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How I Teach Math

Tips on Teaching Math

I often get asked the question of how I teach math. One of the most frustrating parts of homeschooling or even supplementing some of your child’s education is seeing your child struggling with formal studies. They can feel discouraged or disengaged at times and all you want to do is make it an easier process for them.

I’ve been able to try different products, games, and tactics over the course of many years and I’m happy to share with you what has truly helped our children.


Nature Schooling

I’m a firm believer in the fact that children need to spend time outside. One of my goals for this year is to get them outdoors more and school in nature. As a homeschooling mom, I’m always in search of a more hands-on approach to our formal studies because our children are kinesthetic learners. You don’t need to use a bunch of expensive items to do simple math. We get out into nature for some of our manipulatives.

Kids have a lot of energy to burn right? Why not work on math while getting some of that energy out? I have our children run around the yard to collect our manipulatives. I may say, “what is 10+9? Go run and find 30 sticks in the yard and come back so we can figure it out together.”

They have a great time running around and feeling free, which turns something that may be frustrating them into a fun game with someone they love to be around. We’ll then lay the problem out together. You can use a piece of paper and draw the symbol of whatever the problem is.

Real life things you can use for manipulatives:







-vegetables from your garden

-dried beans


Game schooling

We have a few games that we’ve purchased that I believe have helped our children learn and practice addition and subtraction.

Sum Swamp

This one is their absolute favorite! We’ve shared so many laughs and spent quality time together with Sum Swamp. It’s short enough to keep their attention and gives them the confidence they need to play another round.

We've added small butterfly erasers for our daughter so she can play along with us. She's four and with the added manipulatives, she has a great time playing with us. This game offers addition and subtraction problems from 1-6.

Click here to learn more about the game or purchase yours for home.

I have also included a FREE printable to go along with this game. It includes the manipulatives and a number line so they can figure out even and odd numbers on their own.

Lakeshore Learning Addition Machine

This is also a product that we use in conjunction with the Sum Swamp game. It helps them memorize the problems, rather than always relying on manipulatives. Like I said before, I’m all about the hands-on approach and keeping their hands busy. This is a fun pop-up board that gives them the answer to put to memory.

Another side note about this item: If you’re like me and you have multiple ages you’re teaching at the same time, this is a perfect add on to the board game. Our 6, 4, and 2 year old all play this game with me because with these items that I’ve added. it creates a game that works for all the learning levels we have. Our 2 year old just simply throws the dice and uses the board to get the answer.

Addition Strategies BINGO

What child doesn’t enjoy playing bingo? There’s a whole lot of loud cheering and laughter in our house when playing this game. I like the large answer page that goes along with the board for when they’re stuck on a problem. This game actually comes with square markers that you can double as manipulatives for each problem that's called out. This is perfect for grades 1-2 and a great family game. The product linked is a slightly different version but it's a great bingo game.

Dino Math Tracks

Aside from addition and subtraction, we’ve been practicing place value. The curriculum that I discuss below does a fantastic job of teaching place value, but it's always fun to turn it into a game. This game has done just that. This game teaches the ones, tens, hundreds and even thousands place.


Thrift Shopping

You guys!! Most of the curriculum we have compiled for our children have come from thrift stores! Not only do I stop in Once Upon A Child for clothes and shoes for our children, but curriculum and activities as well. The books, oh the books you can buy in these stores amaze me. We have purchased books from readers, to living books for read aloud time, to math curriculum.

I was thrift shopping the other day and found McCraw Hill My Math Volume 1 & 2 for our children. It’s so interesting to me that the curriculum workbooks I have found in stores like this have a child’s name written on the front and about 2 pages that are half filled out!! That’s it! I paid $1 each and have an entire year’s worth of curriculum for us to study.

Even if you simply supplement your child’s education because they go to public or private school, this is an option for you to teach them right at home without having to spend a lot of additional money.

Check your local thrift stores and see what they have. You may need to go to a couple stores or go in periodically to find these gems, but it’s absolutely worth your time.

Our Current Curriculum

This post is not sponsored, but I can't speak enough good things about Math-U-See. As I mentioned above, our children crave hands-on activities in order to learn. That's exactly how I would sum up what this curriculum is to us.

The full curriculum comes with a book, a workbook, a dvd with a virtual teacher, and a box of manipulatives. The manipulatives are blocks that are laid out to create the problem for your child to “see.” It includes blocks in the 100's, 10's, and 1's places. Each block is a different color for them to memorize.

We currently use Math-U-See Alpha, which teaches place value, addition, subtraction, and time.

Side note and mommy tip: If you have multiple children in different age groups, this curriculum is for you! I have a whole other blog post coming on how I use this specific curriculum to teach our 2, 4, and 6-year-old all at once.

showing YOUR WORK

We all want our children to not only memorize their math facts, but also to them be able to articulate how they got to their answer. I don’t move on to a new concept until I know our children have completely mastered what I am teaching them.


Have fun with your child when teaching formal studies such as math! Make it something they will enjoy. If your son loves superheroes or tractors, use Ironman or John Deere stickers for manipulatives. If your daughter likes unicorns, buy some unicorn erasers from the Target dollar spot. Whatever they’re into, capitalize on that interest and use it to teach them something they may be struggling with or uninterested in learning.

I hope all of this helps my readers out there that may be struggling and wanting to throw their hands up on teaching math! Please email me and let me know if you have any questions. I enjoy sharing with you! When you have questions, it gives me the ability to help you and others who are seeking the same advice.

Come back to see part 2 of this series. I’ll be showing you how I use Math-U-See Alpha for all of our children.

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Happy homeschooling and remember to "Willfully Serve His Children" throughout your homeschool day.



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