Over the past decade plus of homeschooling we’ve tried a lot of different educational resources – no less than a dozen just for Maths – but I’m not going to talk today about the ones that didn’t work for us. I want to share what’s working now and why we love them.
It’s no secret that I love Maths Online and all my kids have used it from about year 5/6 onward. It encourages independent work and gives them the opportunity to keep going over the work until they understand it and achieve a certain result. The great thing about Maths as a subject is that it’s black and white. There’s no grey area. The answer is either right or wrong, unlike many other subjects where the answers could vary, and this makes online teaching/response pretty simple. It’s not like an English assignment that needs to be read and assessed by a human!
Not just for homeschoolers, Maths Online is a great program for school kids as well, who perhaps need support in certain areas or who want to revise work prior to an assessment. It runs from Kindergarten to Year 12 and is all in line with the Australian Maths outcomes so you shouldn’t need to purchase supplementary resources unless the child is really struggling, in which case one-on-one support is going to be key. We did trial using it for the younger years, but have found it best for later primary and secondary. You can sign up for a free trial HERE.
The Good and the Beautiful
We’ve only started using The Good and the Beautiful Maths books this year (for kids in Kindergarten, year 2 and year 4), but safe to say I’m sold. I don’t think I’ll go back to any other program for the primary-aged kids.
Levels K through to 3 come with a wooden box filled with various tools and components (ie, pretend money, geometry shapes, dice, clock and counters) to create hands-on lessons. Levels 4 and 5 have a QR code linked video at the beginning of each lesson which I find immensely helpful. It means I can set the 10 year old up with the video for his lesson while I help the 8 year old with her work and then come back to assist the older child’s work if required. It also means if he doesn’t understand it the first time, he can watch the video again without me having to repeat myself – this saves a lot of frustration for both parent and child!
Each lesson introduces a new concept and then revises what was taught in the previous few lessons. I love this combination of work and the kids are enjoying it too. It helps their confidence that when they perhaps struggle a little with a new concept, they can finish the lesson on a topic they know/remember.
The only issue with The Good and the Beautiful curriculum is that it’s American, so if you’re not American (we’re Australian), you’ll need to switch out the currency and measurement lessons for your own country, but I find it’s a minor issue for such a beautiful program. You can find out more about this program HERE.
Life of Fred
If you have children who learn through stories, they’ll probably love Life of Fred. The Life of Fred series follows a fictional character, Fred Gauss, from birth until 6 years of age, who is a university teacher. It is a clever, witty and engaging story which introduces and teaches all maths concepts (even the advanced ones, despite how it sounds) and is flexible across a wide range of ages. Although it can be used as a standalone program, I’ve never used Life of Fred as such, but rather as a supplement to our other work. The series is designed for self-learning so is a really great option for families who need some or all of their Maths program to be independent of a parent’s input. The company that produces this series is not currently shipping outside of Canada, but you can purchase the set on Amazon.
There are a number of great resources we’ve collected over the years and while they’re not absolutely necessary, they’ve definitely been incredibly helpful. Here are some of the resources we use (and possible alternatives if you don’t want to commit straight away):
- Base Ten block set (not much can replace this except perhaps Lego or other blocks; beads on a pipe cleaner can work well for the 10s)
- Pretend money (real money is of course a perfect alternative but sometimes it’s hard to come by $100s!)
- Counters (anything else could be used, but buttons, seeds and Legos are all great)
- Play clock
- Abacus (beads on a string work well too)
- Rulers and tape measures
- Scales or weights
- Baking implements
We have some terrific Maths games that have helped my kids develop concepts in ways that have been hard to do through bookwork, and being board games… they’re happy to play them outside school hours! Some of our favourites:
- CrossMath (like Scrabble, but with Math equations)
- Card games and UNO (these are great particularly for younger kids in helping them learn numbers, colours and shapes)
- Lego (one of the best tools for understanding multiplication)
- Dice and domino games
- Fraction Fortress (a tower-style game where kids learn to stack various fraction parts together to create a whole)
- Orchard Toys has a great range of Maths games for younger kids, including Pop to the Shops and Counting Mountain
- Zingo 1-2-3 (Bingo-style game using numbers)
- Monopoly (kids and adult versions)
- Pocket Money (an Australian money game)
If you want to try these before you invest, check with your local library to see if they have them available in their games/education kits. Alternatively, you could find a few families who are happy to go in and purchase a few games that can travel between homes. When your kids have outgrown them, they can be re-sold or given to the op shop.
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