Finishing the Course

Times Tables

As the children's maths moves up a level into more complex multiplication and division it seems to be increasingly important for them to have a firm grasp on their times tables. 

Some are much harder than others to learn!

We recently bought some times tables wrist bands for a friend but liked the idea so much that we bought our own set too.

There are twelve bands in a pack, one for each times table. The whole of the times table is written along the band so that every time the child wears it he/she can be practising saying and remembering them on the go. 

Our older two children have really enjoyed wearing these and look forward to moving on to the next coloured band once they have been able to say the entire times table from memory quickly and without mistakes. It seems to be a very good motivator to help them learn these by themselves!

One thing to watch out for is don't let them wear these in the shower or overnight in bed. One of children wore a band 24/7 and the numbers have begun to fade on it.

Cost: £8.99

Guest Post - Primary Maths Resources

I am delighted that Sarah has agreed to write about the primary age maths rescources she uses. Sarah is a friend from church and my children enjoy spending time with her younger two. Her grandson and my younger son also share a birthday! 

It is a very in-depth post and I'm sure this will be useful to those who are currently searching or tweaking their math curricula. The bold texts have links containing more information. 

Sarah blogs at http://weshallobtaindeliveringgrace.blogspot.com/

Please do take a read of her blog as this contains a wealth of information on all things to do with home education. I regularly turn to Sarah's blog for help and inspiration.

Over to Sarah...

I have home educated my younger three children. The younger two have never been to school.

It is important for us that the children realise that maths is an important part of life. God has made this world orderly and obeying certain rules and maths is part of this. It isn’t helpful to children if we make them think that maths is difficult or not enjoyable. A book which is useful to read around encouraging children in maths, and particularly not to think that they can’t do maths, is The Elephant in the Classroom by Jo Boaler. I don’t agree with every last thing but it encourages teaching so that children are inspired to enjoy maths.

Preschool/Early Years

Life is full of maths: numbers of stairs, number of pieces of cutlery on the table, odds/evens with house numbers, shapes while out and about, repeated addition with pairs of shoes, weighing in cooking, money and more!

Orchard Toys has several useful games. We particularly enjoyed Pop to the Shops, Spotty Dogs (useful for understanding number correspondence) and Tell the Time. Sum Swamp by Learning Resources is great for number bonds to 12 and odd/even. We played this almost every day for probably a couple of years and is definitely worth buying. It currently sells for around £14.

Key Stage One

We used Mousematics which comes as part of Mothers’ Companion.

Pros: Cheap and cheerful. The Mothers’ Companion flashdrive is £20 and includes much more.

Cons: The worksheets have to be printed off.

I don’t think this was the most exciting curriculum and isn’t particularly challenging.

The measurement worksheets are much better changed to hands on activities.

Alternatives, I would consider if I were looking again would be

Mathematics Enhancement Project from the Centre in Mathematical Innovation. We used this for a short time.

Pros: Mathematically rigorous, either a free download or inexpensive workbooks.

Cons: Needs concentrated teacher time. I always work with my children during maths time but couldn’t manage MEP as I have children two years apart. The programmes for different years do not cover the same topics at the same time.

This programme would be ideal with an only child or two children working at the same level.

Maths No Problem

This is the UK version of Singapore maths. I haven’t used this personally but it is highly regarded.

Key Stage Two

We have used Galore Park maths from year three. We have only needed to use the main textbooks, for two of the children, and have not added in the workbooks or revision guides.

One of the children found Galore Park maths difficult for a time and so we changed and used the Schofield and Sims Understanding Maths series for a year. This worked really well as these books are clearly set out by topic. Their layout is much better than many maths workbooks that I have seen.

However, we have needed to add extra resources for learning times tables for all three. We have used a variety of items and changed these around for variety. Whatever maths we were doing, we spent about 10 minutes a day on tables for several years until these were reasonably fluent.

Tables resources

• Pairs of shoes/days of week/coins/sets of cutlery.

• Reciting tables while skipping/jumping/with a timer

• Number square to 100 and colouring in/circling numbers (It saves time to make one and photocopy)

• 10 questions-I wrote out 10 questions a day relevant to the child’s need to practice tables so anything from 2s to mixed 2s to 12s plus squared numbers.

• Free online games. Maths Frame was a favourite.

Schofield and Sims tables book Home educators are entitled to use the tutor rates.

• Throwing two dice and working out the product

• Yahtzee

• Trilemma Additional

Maths resources

These are extras that we use from time to time.

Bedtime maths. This is a free website with some maths for each day from Monday to Friday. There is a short introduction, usually about something factual such as an alarm clock or a bird, and then questions are several different levels from suitable for very young children to roughly upper KS2 level.

Schofield and Sims mental arithmetic books 

Nrich Maths is a website with maths based activities. These often extend the child’s current mathematical thinking. Ideal for children who love maths but also for making maths more relevant to those who don’t.

• Maths story books are ideal for the younger end of the range. We particularly liked Less than Zero by Stuart Murphy and some of the Sir Cumference series.

Primary Maths Challenge is an annual contest for children who are keen mathematicians. Home educators can enter. This link has the details http://www.primarymathschallenge.org.uk/pmc-faqs

ABeka Math Curriculum

We use a variety of materials to aid in the teaching of math but our core curriculum is ABeka Math.

We chose this curriculum as it seemed to be one of the few programmes that teaches math with a Christian perspective in mind. 

Below is an example from their workbooks which we really liked as a good foundation for remembering why we are teaching this subject...

ABeka publishes a whole variety of home education materials. The math course is very in depth and their philosophy is to keep reviewing previously taught concepts again and again. This gives the student tons of practise throughout the whole year which, hopefully, leads to the concepts being firmly cemented in their minds and gives them lots of opportunities to practise the areas which they find the most difficult. 

The workbooks are big and brightly coloured with beautiful illustrations which are really appealing to young children. Each chapter has a different theme eg animals, countries, oceans (see below for an example) to keep the children interested.

Example of the contents for Grade 1

Grade 1 lesson page

The lessons are set at a slow pace to begin with so it makes it very simple to start with this curriculum at around age 4/5. We have found that two pages at a time is enough to begin with but if the child is particulary keen then extra can be added on. It places an emphasis on really mastering each mathmatical concept hence the constant repitition of past materials.

Cost: This curriculum can sadly only be bought from America so although the workbooks are a good price the shipping adds on a lot. I first bought Grade 1 Abeka from eBay for a very cheap price and then when we agreed we wanted to continue on with it I used a website www.christianbook.com

This site also happened to stock our science and history curriculum so by buying multiple grade workbooks and textbooks in advance in one big order it made the shipping cost worth it. In future myself and other home educators plan to try to coorindate one big shipment and split the shipping cost.

By current conversion rates a years worth of curriculum (eg Year 2) is £17.26 which is very cheap considering this will last the whole academic year. You only need to buy the workbook. The answer book is not needed (at least in the early years!), nor is the 'Teacher Key' as these are sets of lesson plans used in Christian school classrooms so they are not relevent for home educators. They sell a test book to go alongside the workbook but again it's not really needed in a home setting.