View Full Version : i really need math program/curriculum help

08-23-2009, 01:08 AM
I know I've asked this before. Gah, I'm just going round and round here with my brain.

I have Rightstart math that I use with 1 dc. I started it with 2 dc at the beginning of last year but because of some issues, I only continued it with one. I really need to get another math program for this year and probably soon so I can get familiarized and start something up next month. (I'll continue RS with the one child.)

I like RS because it's heavy on manipulatives (mostly the abacus, but we've used tiles, little cardboard pieces, cards for games, etc.), it's not super workbook heavy and it really is teaching dc to think and understand. I'm not against a workbook for everyday but I'd like there to be manipulatives to work with them and ideally a lesson to teach how to think mathematically through different problems (if that makes sense).

I was thinking I'd do MUS with dc but it looks a bit dry and I want the kids to enjoy math. I also thought Horizons but haven't seen the teacher's manual and am wondering if it actually teaches through the mathematical concepts, etc. rather than just "here do these workbook pages for the day", KWIM? I was also wondering about Mathematics Made Meaningful (here:
http://www.rainbowresource.com/prodlist.php?sid=1251001679-2034779&subject=10&category=7472 ) because we have so many cuisenaire rods but I was wondering if this would be a full math program.

I'm confused as to what to get at this point. I have 1 B&M store to look at here that carries Saxon and Horizons. I'm not interested in Saxon at this point and they don't carry Horizons teachers manuals.

Anyone have any good advice, opinions or want to carry on a discussion about this? I do understand that really I won't know what's a good fit for us until we've used it but I hate to spend the $$ on something and then find out it doesn't work and it never hurts to find out some opinions from my friends. :)

Gail in NY
08-23-2009, 07:27 AM
I think I have tried almost everything out there - I have an up and coming 6yo who needs a purpose for math: not dry, boring, rote stuff. I broke down and went with Bob Jones!!!! He can't wait to get started ( manipulatives and colorful workbook) and I think I can handle it. Not overbearing amount of stuff for me to deal with. *sigh* I feel your pain.......I have also come to the conclusion that math is Math....no matter how many bells and whistles the package comes with! Therefore-why knock myself out and spend a ton of $ when eventually they will at least learn all four basic operations and how to use them. Granted some "get" math and some don't, so ya just gotta go with the child.......( my 2 cents - sorry!)

DD in IL
08-23-2009, 08:20 AM
We really like Abeka. I did not care for Saxon at all...too boring.

08-23-2009, 10:01 AM
we are using and loving "making math meaningful".


08-23-2009, 11:52 AM
I have been really trying to figure out the math curriculum too, and until recently was leaning toward Right Start. Now I'm leaning toward Math on the Level (that Jeni likes and now Heather W is switching to). I found out that there are families in our area who are using it, including the president of a local homeschool group who is switching to it. Hopefully I can talk to some of them or see the curriculum before I get to the point of needing to buy it. :)

I saw the Right Start curriculum because a friend uses it, but my dh (who is pretty good at math) was not all that impressed with it, but I couldn't find anything that appealed more until learning about Math on the Level...

Anyway, I'm not any help but just wanted to let you know that I'm struggling with this decision too, just intimidated to spend $$ on something that doesn't work, ahhh!

Laura F
08-23-2009, 08:05 PM
We used MUS for K, and it is very manipulative-centered. Funny that you use the word "dry" because that's why we switched to Horizons. My dd just didn't like the black & white pages. I personally liked the program. Horizons is very colorful, and you can use manipulatives whenever you need to, but you won't necessarily be instructed to do so like with MUS. I do have the TM, but I don't always use it because there is so much involved in each lesson! At times, we use flashcards, math drills, and manipulatives. At other times, dd simply does the work without any extras.

Heather W
08-23-2009, 09:54 PM
Rachel Horizons DOES have the lessons laid out in the teacher's manual. It is a lot like Saxon without the scripting.

I tried this with my dd for some time now though she was not getting along with it.

