This is the 2nd week of the 2014 Virtual Curriculum Fair and the topic is
Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Logic, and Science
I’m going to share with you how I’ve combined a variety of free and nearly free resources (plus some paper, ink, and creativity) to create a customized math program for my 8-year-old (who’s straddling 2nd and 3rd grade) and my 10-year-old (4th grade).
This program came about because both of these kids hit a brick wall with the math curriculum I purchased to use with them this year.
Math had become a very painful experience---it wasn’t just that they weren’t making any headway. They were learning to dread math. The mention of doing a math problem sent my 8-year-old special needs kid screaming from the room.
What is that dreaded math program, you ask?
I’m not going to tell ya! It’s a solid program and probably a good choice for many homeschooled kids. At some point I may write a post specifically why this program was not a good fit for my kids (or me), but that’s a topic for another day.
Today I want to talk about what’s working, not what’s not working.
I had a problem. My budget for the year was spent, plus I already have so many mathy books sitting on my shelves collecting dust that I really couldn’t justify another purchase. I was tired of being forced to abandon things I had spent good money on. What to do?
How about putting together a customized program based on free online resources, printables, games, and real life problem-solving?
The foundation for our customized program is FreeMath, a free site with a complete math curriculum for grades 1-5. (Note: click the “begin Free Math” button and try to ignore the ads for IXL, which is not free).
Free Math is based upon math curricula from all over the US. What they did was look at all the math topics covered in each grade and the weeks they are typically covered. They took those topics and created printable lessons/worksheets for each of them.
There is minimal instruction for each topic on the site, and many of the worksheets do have instruction, but you will probably find that you need to instruct your children (which was fine for me).
The lessons/worksheets are listed by “school week,” but are labeled with the topic they cover---there are multiple topics covered in a week. In week 1 of 2nd grade, for instance, 10 different topics are covered, including skip counting by 2s and by 5s, sums to 6, sums to 10, and so on.
Now folks, I have no wish to duplicate any particular math program!
What I wanted was something that would allow me to capitalize on my kids’ strengths, while shoring up their weaknesses. The way this program is set up allows me to shuffle the lessons----I don’t follow the program from start to finish.
I skip some lessons, combine some, choosing my own logical progression with an eye towards mastery, paying special attention to those topics I know my kids need more help in.
I also throw in topics that would typically be covered later in the year, but fit with earlier topics or are independent from them.
For instance, it made perfect sense to me to work on telling time to the 5s after skip counting by 5s. It also make perfect sense to work on multiplying by 5 at the same time and to practice counting nickels!
The lessons are written such that they can stand alone, so it’s very easy to mix things up (provided your child has the necessary foundation for the topic).
On a typical day, both Mary and Peter will each do 3 pages printed from FreeMath, with me instructing them as needed---there will usually be 1 new topic, plus 2 sheets that are review of other topics. Since each topic has 2-5 worksheets, it’s easy to spread them out for review purposes.
FreeMath is our spine. But we add to that.
All of my kids have needed lots and lots (and lots) of practice in order to cement the math facts. I think this takes longer than most people think it should, or than most math programs allow for. I used to think that my kids had a problem in this area. Nope.
It just takes time and practice! The amount of time and practice varies by kid.
We don’t do timed tests (there’s no point in testing something until it’s learned) and worksheets can be a real grind.
We use visual flashcards.
These are flashcards that I created for my kids. Click the pictures to find out how we use them (and download them for free).
We play games.
Many of the games we play use things we have around the house:
- a deck of cards
- “Math War”-each player plays two cards and adds, subtracts, or multiplies
- “Memory”-instead of matching, find pairs that add up to a certain sum or give you a certain product
- “Shut the Box”-you can purchase this game, but you can just use a pair of dice. Roll the dice and add or subtract them to get a number between 1 and 12, keep playing until you’ve gotten all the numbers.
- Use multiple dice and use any of the operations to try to get as close to a particular number as you can. For instance, if you had 5 dice and you rolled a 5, 4, 6, 2, and 1 and your target number was 21, you might do (5 x 6) – (4 x 2) – 1 = 21
We also have some purchased games, but they aren’t necessary.
These are just a few ideas to get you started---what math games do you play?
(click the picture to go to my ultimate list of online math freebies).
We practice real life math!
Why do 10 clock worksheets if you can randomly have your child look at the clock and tell you the time throughout the day?
Whenever your child has a math related question, guide her towards finding the answer on her own. She will develop greater self-confidence and excellent problem-solving skills.
What is working for your kids in the Math department?
This is week 2 of the 2014 Virtual Curriculum Fair!
You can find last week’s post on Language Arts here.
Please visit my homeschool blogging buddies who are talking about math, science, and logic this week (links will all be live by noon):
Supercharged Science's Mathemagic by Kristi K. @ The Potter’s Hand Academy
Math & Logic Resources by Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses
A Peek into our Homeschool: Math & Logic by Brittney @ Mom's Heart
Math and Logic: Patterns and Reasoning by Leah@As We Walk Along the Road
2014 Virtual Curriculum Fair: Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Logic, and Science by Stacie @Super Mommy To The Rescue
Discovering Science & Math w/ Apologia & Saxon by LynnP @ Ladybug Chronicles
Make Math Fun: Your Kids Will Thank You by Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker
Our Curriculum Choices 2014 ~ Mathematics by Renata @ Sunnyside Farm Fun
My Favorite Math For Boys by Monique @ Living Life and Learning
Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Logic, and Science in our Classical Homeschool by Sharra @ The Homeschool Marm
Homeschool Math Choices for a Future Scientist or Computer Programmer by Amy @ Eclectic Homeschooling
Math--Our Four Letter Word by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun
If I Knew Then What I Know Now by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset
Math and Science anyone? by Michele@ Family, Faith and Fridays
My 7 Favourite Math Resources by Kim @ Homestead Acres
Basic Instincts by Chelli @ The Planted Trees
Getting My Teens Ready for Algebra by Debra @Footprints in the Butter
Math We Love by Laura @ Four Little Penguins
Our Take on Math, the Elementary Years - Charlotte Mason-style by HillaryM @ Our Homeschool Studio
Tackling Math and Science from Multiple Angles by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
How We Tackle Middle School Math, Logic & Science by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
2014 Virtual Curriculum Fair ~ Math & Science by Jennifer @ a glimpse of our life