All Homeschooling Moms, HELP!

Updated on December 22, 2008
L.M. asks from Piffard, NY
29 answers

My youngest daughter is having trouble with her math. She is going into 3rd grade and as of last year was still using a number chart. We are trying to do flashcards but that gets very boring for both of us. I have tried endless papers but again, boring! Anyone have suggestions on how to make math fun and how to get the adding and subtracting memorized? We are going to be starting up school soon and I don't want her using her fingers the rest of her life!

Thanks, Lisa

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So What Happened?

First I want to apologize by saying "all homeschooling moms help". So many people (homeschoolers, teachers, mom of school kids) emailed me back. I got so many ideas and websites for games that my kids are loving! I am intending to use all the the ideas and I know my kids love playing games, war, memory so I'm going to incorporated math with that! Thanks so much everyone. I can't wait to see the progress!

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L.H.

answers from New York on

http://www.neopets.com has a game called "Math Nightmare." You choose the type of math problems you want, then you have to answer the math problems before the sheep fall on the sleeper's head. Best of all is that it is totally free.

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M.C.

answers from New York on

It sounds like you got some great advice. I'm not a math person, but my dh and my 7 yr old is. I really do believe some people do better in math then others. I still count on my fingers.. I probably shouldn't admit that but some of the numbers i still can't memorize.

I found my daughter works better if she is working with programs on the computer. Thats how her brain works and my dh's.. So i found a program online called bigiqkids.com she seems to really like it. I would definetly find her learning style, that could be half her battle.

Have a great school year!

micki

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H.G.

answers from New York on

I was an elementary school teacher until I gave birth in January, and I know a great trick to help kids learn their math facts! It's called ADDITION WAR(or subtraction or multiplication). She shuffles the cards, and removes the Jacks, Queens, Kings, and Jokers. Then she deals all of the cards out to both of you. (Even better if she has a friend or sibling to play with!) Without looking at the top card, you both say "1, 2, 3!" and flip the top card over. Whoever adds the two numbers up first and says the correct answer out loud, gets to keep both cards. Whoever has ALL the cards at the end wins! (By the way, let her know that Aces = 1) The same works for subtraction or multiplication. And when she's ready, add in the Jacks and Queens. Jacks = 11, and Queens = 12. It's important that she knows her 11's and 12's too! :)

I hope I explained it clearly enough. It's a game that can last for quite a while, and I've never met a kid who didn't shriek with glee while playing! It also really helps them get off those fingers fast. Please drop me a line, if you need any help. I know other fun math games, too!

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A.S.

answers from New York on

One of the best sources I remember being excited about myself as a kid was mad minutes (available on amazon http://www.amazon.com/Mad-Minute-Master-Number-Facts/dp/0...) which was useful not only for addition and subtraction but eventually multiplication, division, etc. You could start using them and make a big chart to put on the fridge to track progress, which would help to alleviate early frustration by pointing out how much she has improved!

Don't know if this helps, but it was a fun way to learn. You don't need to buy the book, you could make up your own sheets (the first ones only had 20 facts on them, but they work up to 60 questions per sheet).

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B.R.

answers from New York on

HI L.,

You can check out the websites funbrain.com for some online math games your daughter can play. I'd also recommend math-drills.com. I know that timed tests are no fun, but I really think they're an important way to memorize basic facts. They have drills you can download and print for free. I'd also check out the book series Nimble with Numbers. They have lots of great math games that you can play with your child to help reinforce facts.

Good luck!
B.

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J.G.

answers from New York on

Hi Lisa,
Try using the internet... http://mathfun.com/ I am sure there are lots more sites that can help. I know there is a homework help site. Navigate to your local library they should have links helping children with school work.

Good Luck
J.

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M.M.

answers from New York on

Hi L.,

I love to recommend the card game 24 to anyone needing help learning basic facts. There are many different sets you can buy depending on your child's age and abilities. It is great because you don't realize how many facts are being practiced. You can find out more information at:
http://www.24game.com/

I even loved playing with my fourth grade students and I can't wait to play again when my 11 month old is ready to play.

Good Luck!

