Tag Archives: math

Clear Horizons – math choices


This week, the Virtual Curriculum Fair is focusing on Discovering Patterns: Math and the Mathematical Sciences.  You will find all sorts of ideas, helps, and surprises for practical math applications among the posts.

It is no secret that math is the hardest subject for me to write about. I could whine and complain but really, it amounts to an insecurity within myself. I know and recognize that and I fight it all the time, hoping my girls will learn to be confident in their math abilities. We have struggled with finding a good curriculum, even with our adventures as part of the Homeschool Review Crew. We have found several tidbits that help us.

1 – We do not do well with an online curriculum. Examples might be Teaching Textbooks or Khan Academy or A+ Interactive Math. We realize that these have many wonderful features; they just don’t fit our children. And that is okay.

2 – We have realized that the girls need to be able to ask questions of a real person and get multiple explanations of a concept. These explanations need to be different each time, using different words to help get the concept across.

3 – We need to practice a few problems at a time and not be overwhelmed by a huge page full of the exact same type of problem x 100.

4 – But we can do several different concepts on each page, as long as there are 5 or 6 of each type.

5 – Color is helpful and brightens up the pages but is not essential.

So that leave us looking forward at? What?

We looked at several different curriculum options – printing from online, buying a book at the store, or piecing things together ourselves. We spent a couple of hours with the girls at the store going through things and came home with a company that has been a perfect fit for us – Horizons.

Is it a perfect book that makes everything simple? No.

But, it fit our needs and has given us a way through our daily math that has made sense and we have seen really fantastic progress. All three of the girls use Horizons Math.

The pages are well set up and there is sequential progress through the concepts with a little bit of practice on following days. After a few days of this kind of practice, they might move away from that concept for a while. It will circle back, though, after a couple of weeks and then they will build on it.

We have seen the girls confidence and ability soar with Horizons. We know that there are options that may fit better in the future. Actually, the near future since Horizons doesn’t have a high school level math option so we will have to find something different. But this? It has been the answer we needed.

Pre-algebra is coming up fast. (We may start a review on a Pre-Algebra program in a couple of weeks! I’ll let you know. . .) But until then, we have clear horizons and a program we are pleased with.

I say all this to let you know, it is okay to move around a bit to find the right fit. Once we realized what was working or not working about certain programs, our view was much clearer. And with that clearer view, the right fit was easier to find.

At Home.


Please visit my fellow homeschool bloggers who are talking about Discovering Patterns: Math and the Mathematical Sciences this week:

Finding Our Math Equilibrium: Our Plan for 11th, 7th, 5th, and 2nd Grades + Free Printables! by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Math Resources and Programs for All Ages by Amanda H @ Hopkins Homeschool

Math (doesn’t) Stink! by Jennifer King @A Peace of Mind

When Math is NOT Your Thing by Michele@Family, Faith and Fridays

Math U See and All the Supplements by Laura H @ Four Little Penguins

Discovering Patterns in Our World: STEM Studies by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World

Junior High Math by Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life

Science & Math for Struggling Learners by Yvie @ Gypsy Road

Maths: a subject in progress by Sarah @ Delivering Grace

Taking Mathematics out of the Textbook by Dana Hanley @ Roscommon Acre

Maths for a Very Maths-y Boy by Lizzy @ Peaches At Home

Practical Math by Annette @ A Net in Time

One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling by Kim @ Good Sweet Love

Math, How I Loathe Thee by Shecki @ Greatly Blessed

Math and Logic in Early Elementary and Preschool {virtual curriculum fair 2017} by Meghan W @ Quiet In The Chaos

Low Stress High School Science and Math by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

Are these toys or manipulatives? This is math? by HillaryM @ Walking Fruitfully

When You Don’t Have a Math Plan by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

Clear Horizons by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens

A Few Thoughts on Teacher Math by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset


Have you written about math? Link up and share by clicking below:

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Favorites: curriculum


That word is quite loaded, isn’t it?

What does that actually mean? Well, if you look it up, it means “preferred before all others of the same kind.” So when we are talking about curriculum, it means what is our preferred curriculum.

Still, that is pretty loaded. Do I go with what I prefer and like? Or the giggly girls? And which giggly girl? For which subject?

