My son likes math and does well in math… My daughter loves math and takes gifted math a grade level ahead. I attribute my kids’ initial love for math to having attended a Montessori Preschool, where math is taught using manipulatives. They can actually see, touch and manipulate items representing the math concepts that they are learning. It is a very hands-on teaching method, which I love. At 5, my daughter was adding numbers in the thousands with carries (on paper), adding 2 & 3 digit numbers with carries in her head correctly and she understood her multiplication tables. She did not have the tables memorized, but she could calculate them in her head. Here are some tools, toys and reference sites, listed in order from preschool to middle school, that have been very useful along their math journey so far…
Montessori Primary Guide for Math is a site that details some of the methods used for math in a Montessori school.
At home, while my kids were in preschool, I used the Melissa & Doug Classic Wooden Abacus to have them solve addition, subtraction, multiplication and division problems. It is a great visual and hands-on tool for learning math. I love that it is wooden and will last, so it can be handed down to my grand kids.
Turbo Twist Math Grades 1-6 was another great toy that my kids loved for practicing their math. It was also a great tool to take on long trips.
My kids love to play Pass the Pigs with their cousins. It is a total game of chance. They roll two pigs, which have dots on them. Based on the pigs landing positions, they get a different number of points. The first one to reach a total score of 100, in our games, wins. They have to do the addition, but they are having so much fun that they don’t realize they are practicing math!
Math on Call is a great handbook for parents, to refresh their memories and provide alternate methods of explaining a concept a child might not quite understand. I have referenced Math on Call many times and know other parents who also love the book.
My daughter has absolutely loved Mia’s Math Adventure: Just in Time (PC software) and still plays it sometimes. She loves the story where she, the player, must help Mia got back in time to solve the mystery of her grandmother’s house fire, prevent the fire from happening and then find the items needed to fix the time machine and return to the current time. The software provide four levels of difficulty. Mia is just the cutest mouse – how could they not help her!
My son is entering 7th grade in the fall and is scheduled to take Algebra 1 — for high school credit which goes on his GPA – so I am a little nervous. I have purchased the Algebra Survival Guide: A Conversational Guide for the Thoroughly Befuddled and the Algebra Survival Guide Workbook: Thousands of Problems to Sharpen Skills and Enhance Understanding to provide some introduction and practice over the summer and to provide support through the coming school year.
I also plan to use Khan Academy to introduce him to algebra this summer. Khan Academy is a wonderful site with thousands of educational videos on almost every subject imaginable. Check it out. You’ll be amazed!
Other items I have used with my kids, but with less success than the above items, are listed below. I list them because I liked them, but my kids didn’t use them as often as I had anticipated. Maybe your kids will use them more than mine.
Mindware is a wonderful store with brainy toys for kids. Their mosaic workbooks for math are great for math practice. They have mosaic workbooks for addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, decimals, fractions and algebra.