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C.P.

answers from Rochester on

Hi, I taught fourth grade for five years. When a child has trouble memorizing their facts, I tell the parents to let them play games on the computer that deal with math facts. Here is a great site that has games/flash cards: http://www.kidsnumbers.com/
http://www.mathplayground.com/

My students loved it when I did the flashcards with them, and they would try to beat my score. Of course, I would go slower at first, and then build up my speed as they built up theres. Having her get on a couple times a day may help.

Also, if she's starting school, you could go in soon and talk with the teacher so you get an idea of the curriculum and where you daughter needs to be. It can be a hard transition from home school to public school.

And, if all else, remember that her fingers are the calculator God gave her!

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B.W.

answers from Rochester on

My kids struggled with learning math and spelling or other boring subjects until I made games of them. W-E S-P-E-L-L E-V-E-R-Y W-O-R-D or I would give a definition and they'd have to give me the word and spell it. I used the same technique for teaching them to spell their names only I added a rhythm or beat to the spelling. I also used same sounds with different meanings to help them understand which spelling to use. ex. bi, buy, bye, by. There are lots of words like that. We then started recognizing words spelled the same with different meanings and pronunciations. ex. sow

For math, I would give them 12+2 and when they answered 14 I'd say plus or minus and give another number. We'd try not to repeat numbers and when I did, they won the game. Usually it was in the car to the grocery store so we were alone and we'd see if they could keep up with me spitting out numbers or words. For times tables, they had to give me all the numbers that can total the number I gave them. EX: 12 1,2,3,4,6,12 That was for advanced learning, but it reinforced their basic math skills.

We laughed alot at the silly spellings or math mistakes. My kids loved the games because there was no paper-no pencil-no formality. Just us playing a game. My kids can function faster mentally than the time it takes to write it out anyhow.

Make learning as fun as teaching them about bubbles and they'll gravitate to it and want to learn more.

Good luck and enjoy these years! They go so fast!!

Babs

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A.R.

answers from New York on

advise: RELAX. remember potty "training", how they don't really want to pee and poop in a toilet until THEY want to, and it makes them not want to when they see you are anxious about it? ... Need i say more? you are a homeschooler, so what are you worried about? find ways of making it fun, do lots of cooking and building using measuring and numbers, etc, but make sure she doesnt see it as a way for her to improve.

~ an unschooling mom

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S.S.

answers from New York on

My specialty is art and I have am working on using art to teach math. For example, a great way to teach subtraction is by creating a clay sculpture. As Michelangelo said, he just "subtracted" all the parts of the clay that were around the Pieta. The art was always in the block of marble! A block of clay that has shapes removed from it by the child reinforces the concept of subtraction. Addition is also taught through sculpture....put together a huge collection of "junk" and add them all together with glue to create a work of art. Take one away to improve it? Add two more? If you want to teach symmettry, fold a sheet of paper in half, put a glob of paint on one side of the fold and re-fold the paper. Voila! The image is symmetrical.

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N.B.

answers from New York on

Hi Anne,
I've been teaching third grade for about 6 years, but I also taught second grade for 4 years. I like all the suggestions the other responders posted, so I won't repeat that. I also use plain playing cards to make addition/subtraction games out of old children's card games. For example, with the game war, I have two children put down two cards each. The player with the higher amount takes all the cards. If you get a tie, you each put two more face up and add those up. There are lots of ways to revise this for challenges and variety. If she is okay adding two digits, try using three cards each time. Another game- Each player is dealt 5 cards and the rest is placed in the middle face down. For each turn, each player must use 2 or 3 cards to get as close to 20 as possible, but not go over. You can track who wins this way- if your cards add up to 18, your points are 2 b/c you are 2 away from 20.

I also have the children SORT the flash cards by strategy, so that the memorization develops in levels. First you practice your pairs of 10- 5+5, 3+7, etc. Make sure she can name them all easily. Then we work with pairs of 10 plus or minus 1, like 5+6 or 5+4, so if she knows 5+5, she will use her current knowledge to help her. Then doubles- 3+3, 6+6. Then doubles plus or minus 1. Each time she learns a fact or level, let her "toss out" the cards into a bin and watch the pile of flashcards diminish.

Most of these ideas come from a program we use called TERC Investigations. It doesn't focus enough on memorization, but the program has great games to help with number sense. Your daughter needs to make connections with numbers and strategies to help her organize the facts in her mind. I could go on! Have some fun and try to make up other games with cards. Good luck!

