Math Curriculum Options & Active, Engaging Math Activity Ideas
In this series, I thought I’d try to offer new homeschoolers a starting point for finding homeschool curriculums that works for your family. Today I’ll be talking about math.
It’s sometimes tricky to find the curriculum that works well for you and your kids. It’s helpful to ask around (online and in your community) to see what will work for your child. If you can go to a homeschool curriculum fair, you can thumb through and look at the options. Sometimes I just have to make a decision and then switch if the need arises, but that can wind up being costly if you switch too often.
What Homeschool Math Curriculums Are Available?
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but these are the curriculums I’ve heard about from conversations (both online and off) about what works.
- Singapore Math
- Math Mammoth
- Horizons Math
- Right Start Math – This curriculum uses many elements of Montessori Math. I highly recommend their Math Card Games book.
- Math U See
- Miquon Math
- Saxon Math
- Abeka Math
- Spectrum Math (affiliate link) — The kids have done practice problems from these books from grades 2 through 6.
- McGraw-Hill Education Math (affiliate link) — DD and LD used these for several months for our end-of-year review (spring 2015). They both really got a lot out of these and we’ll definitely use them again next year (probably in the spring). LD really polished percentages, fractions, and decimals using this book and really felt confident after finishing those chapters. 🙂
- Mathematical Reasoning (Critical Thinking Co.) — We used these last fall. The kids weren’t wild about them, though I thought they covered some good math skills.
- Life of Fred Maths
- Art of Problem Solving Beast Academy — These are really fun comic-style math books. We have 3A through 4A and the kids really enjoy reading through these. We have not used the practice books that accompany these.
- Teaching Textbooks
- Shiller Math
- Maths Enhancement Programme (MEP) from the Centre for Innovation in Mathematics (Free and includes lesson plans and answers are online)
- Arithmetic Village
What has our family used?
Right Start Math: Each of the kids started with Right Start Math. I loved all of the hands on manipulatives and tools… everything from tally sticks, to place value cards, an abacus and more. Many of the activities in the post showing some of ED’s preschool math activities shows the kinds of activities suggested by Right Start. They have wonderful book of Math Card Games that I still pull out regularly for my older two as they move into fractions and more.
We also did a lot of Montessori math activities based on things I read about online. We don’t have a curriculum for that, but I pulled in a lot of activities working with Montessori beads, using Montessori style math pages that I got at a Montessori store years ago (which another official “Montessori” teacher said are not truly Montessori… but they worked really well for my kids)… Plus lots of place value activities, paper beads and more. Click on this post to see some of those Montessori style math activities or this post Montessori Math Activities and more.
As my kids became older, I felt they need more of the “traditional” math practice. We used Spectrum math books. My older two have gone through books Grade 2-Grade 6. We use it by skipping all around the book… one row from one page and one row from another.
Saxon Math — At one point we tried Saxon math when we got them from a friend really inexpensively. For a while DD when DD was 6 used Saxon Grade 2, but it moved too slowly for her and she got a bit bored with the format after two or three months.
Singapore Math — My two closest homeschooling friends have had their children use this program. They found it wonderful. We tried it out for a little while, but we didn’t stick with it. My son didn’t like it… and while I think DD would have been fine with it, I fell back to using our own materials and Spectrum.
Mammoth Math — We downloaded some of the units. I’ve read that many families love this program. I was impressed with how topics such as division were covered. We used bits and pieces in our homeschool and again this seems like it would offer a wonderful foundation.
Math Reasoning by Critical Thinking Co — This year we’re adding in Levels B, F and G for my three kids as a supplement to the other math work they’re doing. It’s colorful and approaches math in a refreshing way. Each of the kids have only down the first 5 or 6 pages, but I like it so far. Update: We used these for about 2 months. The kids got tired of it… once again we returned to the Spectrum workbooks (plus other supplemental math materials that I made, Math Cirlces, and the McGraw-Hill Math workbooks).
Math Resources that our family owns and uses regularly:
- Games for Math: Playful Ways to Help Your Child Learn Math, From Kindergarten to Third Grade by Peggy Kaye (affliate link)
- Family Math by Jean Kerr Stenmark (affliate link)
- Math Card Games by Right Start
- Mathematical Circle Diaries (affliate link)
- Primary Grade Challenge Math (affliate link)
- Challenge Math For the Elementary and Middle School Student (affliate link)
Online Math Options:
- Khan Academy: Thousands of free learning videos in math and other subjects
- Smart Tutor
- Dream Box
Multiplication Packets: I made a series of math worksheet packets as my daughter learned her times tables. Find out more about these at these posts:
Prealgebra: This is by no means, comprehensive, but these are some of the options I’ve come across.
- The Art of Problem Solving: Prealgebra— LD started using this book. It goes very in-depth. We spend no more than 20 minutes reading through it, then supplement with other pre-algebra workbooks (which I’ll have to add in at another point). We will definitely continue with this book next year (when LD is in 7th grade and we’ll continue to supplement with other materials).
- UPDATE: For 7th grade, LD is working through the problems in Prealgebra (4th Edition) – pictured below (affiliate link). This book is working *really* well for him!! I highly recommend it. The chapters have plenty of practice problems. The explanations are thorough. So, when DD is ready for PreAlgebra, I think we will read the Art of Problem Solving PreAlgebra (that LD used last year) together and she will start in with this book (earlier than LD did). [The answers are *not* provided, this is a student textbook only.] Oh by the way, LD STILL uses the interactive notebook piece (free printable here) he made last spring. He uses it as a bookmark in the book (pictured below):
- Pearson: Prealgebra
- Pre-Algebra (Kelley Wingate Publications) – This is a workbook style book. It review fractions, decimals, ratios, percents. I’ve had my son review two or three problems from several different pages to keep his basic 5th, 6th grade math skill fresh as we tackle new topics.
- Life of Fred
Algebra and Beyond: I think that next year LD is going to use Beginning Algebra (the next book in the series pictured above). I know one person recommended the Prentice Hall Algebra I textbook and the free materials at AGMath: Algebra. That’s in the back of my mind for later!
Active, Engaging Math Ideas:
Math can be so fun! What can you do to make math come alive? Go into detail about measuring cups when you bake and cook. Incorporate math in the grocery store. For example, estimate the total or figure out the sale price if an item is 10% off. Play games outdoors that test math facts. Play board games and card games.
Here are some of the math activities we’ve enjoyed in our homeschool:
Math Monster Tag: For practicing math facts
Ultimate Math Board Game: A printable version of the board game above.
We also have a Pet Game in our Addition/Subtraction Packet
Make a Math Lapbook: PreK, K — Free Printable at this post.
Take it To the Dump: Have the kids make ten and find matching cards such as 5+5, 4+6. Or as they get older “make 12” or “make 15.”
Interactive Place Value Activities (Links to free printables at this post.)
Math Chains: Just a different way to practice skip counting or coins
Measurement Man Learning about gallons, quarts, pints and cups
A List of Free Online Multiplication Games
Multiplication Math Cups
The kids really like when I make math worksheets especially for them. This post has already become long enough, though, that I’m going to share that list with you tomorrow! So stay tuned for more math fun tomorrow!
If you are a homeschooling family and want to leave some feedback or a review and feedback about one of these math curriculums (or any other that you use!!), you can leave a comment on the Homeschool Den Facebook page. I know I get my best information and ideas from others!!
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.