Because Christian unschoolers do math differently, I compiled a list of my favorite homeschool math resources from over the years. Two of my children have graduated and the others are out of elementary school. So, now is the time!
First, I’d just like to challenge you to think of math as a tool, not a subject. It is best taught through real life application, not drill and kill exercises. I give some ideas for inventing your own low-cost math activities here. In this post, I point out that 100 years ago, formal math instruction before age 12 was shown to impede critical thinking skills. You might wonder, well, Julie, what do you recommend? What have you used? Here is my list of favorite homeschool math resources, organized by age group.
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By elementary, I mean children who are at least six years old and up to about age twelve. Most parents are concerned about their children learning math facts and the four operations–addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division–along with decimals and fractions during this time. I don’t agree with the scope and sequence for teaching these skills. While any child age 12 with an allowance or small business can see the immediate necessity of them, a child age 8 might not. I highly recommend an informal, living books, hands-on approach until the teen years. This is not a definitive list. There are many more great resources than what is listed here.
Games for Math by Peggy Kaye (contains instructions for math games)
Riddle Math, Mathmagical Showtime, and Math Facts to the Max by Carl M. Sherrill (great for math facts, learning about numerical relationships and algebraic concepts, and stumping people!) (Look for different versions of this as the originals are out of print)
Family Math books (lots of fun activities)
Highlights magazine Mathmania monthly subscription club
Sum Swamp game
Pizza Fractions game
Carmen Sandiego Math Detective CD-Rom game My kids LOVED Carmen Sandiego!
Geoboard for learning about early geometry and shapes
These books teach math concepts through engaging stories, puzzles, and adventures that make math relevant, interesting, and fun.
Anno’s Mysterious Multiplying Jar: exponents
A Grain of Rice: exponents
Sir Cumference books: geometry
Theoni Pappas books, such as Math for Kids and Other People, Too
Marilyn Burns books, such as Math for Smarty Pants
65 Short Mysteries You Solve with Math by Eric and Natalie Yoder (all important critical thinking)
The Math Chef by Joan D’Amico and Karen Eich Drummond: mostly decimals, measurement, and fractions
Curriculum and software
Math Cats fun math games online
Fun Brain math drill through games.
Times Tables the Fun Way by City Creek Press (this is the workbook version. There is a computer-based version)
www.livingmath.net is a great resource of math literature
Your Business Math from Simply Charlotte Mason
Federal Reserve Education lessons on money and business for all grades
Unschooler-Friendly Math Curriculum
Math on the Level curriculum
Life with Fred curriculum
Making Math Meaningful curriculum
Most parents decide that their teens need to learn Algebra and Geometry, possibly Trigonometry and Pre-Calculus. In fact, most states require at least algebra and geometry. However, teens will challenge their parents to tell them when they will ever use this stuff. They are hard-pressed to give a satisfactory answer. I encourage you to choose your curriculum carefully. My favorite books, websites, and curriculum are:
Purple Math free website, great for clear explanations of algebra and geometry concepts
All the Math You’ll Ever Need by Steve Slavin
String, Straightedge, and Shadow: The Story of Geometry by Julia Diggins
Native American Geometry: VERY cool, must-see video here about the relationship between all shapes and the circle
Borenson’s Hands-on Equations (appropriate for middle school)
Harold Jacobs’ math, particularly algebra
Life of Fred curriculum
Principles from Patterns Algebra by Cornerstone Curriculum Project
Zometools Geometry course (build the geometric models while you learn the concepts)
I hope I inspired you to think differently about math instruction with my list of favorite homeschool math resources. For many families, it is the least favorite subject. I know when I was in school, I hated math. But, now I appreciate it in a whole new way and I hope you do, too!