Jan 152017

Virtual Curriculum Fair teaching mathThis week’s topic for the Virtual Curriculum Fair is math. I love math. However, my love of math doesn’t equal a love of teaching math. I have written quite a bit about math during my years participating in the Virtual Curriculum Fair. In fact, I’ve written so much, that I don’t have anything further to add to this topic today.

Instead I will share some of my previous thoughts.

In From Counting to Calculus I discussed much of what I’d learned about teaching math during my first 13 years of homeschooling.

I’m not afraid to admit that I don’t have the answers in The Post Where I Admit I was Wrong.

For some background on my math background, see How I Choose Math Curriculum.

Even though I didn’t have much new to add to this topic, I’m sure that the other participants can add a lot more to this topic. Be sure to check out their posts below.

Please visit my fellow homeschool bloggers who are talking about Discovering Patterns: Math and the Mathematical Sciences this week:

Finding Our Math Equilibrium: Our Plan for 11th, 7th, 5th, and 2nd Grades + Free Printables! by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Math Resources and Programs for All Ages by Amanda H @ Hopkins Homeschool

Math (doesn’t) Stink! by Jennifer King @A Peace of Mind

When Math is NOT Your Thing by Michele@Family, Faith and Fridays

Math U See and All the Supplements by Laura H @ Four Little Penguins

Discovering Patterns in Our World: STEM Studies by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World

Junior High Math by Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life

Science & Math for Struggling Learners by Yvie @ Gypsy Road

Maths: a subject in progress by Sarah @ Delivering Grace

Taking Mathematics out of the Textbook by Dana Hanley @ Roscommon Acre

Maths for a Very Maths-y Boy by Lizzy @ Peaches At Home

Practical Math by Annette @ A Net in Time

One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling by Kim @ Good Sweet Love

Math, How I Loathe Thee by Shecki @ Greatly Blessed

Math and Logic in Early Elementary and Preschool {virtual curriculum fair 2017} by Meghan W @ Quiet In The Chaos

Low Stress High School Science and Math by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

Are these toys or manipulatives? This is math? by HillaryM @ Walking Fruitfully

When You Don’t Have a Math Plan by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

Clear Horizons by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens



Mar 072016

Finishing Strong Starting Gently

Last week I talked about my somewhat unusual position of graduating my first homeschool student this spring, and starting my (presumably) last student in Kindergarten this coming fall. David, my senior, is a math natural. But teaching him math was not without struggles. In fact, there were many battles fought over math.These included getting him to write anything down and memorizing math facts. He did however consistently demonstrate understanding of mathematical concepts. He was able to study Calculus on his own in our homeschool last year using Life of Fred, but we decided to have him study Calculus again this year at the community college.

Thinking Mathematically

This post is still true for How I Chose Math Curriculum.

Preschool and Kindergarten Math – Keep it Simple

With Andrew, I’m taking a similar approach to math as we are for reading. We are doing nothing formal, instead talking about numbers. He counts. He’s beginning to add. He’s even figured out how to add numbers when the sum is over 10 with his fingers. At this point, I plan on using the same Singapore and Miquon combo math that I used with the other children in elementary school.

About Preschool Printables

You know all those absolutely adorable preschool printables? It seems like every blogger has jumped on the free printable bandwagon. If you’re like me, you might be enticed by every cute and fun looking printable that crosses your inbox. Yes, you can use them if you want to. But no, you do not need them! I give you permission to ignore them. Really. I know it’s tough, but many of those take more time to prepare than they provide in value. Before you print, think about whether or not you can practice that skill orally or on a white board.

What if my child doesn’t get math?

OK, I admit it. Everyone is not equally gifted in math. My ultimate goal is still mathematical understanding, but with my middle son, I’ve had to take a different approach.

I explain about it here in The Post Where I Admit I was Wrong.

What I Hope to Do Differently

I have the same general plan for homeschool math for Andrew as I had for David. I plan to use programs that stress exploration and understanding. I do hope that I can encourage Andrew to memorize his facts better than David did, but I also hope to do so without all the tears. (Mainly shed by me!) Math is important, and I will make sure it gets done, but I think seeing the end will help me to be patient along the way.

