When my twelve-year-old was seven, math became a chore for him and thus it became a chore for me. When the mere mention of math time caused panic and fear in both of us, I decided we needed to change our routine up. At that point I’d been doing a lot of research and running from something dubbed in the homeschool community as Living Math.
In short, we chucked our math curriculum out the window and decided to teach our children math in the lower elementary grades through books, journaling, and games.
It worked exceedingly well for us and I have absolutely no regrets about our decision! In fact, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. However, like any new adventure in life, and especially homeschooling, I wanted someone to hold my hand. The thing was, I was branching out to murky waters. There are people who use living math lessons but not generally only living math lessons.
The research I did showed this happening over and over again. So, I did the next thing that comes naturally to me and I searched for books on the topic. In this instance searching for specific books on the topic of living math wasn’t really going to happen, but searching for books on the topics of teaching math was.
One of the first places I looked to help narrow down choices was Rebecca Rupp’s Homeschool Companion. Some of the first books listed on the math section are the series entitled A Collection Of Math Lessons. If you’ve read my blog before you’ve probably heard me mention these little treasures a million different times.
How I Use A Collection of Math Lessons
These books are chock full of ideas for teaching math to varying grades and group sizes of children. They are written in a personal manner, where you feel as though you are sitting down with the author and enjoying a chat about her latest adventures in a classroom. She admits the flaws she had in the classes, the coaching she needs to do from time to time to get the class on the right track and even the revisions she does when presenting the lesson again. In short, she proves herself human and that just appeals to me so very much.
The day the first book in the series arrived, lovingly known to me as “The Red Book” I curled up and read chapter after chapter. I flagged ideas with post it note tabs, jotted down topics to learn in my teaching notebook. I envisioned my book eventually being bent, post-it tabbed and highlighted until it was likely to fall apart in my lap. I had to show a little restraint to keep that from happening in one day!
The book does not have lessons laid out for you. You won’t find printables inside of it either. Instead, you will find well detailed ideas that you can very easily put into practice in your homeschool, your homeschool co-op, or other small and large group settings.
You will also find pictures of the actual work children did in the classes that are mentioned in the book. You will get to view actual journal pages or other writing the children were asked to do.
There are three different books to this series: Red, Blue, and Yellow. Red works with children from K-3, Blue is 3-6, and Yellow covers everything else. Thus far I only own the first two in the series as at this time it’s all that’s applicable, but if I find the third one at a great price I plan to scoop it up!
I implement these books very easily. Once I know the topic my children will be studying or that I want to teach them, I find the lessons in the books that correlate with what we’ll be learning. I set aside some time in my day or week to read over those lessons. I make notes or highlight that which I want to implement in our lessons.
If there are papers the teachers presented to the students or had them do I decide if I’m going to use them. I also decided if I’ll make them up on the computer or have the children create the page themselves. Then from there I put the lesson into action.
Sometimes I’ll just implement a lesson orally over dinner, lunch, or any other time that is fitting. My boys were use to me presenting them with absurd stories like, “Last night, the farmer next door was wandering around his sheep paddock making so much noise I went out to ask him to be quiet so I could sleep. He told me that he was distressed because he had 3 new sheep born yesterday. Now he had a total of 8 sheep and he wanted to buy them all gumboots for the coming spring rains, only he had no idea how many gumboots he needs! So I told him that he should go to bed and we’d come up with an answer and let him know. Will you help me?”
Of course my then five-year-old used to be astounded that the farmer and I were on a regular chatting basis and it always revolved around feet, tails, or other forms of multiples. At one point, as he was wising up to me, he actually asked where the poor farmer went to school.
What I Love
- I love that these books are down to earth and easy to read. The author writes them in such a way that you want to read them, you are caught up in the lesson she is teaching and you can’t wait to see how it unfolds.
- I love that she’s forthcoming with the ideas and uses them multiple times with varying age levels. It reminds me that regardless of knowledge and grade both of my children can learn from the lessons in the books.
- I love that they aren’t over priced books, in fact I think they are downright cheap for the amount of information in them!
- I love the included copies of children’s work, it gives a great view of how all the children at varying levels can or do cope with the work. In fact, the author doesn’t hesitate to share which students didn’t “get it” and how she helped them.
- I’m grateful, thus in love, with the fact that she doesn’t hesitate, for one minute, to admit when she made a mistake. Those small tidbits helped me heaps. For one, I remembered that even the pro’s don’t get it right every time. Secondly, it was like an unwritten rule to help you remember what not to do.
What I Don’t Love:
There is only one thing I don’t love about these books. They are out listed as Out Of Print! This makes them a bit harder to obtain unless you are willing to purchase them used. I think they are totally worth the effort of doing just that though!
I still cling to my books even if we’re now back to using a curriculum. I still pull them out and read them, I still pack them in my bags when I’m going on holiday so I can read through them. I absolutely love these books!
To see some of the games Kendra plays with her boys from these books, to pick up free printables that go with these books, or just to see what she and her family are up to in the Land Down Under hop on over to Aussie Pumpkin Patch.