Are you looking for some fresh math ideas or simply a how-to for your K-6 homeschooled student? In this post, you will find a wide variety of math resources that I love including some that are FREE! We use curriculum but also sprinkle in living books, free web-based programs and more.
A wise teacher once told me that you should select math programs from a few different sources. This way the student will see math from different angles. So, that is the way I have built the math component of our homeschool.
My 10-year old son and 9-year old daughter have taken standardized tests as a gauge to how they are performing against their peers from public schools around the country. They attained the highest level of math performance on those tests. I was proud of this because I do not spend one-second teaching to that test. I just provided them what I believe to be a well-rounded math education. I also have a 6-year-old daughter.
Here is our program:
- Horizons Math–This visually-appealing spiral math program is our core curriculum. We have almost completed three years of Horizons Math. It offers ample practice and repetition but is done in much smaller bites than some of the more tedious math programs I’ve used and seen. There is a lot of variety in the lessons as well as games and puzzles. I also like it because the kids can teach themselves with the tutorials provided in the workbook. While I don’t present any formal lessons, I do use the teacher’s manual to grade their work. Overall, this is the most pleasant and well-rounded of any of the curriculum we have used. My only complaint is that when you start a new year the first 25-45 lessons are too easy. I assume this is because many people take off the summer and the kids need to review. We are year-round schoolers and don’t need that review time. So, I just have my kids double up on lessons until they become more challenging. Typically, they do one lesson per day.
- Singapore Math–Singapore Math refers to the teaching method and curriculum used in Singapore. This nation consistently ranks at the top of international assessments of student achievement in math. The framework emphasizes mastery of concepts through dynamic problem solving. We use the workbooks but not the textbooks.The textbooks are where your students will find the teaching. My kids can pretty much figure out what needs to be done without the textbook. They have seen some of the concepts already in Horizons but Singapore presents it in a different way. However, I have the teacher manual to grade their work and help them with any questions they have. It is not a spiral-based math program. It is for this reason that I also use Horizons. I feel the practice and repetition of prior concepts are important. Typically, my kids do one page per day.
- Khan Academy— Khan Academy is FREE and offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace. Typically, my kids’ target is a 3% increase to their achievement level per day.
- XtraMath— XtraMath is FREE and teaches addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. While it is not flashy or particularly fun, the focus is on speed and accuracy. No parental involvement is required. In my opinion, mastering math facts is so important, and I would not even attempt long division without being completely fluent in all the math facts. You can slow down the speed of the quizzing if it is too difficult for your child at first. We cycle through XtraMath every 3-5 months to ensure my kids can quickly recall the math facts freeing up mental resources for higher level operations. This takes about ten minutes each session.
Here are a few more resources I have found helpful:
- Bedtime Math–This FREE resource provides a playful daily math problem for kids to do with their parents, much like a bedtime story. We have enjoyed doing them as a family. The stories are fun and bring math into the real world. You will find several questions for different levels of math abilities. You can sign up to have the daily math problem sent to your email inbox.
- Times Tales–Times Tales is a mnemonic-based program that makes it fun to memorize the upper multiplication facts. Cute, simple stories provide students with a “memory peg” allowing them to quickly recall otherwise abstract facts.
- BigBrainz–This FREE math facts proficiency program was my kids’ absolute favorite! The game and graphics are awesome while the learning is solid!
- Living Books–The Sir Cumference series, The Number Devil, and The Man Who Counted: A Collection of Mathematical Adventures have been among our favorites. Of course, my kids also love The Life of Fred series. Living math books are a FUN and memorable way to teach and reinforce math skills.
- Beast Academy–This comic book style math program is unlike anything you’ve seen. Even my little daughter loves it. While anyone can enjoy the engaging story in the guide, the practice problems are challenging and may require some parental involvement. This would be best suited for kids who are fairly strong in math.
- Prodigy Math–Prodigy Math is a FREE, adaptive math game for grades 1-7. Adaptive means the computer learns what the child knows and does not know and adapts the problems appropriately. You can choose between Common Core or Ontario math for this role-playing game using a Pokemon-style wizardry theme. My kids love it and even like to play it in their free time.
While it may look like a lot, we actually get our work done quickly and have lots of time for experiential learning outside our home. Many of these resources are short bites daily. Instead of languishing over one long and tedious workbook each morning, my kids find it more enjoyable to work smaller chunks from a variety of programs. Not only does it keep math more interesting but also gives them exposure to a variety of math philosophies and perspectives.
How do you do math? Please share in the comments below some of your favorite resources and programs.
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