Here’s last year’s post for the Virtual Curriculum Fair: If I Knew Then, What I Know Now.

To read more about how to homeschool math, check out these other posts in the Virtual Curriculum Fair.

Homeschool Math Virtual Curriculum FairChareen @ Every Bed of RosesThoughts on Math and Science
Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset  – From Counting to Calculus
Laura @ Day by Day in Our World  – How We Approach Math in This Homeschool Year
Annette @ A Net In TimeStruggling with Math, Loving Science
Annette @ A Net In Time  – Lego Pulleys and Levers
Yvie @ Gypsy Road Hands – On Math with Special Needs Learners
Chelli @ The Planted Trees  – Chemistry Using Living Books
Lisa @ GoldenGrasses  – An Appalling Lack of Curiosity
Edie @ Carter Chaos  – Our Favorite Ways to Study Numbers
Tracey @ A Learning Journey  – Robot Area and Perimeter Art Project
Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life  – Math and Standardized Tests
Jen @ Chestnut Grove Academy  – Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Logic, and Science
Sarah @ DeliveringGrace  – Learning Multiplication Tables
Kylie @ Our Worldwide Classroom  – Multisensory Multiplication
Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break  – Science and Stuff
Kemi Quinn @ Homemaking Organized  – Math in Our Homeschool for a Later Elementary Organized Reader
Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory  – Math and Logic – Our Steady Path
Laura @ Four Little Penguins  – Math and Science Love

Missed the deadline? Share your link here!

Jan 102015
unschooling science

Photo credit http://www.mymemories.com/store/designers/StoryRock

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of the links, I will receive a small commission.
This week we’re talking about Math and Science in the Virtual Curriculum Fair hosted by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds  and Laura @ Day by Day in Our World. I’ve spent an interesting couple of hours going through old posts on my blog and I have come to the following conclusions.

I have a ton of posts about math. Some of the best ones are the posts for previous Virtual Curriculum Fairs.

If I Knew Then What I Know Now About Math

Spiral Math: The Post Where I Admit I Was Wrong

Thinking Mathematically: How I Choose Math Curriculum

Besides those, I’ve written reviews of my favorite math curricula as well as various other math curricula and supplements I’ve been asked to review over the years.

There are also posts lamenting my oldest son’s lack of speed in math calculation and the need for more drill.

(He still doesn’t show his work on his math, but if you check out this video he made for a national math video contest last year, I think he’s doing just fine. He placed 2nd!)

Then I did a search for posts about science and found fewer posts.

There’s a review for Apologia Elementary Science. I used several of their books for my older kids when they were younger. It’s a great program. Now both my high schoolers use Apologia Science text books. And in theory William and Lizzie are using the Apologia Elementary ones. But practically speaking…

We’re unschooling science for the younger kids.

I’m not totally satisfied with that fact. Really it’s a big experiment. (Seems fitting since I am talking about science, right?)

But the truth is, I just don’t get science done with my younger kids.

It’s on my list every year.

It’s always a goal.

But I’ve yet to achieve it.

Even though we don’t “do” science very often here, that doesn’t mean William and Lizzie know nothing about science. We own the entire collection of Magic School Bus videos. Lizzie and Andrew watch them all the time. (William is too old for them, but he watches them anyway.) We also have many of the Magic School Bus Books, lots of Usborne science books, animal books, and the entire set of Moody Science videos.
679657: Moody Classics, 19 DVDs

We also have fun science kits that the kids think of as toys. Today William built an egg beater with K’nex. Another fantastic science “toy” are these Snap Circuits. These get a lot of “play” time!



Will my unschooling experiment end up with high schoolers who can’t learn science?

I seriously doubt it. But I’ll probably still feel guilty occasionally about our lack of formal science instruction. Then I’ll try to remember all they are doing on their own for science.


Don’t miss this other great posts about Math and Science.