Miss J – age 7

Favorite subject: Math

Miss L – age 10

Favorite subject: English (specially cursive and poetry)

Miss E – age 12

Favorite subject: art


Horizons math cover


For math, we are using Horizons for all three of the girls. It is working well and it has taken us a while to get to this point. Miss J really enjoys math and will ask to do more than one lesson each day. She enjoys math games and has fun with all things numbers. We also enjoy using the free games from Sheppard Software and they have some pretty challenging math games.


For English, we are very eclectic. It also kind of depends on what you determine English to be. If it is Writers In Residenceparsing sentences, we don’t do that. If it writing, Miss L has been using Writers in Residence. She still is enjoying that and I think it is still a very good curriculum. For cursive, we have used a couple of different things (see New American Cursive) but really, once she knew her letter formations it was just a matter of encouraging her to put it to use every day. She really enjoys working on making it beautiful now. If you are looking for literature, we are using NotebookingPages.com. This opens up the critical thinking options and gives each child the opportunity to give her own take on the story or passage we are reading. We have researched a bundle of different book lists and ask the girls to read some specific books but overall, their literature comes from unit studies we are working on. Poetry? Well, Miss L really meant writing poetry. She doesn’t mind memorizing poetry, which we are doing, but she just enjoys the flexibility and freedom of creating her own poetry.

mobileMiss E? Well, she would rather not have to do school at all. So, she has absolutely no favorites. She really seems to enjoy art and we do that locally with The Art Center of Waco. They do a weekly artist study during the school year and we love attending that. We tend to try to do some additional study of that artist during the week and we have learned a lot of techniques with that. (See three posts I have shared about the Art Center: Matisse, Art Camp, and Rendon/Chagall.) We have also used Artistic Pursuits several times and we do keep that available for picking up a lesson here and there. (See reviews on the grade levels and on Construct.) Additionally, we enjoy using the art lessons from HodgePodge. Quick and easy yet applicable to many different studies we are doing.


My favorites? History. I really enjoy studying history. We do that a number of ways, much of which is literature based. We read and study a number of non-fiction books for each topic we cover and so far, we have chosen topics based on interests from the girls. Will that continue? I don’t know. With Miss E in 7th grade this year, we probably need to focus on some more specific topics so this area is up for debate at the moment. Hopefully, I will have this all parsed out in the next couple of weeks.

We will jump back into full time school at the beginning of August so I guess I’d better get moving on those plans.

At Home.

Favorite Curriculum 2016
I am sharing these somewhat random thoughts as part of the TOS Review Crew Round Up of Favorite Curriculum Choices. Looking for something in particular? Head over to the lineup and see what others have shared. (This goes live on Friday, July 22, at 8 EST so if you click over there ahead of that time, you might get an error. Come back and visit after the link goes live!)








Sunya ~ a TOS review

Sunya game
Math. Normally this would be followed by {sigh}. Sunya Publishing changed that. At least a little bit! This brand new company is producing a brand new math game that we have really enjoyed here At Home: Sunya – The Magic and Wonder of Math and Science Multiplying & Dividing.

Now, we don’t typically go around laughing and giggling over math games. But this one? We did. I used this as a fun one-on-one game with Miss E in order to review her multiplication and division facts. It worked great! She laughed, giggled, and beat me every single time. I kid you not! Every time!

The name of the company – Sunya (pronounced Soon-ya) – comes from Sanskrit, an ancient language from India. This word means “empty or void of any quantity.”

This is a simple card game. Really it boils down to simply making true mathematical sentences with the cards. Then, using the cards in your hand, you have to change the existing mathematical sentence to a new one. You have to change at least one card. The first person to play all of the cards in their hand wins. Simple as that!

One rule that we adored? While you are working to rid your hand of cards, you are able and encouraged to collaborate with the other players when someone is stuck. No struggling on your own! Team work!
Sunya number sentences

Oh – and the winner gets the reward of choosing a card from the math and science fact and riddle card pile. These cards are simply challenging, funny, or strange math and science facts or riddles. It is very tempting to just spend a while reading through all of these and getting all the fun facts and trying all the riddles right away. But don’t! Save it for a win and then savor the joy of challenging your opponent with whatever is on the card you pick.

Now, we basically only played the first type of game with these cards. There are additional rules that you can use if you want something much more challenging or if you want to make it more competitive. There are rules for Sunya Multiplying & Diving Game II, Solitaire Sunya, Team Sunya, and Sunya 400. We did not venture into these rules and games.

