Note: If this is your first time visiting this page, please start by reading some general guidelines and thoughts to help you as you choose math curriculum.
Please also see our review policy disclosure, which is to comply with FTC regulations and explains our review policy.
Math Curriculums Reviewed
Note: Only a few of the many curriculums available are listed below. Several common curriculums reviewed in Beyond Numbers are not repeated here.
Other Math Resources Reviewed
- Arithmetic for Parents: A Book for Grownups about Children’s Mathematics
- For All Practical Purposes
- How to Lie with Statistics
- Let’s Investigate Series
- Make It Real Learning Activity Library
- Mathematicians Are People, Too: Stories from the Lives of Great Mathematicians
- Measure Up with Science Series
- The Science Book of Numbers
- Science Projects About Math
- Using Math to Solve a Crime
Resources to Help You Understand and Teach from a Biblical Worldview
- Beyond Numbers: A Practical Guide to Teaching Math Biblically
- Revealing Arithmetic: Math Concepts from a Biblical Worldview
- Teaching Math Biblically CD
- Exploring the World of Mathematics
- Free Math Updates
- Mathematics: Is God Silent?
- Teaching Math Biblically MP3
- Truth and the Transcendent
Are you on the hunt for a math curriculum or resource to use with your child? Feeling overwhelmed by the many options out there and uncertain where to go?
Below are reviews of some of the math resources available. But before we look at specific resources, I’d like to share just a few overall thoughts about choosing a math curriculum.
As you begin selecting a curriculum, remember that there is no one curriculum that works perfectly for everyone. God created you and your child uniquely, with unique learning styles and abilities. Just because a curriculum worked for someone you know doesn’t mean it’s right for you–and just because a math resource worked for you last year, doesn’t mean it’s the best for you this year. There may be curriculums that, while they worked great in a certain setting or time of life, wouldn’t work in your current situation.
I know it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the choices out there.Yet how you approach the curriculum is ever so much more important than what curriculum you use! I have watched the Lord work through very imperfect curriculum when my heart was open to it–and I remember years where I had a good a curriculum, but failed to really learn what He had for me.
Now for a few practical notes on the subject of math. Math curriculums have undergone a massive switch in recent years. A hundred and fifty years ago, math curriculums were guide books to help students learn a skill they would need in real life. The goal of learning a concept was to apply it in a real-world situation.
This approach to math fits with a biblical perspective. As Christians, our goal in education isn’t to learn irrelevant facts–it’s to learn how to use math to help us in the tasks God has given us to do. When looked at from a biblical perspective, the symbols and equations in math are but ways of describing the consistent way God governs this universe and, as such, are useful tools in thousands of real-life situations!
Sadly, the majority of math curriculums, even curriculums produced by Christian publishers, have adopted an approach to math focused on fact memorization. Instead of teaching the child how to use math as a tool, they teach the child how to memorize data and pass a test. This approach is quite harmful, as it subtly teaches the child to look at math as a collection of man-made facts instead of as a way to describe the amazing way God created all things.
Many in the secular world are recognizing this approach to math fails to really teach students to think mathematically. A whole generation has grown up viewing math as meaningless numbers.
Fortunately, many new curriculums and resources teach math in conjunction with its practical application. While these curriculums are not necessarily biblical in that they don’t give God the glory for math or teach children to use math as unto Him, they are much easier to adapt to a biblical worldview than those that focus strictly on fact memorization. Please see Beyond Numbers for guidance on how to go about modifying curriculums and teaching math in a way that points your child to the Lord and equips him to use math for God’s glory.
The curriculums and resources reviewed below, while not necessarily claiming to be Christian, lend themselves to teaching math as a useful tool instead of a collection of meaningless facts. Each one has its strengths and weaknesses–it’s not my intent to endorse any specific resource, but rather to describe some of the options so you can better decide what will work for your family. While this list is by NO means exhaustive, I hope it will get you started and give you some ideas.