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C.T.

answers from New York on

Hi L.,

I know you have a ton of responses and I did not take the time to read them all, but I think the key to math is "use in daily life". Kids so often don't see it in action and this is what makes it "fun".

Get down on your childs level - make cookies or a meal together. Talk about how many dishes you own in your "set" versus how many you have in your family - If you set out 5 dishes of mommy's favorite set of 12, how many dishes are left in the cabinet? How many servings does the meal make? What happens if you "double" the recipe? Use addition instead of multplication. Doubling of course means adding twice the recipe together. What about balancing the checkbook together? Colored MMs make great fraction teachers (red vs blue).

These are just a few ideas.

Good luck.
~C.

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K.C.

answers from New York on

Have you tried dot math? This is a fun way to learn adding and subtracting and would teach her/you to fade the dot prompts gradually.

Good luck.

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K.L.

answers from New York on

I am not a homeschooling mom, but a special education teacher who has worked with third graders. All I want to say is keep trying to memorize the facts, but some kids seem to have great difficulty with this. I would honestly rather see a child at this age who can use her fingers to QUICKLY solve problems than a child who is still dependent on a number line or chart. Have you taught her for 8+5 to put the larger number in her head (8) and count five more on her fingers? That can be accomplished pretty quickly. For subtraction (8-5) put the smaller number in your head (5) and count on your fingers up to the larger number (8) - then the number of fingers is your answer. I would also focus on number sense - such as knowing which numbers are one more or one less than any given number. It is very frustrating to see kids struggle to solve problems like 7-6.

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S.R.

answers from New York on

hi! wat u could do is try to figure out a way where u could play a game and do math at the same time!!!

THANX

~S.~

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K.H.

answers from Utica on

Hi L.,
I too am a SAHM who homeschooled our twin girls. They graduated this year and both are going to college. Neither are math students, and I am a math major. It was very difficult for me not to think they should keep repeating until they got the minute drills or flash cards fast and perfect. The fact is they hated it and one of the girls in particular would never have finished one of those sheets in a minute. When I relaxed and said lets see if you can get this all right no time today. Which was someone's suggestion to me. I got out a book. She finished with all correct and in 1 1/2 minutes and she was starting 3rd grade. We tried flash cards too but it took so long for her to focus or something that I was bored. She did Algebra I & II and Geometry in High School and aced all three with 95 or better. It was slow and we had 2 hour classes instead of hour classes. SAT wise she got high enough that she did not have to take placement tests to see about non credit course. I was more than pleased.
That's our story. I had to relax about perfection, and go on to new because new she could grasp because it was interesting. Maybe multiplication will make addition and subtraction make sense. My suggestion for that is to start very slow, doing 0 & 1 tables even because it reinforces the addition. The suggestions from others are excellent and we did do alot of games on the computer too. Try it. She didn't like computer either, she's an artist and going to school for fine arts, looking forward to memorizing lines for theater art classes as well as drawing and sculpting.
Since I am old enough to be your mom, I share not to discount mom's advice. Talk to her. She probably has lots of stories to share. And she love that you want to hear them. The other thing I like to share is that the way you treat your parents is the example you are setting for your children to treat you. Is my age showing? Probably
Write me if you like at [email protected]____.com
God bless you and all you do especially all your classes with the kids, may they be fruitful.
K. -- SAH retired homeschooling mom of boys 37, 32, and the twins 18, married 38 years. Our younger son & his lovely wife blessed us with our first grandchild last Tuesday weighing in at 9'5"

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B.E.

answers from New York on

take a look at Think it Through Tiles....and its math books for 7+.
www.toysofdiscovery.com

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M.B.

answers from Syracuse on

HI Lisa Anne,
It sounds like your daughter might be a kinesthetic learner meaning she has to see it touch it act it out in order to get it. So I suggest that you use objects like pennies and toys etc to work out the equations. ex. 5 pennies - 3 pennies = how many are left. Once she gets the concept in her head she will be able to respond to the flash cards and write them out on paper.
I homeschooled my kids years ago. I used Saxon math. I do know that the public schools don't like that system but it is a great reenforcement curriculum and easy to teach from.
They don't move on to the next lesson until they've got the one they are on.
M.

