Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Math Resources That Rock!

     Math is an essential skill for all children to have. Some pick up on the concepts rather easily while others struggle. In learning math, like learning any other subject, it's important to first understand how your child learns. Some children are very capable of abstract thinking but others are much more concrete learners. For those learners, hands on learning can be a valuable resource.  Our four children have very different learning styles and preferences. This lead to lots of searches for resources that worked for each of them.

Here are some of the math resources that have worked well four our family and I hope some of them will be useful to you:
  • Free Online Games and Activities:
    • Radar's Numbernut: Covers topics from shapes through algebra. Online learning through reading and quizzes. Printable workbooks also available.
    • XtraMath: Looking for a fun way for your child to work on math drills? This is the perfect resource for that. Provides drill of basic math facts for addition through multiplication. Detailed learning reports are emailed to you so that you can stay on top of your child's progress.
    •  Khan Academy: Do you sometimes feel like you need someone else to teach a concept to your child? Does your child like videos? If so, Khan Academy is full of quality educational videos that are concept specific. Simply search for the topic of your choice when needed or register your child so that they can access the topics and complete online exercises. Reports are generated and you, as the parent can be aware of your child's progress as they work through the topics. 
    • HippoCampus: Another great site with instructional videos and courses for elementary through high school. 
    • Cool Math 4 Kids: Great resource for reinforcing topics. Provides interactive online learning as children read over the topics. 
    • Mr. Nussbaum:  Another great resource that covers a large variety of concepts. Provides for interactive online learning that is free. Free printable resources also available.
    • Create A Graph: Interactive learning tool for graphing practice.
  •  Free Printable Resources:
    •  Math-Drills.com: Looking for the perfect resource for math practice worksheets? This one has proven to be one of our all time favorite resources. Great go to when you find your child needing a little extra practice on a particular math concept.
    • Worksheets Works: This site offers the ability to create customized worksheets for your child for free!
    • Math-Aids.com: Another great resource for free worksheets as well as free, printable flashcards!

  • Free Montessori Resources:

(My daughters, a few years ago, working independently on math using money manipulatives.)
  • Tangible Resources:
    • Rulers: Keep rulers, meter sticks, yard sticks, and measuring tape available. These items can be found at dollar stores and other local stores such as Walmart or Target.
    • Calculator: Calculators are always useful. Older children will need a scientific calculator so prepare in advance. I do not recommend allowing your child to use calculators in place of math facts that should be learned by memory. 
    • Measuring spoons and cups: You can find these anywhere. Use them to drive home measurement conversions and measurement practice.
    • Flash cards: Print free online or purchase. Target always has them available in their dollar bins. You will  need numbers, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and word problems. My favorite math, flashcard set has been Learning Advantage Math Vocabulary Flash Cards. This is an awesome set to teach math vocabulary. Often, children are able to compute math problems but become hung up on the terminology used during testing. It is imperative to reinforce math terms along with teaching them how to work through the various concepts. Also, use number flash cards to teach various concepts. Instead of having young children identify the number seen, have them figure out one more, one less, ten more, and ten less. This form of oral drilling really improves mental math skills. Cards can be used in a variety of ways so get creative!
    • Fraction bars: Print these free online or if your learner prefers a sturdier set, Learning Resources has a fantastic fraction bar set that our family has enjoyed for many, many years. Use them to visually show relationship between sizes of fractions as well as teaching equivalent fractions, adding fractions, and subtracting fractions.  
    • Play money:  Print play money for free, or you can easily find a set at your local dollar store. We use the Melissa and Doug set. I was able to find our set rather inexpensively at Ross. Use play money to teach value of money, conversion of money, fractions of money, and decimals. Teach them to make purchases and count change. Play store using items found in the home, this is a fun way to get younger ones to enjoy the topic.
    • Compass: Find these rather inexpensively during the school supply sales that occur each year. They are needed for geometry.
    • Protractor: Have these handy for geometry studies. Children will use these to measure angles of shapes.
    • Geometric solids: Print free geometric solid nets or purchase a set. Use the set to teach basic concepts such as the name of the shapes, as well as more complex concepts like surface area and volume. The set that we have used in our home is Learning Resources Power Solids. This set is perfect and it has a phenomenal teaching guide that I highly recommend. I actually purchased the set and found the workbook at our local Goodwill for only $1! Children learn to create and utilize geometric formulas while engaging in hands on activities. 
    • Plane shapes: Scroll to the bottom and print free shape cards here. You can also find sets available at the dollar stores. 
    • Pentominoes set: These are great math puzzles and you can have the child create their own set with these instructions.
     Bring excitement to the math class by encouraging learning through play. Jump ropes, hula hoops, and even beach balls make fabulous additions to math time. Encourage children to practice skip counting while jumping rope. My middle daughter could not grasp how to count quarters until we turned it into a song that she would sing while hula hooping. She would sing 25, 50, 75 a dollar as she spun the hoop around repeatedly. All of a sudden it clicked and she was able to count quarters with no hesitation. We also have used beach balls to practice addition and multiplication. Simply write numbers on the ball and have the children throw the ball to one another. As they catch the ball, they add or multiply the numbers their hands land on. It's then their turn to throw the ball to someone else.

     There are so many resources available for us to utilize in helping our children learn math. I'm sure many of you have additional resources and ideas to share. If so, please leave us a comment and share your favorite resources and ideas!

Peace and blessings,

D.T.

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