Learning about Patterns in Our World Through Math and Science by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World

Relaxed Homeschooling: Mathematics in the Early Elementary Years by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

Using a Bible-Based Math Curriculum by Tauna M @ Proverbial Homemaker

Math, Science and Logic for 2015 by Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

Playing with Numbers by Sarah @ Delivering Grace

Unschooling Science by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset

Logically Speaking: Math, Science, and Logic for 7th Grade  by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

Numbers and Molecules! by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays

Math and Science in Our Homeschool by Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life

5 Math & Logic Resources We Love by Becky @ Milo & Oats

Giving Your Kids The Right Start With Math by Amy @ One Blessed Mamma

Math in Our Classical / Charlotte Mason Homeschool by Sharra @ The Homeschool Marm

Classical STEM by Lisa @ Golden Grasses

Math, Science and Logic – How do we Tackle Them? by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

The Physics of Delight-Directed Learning by Susan @ The Every Day of Education

Tackling High School Science by Debra @ Footprints in the Butter

Choosing Math Curriculum for Special Learners by Heather @ Only Passionate Curiosity

Math for all ages by Denise @ Fullnest

Middle School Monday – Math With Fred by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break

Learning With Math and Science Resources  by Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road

Jun 192014

Third Grade Curriculum

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

It is hard for me to believe that my baby girl will be in the 3rd grade this fall! Lizzie is, for the most part, a cooperative student. She grasps new concepts quickly, and she doesn’t mind writing things down. She liked having her own school desk in the living room this year and did well with most of the curriculum, so we’ll be continuing on with much of the same for her third grade curriculum.

Third Grade Curriculum MathMath

She is a natural at math and enjoys it. Singapore and Miquon have been a great fit for her. She’ll be working in Singpore 3A and 3B as well as the final two Miquon books: Yellow and Purple.

Third Grade Curriculum Language Arts

Language Arts

I love All About Spelling. It’s super easy to use and works well for both the natural speller and the struggling speller. Lizzie will be using Level 3 this fall.

I have fallen in love with Memoria Press Literature guides. She worked through most of the 2nd grade ones this year and will be starting with Mr. Popper’s Penguins in the fall. Then we’ll be using Farmer Boy, The Moffat’s and Charlotte’s Web. All great books!

For handwriting, she’ll be using New American Cursive 3 also from Memoria Press. She has done amazingly well. This is the first time I’ve strayed from Handwriting without Tears. I like the appearance of New American Cursive so much better!

Rod & Staff English is a favorite in our house. With her literature lessons and Latin studies, she really doesn’t need the complete course. I’ll be using it as a supplement though.

Third Grade Curriculum Latin and BibleLatin

I have become a fan of Memoria Press Latin series after initially rejecting it for my oldest son. (I’m still not sure that was a bad decision. Different children learn best with different approaches.) I like the no-nonsense approach of Memoria Press. Lizzie finished Prima Latina this year and will be moving on to Latina Christiana I.


I’m trying something new this year. We’re starting Classical Academic Press’s Bible curriculum called God’s Great Covenant – Old Testament 1. We haven’t started of course, but I think Lizzie and William are going to like it.  I’ll give a more thorough opinion after use.

Now this leaves the things that I have really struggled with getting done. History and science require more time and effort from me. I really like the resources that I own and I want to give myself another chance to make it work. I am planning on making these as low key as possible, but I don’t feel like I can continue to ignore these subjects with my younger students. I hope to keep these as simple as possible.

Third Grade Curriculum History and ScienceHistory

We will be reading The Story of the World Volume 1. I own the audio version as well, so I may not actually be doing the reading. Along with that we’ll be using the activity guide for note booking exercises and I am hoping to implement a “book basket” with related resources for independent reading time.


I’m sticking with my old favorite Apologia Elementary here too. We’ll be working through 1 or more of the zoology books next year. I will have a book basket with more titles there as well.


Jun 062014

Homeschool Kindergarten Curriculum

I had the opportunity to talk with a friend at church who will be beginning to homeschool her oldest son for kindergarten this fall.  She was interested in hearing my recommendations for homeschool kindergarten curriculum. In my opinion, kindergarten should be kept simple. For formal school I recommend phonics, handwriting, and math. This conversation occurred several years ago, but I revisited this post and found my recommendations are still the same.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.


So far I’ve taught 4 kids to read and I’ve used 3 different phonics programs, plus some on-line resources.

