Homeschool tips can be very helpful, especially to those that are just starting to homeschool or haven’t been homeschooling for very long. I have been a homeschool teacher for thirteen years and would like to share some teaching math tips for kindergarten through third grade.
Manipulatives Are Your Most Important Teaching Tool for Math
I have to say that the most important tools for teaching math for kindergarten through third grade are math manipulatives. Manipulatives provide the hands-on learning that enable young children to be able to understand the math concepts being taught and make learning those concepts fun.
The manipulatives set I use has counting bears that come in four different colors. I can use these counting bears to teach a child counting, sorting by color, and most, least, and equal amounts. I just hand a child an amount of bears to count and then ask them to sort the bears by color. Once they are sorted, I then ask the child to tell me the colors and which colors have the most bears, the least bears, and the same amount of bears. To the child, this has all been fun play time with the counting bears. In actuality, they just learned five different math concepts.
The counting bears can also be used to teach addition and subtraction by simply starting with a certain number of bears and then adding more bears to the group or taking some away and then counting the new number of bears. The child being able to visibly see how many bears there were, more bears being added or taken away, and how many bears there are after is much easier to understand than just adding or subtracting numbers on paper.
Shapes, patterns, weight, time, temperature, fractions, and so much more can also be taught with manipulatives that will make learning these math concepts fun and easy.
Lots of Manipulatives and Less Workbooks and Worksheets
Kindergarten math can be almost completely taught with manipulatives. I actually recommend using a math curriculum for kindergarten that does not have a workbook, but uses manipulatives with an occasional worksheet here and there. Kindergarten students really aren’t ready to sit down and do worksheets full of math and shouldn’t be expected to complete a math workbook.
Students are ready to do a consumable workbook with short worksheets by first grade math, but the majority of the math class should still be math manipulatives. Second grade math should continue to be taught with a lot of math manipulatives along with students doing a workbook with worksheets that are a little longer than they were in first grade. Even third grade math should use manipulatives to teach concepts like money, weight, patterns, measurement, fractions, etc. I also recommend that third grade students still have a consumable workbook and not a hardcover text that they have to copy the problems from onto paper.
Make Your Own Math Manipulatives
It can also be helpful to make your own manipulatives for teaching certain concepts. I made a calendar with the month, day, and year that we could stick on the wall. I searched for a site of fun, colorful, printable pictures for the months of the year and days of the week. I printed these out and laminated them. I also printed out and laminated numbers for the dates and the year. I then used sticky tack to put the year on the wall.
At the beginning of the school year, I put the month of August on the wall, the days of the week, and all the dates up to the first day of school. At the beginning of the school day, I gathered all my students and started school with the calendar and date. We went over the what year, month, and day of the week it was and then put the day’s date in the correct spot on the wall. I would choose a new student each day to put the date on the wall. The kids loved it and the visual and hands-on learning of our wall calendar really helped them understand all about the year, months, days of the week, and the date.
My Personal Recommendation
I personally use Saxon Math and highly recommend their math manipulatives and curriculum for kindergarten through third grade. Saxon Math K does not have a student workbook and the master copies of the few worksheets used are provided in the teacher text. The teacher text is scripted out with the lessons, which manipulatives to use, the concepts being taught, and even the exact questions to ask. Saxon Math 1 and 2 heavily rely on the use of manipulatives, but also use consumable workbooks. Saxon Math 3 continues to use manipulatives to teach many of the math concepts and also uses a consumable workbook.
You can buy Saxon Math and Saxon Math Manipulatives on LearningThings.com, ChristianBook.com, Pennywiselearning.com, and of course on eBay. If you buy a Saxon K – 3 manipulatives set, you will need filler packs for first, second, and third grade. These are available on LearningThings.com.
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