Sunya – The Magic and Wonder of Math and Science Multiplying & Dividing comes with a School and Homeschool Teacher/Parent Guidebook (comb bound with slick cardstock covers), a set of 60 Sunya playing cards, and a set of 30 math and science fact and riddle cards. We also received a small number line to assist if needed. That is all you need to play the game.
studying Sunya cards

When you get ready to dig into the instructions, I want you to remember that it is easier to play the game than the rules read. The rules are addressing every single possible issue that might be had but really, just play. Don’t over think it and have fun. Make number sentences that are true; have the next player change at least one part of the sentence while still making it true, and continue on. Don’t stress over these rules. They are very simple. Just play and have fun! When you need clarification on something, then pull out the rules but don’t read them too hard.

The Guidebook was sent to us mostly in black and white printing but a couple of the pages were in color. This was done to ask our opinion about which we liked best. I don’t know what the final printing of it will look like. I think the color pages looked nicer but they certainly were not necessary and did not add anything to the understanding of the game.

In the back of the guidebook, there are fun facts and quotes that can really enhance the learning. We are going to be covering these with some notebooking soon. The girls will learn about the history of our number system, what Sunya means, a bit about the language of math and its history. There is also a glossary, examples of the parts of number sentences, famous math quotes, and copies of the math and science fact cards. There is plenty of learning that can come out the Guidebook, as well!

Math and Science {Sunya Publishing Review}
One other note: I would love to see the two card decks have different backs. It would be less confusing on the playing surface to not have two card decks that looked the same. Also, it would make it much easier to separate them when they get mixed up .

I have no complaints about this game. It has been fun and brought plenty of giggles. Plus, Miss E practiced her math facts in multiplication and division while having fun. Sunya is a win-win for us.

At Home.
Math and Science {Sunya Publishing Review}
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Times Tales by Trigger Memory ~ a TOS review

TOS review

I’ll be honest and say my girls were less than thrilled when I brought out Times Tales for review. The Trigger Memory Co.  has this neat little product that we have been using for the past month or so and it has been such a good thing.

The Trigger Memory Co REVIEW
I had wanted to try out Times Tales for a while. I even tried to get it through the library. Somehow, it had never worked out until now. And, as so many things seem to be, it was perfect timing. Everyone’s brains were ready to absorb this information.

All three of the girls – Miss E (age 11), Miss L (age 9), and Miss J (age 7) – were a part of this process. I did not really expect Miss J to learn a lot but I figured exposure is fantastic and if she picks anything up, it’s all bonus. Miss L has been working on multiplication for a bit now and Miss E understands the concept well but struggled with the memorization of the facts.viewing on TV

Times Tales is a downloadable product. We received a download file that contained two mp4 video files and three PDF files. The mp4 video files were Part 1 and Part 2 of the video. The three PDF files were flashcards, game cubes, crossword puzzles, and tests. These materials cover the following multiplication facts: 3×6,3×7,3×8,3×9,4×6,4×7,4×8,4×9,6×6,

So, as the program recommends, we put on the video for Part 1 and watched it. We watched it several times during the first week. We also printed out the game cubes and Miss E and Miss J played. We used the crossword puzzle. And we worked through the challenges on the video several times. Then, we let that marinate for a week before diving into Part 2. Part 2 worked the same way as Part 1. We watched it some on the computer and sometimes we used ChromeCast to send it over to the television for watching.

on the computer

By the end of the Part 2 week, the girls knew their multiplication facts. It worked that well for them. Why you ask? Well, let’s take a look at that.

Times Tales is a video format that uses fun stories and visual aids to enhance memory. By putting together a story in an exact order, they have recreated the multiplication fact. When it came time for the girls to recall those facts, they just had to recreate that story in their heads and then translate it to numbers. Which was actually pretty easy because of the way Times Tales handles it. The Trigger Memory Co. refers to these image stories as a mnemonic-process.

Take a look at the Times Tales website and spend a few minutes viewing their sample video. It is in the lower left corner of their homepage. You really do need to view the sample in order to fully appreciate this product. They also have a video of a young student going through the process that you can see on their website.

game cubes

But wait – there is one more thing. In addition to the multiplication facts, this visual story setup does something else. It teaches division facts with no trouble at all. Miss L has not worked with division at all yet. But after going through Times Tales, she knows her division facts. We are now working on teaching the concept to go with the facts that she knows.