Alpha Phonics – This spiral bound book is a simple, no-frills phonics program. The pages are white with handwritten style lettering. The text uses word families to teach reading. For example, the student would learn -at, then add letters to the beginning of -at to make cat, hat, fat, mat, and bat.  In addition to word lists, there are pages with sentences throughout the book. (Read my complete review.)

Phonics Pathways – This is also a simple phonics program.  There are cartoon drawings on many of the pages. This book teaches reading using syllables and spelling patterns. Instead of learning -at with an m in front is mat,  Phonics Pathways begins with teaching the syllable ma- then adding a -t to the end.

Happy Phonics – For William I had to think differently, because he is so different from my older children. First, he wasn’t really overly interested in learning to read. Second, he doesn’t sit still very well. When I tried the first 2 books with him, I couldn’t even get him to focus on the page. After doing a little research, I discovered Happy Phonics. Happy Phonics consists of lots and lots of colorful games, cards, and small booklets to learn phonics. For the first time, I was able to get my son to look at the letters. It definitely requires more teacher prep than the other programs -the program comes printed on cardstock, with all the cutting to be done by the teacher – but it was a worthwhile investment for us. This program uses mainly the word family approach to reading.

Explode the Code – I used this fun workbook program with William in addition to Happy Phonics. I also used Explode the Code with Anna as a supplement to Phonics Pathways and with Lizzie as a supplement to on-line programs. These workbooks provide excellent reinforcement to the phonics concepts being taught in most phonics programs. They have funny line drawings and silly sentences. These books require the student to write. There is also on on-line version available.

Ideally, I would have used either Phonics Pathways or AlphaPhonics with Lizzie. But I never got a chance because she already knew how to read! She did use 2 different on-line programs. I think that she learned to read with those along with her natural readiness to learn. I’ve heard of children teaching themselves to read. I would not go so far as to claim that, but she’s definitely come the closest. She used both Reading Eggs and Reading Kingdom. Links are to my reviews of those programs.



Handwriting without Tears – This is the only handwriting program I’ve ever used for kindergarten. Designed by an occupational therapist, the approach to writing is very logical and sequential. Each letter is broken down into its component parts, and similar letters are learned together. All the capital letters can be written using long lines, short lines, small curves, and large curves. The basic program consists of a workbook and a slate. There are many additional accessories that are available and I’ve added to our collection over the years. I especially liked the wooden letter pieces for William. He used the letter pieces and the letter cards and learned all his letters in about a month.


Earlybird Kindergarten – I used this math program with William. (Not exactly this version, this is the new U.S. Standards version.) The text contains colorful pictures and is a fun introduction to numbers, counting, shapes, addition, and subtraction. I used the textbooks alone without the teacher’s guide.

Miquon Math – For David, Anna, and Lizzie, I used Miquon Orange for their math curriculum in kindergarten. This is a unique program, that is discovery based. It makes extensive use of Cuisenaire Rods. They all both loved this program. William really loves using the rods, but there are some portions of Miquon that I have found to be too abstract for him.

Miquon Orange is technically a first grade program, but I used it is conjunction with Singapore 1A to ensure that we thoroughly covered beginning concepts before encountering too advanced problems. Using both programs allowed for variety at a slower pace.

Singapore 1A
– Singapore Math is a math program that stresses understanding of mathematical concepts from the beginning. Story problems are introduced early and are very thoroughly taught. I use both the textbook and workbook, but have not invested in the teacher’s guides.


Add in a library card and a variety of books, and you have everything you need for kindergarten. Here’s a list of great picture books from the 1000 Good Books list.

But, if I were starting again with my oldest child in kindergarten, I would probably also add Five in a Row. I didn’t use it when we were starting out, but had an opportunity to review it with my younger son this past year. It is a unit study curriculum revolving around terrific picture books for younger children. You can read my complete review here.

Jan 132014

How I would teach math differentlyIt’s time for the next topic in the Virtual Curriculum Fair. This week’s topic is Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Logic, and Science. Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Mathematical Understanding or Memorization?