May the Lord grant you wisdom and joy as you seek Him in math!
P.S. If you have found a resource that you have found helpful or ones which you would like us to review, please let us know by sending an email to email@example.com.
Reviews – Curriculums
A series of smaller workbooks, each set of which covers a specific topic (like geometry or algebra). This series incorporates a lot of history, and works well for middle school students or those needing something a little less rigorous. This series was designed to be used as a supplement, but can stand on its own as well. Key Curriculum Press also has some other math options–see the website for details.
Publisher: Family Lifestyle Learning
Grade Level(s): pre-K through pre-algebra
Price: $370 for a complete set that can be used with all the children in a household for pre-K all the way through to pre-algebra. Smaller sets are available.
Date of Review: September 2007
Does the curriculum make the student use math practically? Yes! I really liked the way this curriculum strove to integrate math with every-day occurrences. For example, one of the books lists ideas of how parents can reinforce eighteen different math concepts while cooking!
Does the curriculum include applications in science or other disciplines? Not really. While the curriculum shows students how to use math in their own lives, it doesn’t really stress how math applies on the job/in an industry. However, the format is such that parents could add this information to their presentations (see format section below).
Does the curriculum incorporate history in the math presentations? No. The presentations just focus on the techniques used today. Again, though, the format lends itself to modification.
General Content Notes:
I found the general way this curriculum integrates math with real-life extremely refreshing. I don’t believe I’ve seen a grade-school curriculum that does as good of a job of presenting math as something useful in real-life. And, because it was written with homeschool parents in mind, the ideas are all doable in the family context. The curriculum does not, however, include any history or science, which are really important elements in demonstrating that our current way of writing things is just one way of recording quantities, not a self-existent fact. Users may want to purchase Exploring the World of Mathematics or some other book that touches on math’s history to use as a supplement while they teach.
Format/Ease of Modification
Does the format lend itself well to modification? Yes! This curriculum takes a very different approach to learning math than what you’d typically find. The curriculum essentially guides parents through custom-designing a math program for their child based mainly on real-life experiences, while at the same time providing relevant written review and a record-keeping system. The parent gets to choose a topic to teach from the list (a suggested order for topics is given, but parents can go out of order if they like). For each topic, the curriculum offers teaching ideas and explains the concept, so that even parents who aren’t good at math can confidently present the concept to their child. Since the parent is essentially creating his own curriculum with guidelines and doing all the presenting of each concept, the parent could modify the presentation to reflect a biblical perspective.
How much parental involvement is required? Since this curriculum is based around the idea that math should be taught as a part of life, parental involvement is essential. Parents present all the concepts (the book offers ideas on how to present them) and assign “5-A-Day” homework problems specifically for the child (see next section). However, parents may discover that in the long run they actually save time over traditional methods. Because the child is progressing at his/her own pace, parents should find that they won’t have to sit down as often and spend hours trying to explain a concept that their child just doesn’t get. Also, parents might find that the time it takes to assign the “5-A-Day” problems is no more than the time it would normally take to grade the 30 problems other curriculums require. But don’t expect to just hand your child a textbook—this curriculum guides the parent in teaching math.
Is the curriculum manipulative based, textbook based, both, or neither? Although this curriculum combines some of the elements from both the manipulative and textbook approaches, its approach doesn’t really fall in either category. The student is not given a textbook, but, at the same time, he is given five problems a day to solve. These problems are selected in such a way that the child gets continual review of all concepts he’s been taught and gets extra practice on ones with which he struggles. This “5-A-Day” system allows for review of concepts without creating meaningless busywork often found in a textbook approach. As for manipulatives, the curriculum is not manipulative based in the sense that not every concept must be taught with manipulatives. At the same time, the program utilizes simple manipulatives made out of household items to help present or reinforce various concepts.