Miss E has struggled for a few years to memorize the multiplication facts. They are now memorized along with the division counterparts. Miss L knows them all, as well. Miss J knows most of the upper times tables thanks to Times Tales. I am very pleased with this product and more than happy to recommend it.

Three notes –

  1. We had a little bit of problem with the printing of the Mrs. Milkfiles from the download. The videos were absolutely no problem. It was a simple enough fix and I just had to take one of the pages and print it as an image from the PDF file.
  2. It did take a long time to download. Be prepared to just sit and let it download. The first time I downloaded, I tried to multitask on the computer. Well, it rebelled and the computer crashed. The second time, I just let it do its thing and sat here with a book. No problems that time.
  3. The first time the older two girls saw the video, they thought it was way to cheesy for them to have to sit through. I told them they didn’t have a choice. After the first few minutes, they enjoyed the older style of animation a lot. And they definitely benefitted from my insistence. Truly, though, they came to enjoy it a lot. So much that Miss E created another character that she thought needed to be in the tales. Meet Mrs. Milk, a character for the numeral 1.

At Home.

The Trigger Memory Co REVIEW
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Read more reviews from other families on how they used Times Tales from The Trigger Memory Co.

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A Book Review for Math

Math doesn't suck pin imageI am reviewing this because I like it. I bought the book and have received nothing from the company or author for this review.

Okay, I have not been blunt about our math struggles but I have mentioned them over the past couple of years. Well, I was at a local bookstore looking for a math series that was recommended to me when I stumbled up on a very interesting find.

Do you know Danica McKellar? I didn’t know the name but evidently, most people will. Does The Wonder Years or The West Wing ring a bell? Yep – she’s THAT actress. Well, she evidently had problems with math when she was younger but was able to overcome. She even quit acting for a while to go to college and get a MATH DEGREE! She is back in acting but is also writing now. And she wrote a math book. Hmmm. . .

Well, I picked it up because, honestly, the title got me. I don’t like the title but I love the book! The title is “Math Doesn’t Suck: how to survive middle school math without losing your mind or breaking a nail.” I picked it up and read the first few pages and knew I was buying that book. It has been a great addition for us already.

I have read about half of it, laughing quite a bit and learning more about math than I knew. I’ll keep on reading until I am done. Then, I’ll be going through it again. Because Miss E is going through it.

Miss E had read through the first chapter. Without complaint! AND – get this – she has laughingly done the math exercises! WOOHOO!!!! Of course, when you get to draw monkey and palm trees with the numbers it does make it more fun. Factors and factoring and prime factors – check. Easy as that. We did save a couple of the exercises on prime factoring to do tomorrow after some sleep and today’s exercises to see how much stuck. But, absolutely no fuss or even a hint of one! I am so excited!!!!

I’ll give you a quick idea about what is covered:

  • factors, prime factors,
  • fractions (simple, complex, adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, mixed, improper, etc.)
  • order of operations
  • decimals
  • converting fractions to decimals and back
  • percentages and converting to and from fractions and decimals
  • ratios
  • rates
  • proportions
  • unit conversions

With a joyful, easy conversation, Danica brings to world of numbers down to a case that makes sense. The start of every chapter shows where in REAL LIFE math helps you out. It is a situation that many teens and tweens will understand and relate to. Some not. But the situations are fun (and funny) just the same. Danica takes the struggle out of the math and, dare I say it, makes it fun!

I can’t wait to work through more of this with Miss E. Might just bring math to life in a way that she understands. I am still looking to get the series that I went to the bookstore for but this is a fantastic find along the way.

At Home.

Eat Your Math Homework ~ a TOS review

Ann McCallum Eat Your Math HomeworkIn our home this is almost never true: math=fun. However, Ann McCallum Books  made that happen! We have been using her book Eat Your Math Homework and laughing and learning and eating fun foods all at the same time. We have been having fun learning math!

If you are looking for a hands-on method to teach mathematical concepts and have your kids working with those ideas in a way they will understand, Eat Your Math Homework: Recipes for Hungry Minds is going to be right up your alley. This is a cook book and a math book rolled into one. With these recipes your students will grasp some pretty advanced concepts and illustrate them for you with their food.

We did each of the lessons as a family and everyone participated. That means we had a 6 year old, a 9 year old, and an 11 year old learning these math concepts. Sometimes, we even had our good friend who is working on her graduate degree in math with us. Now that was fun! She even had fun with this math book.

