Math without books

 I'm trying really hard to revamp our math curriculum.

We got a new game in called Zeus On The Loose and Alec is obsessed with it.  We played over 9 rounds last night and the object is to be the person with the Zeus character when the pile of cards reaches 100 (or over 100).  We have to add and subtract each card we add so it's really great math practice plus Alec loves that it incorporates all the Greek Gods.

It was a huge hit.

 Having so much fun on a weekend playing math games made me stop and think about our whole school approach this year.  While I REALLY want to finish a math book with the boys I can't help but notice that they HATE it. 

I took what used to be a grumbly subject and made it so much worse.

Even Alec and Evan who never expressed care one way or the other toward math now grumble when they have to grab their books.  I think my main reason for wanting to stick with a curriculum was to make sure the boys are on target and on task.

Gone are the fun games we used to play, the sneaky math we used to rely on and all the real life applicable skills we started with as our focus.

I'm trying to critically look at their books and see how I can cover the same material but in a more hands on way.

I'm trying to come up with a fun list of things to do with math concepts and a way to come away from workbooks and writing.

I don't think we'll abandon them completely since I do like them to have practice writing numbers and when we're really behind and I feel like we haven't done any real school in forever it's nice to have something quick and simple to fall back on, but as my mom said to me "did you ever really finish a workbook when you were in school?"

It was like a light dawning!


 I know I didn't.  I remember bringing home half completed workbooks in almost every subject.  We skipped pages here and there and even then never made it to the end.

So here's my list of sneaky math fun:

For the older boys (mostly):

  • Cooking-- we're trying to add, subtract, and reduce fractions this year.  What better way to familiarize ourselves with fraction than to read, follow, & write recipes! We can double, halve, and experiment with measurements. 

  • Card games-- I have TONS of sights of card games that we've stopped using. Some practice multiplication skills, some use fractions, some are for place value.   I even saw a great game that uses mean, median, and mode. 
  • Board games--Monopoly, Yahtzee, Life, Payday, etc., are all great board games that interest my boys and get us adding, making change, multiplying, etc. 
  • Dice games-- we love dice games and while I have had to purchase fraction dice, 10 sided dice and even 12 sided dice we don't take advantage of all the dice games that are out there nearly enough.
  • video games-- there are so many amazing video games and math sites that we just don't take advantage of often enough.  My boys love Kahn academy, cool math, and dragon box; just to name a few.  I have got to start scheduling more math video games into our lessons.
  • YouTube videos-- there are also tons of great learning videos out there that teach math concepts in fun and catchy ways.  If we followed up a lesson with a fun activity the boys would be smiling; not crying.
  • candy-- any math lesson I've ever done with the boys that included candy was a huge hit!  I have seen a great fraction Kit Kat activity on Pinterest that I just know we must try soon.
  • Math books-- the story kind of books.  My boys enjoy listening to stories and many math based books are just fun to read.  As long as they aren't hitting my boys over the head with concepts and the story line is entertaining they just love reading math literature books.
  • Action games-- My boys love when I add in things like Nerf guns, water balloons, and movement into our math lessons.  It's easy to write out answers or problems on sticky notes for Nerf practice, or in chalk on our driveway for water balloon tosses. 
  • Manipulatives-- we have so many math manipulatives and I have to get back into the practice of just setting them out on our table.  Sure they often use them imaginatively and I have no idea if they're applying any math to their play but exposure to these objects goes a long way.  We have a 100's board, a few different fraction toys, some pattern blocks, and much, much more.
  • Combining math in with art.  My older boys love art and I have stumbled upon some great art ideas that incorporate math.  I really want to try some of them this year.  I think the boys will be real surprised to find that they don't have to do math on those days!
  • Practicing circumference with pumpkins, apples, strings and rulers this fall.  Measure around the apple and then cut straight through the apple comparing the measurements. 
  • Real life applications-- they want to re-paint their rooms and another homeschool mom gave me the great idea of having them find the area of  their walls while subtracting doors and windows to see how much paint we need.
  • Verbal Math books-- so far my boys still enjoy and fight over who gets to work with me whenever I pull out their verbal math books.  We're starting with the basics like adding and subtracting with carrying and regrouping and we'll be adding on from there.  It's a good compromise on days I'm too tired to plan a real game/ hands on activity and we still don't want to do workbook pages.
  • Real life math-- using a grocery flyer give them a budget and have them make up a list.  Or else find a take out menu and have them figure out the cost of a night out, etc.  Could use at Christmas time and have them add up the cost of their wish lists too. 
    Hmmm.. not bad for 5 minutes of brainstorming!  I really need to remember to put these kinds of activities into our daily schedule. 

    Linking Up With:


    1. We use manipulative and blocks for math. We also have a bunch of math board games. You never know how much fun math can be if you are stuck behind a book.

    2. I love your ideas. My oldest struggles with math facts. But he loves to play card games even if they require doing simple math. I need to get back to playing more games with him. When I grew up, I baked all the time, I believe this is one reason I can add/subtract fractions so well today. Thanks for sharing at Mom-to-Mom Mondays.

    3. These are all wonderful ways to teach math. I don't know if many people consider cooking and baking as a teaching lesson, but I certainly do. When I homeschooled I used cooking and baking as an opportunity to teach fractions. :)
      Zeus on the Loose sounds fun, too!
      Thanks for sharing at #MMBH!

      1. Thanks for stopping by! My oldest son was really struggling with fractions and we put his book away for a year; he cooked, baked and worked on other math lesson and then suddenly a year later he picked up his fractions book and just seemed to get it. I completely credit so much of it to cooking and baking.

    4. So many fun ways to learn math! Oh, my kids would envy that pile of Tangrams. We only have a small box.

      1. I love those too so we bought a huge set; mostly so I could play along and not run out of shapes we all like/need.

    5. I love these ideas. Math was always a grumbly subject for me. These will make it more enjoyable for me to teach it as well! ;)

      1. Very true; these ways certainly make it more fun to teach!

    6. you have some great ideas here, just lovely. going to pin it! :)


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