General Format/Ease of Modification Notes:
If you enjoy unit studies/exploring and growing outside of a “textbook,” then you will really enjoy this curriculum’s approach. The things I found nice about the format were:
- The parent does all the presenting, which means that the student won’t have to sift through humanistic textbook presentations (provided, of course, that the parent presents the concept biblically),
- Students only have to solve five problems a day instead of twenty or thirty, helping the child see math as a real-life tool instead of a monotonous, textbook exercise, and
- The format is flexible, meaning parents can feel free to take a few days to look at the math they find in other unit studies/subjects without feeling like they’re falling behind in math.
An excellent choice if you’re wanting a guide that will let you explore math with your child but still give you structure and a record of what you’ve covered. This is a brand new curriculum with a brand new approach to math. I found it’s practical approach, flexible format, and 5 versus 20 or 30 problems a day very refreshing, and was excited to see this sort of curriculum available on the market. For more details on how the program works, check out the review on the Eclectic Homeschoolers website.
NOTE: This is not actually a curriculum, but rather a guide to help you design your own curriculum.
Grade Level(s): Grades K-6
Price: $24 new; also available used (try searching on www.bookfinder.com).
Date of Review: July 2008
Does the curriculum make the student use math practically? Yes. It offers many practical, around-the-house suggestions parents can implement with their children, especially in the younger grades.
Does the curriculum include applications in science or other disciplines? There are not a lot of examples of math’s application to science or other industries within the actual book, as the book is designed only as a guide to help the parent design his/her own curriculum. The structure is such that math’s application in science or other disciplines could be added using other materials.
Does the curriculum incorporate history in the math presentations? I did not notice any history suggestions given within the materials, but as this resource is designed to serve as a basic structure off which the parent builds the child’s math study, parents could research and add the history themselves.
General Content Notes:
Maximum Math is part of a series by Kathryn Stout designed to help parents and teachers design their own customized studies. It contains helpful listings of sample objectives to use for various grade levels, along with a few suggestions on how to go about teaching those objectives. For example, the Kindergarten through Grade 2 objectives given include being able to “classify and sort–same kind, color, size, and/or shape.” The teaching notes offer general suggestions such as “matching the color of objects or pictures to a color card or place items on a piece of colored construction paper” to help accomplish those objectives. Many of these suggestions are quite clever and provide numerous practical ideas of how to illustrate concepts with real-life objects; the author clearly believes math should go beyond rote memorization. The introductory chapter makes a lot of good points about making children apply and really understand math concepts. Because of its layout and affordable price, this book could easily be used as a reference when looking for further ideas on a specific concept.
FORMAT/EASE OF MODIFICATION
Does the format lend itself well to modification? Yes–the whole book is meant to be modified.
How much parental involvement is required? Parents would need to decide what to teach and how to teach it using the objectives and suggestions given as a springboard. This book is an outline of concepts and ideas, not a curriculum.
Is the curriculum manipulative based, textbook based, both, or neither? Both. The book mainly suggests using real-life objects to illustrate concepts, but also gives advice on what sort of practice problems to give the child. However, there is no textbook–the parent or teacher would need to develop all the practice problems himself, or take them off sites such as www.mathdrills.com.
General Format/Ease of Modification Notes:
This book is a guidebook to help parents and teachers design their own math study rather than a typical curriculum. Expect general ideas, tips, and suggestions, but not specific lesson plans or instructions.
This book contains a lot of helpful suggestions on how to visually demonstrate common math problems. As such, it could be used as a supplement to another curriculum or, for parents seeking to develop their own math curriculum, can serve as a starting point.
Publisher: Professor B Enterprises, Inc.
Grade Level(s): Curriculum teaches arithmetic, building step-by-step through three levels; specific grade levels are not assigned. The company also offers an algebra course that is structured differently and is not CD based at this time.
Price: $79.95/for each CD, $12.95/for each workbook, and $2.00 for each answer key.
Date of Review: July 2008
Does the curriculum make the student use math practically? The curriculum focuses strictly on helping the student understand why we manipulate numbers the way we do. This understanding, in turn, can help the student use math practically. Practical examples and illustrations are used to help teach concepts, but the main focus is on understanding.