The problem I was having was that I ended up letting some kids have just the do the page type lessons because I find it difficult to do a nice lesson with each child at their level- especially when some prefer the page.

I just bought Math on the Level which is basically a program for helping you do applied math in your homeschool. There's more to it than that, but I was looking at doing living math and leaving behind the formal lessons for more engaging stuff but NOT the bells and whistles of the packaged programs (like RightStart).

My husband is not a guy who is willing to let me buy a bunch of programs either so I researched and thought on this quite a lot. He told me before we bought it that this was IT. He would not be hopping to another program after this one. So...there you have it. I had to be sure this would work for us. I think it will based on several things.

1. I can do a family math lesson with each child working at his level with one concept. Here (http://blogshewrote.blogspot.com/2009/08/math-chip-game-highlow.html) is a pre-MOTL example from last week.

2. I can accommodate the child who loves workbook problems and the child who doesn't using this program. It really is easier to add problems than to take them away.

3. I can keep track of the concepts all of my kids are mastering using the record keeping chart.

4. There are only 5 problems a day that rotate and are chosen based on the needs of your kids.

5. It is all about the applied math and incorporating math into everyday family life. It was written by a homeschooling family with special ed background.

6. This allows us to work together so that I don't have to teach 3 math lessons. I imagine that this would work for you considering your kids' ages.

Horizons is cheap, thorough, and visually pleasing. It is difficult to make it work for a hands on kid when you need to do that at multiple levels a day. And the problem sets are HUGE and tiresome. I cut a lot out but it was pointless after a time. We needed a change.

Math on the Level goes from pre-K through pre-Algebra and is a one time investment.:thumb:

Nancy Ann
08-24-2009, 01:50 AM
I am using Right Start but if I was teaching more kids I would most definently be using Math on the Level because I think you could find a way to make it work for anychild. Horizons and Saxon did not work for us I really wanted some hands on type of things. Yes, you can add hands on stuff but it wasn't realistic for me to do that I really need it to be part of the program.

Math on the Level is a big investment but I believe there is a money back after 30 days. You may want to check on that to be sure...but I thought that was the case. I wonder if MUS has a money back thing too.

There is also a Math on the Level forum and you can talk to other moms who are using it to get a better idea.

Heather W
08-24-2009, 07:33 AM
You can use Math on the Level for 60 days to decide whether or not it works for you.

Kendra AU
08-24-2009, 08:44 AM
:hi: Rachel,

You know, this might be weird'ish', but especially at your little one's ages you don't even need a math curriculum if you don't want one. ;) We do all sorts of hands on games to learn various skills around here. I have to be honest and say I spent a LOT of time reading and poking at the idea before I jumped ship. I even addressed it with my husband a few times.

The only "hard" part is getting everything ready "in time". For my kids, that means having their journals ready (I leave them anywhere from 1-5 questions/problems), having a game/lesson ready, and then making sure we quit before we've spent the ENTIRE day playing math.

My eldest (8) is a very hands on learner, but he also has to know how and why and because and.. this works great for him because he sees the principle in a hands on way that makes him aware of why he needs to know, how he'll use, and on and on.. My 6 year old doesn't know any different and because he can beat his big brother at 10's concentration (addition game) he thinks he's hot stuff. :lol:

For now I use an index in a math book to decide what I might cover in the school year. I use a variety of resources (owned, made up, web based, and books) and a whole lot of fun. In fact I just whipped up a new game this evening we've dubbed Piggy Bank Math which I'll be posting on my blog in the near future.

My kids always do math together, always have. We gather around the table and play the same games and do the same sort of work. I bulk up for one and keep the other simple. It may vary on who gets what. For instance we focused in on time telling for a month. My eldest who knew hours and half hours worked on telling time on the 5's now as well as what he all ready knew, where as my little one learned only on the whole's and halves, but picked up how to do it with 5's. When we do addition one does single while another does double, etc.

