I have been thinking about the Mathematics part and trying to think how I can make that subject more fun, interesting and easy for my kids. My kids all do pretty well at math but it is none of their favorite subject. I don't care if it is their favorite but I would like them to enjoy it more.
We are using Saxon Math this year (it was ACE for the older two last year) and I think they do a very good job. They are very thorough and explain things well. For the older two kids the books are reusable as well (they write the problems and answers on a separate sheet of paper). So far I like it best of anything I have seen. Mara and Aaron are happy with it too, Jonathan doesn't like it so much but right now I am not sure if he would like any Math book. Some other homeschoolers have recommending both Math-U-see and Singapore Math but I haven't really looked into them.
One thing I do know is that my kids enjoy Math that isn't in a book form quite a lot more than doing a workbook page. I would think that having fun doing real life math would make the books be much easier to do later.
Today Aaron and I (and the other kids joined in some and found it interesting too) had a fun Math project that was recommending in his math book. It was teaching about estimating as well as visualizing tens and hundreds. I had to fill several containers (I used cleaned up peanut butter jars) each with their own different things in it. For example one had beans and others Legos, clothespins, toy cars and rocks. We also had a paper on which to write our estimate of each jars stuff down on and then later to record the actual amount.
When we were counting the stuff, if there was a lot of anything we used some old juice cups and put ten of the item in each cup and then if we filled up 10 cups we put all of those in a bigger cup to make 100.
Estimating went pretty well on everything but beans. I only had the jar a little way full but there was still a ton in there (they were small). We counted out 100 and had hardly done any. Then we counted 200 and 300. There was still way more in the jar than what we had counted and we were tired of counting. So we decided to skip counting the rest but try to figure out how many we had by weighing (with our handy dandy kitchen scale that we just got at a second hand store) the 300 we had counted and then weigh the rest of them and do the math required to figure out approximately how many there would be.
All of the kids got involved and we had quite a bit of fun working together on those "math problems". It reminded me again at how much more fun it is to work with something physical when doing math. I am not at the point of thinking that I intend to quit the math workbooks but I do want to really encourage and offer opportunities for my kids to work on math outside of the books. Here is some ways that we can do that:
Learning about money
- Let them work for you and pay them something.
- Have them buy their own treats at the store. My kids use much of their money to buy presents for others which I am quite happy to encourage.
- Let them run or help run a garage sale or bake sale.
- Play games like Monopoly or Life, they don't use real money but you still get used to adding and figuring out what you can afford, etc.
- Teach them how to budget. Last year Jonathan had fun making a whole piggy bank system with banks for each of these categories: Tithing, long term savings, spending, gifts and savings for a big Lego set.
- Get or make play money and let them play "store".
- Let them bake or cook. There is lots of practical fraction use in doing that.
- Have them figure out how divide things up (like candy, cookies, raisins, etc.) evenly between themselves.
- Talk about it whenever you have pizza or pie or something else like that that you are cutting up in pieces.
- Help them or let them build something where you need to measure.
- Let them use scales and measuring tapes. My kids (boys especially ) love just playing with them. Just having them available will help them learn. Last week the boys wanted to rearrange their room. I gave them permission and then went in to find that they had measure each piece of furniture and measured all the spots where they wanted to put them before they started moving anything.
- Teaching them how to sew and either use a pattern and measure to make sure it will fit or design your own pattern.
- Play Dominoes. Great for adding and knowing how to count by 5's.
- Notice "story problems" in your life and ask them to help you figure them out.
- Have them help out as you go shopping and figure out how much 3 lbs. of apples would be or how much something costs per ounce.
Please leave your great ideas in the comments!