, she's in Accelerated Algebra and has a 99% average for the year. She's been recommended to take two accelerated math courses next year. There really is something to be said for the old school methods. As far as I was concerned, something like Moving Through Math was another program that wouldn't help every learner. After reading Clap, Drum, and Shake It!, I wasn't convinced either.

I did, however, hand the book to a friend's child to get his reaction. Bottom line, he absolutely loved this book. He had the time of his life clapping, drumming, and moving around. He said it was one of the "funnest" books he's read. If kids are having fun and a lesson might sink in, there's something to be said for it. Given that, I recommend Clap, Drum, and Shake It! just because it gets kids up and moving around. As for it's benefits in teaching math, I'm still not sure. I discussed how it was showing him patterns, and he really didn't seem to care. He just wanted to keep going through the book moving around and making noise. Over time, the patterns and repetition may sink in. If they never do, one thing is certain, he's learning to read some more difficult words by identifying the words and pictures.

Clap, Drum, and Shake It! is currently going through a "review" and the reissue date is scheduled for the summer of 2012. For now, if you're interested in learning more about the Moving Through Math program, visit to learn more or to purchase the products.

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