Anyway, I could most likely get far too carried away with the subject. There's lots of information on my blog (http://aussiepumpkinpatch.blogspot.com/) if you're interested in it. Just follow the Living Math links (http://aussiepumpkinpatch.blogspot.com/search/label/living%20math) :)


08-29-2009, 04:03 PM
For those of you doing Math on the Level, I just don't "get it." I don't really understand it. There is a tab on the top of the website for "how it works," however that gives FAQ and I just want to know more how it works exactly. ;)

I don't understand how I can use the same lesson for more than 1 child at more than 1 level.

I mean, well, let's take some specifics.
Let's say there are 3 children: 1 that is adding 2 digit numbers, one that is adding numbers up to 10 and one that isn't adding at all. I want to do a lesson addition. But I'd like all 3 children to participate. How do I do that on each child's level. And isn't math essentially supposed to be completed for mastery? So whether the program teaches for mastery, meaning that you complete each lesson over and over until it's mastered (or they present it in more than one lesson so that mastery is achieved) OR the program teaches in a spiral manner so that new pieces are added in but with mastery in mind so that eventually one would be able to achieve the desire end in mind (whether it be addition, subtraction, place value, etc.) ... there is mastery involved.

O.k so we've got the 3 kids working together, at the same time, on the same lesson/topic... how does that look in a practical sense? I mean, there is a definite chance for some comparison, hurt feelings, feelings of inadequacy (especially so in my case because I'm dealing with twins who are very close to each other) if they can do what the other is doing, etc. But also, how does that look so that I would challenge some or just keep some plugging along?

I'm interested in the math program because it seems like so many are interested in it and thinks it's good. I'm also very interested because I like to bring in the real life examples, applying it to real life is good. But I'm also about simplicity and ease of use and making something fit good in my family.

Thanks for sharing this with me friends!

No stones please. :)

08-29-2009, 05:32 PM
Seriously, and I really don't mean to confuse you more but I have switched Maggie to Rod and Staff math grade one this year and we are loving it! Very basic and easy, but she just loves it so much. Not a lot of bells and whistles, not a ton of prep but just math!

Kendra AU
08-29-2009, 05:40 PM
Here's (http://aussiepumpkinpatch.blogspot.com/2009/06/living-math-dominoes.html) a lesson I did teaching addition to two different levels. One was learning double addition, and one was learning basic addition. ;)

The idea is that you teach the BASIC lesson together, then you move on so each child practice his own thing. Even though my eldest knew how to add, he still sat in on a basic "this is how we add" lesson which involved Beanie Babies (http://aussiepumpkinpatch.blogspot.com/2009/05/double-facts-with-living-math.html). ;) He thought it was cool. When he went to his Journal he discovered double addition facts. I explained that he starts from the right and moves left BUT it's exactly the same as normal addition (for now, we discussed carrying over later).

We discuss things like patterns for math families together. Such as the adding 10 to a number. We don't need much review with these because the kids understand it's the aden plus teen. These are reviewed via our Joey-Joey game (http://aussiepumpkinpatch.blogspot.com/2009/08/joey-joey-math-game.html), and for fun they did a speed test on those facts. Only they have no idea I was timing them. :lol:

For us, (and we're not currently using MOTL) I do a lesson at the table teaching a concept or we do it on the floor using a LARGE hands on tool. Then after we've discussed it, played it, used it, etc.. We go to our seats where they open up their journals and find questions that pertain to their level.

Review happens most often with hands on games. We've taken to playing Joey-Joey daily with a certain set of math facts in it so we can master one family at a time. After a week of practicing that family, for complete fun I make up a work shee (http://themathworksheetsite.com/)t and say, "Because I know you can do it I thought we'd do this silly paper today!" They get all excited and I, for fun, watch the clock to see how quickly they can do it. I'm not really intent that they know it at the drop of the hat as long as they FULLY understand the concept, but I do understand the need for speed at certain times.

The thing for me is, I'd rather that the kids ENJOYEd the experience and UNDERSTAND what they are doing then that they be speedy gonzalles kwim?
Enjoy the journey!


Heather W
08-29-2009, 07:55 PM
I have a 2nd grader, 4th grader, and a 6th grader this year.

