Tuesday, February 06, 2007

No Tears For Math!

Hi Amy....I thought of you when writing this post. I hope the pictures help a little! ;-)

*Click on the red words in the post. They are linkable to the math sites.*

This year math has been going very well. We have all enjoyed it alot, and that's really saying something. We have been homeschooling for many years, and we have tried many different ways of learning. Trying to hone in on one that fits well with each of my children has been a long process.

One of the things that I have learned is that what works for one, doesn't necessarily work for all. So we have lots of different curriculum choices to choose from, and I have taken advantage of that.
Math is one of those subjects that is core. It is critical that they not only understand it, but that they feel as if they have mastered it. So this is why we love Math-U-See. Its very hands on. It allows the boys to see the math, not just memorize formulas on a piece of paper. Levi is learning about fractions. We covered them last year in Saxon, which is another popular math program, but I could tell he still didn't SEE it. So I decided that I would buy this program and we would focus again on it this year, before we moved on. As you can see the Math-U-See program comes with a blue book that has lots of colorful shapes, and plastic sheets with line dividers on them. Using these math manipulatives helps him to truly understand how fractions really work, and how 1/4 is the same as 2/8. He is thriving with this program!

Abram is in kindergarten, and he, too, loves his math. First off , it comes with a box of cuisenaire rods in different colors. When we first bought the program, and the math manipulatives I just let him play with them, because what boy doesn't have a desire to build and play with something like this. Then I explained that certain colored bars and squares represented different numbers. It was very easy, and visually clear.

Every page requires these bars. The page even has him lay the bars on the numbers, and if they fit than he knows they are right, along with the idea of being able to count the squares on each bar. In this picture you can see he has a stack of red squares, blue bars and 4 green squares in front of him. The red represents the hundreds, the blue bars represent tens, and the green squares represents the ones. He stacks them in order to begin learning the different number families. They way it's broke down is wonderful, and brilliantly done. I highly recommend this program, its awesome!

River quickly going over the pages with Levi before we drill him.
The other aspect of math is memorizing your mulitplication tables. The faster you are able to recite them the better off you are. We did the typical flashcards, but they were boring and mundane. I gave out goodies from the dollar store for every number that they mastered, but once I ran across this program that all ceased. It's called Times Tales Deluxe.
It starts out with the most difficult numbers for children to memorize (6,7,8,and 9). This proved to be true. The other numbers weren't as challenging, so this program only focused on the other four. Each number was made into a character and then given a name. As you can see 6 represents the 1st grade class, 7 is Mrs. Week, 8 is shaped as a snowman, and the 9 is made to look like a tree house. BRILLIANT!

At first you read the short story that represents the picture. Then you say 6 (the first grade class)x9(the tree house)=54(how many lights they will hang on the treehouse.) So 6x9=54.

After you go over the story several times, then you flip the book over and you have them go over the story with you, but you ask what is missing. They will say the treehouse, which is 9.

Then they will give you the whole picture without any of the words, and you have them tell you the story. Within 10-15 minutes they will have them memorized. Its crazy, but true. This visual way of learning is fascinating, and my kids love it.
My only wish is that they did have a book for the lower numbers, but honestly the lower numbers haven't been as challenging. After we havent done this book in a while, I just let Levi glance through it briefly and they are restuck in his brain. He can now race through his math multiplication quizzes speedily.
Finding the curriculum choices that work for your family can be pricey and a long journey, but once you do, you feel so victorious!!


marykathryn said...

Wow..I feel so special to be the very first to comment on the new blog design!!!! Well the template looks great and she did do an amazing job. I think I want one!! Does that make me a mini-me?? Sorry not too much to contribute on the actual post...but you know I think you do an amazing job homeschooloing your kids and anything to make math fun right?

momto3blessings said...

Well we use Math U SEe and it was the best investment. Micah enjoys Math now and actually is understanding what he is doing. We love it at our house.
And I love the blog design. I need to contact her . I have my picture I want to use.

Just Being Me said...

I love your new design. It really looks nice and easy to read the post. Great pictures of the kids.

Nicole said...

OH!!!! I LOVE the new look. Did I tell you Lindsay would do you right or what??? It looks FABulous!!

I am SO impressed with your homeschooling. I have thought so hard about maybe doing this with my kids and I am just scared!

ablondeblogger said...

We've always used Abeka and it's worked well for us, but it's lacking in the manipulatives.

I think my youngest might benefit from something like Math-U-See since she's been more slow to catch on than my other two.

LOVE your blog design, btw!

Kim's Life said...

I take my hat of to you home schooling mum's. Im scared if I home schooled my children wouldnt have a chance with life.LOL

Nicki said...

We've loved Math-U-See! Which reminds me, I need to be ordering our next book.

I'm going to make a note about the Times Tales too. It will be awhile before we need those though.

I love hearing your take on different homeschool curriculums and books. You know I'll be back to asking you a bunch of questions once I start planning our curriculum for next year. Hee!

5atkins said...

Trina, The blog looks great!:)
I have a friend who purchased times tales and all of her kids 1st grade and up (4 kids) already know the stories because they are so unique and easy to learn! I look forward to using it too next year! My girls are story lovers so they will really enjoy it! I looked into MathUSee but I was afraid since it was rather different from the way I learned that I would just confuse them. Did you order the DVD's of the creator teaching? Just curious. So far our girls seem to be doing well with Saxon, but I can see how the rods would work really well!
Glad you are doing well! See you later! In Him, Eva

Christine said...

Thank you for sharing this. I am very interested in Math U See for my littles. Blessings to you!

Math-U-See said...

Hi, just ran across your blog, looks great :-)

and those are some neat math pictures :-)

keep up the good work, I'm glad your math is "Tears Free"