Does the curriculum include applications in science or other disciplines? Not really. The curriculum focuses more on developing a solid understanding of math itself.
Does the curriculum incorporate history in the math presentations? No, but this could be added to the curriculum using other resources.
General Content Notes: The main focus of the curriculum is to help students learn to manipulate numbers based on understanding instead of rote memorization. The author recognizes that God created us intelligent beings, and therefore seeks to teach math in an intelligent fashion, actually explaining why math rules work in a way that makes sense. (Parents may find themselves learning a lot as they go!) The author also recognizes the need to be honest in math presentations–to really tell children what is going on instead of merely giving them rules that don’t accurately portray what the equation is representing. The author stresses how man’s mind was created by God and applies this truth to teaching math in a logical fashion; however, don’t expect continual references to God within the program, explanations of how math testifies to God’s faithfulness and care, or many science/history examples. The curriculum focuses on arithmetic exclusively–math concepts besides arithmetic (such as geometry) would need taught separately, either at a later date or simultaneously.
For an overview of the author’s philosophy, see the author’s video on GodTube at www.godtube.com/view_video.php?viewkey=7d4ee69faaf57cf7c4b3. You can also view sample lessons on www.profb.com.
FORMAT/EASE OF MODIFICATION
Does the format lend itself well to modification? Yes, with a little creativity. The format requires the watching of a CD, but parents could add their own comments as they watch or when they are finished.
How much parental involvement is required? Parents are expected to teach each day by reading the prompts on the CD. The curriculum is designed to teach the parents while they teach, so there is NO prep work to use the curriculum–a big plus for busy moms. However, parents may want to add practical and historical examples from time to time.
Is the curriculum manipulative based, textbook based, both, or neither? Neither. This curriculum is based around interactive CDs. A little bee teaches each lesson using text prompts and visual graphics on the computer screen. A workbook (and answer key) is also available for textbook practice.
General Format/Ease of Modification Notes: The format lends itself well for parents who are intimidated by teaching math and for students who do well with computer-based learning.
I appreciated the way this curriculum presented math concepts in a way that made sense and taught the child why rules work. I could see how the curriculum could make learning math much easier and more fun for some children. I would suggest those interested in the curriculum to take a look at the sample lessons on the website, and the videos produced by the author on GodTube (which make some very good points) to help decide if it is right for them.
A popular math series from the 1800s. Mott Media also offers a Parent-Teacher’s Guide by Ruth Beechick that shows today’s parents/teachers how they can use the series. Be aware that it uses examples and terminology from the 1800s–some may consider this a challenge, and others an added layer of interest.
Read James Nickel’s excellent review of Saxon Math materials.
Reviews – Other Math Resources
Arithmetic for Parents: A Book for Grownups about Children’s Mathematics, written by Israeli math teacher Ron Aharoni, offers a host of down-to-earth ideas on presenting concepts in an understandable, tangible way. Most of these ideas could easily be adapted to reinforce a biblical worldview. The book is a bit pricey, but I found it well worth the price.
This series of 26 half-hour videos does an excellent job presenting math’s practical uses in a fun and meaningful way. A far cry from a boring classroom presentation, these videos make math both interesting and exciting through real-life examples and footage. I loved how the series made complex concepts simple, enabling the viewer to learn without even realizing it. One or two of the videos have very brief sections that discuss evolution from the wrong perspective, but on the whole the videos stayed clear of the topic of origins and focused on math’s practical uses. Since these videos were produced in the 1980s, a few videos feature rather archaic computers; however, the principles the videos present about math in action have not really changed.
This series is great for high-school students (or younger with assistance). One idea would be to watch a video a week as a supplement to your middle school or high school math course as a way of showing math’s usefulness in real-life situations–a usefulness that’s only possible because our consistent, faithful God holds all things together! They’re currently available for free viewing on on Google Videos. The company that made this series has also produced a full sized high-school/college textbook by the same title. I was able to purchase one through AbeBooks (http://www.abebooks.com) for $3.99, including shipping.
