For those of you who have been following for any length of time, you are familiar with the trouble we’ve had in math. I must say, sometimes I do get discouraged, thinking to myself, “After all, this is kindergarten. How hard can it really be?”
But to be honest, it’s not the material itself as much as the curriculum and the pace of the material presented. I love A Beka for a number of reasons, and their math is a year ahead of nearly every curriculum I’ve looked at recently (which provided some peace of mind to my struggles). For my son, who is an early kindergartener (he turns five in just a few weeks), the new material moves too quickly. Before he has a handle on one thing, he has three more concepts to learn.
So this year has been a series of using and not using A Beka. I get stuck, pull it out, and follow it to the letter for awhile. We’ll slowly make some progress only to be land-blasted by a million new things before we’re ready. So, I’ll shelve it again. We’ve done this in a continual cycle all year, loosely following the scope and sequence all the way.
Where are we right now? A Beka is back on the shelf.
What are we doing for math? Supplemental worksheets, games, and creative drill. I’m loving it, and so is my son.
In my search for a new curriculum or a supplement, I stumbled upon Math Mammoth, and I really love her style and ideas. But what I have appreciated most are her sample worksheets. Visit her site, sign up for either of her email subscription options, and she sends you files that include 300 worksheets and samples from 1st-6th grade. (Her first grade is equivalent to A Beka’s K5.) Because her pace is slower, her worksheets provide a lot of drill and plenty of time to grasp new concepts. Plus, she opens each segment with game ideas and websites for even more reinforcement. I’ve used a lot of her ideas and been inspired with a few of my own.
The result? He’s finally getting some of his addition concepts down! Slow but steady progress.
Number bonds have been key: discovering different ways to put two numbers together to produce the same sum. Taking her ideas, I’ve had him copy combinations down from his Dot Cards. For instance, from this card he tells me and then writes 4+3 and 3+4. We’ve also played this with our counting bears. I’ll hand him five or six bears, and he writes down all the combinations he can make by grouping the bears into different stacks. He loves the hands-on; I love the subtle drill. And best of all, he’s getting it!
The other night at supper, he was telling me all of the different combinations he could make from the four pineapple chunks on his plate. I couldn’t have been happier!
Another fun Math Mammoth game idea that I’ve played with both kids (with great success) suggests that you select a certain number of manipulatives (we played with six counting bears). Then, players cover their eyes while one player takes some bears (or other manipulative) and hides what he has taken. We each took turns taking away. Then, the rest of the players uncover their eyes and try to guess how many were taken.
Am I going to purchase Math Mammoth in the future? Absolutely! She has her material split up in two ways: by grade level and by topic. I can easily purchase the worksheets for the topics that I need to supplement, and the supplements are really cheap (starting at $2.oo for a download).
Though I wouldn’t have chosen the difficulties of this year, I must say that I have loved all of the ways I’ve learned to make math fun! It’s been a very rewarding supplement to the necessary drills.