Read these posts to see how we’ve made it this far in math:
I’m a firm believer that you need to find whatever works for you and your child. Don’t be scared to try different things until you find what works!
Last year we completed through Chapter 13 (out of 19) in Life of Fred: Cats, which is the third book in that series. My son loves Life of Fred. It is story-based, quirky, and you can access the link to my review of it above. Using it as a guide, I found other ways to practice the math concepts he was learning in that book. But by Chapter 13, it just got too hard for him, so I stopped.*
Part of the reason the book got hard was not because of the math. Because Life of Fred is a story, the author brings in anecdotes about other things, which is interesting and educational, but for my six-year-old last year, it went over his head.
I didn’t think he was ready to continue it this year either, so I have been reviewing math concepts with him. To begin with, we didn’t use anything too exciting. I had some workbooks, so I used those:
- Grade K Telling Time by Creative Teaching Press – At first I thought it would be good practice, but this is way too easy for my son, so I’m going to save it for the four-year-old.
- Grade 1 Money Mania by Creative Teaching Press – This has proven to be a very good practice workbook. (Click here for more information about how I teach about money.)
- A+ Addition Workbook – He finished this recently, although I didn’t make him do a few of the pages.
I don’t like making my son do a lot of worksheets or workbooks, but in math, it has been necessary in order to hone in on important concepts and help him not forget what he has learned.
All of the concepts he has learned up until now, he’s very good at. He’s especially good at counting coins and telling time! He does well with place value too. He can add and subtract well but he doesn’t have his addition and subtraction facts memorized. I’m not going to worry about that yet. I’ve noticed that something has “clicked” for him this past year in math (and reading). I think for some children, age seven must be when things come together.
Note: We do math lessons twice a week. Doing more than that has not given me better results, and I think doing more formal lessons would make him hate math. Right now he doesn’t mind it because of the slow approach I’ve taken as well as finding fun ways to learn it. As he gets older, we’ll continue to reassess what his needs will be.
I am planning to continue in Life of Fred again, but I may wait a little while. (*UPDATE: Spring 2014 – We did eventually go back to Life of Fred: Cats. I decided to start at the beginning of the book again, and then we finished the whole thing. So just waiting awhile really helped my son.) I have found an app for our iPad that my son and I both like very much, and he’s getting a lot of good practice with it. I like it because it keeps track of what my son is doing, how he is doing, and it automatically goes to the higher level when he has completed a lower level.
- The app is Splash Math for Grade 1. It costs $9.99, which is much more than I usually pay for an app, but it has been well worth it.
Splash Math is a lot like doing a workbook, but it’s on the iPad. My son likes it much more than doing a workbook, and that’s okay with me. Unlike other apps, I consider this one our “math lesson,” so I sit with him as he works through the problems. Sometimes he needs help reading the word problems. I have also taught him “greater than” “less than” by using this app.
I also like that I can turn concepts on and off. If they are off, they won’t be included in my son’s practice. For example, I can turn off questions about “data and graphs” until I’m ready to teach it to my son. I have found that by sitting with him while he works through the questions, if he comes to something he doesn’t understand, I can explain it to him or do one problem for him, and from then on, he gets it.
My son likes it because he gets rewarded with an “aquarium,” and he gets something new for the aquarium periodically, such as a fish or crab, as he earns more points. The graphics don’t thrill me, and I don’t care for the anvil that you can drop on a crab’s head, but he likes the app, he’s practicing math, and that’s all that matters.
My boys’ favorite way to learn math is by playing Sum Swamp. I can’t recommend this game enough. We play it a lot (not just for math lessons). I bought it so that the seven-year-old could practice addition and subtraction, but it has been a great way to introduce the four-year-old to math, and he loves this game. He asks me to play it with him, and he will even play it by himself! (He uses manipulatives to add and subtract. The seven-year-old doesn’t need them.) It’s even fun for me!
Sum Swamp teaches addition, subtraction, the operation symbols + and -, even/odd numbers, and how to be a gracious winner and not a sore loser! Although we’re still working on those last two!
In my next post, I’ll be addressing how I’ve taught my son about money – both how to count it and financial responsibility. (Click here for that.)
That is it for first grade math. Please tell me what resources you have enjoyed using!