TOS Review: AIMS: Looking at Lines


Because we had reviewed Earth Book earlier this crew year I was really excited  to see AIMS on the Crew Vendor  list  again. AIMS is a non-profit foundation “dedicated to helping teachers give students a solid conceptual understanding of math and science”  They are “motivated by a passion for teaching and learning, not by profit.”

This time we’re reviewing Looking at Lines from the Algebraic Thinking Series.


Here’s the description from the Looking at Lines web page: “Introduce algebraic concepts in their natural setting with activities drawn from real-world phenomena. Covers three sub-groups of linear functions: proportional relationships, non-proportional relationships with positive slopes, and non-proportional relationships with negative slopes. Includes CD with printable student pages.”   32 activities span over 290 pages. This book is intended for grades 6-9 and retails for $24.95.  A downloadable PDF version is also available.

From the back of the book: “Drawn from physical and life sciences, business, geometry, and other other real-world phenomena, the activities in Looking at Lines have students experience important  algebraic concepts in their natural setting. Hands-on involvement heightens students’ interest and deepens understanding.”

Each activity includes:

  • A section for the teacher: Here you will find information such as standards, background information,  materials needed, procedure, answers and more.
  • A Key Question with Learning Goals: These are included in the section for the teacher but are also available in the PDF resource in a pleasant graphic format.
  • Pages necessary to complete the activity:  For example this might be the pages of function tables to use in the “Zap It” activity or the X/Y strips for the “On the Level” Activity.
  • Connecting Learning: These are the questions that help student connect the activity to the concept.  An example question from the “On the Level Activity” would be “What do you notice about the x and y values?”

We are using this as a fun supplement to our regular math studies.  Tailorbear and Turtlegirl work together on AIMS activities 2 to 3 times per week.  Sometimes they are able to complete the activity in one session and sometimes it takes longer.

In the picture below Tailorbear and Turtlegirl work through “On the Level”.  Instructions (and graphics!) are included to make a balance however since we already owned a balance the girls thought it would be fun to try the activities with a “real” balance.


Thoughts from Turtlegirl (age 14 1/2, grade 9): “It was a lot of fun to play with the balance. I enjoyed the fact that it used physical examples to demonstrate algebraic equations. This was easy to use.  Looking at Lines is almost a perfect supplement to my Algebra I program. I also enjoyed spending some extra time with my sister who is using this with me.  We had fun together doing the activities. I liked that every concept had a different activity. For example “On the Level” used a balance and graphs to teach how to write an equation from data,  whereas “Zap-It” taught how to use ordered pairs to find function patterns by using charts.  I would recommend this for someone doing algebra and wants some extra practice.”

Thoughts from Tailorbear (age 13, grade 7): "I think it’s cool. I liked how you don’t have to do a math problem in order to figure out something.  You actually get to make a balance or pulley. It’s fun, also hard, but fun.  I want to keep using this. 

My Thoughts: I think we have only begun to scratch the surface of this resource. As I read through the introduction and flipped through the different investigations, all I could think was “wow, I wish I had this when I was learning about graphing lines.”  This is a great way to show students how linear functions are used in real life.  I know I wondered when I would ever really use Algebra in real life and I know that my daughters have asked that same question.

My favorite feature is the CD-ROM that contains PDF files of the investigations.  These are the pages that the student needs.  I love that I can print as many or as few as I need and I love that I don’t have to fight with the book binding or tear out pages to make copies.

Because my girls are 7th and 9th grade, they worked together as an independent team.  I had minimal involvement.  Together they would flip through the book to find an activity that interested them.  Turtlegirl would print out the pages and together they would work through the activity.  This works well for our family now, but if we had started this book when Turtlegirl was in 7th grade and Tailorbear in 5th grade, I think I would have needed to be more involved.  I would have had to do more instructing, guiding and directing.  I could see this being a great resource for a home school co-op setting.

Visit the AIMS store to find lots of different activity books to enrich your math and science studies.  You can also visit the AIMS page to learn more about the company.

Check out the April 9th Crew Blog Post  to read what my fellow crew mates had to say about Looking at Lines and other AIMS products.  Check out the Crew Blog to read past Crew reviews of AIMS products such as the Earth Book.PhotobucketAll information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.

Disclaimer: As a TOS Crew member, I received this product free of charge to review. I am required to write a review but I am not required to write a positive review. This review contains my and/or my daughters’ honest opinion with, hopefully, enough detail as to why I/ we liked or did not like a product so that my readers can make an informed decision. I received no compensation.


  1. Wow, I'm sitting here wishing I got to play with that balance ;) Very cool.


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