We played a game with math chips the other day involving highs and lows (http://blogshewrote.blogspot.com/2009/08/math-chip-game-highlow.html). The kids had to choose a chip from the pile and decide whether they wanted to keep the chip or not. They wanted either the highest or lowest numbers depending on what the round called for. Even J4 played and just named numbers when he picked them up. He sits with us at the table.

After five rounds we stopped and calculated the scores. Of course this required addition. My oldest two had no problems and I helped my 2nd grader with his two digit addition with regrouping which he had not done yet in his Horizons program. He loved it!

Next time we play I will have my oldest do the average and median. I have my 4th grader begin to learning averaging and my 2nd grader can do median and practice his adding again.

MOTL suggests you do two to three lessons a week and two to three activities for application per week. So, you won't be sitting every day teaching mastery.

I think it works because you can present ONE concept for the day and adapt it to each of your kids where they are on the concept. I had decided to go that direction because to get the most out of a Horizons lesson without just sending someone to do a workbook page required too much time and it wasn't unifying. This way my kids work together and interact at the table while still doing things at their own pace.

Last week I did a lesson to go with our ocean unit study/moonjellies/Nim stuff. We've been incorporating weather into the study. I did a lesson on weather math (blog post coming soon). We talked about the Beaufort Wind Scale and what it meant. We looked at the ranges of wind speed on the scale and then we did some math work with it. I taught the kids about the median (middle number). My 6th grader knows median, but the other two did not. I-7 is 2nd grade but he can understand what the middle is in a series of numbers. It was a good lesson. E10 went a step further and found the average wind speed for each level on the scale. I made a chart for the kids showing the scale and leaving space for them to do the calculations.

It was an excellent lesson and they got to engage on it together. I think working with them together is the chance for them to experience the strong points they each have. Before all her brothers knew was that it took forever for their sister to do a workbook page. Now she can show her competency...the workbook just wasn't working.

Math on the Level is a collection of concepts and record keeping and application ideas that will assist me in doing math my own way. It is NOT for the person who wants everything laid out. You can use the record keeping papers to keep track of where each child is on a particular concept.

I'm using lots and lots of other resources to do my math lessons and using MOTL as a resource to do the same. Family Math is another series you might enjoy doing with your kids.

Plus, this is not to say that I won't ever have my kids do more at their level anyway. We have math journals (http://blogshewrote.blogspot.com/2009/08/making-math-journals.html) which allow me to give my kids independent math work at their level. Plus, they will also have the 5-A-Day problems each day. MOTL suggests that if one child needs more instruction you can have the others start on their review problems and switch around.

R9 is so into sewing that I will be working with her on pattern making and that will be a lot of applied math for her which is right up her alley.

In other words, I think this approach makes it easy to do what works best for your family without being tied down to what a publisher thinks is best.

You do have time to review it and see how it works before having to keep it. I can't say enough about it, but it really depends on your vision for teaching math.

When we do a fractions lesson, E10 will be able to help explain which he does every so often if one of his siblings isn't quite getting it. Then I can have him work on mixed numbers, etc while the younger kids work on adding them or identifying them based on their skill level.

I'll be doing more posts on this whole deal as we go. I have several in my head right now.:lol:

08-29-2009, 09:54 PM
i received an email today regarding a free math resource & thought of this thread. maybe it will help you :)


08-30-2009, 09:15 AM
Rachel, I mean this in the most kind and jovial way but you are thinking like a teacher. :kiss: ;)

You have to get completely outside the box to really understand MOTL. Many people feel naked outside the box and could not fathom MOTL's practices and that's ok. Just because it's the new, hip curriculum to use does not make it a good fit for everyone. MOTL has to fit you as the teacher because you can adapt it to fit any student.

That said, a lesson here does not look like a traditional math lesson. Some times we all sit down together and play a game for math, everyone plays at their own level. When we are cooking, I might ask one child to identify the fractions on the measuring spoons, I might ask another what could we do if I needed 1-1/2 cups of milk but could only find the 1/4 cup measuring cup. I might ask them to measure 2 Tablespoons using only teaspoons and ask them how we could write out what we just did (we could write 3 tsp + 3tsp or we could write 3tsp x 2....) we double recipes, we reduce recipes and I have them do as much of the math as they are capable.

