What we’re Doing for Grade 2 and 3 Maths

arithmemouse_grade 2 and 3 homeschool math curriculum

Multiplication Practice with Arithmemouse

I last wrote about how we found our perfect math curriculum back in March, so I thought it might be time for an update…

Jasper (7, Yr3/Gr2)

Life of Fred

Life of Fred Farming - grade 2 and 3 homeschool math curriculumMaths is still Jasper’s favourite subject, thanks to Life of Fred.  This term we finished Life of Fred (Edgewood) and began Life of Fred (Farming).  I love the way the Fred series mixes up basic fundamentals (such as subtraction with borrowing) with more sophisticated concepts (like union of sets, median averages and simple algebraic equations) in a way that introduces young children to advanced mathematical vocabulary in a very natural way. And, of course, we all love “Fred’s” delightfully quirky story and offbeat humour.

Games

Because we’re not doing a traditional curriculum, I make sure Jasper gets plenty of extra opportunities to learn his maths facts. Luckily he loves games, which are a great way of getting the job done.  Recently we’ve played Yahtzee  and War . (My favourite maths website, Let’s Play Math has lots of ideas for maths games. I’ve just noticed Contig, which looks great – we’ll be playing Contig Jr next week!)  We also play games like Tug Team Addition  at Math Playground, and Jasper practises multiplication using Arithmemouse and Timez Attack.

One benefit of working with a child one-to-one is that you get instant feedback on how easy or challenging he finds each concept.  So in Life of Fred (Edgewood) I noticed Jasper was a bit confused about the differences between rhombuses, trapeziums and parallelograms, so I set him some exercises on Study Ladder.  He loves working online, especially on specific exercises (rather than working his way through an online curriculum in a linear way – for example, Maths Whizz didn’t work so well for us for any length of time) so this is win/win.

Cordie (8, Yr4/Gr3)

math mammoth division 1 - grade 2 and 3 homeschool math curriculumCordie recently decided to take a break from Life of Fred (she was on “Farming”) to explore some other resources.  She did a few exercises from a Schofield & Sims KS2 workbook we had on the shelves and asked me to set her some “surprise” Study Ladder exercises.  One day she asked me to make her a page of clocks so she could brush up on telling the time, and another day she wanted a page of multi-digit subtraction sums.  She played around on Khan Academy for a while, watching videos on decimal place values and then setting herself some problems to solve. And she dipped into Math Mammoth’s Division 1 (filling in the answers on the iPad using the Notability app).

Following her explorations, Cordie says she’s ready to go back to more of a maths routine with Life of Fred.  Before that, though, we’re doing some times tables practice using Maria Miller’s structured drill system from Math Mammoth Multiplication 1.

I’ve looked ahead at all the Life of Fred elementary level books (up to “Jellybeans”) and they seem to cover everything on the English KS2 curriculum. As with Jasper, if Cordie needs or wants extra practice on a particular topic as we go along, there are plenty of other resources we can dip into.

Writing this post has also reminded me how much we all like Primary Grade Challenge Math which teaches mathematical thinking and problem-solving in a fun way.  We haven’t used Challenge Math in a while but I’d like to get back to using it regularly, perhaps once a week.

Isn’t it great how many fabulous homeschool maths resources are out there? There really is something to suit everyone, at every age and in every mood!

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End Of Term Homeschool Curriculum Review – Math

What an exciting time of year this is.  Looking ahead to a new year, a new term, and spring! (Yes I know winter has officially only just started, but there’s something about the days beginning to get longer and the promise of imminent snowdrops that fills me with hope!) Last term, which marked the start of our first full academic year as a 100% homeschooling family, we’ve been more structured than before.  In this series of posts I’m going to look at what we’ve been using for curriculum and talk about any tweaks and changes I’m planning for the coming term, starting with maths. For maths, we’ve been using living books and the Math Mammothcurriculum.

What’s been working

  • I love Math Mammoth. The level is just right for my children, and as there isn’t a separate teacher’s book, it’s very easy to use. It is inexpensive and comes in electronic form to print at home – useful when you live outside the US.  There is also a separate UK money section, and I like that the sections on measuring cover both imperial and metric units.  UK schools have taught only metric since I was in school, but in the real world we use pounds, inches, miles, etc, so the children may as well know about them!
  • We’ve read a few living books, like Sir Cumference and the Great Knight of Angleland.  I love how these books introduce mathematical concepts and vocabulary in the context of fun stories.

Tweaks I’m planning

  • We do maths four days a week, but I’ve found that in order to cover all the material in Math Mammoth, we haven’t been spending as much time on living maths as we’d like.  To address this, I’m going to go through the Math Mammoth material ahead of time and pick out the essential bits, so that we can spend slightly less time on workbooks and more time really enjoying real maths.  Here’s a list of some of our living maths books  from my Library Thing catalogue.
  • I’m excited to have just found a UK supplier of Life of Fred,  which I’ve been considering investing in since they brought out their new elementary series recently.  (See Conquest Books.)   I’ve read great reviews of Life of Fred, and I have a feeling my children will love them.

Back when I was training to be a lawyer, we were taught to use precedents (pro forma legal documents) “as a tool, not a master”.  I need to keep reminding myself of the same when it comes to curricula.  Curricula are incredibly useful to the extent they serve your intentions and meet the needs of your family, but it’s easy to fall into the trap of using them as an excuse to beat yourself up for being “behind” or not covering every single thing. For example, last term’s Math Mammoth included a subtraction game with Euclid’s Square.  I played it with J for several days running, but then – looking at the amount of curriculum left to cover – I insisted we move on, despite J’s requests for more.  Going forward, I intend to be guided more by my child than by a one-size-fits-all curriculum. One of the reasons I home educate is to personalise the children’s education and to give them a chance to follow their own interests.  Even with a subject like maths, as long as we’re covering the basics, my priority is to foster my children’s love of learning.  If that means regularly jumping off-curriculum, or lingering longer on some things than others, then that’s ok.  I’m thinking perhaps a large mummy-reminder sign in our school area might be useful … 🙂

My Library Thing

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