This is by far the best book on how statistics can be twisted that I have found. Most books tend to give crude or unnecessarily bad examples, but this one was written back in the 1950s and uses useful, clean examples, although it is by no means perfect or biblical. Written in a clear, fun style with plenty of humorous illustrations. Upper elementary school on up to adult.
Let’s Investigate Ratio and Proportion is a useful book for those looking for a simple explanation of ratio/proportion and their uses in real life. The book begins by introducing Sue and Shelly’s wooden caterpillar business and having the reader discover the ratios between the different color wood segments the girls need to make up their caterpillars. It then continues to demonstrate ratios in recipes and knitting before officially introducing ratios and teaching its symbolism. The second half of the book focuses on proportion, tying it very nicely back to ratios. While I really liked the practical and simple way this book presented the concepts, I did not care for one page that talked about a Hag (they used a Hag’s recipe as their recipe example). Other than that, the book seemed like a useful resource on ration/proportion.
Note: There are numerous other books in the “Let’s Investigate” series. Two of my favorites are “Maps and Scale Drawings” and “Circles.” Many of the books contain a lot of useful real-life examples and present the concepts well for elementary/middle school children; however, be aware that occasionally a book will contain an offensive example. I found this series at the local library, so you might check yours to see if they carry it.
Publisher: Make It Real Learning
Grade Level(s): K-College
Price: $39.99/complete library of e-books (11 in all) or $4.99/each individual e-book. Note: The publishers have offered a 10% discount (good through the end of 2011) for readers of this blog post; this is not an affiliate code, and I do not get any commission on it. I am just passing it along in case any of you wanted to use it. To use the discount, enter LOOP10 as the code during checkout at www.makeitreallearning.com.
Where to Obtain: www.makeitreallearning.com; a customized version is available at www.theoldschoolhousestore.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=334_381_383&products_id=14255 (see below for details about the difference).
Like its name implies, the Make It Real Learning series by Frank C. Wilson seeks to make math real for students, answering the question of “when am I ever going to use this?” The series consists of 11 e-books, each one of which contains 10 real-world scenarios. The e-books range from one on fractions, percents, and decimals to e-books on more advanced topics such as linear functions and quadratic functions. The majority of the e-books deal with upper-level concepts.
Each real-world scenario stands on its own and can be printed and handed straight to the student. Duplicate worksheets containing answers (and often detailed solutions) are included. The formatting is professional and clean. The scenarios could be used as periodic assignments to both provide a refreshing break from everyday math lessons and to teach students to use math practically. The e-books do not present any of the math itself (so you will want to make sure your child knows the information needed to complete the scenario); they are designed for the student to apply what he has learned or is learning to real-life scenarios.
The scenarios themselves vary greatly. Some of them rank among the most excellent, well-thought-out activities I have encountered. For example, students will get to find the cost of keeping a pet (using real petsmart.com data), make cell phone comparisons and investment decisions, and understand the math behind various pieces of data all around us we take for granted. On the flip side, the books also include scenarios mentioning topics I found unnecessary, such as AIDS and teen pregnancy. I would plan on finding several great scenarios in each of the e-books, but know that you also might find one or two you would not want to use or would only use with discussion (many of the topics, such as those on health or population issues, warrant deep discussions and explorations of a biblical worldview of that topic). Since the material comes as an e-book, you have the ability to select just the scenarios that will work for your family by screening them on the computer and printing only those you want when you want them.
The Old Schoolhouse Store sells a customized version of the product in which some of the scenarios Christian homeschoolers found inappropriate (such as AIDS and teen pregnancy) have been replaced with different scenarios. It still includes topics such as health/entertainment/population issues that warrant further discussion. Note: You can view the different topics covered in each e-book on the websites. The Old Schoolhouse Store version does not include the Calculus I e-book.