When we drive a calculate mileage, figure out how long until we get there, miles per gallon, calculate fuel cost by hand, play counting games and practice math facts. Not all my kids can do all of these things themselves but the younger kids are hearing us talk through it and becoming familiar with it. It's amazing what they will pick when when they are exposed to an older child's lesson. ;)

When we work together, I direct questions at certain children based on their level. I don't allow them to blurt out answers and not give the younger child a chance to work it out for themselves. I explain to the older child that I know they know the answer but I want their young sibling to have a chance to work it out for themselves. I ask them how they would feel if I always answered for them and blurted it out before they had a chance to work it out. I treat it as a lesson in courtesy and respect for others. My kids are all very close in age, Irish triplets really ;) , and I simply don't allow them to compare themselves or compete with their siblings. When it comes up, I remind them that no one is good at everything but everyone has something they are good at. I remind them of what they are good at and with math, I remind that that much of what they learn in math is skills. Skills have to be learned and perfected overtime. usually another child is "better" because they've had more time with the concept than they have because they are a year or two older. On the flip side, I absolutely despise bragging, boastfulness and being a show off. I don't allow that either, for math, school or anything else. They have to be good sports all the way around. ;) On the whole, my children are more likely to help each other or ask their sibling for help than be competitive with each other but it is definitely an environment I've had to cultivate.

I think I would consider MOTL to be spiral in the way that I teach it because I introduce a concept, then we practice it by pointing it out in everyday situations and add to the lesson concept when I think they are ready to understand. If I get the "deer in the headlights" look, we drop the new information and reintroduce it at a later time. Until then we pick other topics to work on, jumping around to whatever interests them or I think they are ready for. I don't worry about missing anything because MOTL has all the topics and prerequisites laid out for me. I won't miss or skip anything. ;) You could certainly teach it as a mastery program though if that is what worked for your student.

A program I find very good for those who like the idea of MOTL and hands on math but aren't ready to jump into MOTL with both feet is MEP math (http://www.cimt.plymouth.ac.uk/projects/mep/default.htm). Very hands on and complete. It is British which means the money problems are in British pounds and they only teach metric measurement but it's fairly simple to work the money problems in dollars and cents instead of pounds and pence and it's also easy to just teach imperial measurement through daily life. ;) And the best part of MEP is that it's free. :thumb:

Heather W
08-30-2009, 03:03 PM
Agreeing with Jeni. I ask specific children to answer certain questions allowing everyone a chance to participate. No one can blurt.

Kendra AU
08-30-2009, 05:55 PM
If we get a blurter I ask the younger one (cause it's not usually he who blurts) to verify if the blurter is right or wrong.. ;)

Holly S
08-30-2009, 08:14 PM
I'm not sure exactly what isn't working for your family with RS, but we recently switched from RS to Singapore. We finished level 1a and are now on 1b after switching last spring. I'm much happier with Singapore, mainly since the lessons go quite a bit quicker. I teach her from the teacher's manual using manipulatives (many left over from RS), then we look at a few problems in the textbook, then she has a couple workbook pages on her own. We also use the RS Math Games book for extra practice.

I really liked RS, it was just too time consuming for me right now. :sad: I love that Singapore teaches in a similar style (lots of mental math and manipulatives at first) and is much less demanding on me. It's also more affordable for us since we can buy it a semester at a time.

I hope you find something that works for your family! This is our 3rd math program so I can relate! I'm hoping we don't have to make another switch (at least until level 6 anyway).