I think I have pretty thoroughly shared my thoughts on teaching math. Here’s How I choose Math Curriculum. Basically, I value mathematical understanding over memorization. Except sometimes. I’ve found that one of my sons, William, has to learn math by rote and practice, practice, practice. The understanding is coming slowly with the practice.

Last year I shared The post where I admit I was wrong. In it I share a little more about why mastery math programs were not working with one of my sons.

Where we are now

Here we are a year later and I am still very happy with Christian Light Math for William (5th grade). It drives me crazy that the lessons often take him FOREVER, but he is learning math. With the spiral approach of Christian Light, he gets to practice concepts almost every day. Finally, he’s not forgetting them. He still makes mistakes, but I see definite improvement, and he has shown tremendous improvement with his speed in recalling math facts.

One of the things that is built into Christian Light is a daily speed drill. Each day there are 32 problems to be attempted in 1 minute.  They are either addition, subtraction, mixture of addition and subtraction, multiplication, division, or unit conversions. William has progressed from completing 8-10 of the addition and subtraction facts in 1 minute to being able to complete all 32 problems in the same amount of time! He’s not there with multiplication and division yet, and the mixture of addition and subtraction are slower as well, but I have confidence that he will build his speed with those too.

What I would do differently (and will do differently with my younger children)

And that is what I would do differently with my older children if I were starting over again. I didn’t drill them on their facts because they could do the problems with relative ease. I tried some drill, but I was met with resistance from David. So I gave up backed off. In some ways, I don’t regret it. We really had a lot of trouble getting along, and we were always fighting. So I decided that I wasn’t going to fight over everything. But his lack of speed is evident when doing calculations. Actually he rarely does any calculations on paper anymore. David does math in his head or on a calculator. And he has trouble showing his work. Which is another thing I wish I had done better at requiring.

What I think I should have done instead of drilling with flash cards or plain worksheets is tried simple speed drills like in Christian Light. I don’t know for sure that it would have been more acceptable, but I suspect it would have been because David is very competitive.

Lizzie (2nd grade) is doing very well in Singapore and Miquon like my 2 oldest, but she also sees William doing speed drills. Lately she has started asking for speed drills too. So I’m going to do them with her while I have a willing participant. I think the combination of mathematical understanding and speed will be helpful to her as she goes on to more advanced math.

Visit these blogs to read more about teaching math.

Our {almost} FREE 2nd and 4th Grade Math Program by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Supercharged Science’s Mathemagic by Kristi K. @ The Potter’s Hand Academy

Math & Logic Resources by Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

How We Tackle Middle School Math, Logic & Science by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

 A Peek into our Homeschool: Math & Logic by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

Math and Logic: Patterns and Reasoning by Leah@As We Walk Along the Road

2014 Virtual Curriculum Fair: Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Logic, and Science by Stacie @Super Mommy To The Rescue

Virtual Curriculum Fair: The World of Patterns and Logic by Joelle

Discovering Science & Math w/ Apologia & Saxon  by LynnP @ Ladybug Chronicles

Make Math Fun: Your Kids Will Thank You by Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker

Our Curriculum Choices 2014 ~ Mathematics by Renata @ Sunnyside Farm Fun

My Favorite Math For Boys by Monique @ Living Life and Learning

Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Logic, and Science in our Classical Homeschool by Sharra @ The Homeschool Marm

Homeschool Math Choices for a Future Scientist or Computer Programmer by Amy @ Eclectic Homeschooling

Math–Our Four Letter Word by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun

If I Knew Then What I Know Now by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset

Godly Patterns in Homeschooling by LisaN @ Golden-Grasses

Math and Science anyone? by Michele@ Family, Faith and Fridays

My 7 Favourite Math Resources by Kim @ Homestead Acres

Basic Instincts by Chelli @ The Planted Trees

Getting My Teens Ready for Algebra by Debra @Footprints in the Butter

Math We Love by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

2014 Virtual Curriculum Fair ~ Math & Science by Jennifer @ a glimpse of our life

Our Take on Math, the Elementary Years – Charlotte Mason-style by HillaryM @ Our Homeschool Studio

Tackling Math and Science from Multiple Angles by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World

Jan 142013

Hopefully that got your attention.