The thing I loved about many of the scenarios is that, unlike a typical word problem, they really take the student into the scenario and let them experience the decision in a way few math books even approach. When used selectively, I can see them being wonderful ways to present math as a practical tool, especially in the high school years where textbooks focus more and more on abstract math.
Note: The publishers have offered a 10% discount (good through the end of 2011) for readers of this blog post; this is not an affiliate code, and I do not get any commission on it. I am just passing it along in case any of you wanted to use it. To use the discount, enter LOOP10 as the code during checkout at www.makeitreallearning.com.
Mathematicians Are People, Too: Stories from the Lives of Great Mathematicians by Luetta and Wilbert Reimer is an easy-to-read book on the lives of great mathematicians. The book is written in a story-book style, making it both easy to read and enjoyable, especially for elementary children. The authors did an excellent job showing how mathematicians developed many concepts in an attempt to solve the real-life problems of their day. While the book does not go into depth on the philosophy of the different mathematicians, it touches on it here and there, opening the door for you to discuss/explore further what was right/wrong with the mathematician’s beliefs and practices and where this led. A good resource to use to start exploring math’s history with your younger children, although it does not approach the subject from a Christian perspective.
Note: This resource was submitted to us and that sounded helpful, but we have not personally reviewed it.
By Brenda Walpole
Series includes books on Counting, Seed, Distance, Size, Time, Temperature. Published by Gareth Stevens Publishing.
I loved how this book provided hands-on projects related to math. Instructions are given for making a digital dial, abacus, slide rule, weighing and music machine, counting wheel, sundial, and more. The instructions for each project are in full color and take up two pages. Hardly any explanation is given about the math concept; however, these are great projects to help use and solidify concepts as you learn them. Children will learn about math without realizing it—especially if you point out how the project uses the math concept you have just learned. These projects would probably work best for younger elementary students with parental supervision.
I was so excited when I read the title of this book. I have examined so many science books that simply tell the child the science concept without showing them that it was math that helped us discover that aspect of God’s creation. I was delighted to find that here, at last, was a book that explained the math behind science in a fun and interactive way. Although this resource does not claim to be biblical, it does an excellent job giving fun science experiments that put math into action. For middle-school aged children.
Wendy and David Clemson, Kev Pritchard, and Dr. Allison Jones
Using Math to Solve a Crime makes math come alive for elementary students by actually allowing the student to become a detective and solve a crime. Students use numerous math concepts (including addition, graphing, analyzing, recognizing shapes, code cracking, and many more) as they walk through the detective process. Along the way, students learn interesting facts about forensic science and crime investigation. I was thoroughly impressed by the way this book intertwined math and science. I have read so many books that simply mention how math is used; this book made the student use math. While many books tend to oversimplify concepts or add word problems as afterthoughts, the math problems in this book are both realistic and an integral part of solving a crime case, making the problems meaningful and exciting to solve. I also really liked the way the book forces the student to to think through a simulated real-life situation and to put various math concepts to work (which teaches him to think mathematically). A great resource to help show your children that math is a useful tool. Could take anywhere from a day to a month or so to work through, depending on how fast you go. I was a little disappointed at the book’s price tag ($18.50). If the price makes it unaffordable for your family, consider seeing if your library can order the book through interlibrary loan or give it as a birthday/special gift to your child–they will love it!
Thanks to my Aunt Marie Ferreira for telling me about this resource. Part of the Mathworks series by Gareth Stevens Publishing (www.garethstevens.com). The series also contains the following titles: Using Math to be a Zoo Vet, Using Math to Conquer Extreme Sports, Using Math to Create a Movie Stunt, Using math to Fly a Jumbo Jet, and Using Math to Win a Grand Prix.
|Beyond Numbers: A
Practical Guide to Teaching
|Revealing Arithmetic: Math
Concepts from a Biblical
|Mathematics: Is God Silent?|