08-30-2009, 11:40 PM
Hi Rachael,
I have used Rod and Staff with all my boys 13,9 and 7 but to break it up a little I introduced Miquon Maths to help them think a little differently in their approach. Miquon introduces all the functions early on and is very hands on using rods. It can be downloaded as an ebook from Curclick and is quite cheap. If you wanted to you could just print pages that were appropriate for the particular child. Having said this it seems to become difficult for some children. My eldest did all the books without difficulty my youngest isnt enthused at all. I also throw in Calculadder for my second boy instead of using the speed drills in Rod and Staff.
I have friends using Singapore Maths that love it and it is reasonably priced. If I was starting over I would use Mathusee but I am not prepared to pay out the dollars now for one child.
My eldest boy does Saxon now and I started him some years ago with 56.

I keep telling my children that Maths is all about number patterns.

So here is another offering. I hope you can find what suits you and your children.:)


09-18-2009, 12:29 AM
Rachel, I mean this in the most kind and jovial way but you are thinking like a teacher. :kiss: ;)

Oh my friend, of course I am because I was one ... and still am! :lol: :thumb:
I don't mean to think like that kind of a teacher though but it's still there, over 7 years later.

I am coming back to this thread because I am just so intrigued by this Living Math stuff. I would love to use this as part {or egads! ALL} of our math curriculum. I did check out MOTL and it is WAY too pricey for us right now. There is no way I can do that program ATM.

I would like to continue RS for the one child. The other child needs something. I am working on MUS but I'm not loving it... yet. I'm going to start praying that this will be a good thing though.

So I'm coming back and going to be looking at this all over again.
If someone, anyone wants to share more of how Living Math looks in their homeschool, I would appreciate it. Share with me. Show me. Write it out. Thank you. :kiss:

09-18-2009, 01:13 AM
I remember you mentioning in the past that you were a teacher, that's part of why I wrote that. I could see your teacher training showing. :lol: ;) :kiss:

MOTL is very expensive and I really think the easiest way to see the whole picture with MOTL is to jump in with both feet and get the whole set but it is very expensive. MOTL caught us at the right place and the right time because now, there is no way I could afford it either. :no:

I bet you are doing a lot of living math without realizing it or have plenty of everyday situations you can turn into living math. Next time you are in the kitchen, wonder aloud how many 1/2 cup scoops it would take to fill your 2 cup measuring cup. You don't have to explain everything in mathmatical terms right now but if say your twins already now that 1/2 + 1/2 = 1, ask them if they can guess before they try it. You can also ask them how many more plates would be needed at the dinner table if each of them brought a friend to dinner.

I really can't recommend MEP math highly enough if you like the idea of hands on math but would like a set of lesson plans to follow. High on the hands on and mathematical thinking, there is a daily worksheet but it's not a typical worksheet, very short and a good compliment to the hands-on portion. The lesson plans are not completely scripted but they are very easy to just "do the next thing". And you can't beat free. ;)

Amy ~Texas
09-18-2009, 04:36 PM

Check out this for transitioning to Living Math...


Hope this helps!

I, too, am trying to find something for my younger. I cannot decide between MOTL or Rightstart. He is my 'math minded' kiddo and I want to let him move at HIS pace. Up to this point he has finished A Beka K, 1, & 2. So, for the start of his 2nd grade year I am still up in the air. A Beka 3 is out of the question. It has become boring to him. BUT I have been using MEP to get us through (until I can make up my mind which way to go), and we have really enjoyed it. Good luck with making your decision on which path to choose!! :)

09-25-2009, 12:39 AM
Amy - I love Jimmie's lens on Transitioning to Living Math and how she shares that it worked for her. I'm particularly enjoying the site on Living Math but there are a ton of literature pieces that one would have to purchase to make those lesson plans work. One could get them from the library hopefully if you could time it just right so it ended up being available when you needed it.

Jeni - thank you so much for your help. I think that for now I have to pass on MOTL. It's just soooo expensive. I am checking out MEP though. On the talking about math in everyday situations, I'm definitely doing that. Always.

09-25-2009, 01:01 AM
Jeni - O.k I've tried to look a bit more at MEP. I like it because it's free but I'd have to print it out, which ends up costing in the end. And it tends to get me flubbed up a bit (read: confused :crazy: ) with the 'T', 'P', 'BB', etc. as abbreviations.