I don’t know what it is, but I am always drawn to what I call the “Little Old Books.” I guess it is the time-tested methods and the harkening to a
better simpler time that always piques my interest. It seems like these days, most of the current curricula for little children is either digital, complete with all the blinking, bleeping, flashing distractions that kids today have come to love, or in text/workbooks filled with large, colorful, silly pictures that are just as sure to distract from the material. I understand that people think that these things will keep children’s interest better, but I beg to differ. I honestly think that those things keep children’s interest away from the material and that we are not giving our children the benefit of the doubt that they deserve.
With that in mind, I was very pleased to stumble across Ray’s Arithmetic books (around $10 per non-consumable book on amazon!) Mott Media has reproduced these original (late 1800’s) math books that teach children to think, taking them from the manipulative stage, through the mental image stage, and finally to the abstract stage. Here is a quote from Mott Media’s website:
Ray’s Arithmetics students learn arithmetic, increase their reading comprehension skills, and learn to think rather than plod through page after page of addition or subtraction problems with a one-line direction at the top of each page. A student raised on Ray’s will not even know he should be fearful of “story problems” because from day one every problem is posed in a sentence format.
My son and I have been enjoying Ray’s New Primary Arithmetic over the past year. I simply read him the problems and he finds the answers by moving blocks, pictures, coins, etc. around. As his writing and mental ability kept improving, I thought it would be nice for him to do a little more with the curriculum. At first I wasn’t sure what to do, but after a little more browsing on the internet, I discovered that Mott Media also makes workbooks to go along with these texts! How did I miss that before? I was so excited that I emailed Mott Media and asked them if they would be willing to provide me one of their workbooks to use and review. (Of course they did, otherwise you probably wouldn’t be reading this right now =)
Now, I’m not usually a fan of workbooks. My preschoolers have been known to blow through kindergarten math workbooks in one sitting. It’s fun for them and perhaps they are learning, but it’s sure not cost effective! Like I lamented above, it is the disproportionate amount of distraction to content that I do not like. These Classic Curriculum workbooks are different.
Each page is full of great practice for your child. There are little pictures or diagrams as necessary, but they are helpful, not distracting. Each page corresponds to a lesson in the textbook and tells you just what to do. I really appreciate that part of it, because the textbook does not come with a ton of instruction. The way that Ray’s Arithmetic teaches is brilliant. The order that they teach each lesson is so purposeful, to help your child understand just what is going on with each number.
My son started using manipulatives to solve even the simplest of problems, and then as time went on, I could see his brain start to turn as he would try to figure out some of the problems mentally. I love to see him begin to move from the ‘manipulative’ stage to the ‘mental’ stage (even though he still has a long way to go!) As the pages/lessons go on, the numbers that he is working with creep higher and higher, so he still has to use manipulatives for the majority of problems. His manipulative of choice right now is his fingers =) I suppose that is out of convenience, though I still do bring out blocks or stones sometimes.
After every four lessons, there is a review page and then a quiz page. I like these pages because it stops us from going to quickly and makes us pause and make sure that he understands the material before moving on. I do not treat these quizzes as anything that would cause pressure or stress, just merely as more practice. If you are needing/desiring to have formal records or your child’s progress, then this is a great way to do that. You can see on the picture below that in addition to the weekly reviews and quizzes, there is an end-of-the-workbook test that you can pull out and have your child take if you would like. We have not gotten this far yet, but I will probably have my son do this when the time comes. Once again, I won’t treat it like a real test just because of my son’s age, but it will be a great wrap-up of the material learned in that portion of the book.
These workbooks are not completely necessary, but I think they are extremely helpful and worth the few dollars that each one costs. I love the extra practice they provide without me having write up problems. I also love that it is something my son can go work on independently for a few minutes after we have gone over the lesson in the textbook. That part is invaluable for me now that his little sister is beginning to have her own school lessons that I need to be there for! I think the Mott Media website says this point well again:
While some parents and teachers prefer to personally shepherd the progress of their students through the textbooks, many prefer the guidance offered by our workbooks.
I foresee us using Ray’s Arithmetic books for quite some time, especially now that I know about the workbooks! I hope you consider giving them a try too! I do not think that you will be disappointed. Thank you, Mott Media, for coming out with these workbooks to go along with the great Ray’s Arithmetic texts!
Amy @ Living and Learning at Home