And maybe it was a bit strong, but I’ve learned something.

I’ve always been a big believer in choosing math curricula that focus on understanding rather than rote learning.

Here’s my post from last year’s Virtual Curriculum Fair:

Thinking Mathematically: How I Choose Math Curriculum

And while I don’t have big regrets about teaching my older 2 children in this way, I have gained a greater appreciation for the spiral approach to teaching mathematics.

After banging my head against the wall for several years, I have finally found a math program that is working for William, my middle son.

It’s Christian Light.

Every day there are an oral skip counting exercise, 2 sets of flashcards to review, and a speed drill. These are followed by the introduction of new material. Then the bulk of every lesson is the “We remember” section. So every single day William has to remember how to do addition with carrying and subtraction with borrowing. He frequently is asked to convert between inches and feet or gallons to quarts. There are word problems, and multiplication fact practice. Every single day.

I think he is finally going to remember how to do subtraction.

Is it fun?

No. But it doesn’t have to be. I firmly believe that everyone needs basic math skills. While I’ve heard many preach that making learning fun makes it easier, there comes a point where things have to be done. I need to make sure that he works up to his potential. That is not going to be calculus in his case and that’s fine. And learning to be diligent is a valuable trait.

Is it quick?

No. Due to his extremely distractible nature, it can take an hour or more for William to complete his daily math lesson.

But is my almost 11 year old finally remembering the mechanics of doing math?

YES! (Most of the time anyway.)

Here’s what I’ve learned so far in this journey.

1. Don’t assume that what works for one child will work for another (or that the way you learn is how your children do).

2. Don’t be afraid to try different things.

3. Don’t worry too much about grade level.

Homeschooling Hearts & Minds Virtual Curriculum Fair ButtonDon’t miss the other great math ideas at the Virtual Curriculum Fair!

Delight Directed Middle School Science? by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

The Hardest Part of Math by Kristi @ The Potter’s Hand Academy

A Tour Through Our Math and Science Life by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

What Works for Us…Math by Piwi Mum @ Learning & Growing the Piwi Way

Math Art – Geometry by Julie @ Highhill Education

It’s Math-magical by Missouri Mama @ Ozark Ramblings

Virtual Curriculum Fair: Fun and Games with Math by Tonia @ The Sunny Patch

Discovering Patterns by Lisa @ The Golden Grasses

Math for the Natural by Erin @ Delighting in His Richness

Virtual Curriculum Fair~ Discovering Patterns by Karyn @ Teach Beside Me

Too Many Math Programs or Not by Linda B @ Homeschooling6

Virtual Curriculum Fair:  Math and More!  by April @ Coffee, Cobwebs, and Curriculum

The post where I admit I was wrong by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset

High School Math – Beyond the Textbook by TechWife @ A Playground of Words

Discovering a World of Logic and Order by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

2013 Virtual Curriculum Fair- Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Logic, and Science by Leah C @ As We Walk Along the Road

The Plans of Mice and Math (My Math in Focus review) by Chelli @ The Planted Trees

Rightstart Math is right for us! by Leann  @ Montessori Tidbits

Our Favorite Homeschool Math Curriculums by Wendy @ Homeschooling Blessings

Nov 062012

When am I ever going to need this?

Why do I have to learn this?

Math is so boring.

If you’ve ever heard any of the above in your home, I have a suggestion for you.

It’s called Make It Real Learning.

I reviewed one of the modules: Sets, Probability, and Statistics from Volume I several years ago. We really enjoyed it!

I recently received the Activity Library: Volume II to review. This volume contains the following 11 books.

    • Make it real learningArithmetic II
    • Fractions, Percents, Decimals III
    • Fractions, Percents, Decimals IV
    • Geometry I
    • Geometry II
    • Graphing & Other Algebra Skills I
    • Graphing & Other Algebra Skills II
    • Linear Functions III
    • Periodic & Piecewise II
    • Quadratic II
    • Sets, Probability, Statistics II

As you can see, many of the topics are continuations of those found in the first volume. However, I do not think it is necessary to have completed Volume I to use Volume II. Volume II adds 2 subjects, Geometry and Graphing, that were not topics in Volume I.

