Friday, August 5, 2011

Another Homeschool Year - Math Edition

For Polly:
Math 6 / 5: Homeschool SetSaxon 65

For Tigger:
Math 2: Home Study Kit (Homeschool Math Grade 2)Saxon 2

Yes, as you may have gathered, we use Saxon Math around here. Here are some reasons:
  • it's thorough, which may be another way of saying:
  • it's repetitive (when it's too repetitive for the student, we skip)
  • it's affordable. (Probably because there are no color illustrations and whatnot)
  • it's basic. Which is to say: 
  • it's just Math problems. Math problems instead of Politics, Social Studies or other subjects that have no business being in a Mathematics textbook.
  • it works. Saxon didn't exist in the early years when my mom was homeschooling me. It came later - as in highschool - and I dearly wish I would have had Saxon earlier in my education.
My educational philosophy obviously tends more to the classical model and "unschooling" as a way of life is anathema to me.

However (did you see that coming?), I try to keep "formal" lessons short (I suppose this is the Charlotte Mason influence on my homeschool style). We skip a lot. All that written out dialog in the Saxon teacher's books? Yeah, I don't use that. Ever.

Keeping formal lessons short means we have more time for (and this will sound suspiciously like unschooling) fun or real-life math like:
  • cooking
  • shopping (grocery or thrift stores, of course)
  • game playing (you knew that was coming!)
Here are some favorite games that can help with Math skills:
Monopoly1. Monopoly.  I personally would rather have an OB/GYN appointment than play this game but hey, some folks love it. And there's no denying that math skills are involved. (Just don't buy the version with a computer and credit cards. Yuck!)

Yahtzee2. Yahtzee. Philip hates this one because it's "just chance" but there is some math involved. Plus it's really fun to shake that cupful of dice, am I right?

3. Tiger Stripes. Polly - this game's creator - suggested I add this one. You have to add up your score but even small children can play it.

4. Any card game where you have to add up your score (I'm thinking particularly of Rummy here. That's how I learned about negative numbers. My mamaw plays a great game of Rummy.)

Dutch Blitz5. Dutch Blitz. A favorite card game. (Also with the possibility of a negative number score).

Classic Wood Chess Set6. Chess. Philip has always started teaching our girls chess when they are very young. I probably should have suggested this one under Logic but, well, I didn't so I'm listing it now.

Wood Expressions 12" Wood GO Set w/Drwrs7. Go. Another one that could be listed under Logic and another one that Philip teaches our girls to play when they are very small. (Side note: I have also used our Go stones as a pre-school activity by having the preschooler sort the black stones from the white.) This one is easier than chess to learn but possibly as challenging, depending on the skill levels of the players.

To make an already long post even longer let me add that every homeschool family should have some tangrams, some pattern blocks, flashcards (homemade or purchased), attribute blocks, whatever you like for counters (beans, rocks, purchased plastic cubes), and play money (as realistic looking as possible. We have this set as well as some "training" money that a bank teller gave us). There are other math manipulatives that are nice to have but those are my personal "must haves".

So, fellow homeschoolers - what did I miss? What do you use for teaching math?

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