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N.D.

answers from New York on

This is how I taught my kids and also kids I tutor. This work with times tables too. I start with 9 and work backwards. So all you have to learn today is 9+9=18. Make a song, sing it in the car, while doing dishes, playing ball whatever. next day 8+8=16 8+9=17 9+9=18.next 7+7 7+8 7+9 8+8 8+9 9+9. This way they arent overwhelmed by learning 1 thru 9. Each day they only have one additional fact to learn. Just make sure they know the new ones before you add more and keep singing.

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D.R.

answers from New York on

hi lisa anne, dot math is a great method. if you are intent on her memorizing the facts, try using music. when i want to teach my kids things like their address or phone number, anything you want to be automatic, i just put it to a little tune and we sing it over and over a few times a day, in the car, while walking, etc. it works very well for lots of kids, we used it in school a lot too. they sell tapes (cds now... oh, do people even use cds anymore? ack!) with math facts, etc on them, google it.

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J.C.

answers from New York on

Hi L.

You ned to first determine what type of learning style your daghter has - visual, tactile or auditory. Then find products to tech her that tilize this style. I suggest you play some math games as this would make it both fun and enjoyable to learn. If she is tactile or visual then games would help both. I have worked with many homeschoolers and tI know that they all use games in their daily learning. I can suggest a game called Quartile which is a math domino game. You can see this game at www.janecampagna.simplyfun.com.
Good Luck

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L.W.

answers from New York on

In addition to the other advice - make math part of your day, all day. In the grocery store, how many apples, how many oranges, therefore how many pieces of fruit? At the playground, 6 kids were on the jungle gym, two climbed off, how many are on it now? This might help her visualize the numbers rather than needing her fingers, and it also makes it "normal" instead of "oh, that dreaded math time." Good luck!

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K.E.

answers from New York on

Use actual objects (manipulatives they're called in school) to make the numbers concrete. You can use blocks to make two stacks and then work out addition and subtraction equations from them. Have her build the numbers and then write out the equation on paper. You can also use anything around the house - boxes of cereal (the amount of sides), utensils, straws, etc. At that age playing games w/ di is fun. Get a pair of dice and have her keep rolling them. Every pair of numbers has to get either added or subtracted. Start with using dice that have dots and then switch to ones that have the number printed on them.

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A.G.

answers from Syracuse on

There are quite a few free online math games. My son was bored with the flash cards too but he got the same results from playing some of the games. The emphasis there is on fun repetition. I don't know the sites off hand, but I know that I googled arithmetic games and got tons of hits. (Of course, you should screen the websites to make sure that the games are age appropriate) Good Luck!

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M.B.

answers from Rochester on

Marlene,
Singing the times tables as you travel places will help too.
Uh oh, the little napper is up, there's more, but I have to go....
Good Luck,
M.

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D.Z.

answers from Binghamton on

Hi Lisa,

Do you know the card game "war"? That is how I help my son memorize his math facts...we use flash cards and each have a set and when we throw down one card, he has to calculate both cards and tell me which one is bigger and then whoever had the biggest card keeps both. This year we are going to put four sets of flash cards together to do this...add, subtract, multiply and divide, so that he can really be challenged and think fast. Try it...it's really fun!

OH, and the object of the game if for one person to get all the cards.

D.

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M.T.

answers from New York on

Hi L.. While I'm not a homeschooler, I can tell you what I used for addition - and then multiplication - with my kids. Uno cards! You each get a stack and have to flip them over. She has to add (or multiply) the two numbers. I used to take out the skips, take 2's etc but I left in the wild cards and if someone flipped one over, they could choose the number it would be.
I also recommend that when you have her do math worksheets, after she completes the problems correctly, have her say them out loud. If she's an auditory processor, it'll help get them ingrained in the brain!
Good luck.

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E.S.

answers from Albany on

The computer program "Math Blaster"
There are just some things though that JUST HAVE to be committed to memory. Perhaps you are trying to fit too many concepts into one session. There are different learning styles. Perhaps you could join a homeschool group for more suggestions.I successfullt home schooled and I am proud to say my daughter who was no whiz at math did manage to score high enough to get into a state university so persevere!!! Best wishes and enjoy your children :)

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