Saturday, February 9, 2013

What Do You Use for Curriculum to Teach Them Math?

Teaching children calls for a variety of things.  The LEAST important of those things is a good tool.  It's possible to teach with lousy tools.   At the stage I'm at, I am convinced that I could teach things like reading, writing, and math with a stick and a dirt floor.  Give me a lot of smooth river rocks, a sharpie marker or two and a stack of 3x5 cards and I would call it "Slick!"

A good tool is just really, really nice.

noun |əˈriθməˌtik|
the branch of mathematics dealing with the properties and manipulation of numbers 
New Oxford American Dictionary 2nd edition © 2005 by Oxford University Press, Inc.

Learning about numbers is a thing that you introduce in just everyday activities. You can count to your children.  Toes, cars, windows, and grapes are all good.  I've counted scabs, bandaids, holes in jeans, and duct tape patches, too.  They all work.  It all counts (silly puns run in my family) toward immersion in the concepts of math skills.

After the basics of planned conversation, I have a favorite tool. 
Be careful where you leave Mom's Math-It Timer Plate.  It will cost you $12 to replace it! YIKES!
Math-It, by Elmer W. Brooks, has been my foundational math tool.  I use the solitaire-style games and the guidebook to teach everything through long division with decimals and rounding.

Editor's note:  Mr. Brooks doesn't have a site where he sells his stuff.  You should be able to find these materials by searching for them by name and author.

Our children make their own practice sheets by using these 3x5 recipe cards, ...
... some ten-sided dice (see below),
... their own paper and pencil,

... and some simple directions for use.  I've already taught them how to do the math with the Math-It program's ideas. 
When my students are finished with me & Math-It, they are usually seven or eight years old and enter....

Go ahead.   Guess.

With just these simple materials, what is their arithmetic mastery?

These are the 10 sided dice we use with the cards above.  You get them at your local Gaming or Role Playing Gaming store.  Because you like to shop locally.  It's better for your community.  But you are supposed to be guessing what my kids enter after using these tools.

When my students are finished with me & Math-It, they enter Fifth Grade math materials.


Yup.  I am their one-on-one tutor as needed but I don't need to provide instruction for them.

But Sarah, you are just a natural at math skills!  I can't do that!  Oh, for Petey's sake!  Before I used this with my first student, I added on my fingers - I kid you NOT!  I could not multiply in my head without first counting on my fingers.  I learned my arithmetic skills along with my children and can pass them on now!  I was driven to learn and turned that into an ability.


  1. Is there something you can teach me that will allow me to think about pi without my head getting all fuzzy and tickley? Pi drives me crazy. I am both fascinated and annoyed . . .

    1. It's a problem here as well.

      But not in the normal way people have a problem with pi. The problem we have with pi is similar to the problem we have with Pinball Wizard....

      Check out this youtube link and you will understand.

  2. oh, GREAT! Guess what is going to be stuck in my head all day? (And still - - no mental peace from that slippery little sucker.)

  3. Hummm... I've never heard of this! I'm definitely going to check it out. We're doing Funnix math right now on the computer and he's loving it. I also have the Math-U-See Alpha that I was gonna start him on when he finishes the Funnix program, but I'm gonna have to check this out first. I like that they can go through one book and wind up in 5th grade math. Thanks Sarah!

  4. How quickly do you move from one lesson of Math-it to the next?

    1. It depends on the child (you knew that), but it's usually measured in weeks or months.
      I don't have all the records for everyone still but I'm dragging up the ones I have currently.

      Fuzz started "Half-it" on 02-25-2013. She is ready to quit that and go onto "Timzit" now (03-08-2013). Timzit is the multiplication learning portion of the game/system. That will take longer to learn than "Half-it" did but only by twice at most. That would be learning multiplication tables 0x0 through 9x9 for speed in 4 weeks.

      Wow. I'll have to confirm that now that I've written it out but it sure matches with what I remember with the other guys.

      Wicked fast and SOLID!

  5. Is the guide book (and the locally procured dice) all I need to buy here? The already printed ones are redonkulously expensive right now, but I can get a cd of the guide book for $10 and print it out myself and just notebook it.

  6. Nope. I have the guide book. It's included in the Advanced Math-It set I got 4 million years ago. It has great method and good stuff about how to teach your child how to check their own arithmetic (multi-digit multiplication and the like).

    But it's not the math-it games that I have pictured. (colored cards, Dubblit game board and such) I've looked through the whole guide book and he's pretty well protected his ideas/materials by referencing the games but not giving any hints as to what is really in them.

    Bummer. But keep your eyes open on ebay!

  7. You ROCK! I'm set up, except for the dice. I guess I get to go brave the odd world of the gaming store up the street to grab the dice.

    1. You might be surprised! Gaming store guys are usually just odd. I know a guy who spent some time in those stores for a while. He's still mighty nice but the odd doesn't really scrub off. And it seems that his version of odd has been passed down to his kids even.