What do mammoths and treasure chests have to do with math?  Well, the treasure chest thing I’ll explain in a minute.  The mammoths?…still not quite sure on that one myself.  But you have to admit the woolly things are pretty cute!

Months before we started homeschooling or had even decided if we were going to “take the plunge”, I purchased the Light Blue Series from Math Mammoth through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op at an incredible discount.  It included the complete curriculum for grades 1 through 6 in a pdf downloadable format.  I am so glad I did.  It has worked wonderfully for us this year!  Here are the topics covered in the grade 1 and grade 3 books:

Printing costs were a little high because I wanted to print the worktexts in colour and keep it as pretty and engaging as possible for the girls.  I figured black and white pages wouldn’t be very attractive to a 6 and 8 year old.  What I loved about Math Mammoth…

  • The books are worktexts which means the instruction and exercises are all together in one book.  There is no separate lesson plans or teacher books for the parents.  I like that.  It is very “pick up and go.”
  • It’s mastery based, but there are cumulative reviews at the end of each chapter to keep those previously learned skills sharp!
  • It’s not heavy on manipulatives.  An abacus might have been helpful, but we had our own system for counting and place value that I’ll describe below. (It includes jewels and a treasure chest…intrigued yet??) Some folks like fancy manipulatives, but I have to say I am more of a beans or buttons kinda gal, preferring to just grab something on the fly.
  • It wasn’t an insane amount of material to get through.  Approximately two pages per day brought us to the end of the material at the end of the school year.  We spent between 20-30 minutes on math, four days per week.
  • Love, love, love that there are options for the currency chapters for those of us that live outside the U.S.  It was as simple as selecting the Canadian version of that chapter and hitting ‘print.’
  • The chapters on measurement dealt equally with the metric and imperial systems.  Even though we are technically metric here in Canada, I still want my children to have an understanding of pounds and pints.

So what’s the deal with that treasure chest, you ask?  Well, I got the idea from a terrific website called Arithmetic Village.  If you have elementary math students and have not checked it out, you must!  It’s fantastic.  The idea is to group the jewels in sacks.  Each sack holds 10 jewels, and the treasure chest holds 10 sacks.  You see where we’re going with this, right?  It’s a tool for teaching place value.  The jewels and sacks I found in the craft section of the local dollar store.  The treasure chest is a special treasure.  My Dad made it for an elaborate treasure hunt he staged for our girls last summer, complete with hidden clues, a map, and a compass.  The treasure chest was filled with coins and jewelry.  What good memories!  I was so pumped to find a use for this chest as a regular fixture in our homeschool.  It makes me smile! 

One thing that didn’t make me smile this year was C-Bear having to learn her times tables.  I honestly don’t remember how I learned mine as a child.  I don’t ever remembering drilling them.  I think they just implanted in my brain over time, with use and practice.  Remembering numbers is second nature to me. I remember credit card numbers and bank account numbers with no problems. I just have to sort of “relax” my brain and they come spurting out my mouth. Don’t ask me how. PJ thinks it’s weird, and maybe it is.  Unfortunately he remembers being near tears, lying on the living room floor as his parents tried to get those numbers to stick in his head, so he can better relate to the hard work C-Bear has been putting in this year trying to memorize those numbers.  A product that I am considering purchasing is Times Tales.  We watched the sample video on YouTube, and within 15 minutes both C-Bear and Boo had their upper 9 times table cemented in their brains for good.  It teaches the answers through stories.  It is very clever and apparently very effective.  When our budget allows, I might just have to purchase the video download.

 Another curriculum I have come across recently that I might use a bit during the summer to keep the kids thinking mathematically is from a website called Math Lessons for a Living Education.  The books for all five levels are available for free to download.  I have downloaded them, but haven’t had much of a chance to look them over closely.  It is story based (perhaps a bit like the Life of Fred books…maybe…I’ve not looked at those in person either so I’m just guessing).

Well, that wraps up our tour of mammoths and treasure chests and times tables.  I always said I had better give this homeschooling thing a try while I still understand my kids’ math!  I think we all understood what we were supposed to grasp this year so onwards and upwards in the 2015/2016 school year.

One thought on “Year in Review – Math (Grades 1 and 3)

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