8 Ways to Supplement Your Math Program

No math program is perfect! With that in mind, there are always ways to make the one you are using more effective. Here are 8 ways you can supplement any math program you are using.

1. Practical Real-Life Emphasis

This is the easiest and most natural way to learn (or teach). The reason we learn math is because we deal with numbers in a variety of forms daily. Look for these opportunities throughout the day. If you get stuck, you might find these resources helpful:

8 Ways to Supplement Your Math Program

Family Math by Jean Kerr Stenmark, Virginia Thompson, and Ruth Cossey
When we used this, we tried one new activity each Friday. Activities are divided by skill (beginning, word problems, time and money, measurement, etc). They are also tagged with the level that they are targeted to.

Keeping Math Real
Fun article that describes how to use Cheerios and M&Ms among other food favorites to keep math real.

2. Drill

Yes. Our eyes tend to glaze over on this one. But our children do need their basic math facts down cold. If you student isn’t quite there, spend time focusing on these skills until he is.

Our favorites in this category include:

Simple way to drill facts each day. You can try Rainbow Resource for better prices.

8 Ways to Supplement Your Math Program

Learning Wrap-Ups
Handy to take along.

Math Fact Worksheet Creator {Free}
Another option.

3. In-depth Practice

Other than just drilling facts, sometimes particular concepts will need more focus: fractions, counting change back, long division.

Favorites include:

Key To Series
Great series of easy-to-use books focusing on a specific trouble area.

Rod and Staff Worksheets
Although these are written to go with their math program, they work very well as stand-alone supplemental practice on concepts.

Rays Arithmetic
Free online and full of problems for more practice — particularly word problems.

4. Developing Understanding

Sometimes a concept is simply not clear. There is no use moving forward until it is. These favorites help you teach things in a different way.

8 Ways to Supplement Your Math Program
Understanding Mathematics: From Counting to Calculus by Keith Kressin
Great reference to have on the shelf when Mom gets stuck!

Michelle’s Math
Old, but still a great help in explaining concepts.

5. Math You Can Touch

Hands-on options can be very helpful when introducing concepts. Manipulatives we have used include teddy bear counters, dominoes, tangrams, and coins. But of course, nearly anything will work!

Hands-On Equations
Manipulative-oriented program for older students and great introduction to algebra.

6. Digital-Based Programs & Games

Math Blaster was a favorite, but there are many, many options these days. Favorites will include those that focus more on skill than sizzle.

7. Strategy-Based Games

There are few better ways to develop logical thinking skills than strategy-based games. Logic skills are very handy when it comes to math.

Favorites include chess, Monopoly, and Stratego.

For a great list try Smart Board Games at HoagiesGifted.org.

8. Literature

Living books have a way of making even math concepts stick. My dad knew a professor that wrote an entire book on the number 2. Charlotte Mason once said, “How living would Geometry become in the light of the discoveries of Euclid as he made them!”

There are several well-done series that are solid while being entertaining. Favorites include:

8 Ways to Supplement Your Math Program

Sir Cumference Series
The first tells the story of the Round Table. But how we get there…. Well, it involves Lady Di of Ameter, Radius (the son), and Geo of Metry. Loads of fun and not likely to be forgotten!

Exploring Math with Books Kids Love by Kathryn Kaczmarski
Not every book listed in here will fit every family, but you may already have several of the books mentioned on the shelf. In any case, the ideas alone will be helpful when you come across other books during read-aloud that you can use to illustrate math concepts.

Final Tip

Don’t throw everything at it. Any supplement will work best when you try to determine exactly where your child is and what he needs, and find a resource to address the specific issue.

For example, needs to know his math facts better? Drill with Calculadders each day to build his skills.

Can do the math problems, but the skills don’t seems to transfer to real life? Try Family Math or simply pay more attention to math opportunities in your daily living.

Excels at the step-by-step procedures, but does less well when it comes to word problems when the steps are not laid out? Try using manipulatives or playing board games where strategy is involved.

Additional Resources

Reviews of Math Supplements
Cathy Duffy’s site is where I go when I want to know the best of what is available. Her reviews will tell you what might make the program work for you, or not. Trusted source!

Lots of different activities, books, and other resources for teaching or reviewing specific concepts.

Beechick Basics

An Easy Start in Arithmetic by Dr. Ruth Beechick
Targeted to parents of children in grades K–3, this title explains how children learn math — progressing through manipulative, mental image and abstract modes of thinking — and then provides a course of learning and suggestions for teaching math for each grade. Handy resource when it comes to presenting or reviewing troublesome concepts! (Can also be purchased as one of The Three R’s.)

Beechick Basics

You Can Teach Your Child Successfully by Dr. Ruth Beechick
Picking up where the above book leaves off, there are 114 pages devoted to teaching arithmetic that cover developing an interest in arithmetic, the principles of teaching arithmetic, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division teaching concepts, and grade-level guidelines for grades 4–8. Valued resource!

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