Curriculum Reviews, Elementary(K-6), K-8 Math, Special Needs, Teaching Helps, Websites

Curriculum Review: Mastering the Basic Math Facts

“Students who simply memorize math facts miss a prime opportunity to expand their understanding of equations. Problem solving is the central focus in today’s math classrooms. To be a successful problem solver, students must be able to accurately compute answers, but more than that, they must be able to figure out how to build equations that correspond to problem situations.” – Susan O’Connell and John SanGiovanni. 

My two new favorite elementary math homeschooling resources are Mastering the Basic Math Facts in Addition and Subtraction  & Mastering the Basic Math Facts in Multiplication and Division.  Both books are by Susan O’Connell and John SanGiovanni .    Two simple books jam-packed full of resources to help your student move beyond simple rote memorization and into an understanding of number relationships and how to use those relationships in math problem solving.


What I enjoy most about both books is that they move far beyond pen and pencil drill sheet practice.  In the addition and subtraction book, each chapter focuses on a specific set of addition facts.  Within the chapter you are given ways to help your student see the “big ideas” of that set of facts, activities to do to explore the facts and targeted practice work. Lots of fun games and practice work ideas are given that meet a variety of learning styles.   The addition facts are then connected to their related subtraction facts to complete the picture.  The same process is used with multiplication and division.

There is a literature link for each set of facts.  The literature link is a fun way to introduce a math concept using a picture book.  I was able to find videos of almost all of the picture books being read aloud on online.  The books are also easily found at your local library.  Mastering Basic Math Facts includes guidance in how to connect the featured literature to the facts as well as math activities based on the picture books to help your child make math connections with other ideas that they know and understand.

The VERY BEST feature of these two books is that the purchase of these books includes a link to 350+ pages of downloadable resources to accompany the book!  Each game, worksheet and literature activity mentioned is a pdf printable in English or Spanish.  The resources are organized by chapter so it is easy to print what you need for the day.  mbmfmd

Although the book is meant for a classroom setting, I have found it totally accessible for a homeschool parent.   I have worked through the Addition and Subtraction book with my student and look forward to completing the Multiplication and Division book.   The math games are fun and don’t require much effort to put them together.   The targeted practice activities were engaging, and I appreciated the higher-level thinking skills that the thought questions require.

This is a valuable book if you are looking to strengthen your student’s basic math fact skills or introducing math facts for the very first time.  If you have a hands-on learner or a very visual student, this book will help meet their needs. Parents of special needs students will the strategies included  This book also makes for great summer math practice with low prep for the parent.  The table of contents, a sample chapter and a free downloadable sample of each book is available at the publisher’s website. 







Elementary(K-6), K-8 Math, Math, Special Needs

Fun Freebie – Calendar Notebook Printable


Daily calendar work takes only a few minutes, but involves lots of valuable math skills for elementary level students.    This is one of the nicest calendar math printable sets I’ve seen.    Click the image or the source link below to find your way to this great set of printables.

Curriculum Reviews, K-8 Math

Review for Math-U-See Primer

Product Description

In the Math-U-See Primer level your child will learn not only how to write numerals but also addition and subtraction, basic counting, skip counting, geometric shapes, telling time, and they will be introduced to the manipulative block system.  The Primer level is an introduction of math for the beginner learner, similar to Kindergarten level.

SDA Notes

This math program is hands-on, with block manipulative purchase a must (available from Math-U-See).  The children do not just observe and try and copy, but they are touching, feeling, building, and moving with math.  A rote memorization is not the focus, but rather an understanding.  A child should be able to hold a pencil and write curved lines (for number formation).   The program is not filled with silly animations or cartoons, is simple (not busy) yet attractive, so a child’s eye can easily move from one section of a workpage, to another section.

My Thoughts

Although Primer is geared for children who have not been introduced to numbers, it is a great program to begin math in the homeschool.  From the beginning, Steve Demme sets the foundation of important concepts, such as “units”, decimal street, and the concept of zero.  Key words are introduced at the earliest level and age, so that later on, a child will have heard the terms previously and can immediately understand more difficult concepts.  From a family with two engineers and extensive math background, this is a solid Math program that sets the stage for the correct understanding of math and its comprehension.   A Teacher DVD can be purchased with the textbooks.  For my first curriculum purchase, I opted to buy the DVD.  The children enjoy Mr. Demme and his laid-back yet accurate math teaching and gain encouragement seeing other homeschool children in the video.  The DVD is not needed, however, as every word and concept is written in the Teacher Textbook.  The student textbook offers 6 pages (front and back) of workbook per lesson (30 lessons total), with 3 of the pages offering review that covers previous lessons.  Also, Math-U-See offers two electronic sources – drill pages that are done online and a worksheet generator that can be used to print even more review workbook pages.  This is a great investment and a great beginner program.

Review by Nikki G.

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Curriculum Reviews, K-8 Math

Curriculum Review: Christian Light Education, Grade 2, Math

On Thursdays, we will begin to share reviews of curriculum and other homeschooling products via our blog instead of the newsletter.  If you’d like to get notices of our reviews, please sign up to get the email updates.  You will need to click the blog tab at the top of our website and it will be in the side bar to sign up under “Don’t Miss New Posts”.

PRODUCT:  Christian Light 2nd Grade Math Curriculum

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION:  This curriculum uses 10 workbooks for the year, called “Light Units”.  Each one contains approximately 17 lessons.  There are two quizzes and one test for each unit.  Every lesson takes 30 minutes or less to complete and includes an interesting or unusual fact, a speed drill, flashcard and counting exercises. The lessons introduce one new concept and then reviews previously taught concepts. The explanations are simple and clear so that the student can often work without a teacher’s help.  The workbooks are printed in two colors:  black and green.  Each unit is on a particular theme, like “Spring”, for example.  The story problems in each lesson center on that theme.  The teachers guide includes some extra tips and also serves as the answer book.

SDA NOTES:  People are always modestly dressed in the pictures, and pictures may include women with head-coverings. There is nothing I have found offensive and plenty that is good and healthy in this curriculum.  There is a recipe in one of the lessons that even includes granola.

MY THOUGHTS:  We really like this curriculum. It is inexpensive and thorough. It seems to have enough practice on the various concepts, but not too much.  It is also very easy to understand and use.  When I have called “Christian Light” with questions, they have been very considerate, pleasant and helpful.

Review by:  Heather K.

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Now it’s your turn.  You can rate this product by hovering over the stars below.  Please feel free to add additional comments that may be helpful for others in making a decision towards using this product.