Thursday, September 16, 2010

Math: Beyond Worksheets

The Horizon Math program that we're using is working well.  In fact, it is one of the few things that I have not changed in years.  We've been "happy Horizons homeschoolers" for the last 4 years!

Generally, I follow the Horizons math lessons as written.  We do drill work, I explain new concepts on the white board, and occasionally we pull out some manipulatives to make the lesson "more real".   These things are working for my children, but there are a few resources that I've found to be quite helpful to work towards math fact mastery.  Let me share!

First, Classical Conversations has a terrific tool that children can use independently during their math drill time.  We use it a great deal.  It is called "Tables Squares and Cubes".  Click on the link to purchase the $5.00 download!  It contains multiplication tables from 0's through the 15's, squared numbers, and cubed numbers.

I have this document in a 1/2 inch 3-ring binder and put all of the pages in page protectors.  As children work across each page, they read/chant the math fact, complete the math facts, and think about the math fact using a chart system that is part of this document.  Everything you need for math drill work is contained in this helpful document!  It is especially helpful when I don't have time to drill math facts using flashcards with my kids or when we're just tired of the flashcard method!

Another tool that I discovered through Classical Conversations is Scholastic's Mega Fun Math Card Game book.  It is terrific!

Click HERE to see inside this book on Amazon.

This book contains 25 fun AND educational math card games.  Even though my kids were adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing during the games, they didn't feel like they were doing something educational.  That's a big bonus in my book!  Last year, my 2nd grader was able to play quite a few of the games.  Our family absolutely loves board games of all kinds, so this is right up our alley.  I have enjoyed using it on rainy days or when we need to take the mundane out of mathematics.

Another great game that I discovered at a homeschool convention is a game called, "Over and Out".  It is made by a company called Jax Games.   It is easy to learn and doesn't take more than about 15 minutes to play and is a game that even parents enjoy.  "Over and Out" has a good mix of critical thinking, strategy, and math education.  I highly recommend it!

Last year, I went through a period of thinking that I absolutely could NOT hold up another math flash card.  For some reason it became absolute drudgery!  I began looking for an online solution and found what I think is a real gem:  Facts First.  This product requires a yearly subscription ($50.00 for one year), but it is worth it IMHO!  Check out the link for a free online demo trial.  Facts first is a math fact mastery program that introduces math facts systematically and tracks what your child has and has not mastered.  I love that the math facts are not thrown out there randomly.  It covers addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.  The best part?  After the student completes a lesson and a math fact quiz, they are rewarded with arcade games . . . BUT the games happen to be educational!  Wonderful, huh?! 
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