Each of the books contains 10 modules that use a wide variety of real world examples. In Graphing & Other Algebra Skills I, your students can work problems on topics such as autism rates, paper sizes, interest rates, and calculating take home pay. Geometry includes area and volume calculations for swimming pools and landscaping, using right triangles around the house, and so much more. (Maybe this will spark an interest in my son for landscaping! We could certainly use the help.) Each problem set has both student worksheets and a complete solution set.

I think the wide variety of topics make the problems so much more interesting. I’ve enjoyed using these because they always get my son off on some other learning tangent. (OK, I confess that sometimes drives my insane, but in theory I like it.)

The books are only available as e-books, making them to convenient to use and store. Just print the parts that you’re going to use. You can purchase the complete Activity Library Volume II at the Make It Real Learning website for $39.99. There is a special bundled price of $69.99 for both volumes of Make It Real Learning Activity Library. There are also free samples available on their website. I highly recommend taking a look at the samples. I think you’ll be impressed.

Thank you Make It Real Learning for allowing me to review Volume II!


Disclosure: I received the Make It Real Learning Activity Library Volume II for free in order to write this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Jul 282012

This spring I started searching for an algebra text for Anna. She’s starting 7th grade and is ready for algebra. David is very happy with his math program, but it’s a bit unconventional. It does not appeal to Anna at all! (I used to think I could buy the same curriculum for all my kids! Ha.) So I searched message boards and read reviews. This program has too much drill. That program is too easy. I felt like Goldilocks searching for the “just right” algebra curriculum.

I had finally settled on a program, but had not purchased it. I was still not totally sure, since I had not actually seen the curriculum, and it was a textbook only. I was not sure how we were going to handle the lessons. But then I was given a fantastic opportunity to review No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials. Based on the title alone, this program would be a perfect fit for my no-nonsense girl.

The soft-cover book is divided into 10 chapters.
No-Nonsense Algebra

  1. Necessary Tools for  Algebra
  2. Solving Equations
  3. Graphing and Analyzing Linear Equations
  4. Solving and Graphing Inequalities
  5. Systems of Linear Equations and Inequalities
  6. Polynomials
  7. Rational Expressions (Algebraic Fractions)
  8. Radical Expressions and Geometry
  9. Quadratic Equations
  10. Algebra Word Problems


The chapters are divided into lessons. Each lesson begins with an introduction, followed by examples, exercises, and review of previous material. There are 10-20 problems (usually closer to 20) in each exercise along with 4 review problems. That seems to be a good number of problems for practicing the concept. At least, I think it is the right number for my daughter. She generally grasps new mathematical concepts fairly quickly, but she’s not opposed to doing practice problems (unlike my son).


But I haven’t mentioned the best part! Each of the lessons has a video component! The on-line videos are found easily on the No-Nonsense Algebra web site. In the videos, author Richard W. Fisher, teaches the new concept. The videos are relatively short (about 10-15 minutes). They are, like the title suggests, no-nonsense as well. It’s simply a math teacher demonstrating and explaining how to work algebra problems. There are no bells or whistles, just good, solid math instruction.


At the risk of this sounding like an infomercial, I just have to ask…


How much would you expect to pay for an Algebra 1 text that includes on-line video instruction?


$100 or more?


No-Nonsense Algebra is only $27.95! In reviews, I usually just state the price without making a comment because very often what one person considers a good deal, someone else considers too expensive.  But this is an unbelievable value!


I have found the Algebra 1 program for Anna next year and I couldn’t be happier!


I should mention, that as I read on the Math Essentials website, No-Nonsense Algebra seems to be marketed as a supplement. But they are also marketing to public schools. I’ve looked over the topics and I do not see any reason why this cannot be used as a stand-alone algebra curriculum.


In addition to No-Nonsense Algebra, I also received a copy of Mastering Essential Math Skills – Geometry. This is a smaller workbook, that I do think is more of a supplement. There are review, helpful hints, and problems for each section, but it doesn’t include the introduction, examples, and video instruction. Although it is for geometry, it covers geometry topics that are usually covered in elementary math curricula. It would be a good practice program to review for the SAT or ACT because students tend to forget many of the geometry terms.


Mastering Essential Math Skills – Geometry is available for $11.95.
Both these resources, plus many more can be purchased from Math Essentials.net.


Disclosure: I received a copy of No-Nonsense Algebra and Mastering Essential Math Skills – Geometry in order to write this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.


Jul 152012

As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I get to test a lot of products. I love trying out a wide variety of resources in my homeschool, many of which I am unfamiliar with before receiving to review. Professor B Math is one of those.

Professor B is an on-line math curriculum. I’ve reviewed a lot of on-line math curriculum in the last few years. I can honestly say that Professor B is completely different from any of the others I’ve seen. When I think of on-line math curricula, several things immediately come to mind.

  1. Math fact drill
  2. Games with graphics and sound
  3. Independent learning

Professor B is not designed for any of these.

It is not a math fact drill program, but any student who completes this curriculum will know his math facts.

It is not a game. The graphics are very simple and there is no sound. This is by design because…

Professor B is not for students to use independently.

Professor B Math is for the parent/teacher and student to go over together. Professor B does the teaching, but the parent/teacher makes sure that the student is understanding.

The program claims that students can progress through up to three years worth of math in one year.

There are 3 levels that include the following topics.

Pre-k though 2nd graders and remediation of older learners. Introduction to Addition/Subtraction Facts – Counting to One Hundred – Lower Addition and Subtraction – Higher Addition and Subtraction – Place Value Fractional Parts & Order – Time – Money

3rd grade through 5th grade and remediation of older learners. Multiplication/Division Facts and Problem Solving – Introduction to Fractions – Fractional Equivalence – Addition and Subtraction Fractions

6th through 8th grades and remediation of older learners.Multiplication/Division of Fractions – Decimals – Percents

After looking at the placement test for Level I, I decided to start both my 10 year old son and 5 year old daughter in Level I.

Level I begins with understanding the numbers 1 -10. This includes recognizing the numerals, but it goes much deeper. It includes exercises in quickly identifying how many things are on the screen. That’s pretty easy for 1, 2, or 3, but as the numbers get higher, it’s not so simple to quickly be able to tell if  there are 7 or 8 balls. I remember seeing this idea in an older math text and thought that it was something lacking in the math curriculum we were using, so I was excited that Professor B included it.

In addition to quickly identifying numbers of objects, it presented numbers as combinations of fingers. For example, if you’re holding up 1 finger on your left hand and 2 fingers on your right hand, that’s called a one – two – three. Swap the sides and it’s a two – one – three. This is a very gentle way of introducing addition facts. I did have a little problem with all the finger counting though.

Do you see it? I’m not sure how they didn’t catch this as a problem, but it bothered me, partly because I’ve been trying to teach both of these children to stop using their middle fingers to point. This may or may not be a problem at all to you.

My 5 year old daughter participates enthusiastically in the lessons. She did start to get a little bored with all the number understanding sections, but I was afraid to skip them since they seem so foundational.We have not made it as far as I would have liked in the program at this point due to summer-time travel, but so far, I’ve been impressed. I’ll continue with it for her.

My 10 year old son did not participate enthusiastically at all. (We were not doing the lessons at the same time as his sister. I knew better than that!) He needs math remediation. He has not mastered all the material in Level 1, but I struggled with where to start him. I thought the beginning was important, so I tried to work through that with him. He was very upset and felt like the program was babyish. So I skipped ahead to try to find something that wasn’t so easy. (Though he truthfully had not mastered the understanding numbers part. He had a hard time getting the quick number recognition problems correct. His sister was much better at them.) Unfortunately, by the time I tried another section with him, he had already developed a strong dislike for the program. So I completely backed off Professor B with him. I hope to try it again if I can figure out where to start him. I may jump into the telling time section because he’s never mastered that skill.

A subscription to Professor B E-learning is available for $20/month. It can also be purchased for $100 for 3 years of access to a single level. The yearly price is not on the website yet, but it should be soon.

Disclosure: I received a 1 year subscription to Professor B in order to write this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.