We modified a couple of the recipes due to food allergies, but that wasn’t hard for us. Each of the recipes were yummy and they were all pretty different. The foods were good and making them was fun, as it brought all of us into the kitchen together.

The lessons included work with the Fibonacci sequence, tessellations, fractions, probability, and more. The girls learned vocabulary words like diameter, circumference, variable, constant, infinite, and pi. There was even more. And they didn’t just get exposure to them. They used these words; they applied them to the food in front of them. So these words became part of their learning through application. We have heard these vocabulary words used outside of the context of the kitchen so I know that there was something learned. Yes, the 6 year old is still trying to figure out the difference between a radius and circumference but she has been exposed to them and seen how they are used. The next time she encounters these words, they will make a lot more sense to her.

Here are some of the results of the lessons, some as they were being made and some just before they were gobbled up:

The lesson on pi fell at a fun time for us, our normal Friday night pizza night. Here one is measuring and another is working with the calculator to see how finding pi works for this size pan.


Fruit is always a favorite snack so it was great fun to play with various sequences on sticks.

Eat Your Math Homework

Measuring is just an everyday use of math but it is still fun to have all the girls with me in the kitchen to bake something.

making brownies

The result of that baking was a fun dessert that we got to play with after the math lesson was finished.

brownies products

Ann McCallum did a great job with this book and I am hoping to get my hands on some of her other Eat Your Homework books soon. There is Eat Your Science Homework and
Eat Your U.S. History Homework, in addition to a couple of other books: Rabbits, Rabbits Everywhere: A Fibonacci Tale and Beanstalk: The Measure of a Giant.

Now, I won’t say that this has made math our favorite subject but the hands on fun definitely added to the acceptance of math in our lives. After all, who doesn’t love some math when you get to make and play with your food!

At Home.


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SimplyFun – a TOS review

SimplyFun challenge

Do you believe that play has a purpose? SimplyFun does. This company strongly believes that play can make the world a better place, increase learning, and build bonds and strengthen family ties through interactive and educational games such as Shape Whiz.

Shape WhizReviewing Shape Whiz has been a blast and it is one of those products about which our family has said “I can’t believe we got to review this! It is so much fun!” Begging to pull the game out night after night, we have played this game several times a week since we got it. We have enjoyed being together and playing together. That doesn’t even touch on all the math – yes, math! – that the girls learned.

Math/Geometry and critical thinking skills are the focus of the academic learning with Shape Whiz. The math skills include things such as area, perimeter, and angles. Terminology includes greater than, less than, parallel, sides, line of symmetry and more. The learning is so engrained now that these are almost every day language for the girls; they are not just for math time anymore. Playing Shape Whiz so much has helped the girls see these things in every day life and application. It is wonderful!

set up to playCritical thinking skills show up throughout the game, as well. To play, you have a mathematical statement that you have to find the answer for. It isn’t really a question, more a phrase. Something like “< two lines of symmetry”. Or maybe “perimeter of > 8”. (Some of these took quite a bit of out loud discussion between At Home Dad and I to decide what it was asking for but once we figured out the patterns, it made all of them easier to read.) Each player has shape cards turned up in front of them that may or may not answer the statement. The players are racing to find the card that fits the statement. There can be more than one right answer or no cards that fit the statement. This is challenging your thinking skills and forcing a player to be able to verbally defend their answer choice when another player questions the card.


We played this game several different ways, modifying it for the youngest member of our family to be able to participate. At 6 years old, she could not compete with her older sisters in speed since we had to explain a lot of the terminology to her. So, when she was playing, the person turning the statement card over had to read it out loud and then each person had to give her a chance to answer it first. Then every one could jump in and race to answer the it. When I played with just me and her, we just answered the questions together one by one, learning the words and phrases. She picked up on a lot of the concepts and ideas quickly.

When we played without the 6 year old, we tried to play it by the rules. The first couple of times were hard; it is definitely a game that you learn the rules by playing. We played with just the blue cards for a while, as these were the simpler shapes making the answers a bit easier to find. Once the girls became a bit more familiar with the terms and application of the concepts, we switched to just the green cards with the more difficult, less straight-forward shapes (such a tear drops and semi-circles). We did mix the cards some to play, as well.

Shape Whiz box

This is a definite hit for our family. We will be using this game a lot. It is fun to see the girls mathematical reasoning skills growing by leaps and bounds through a game that can be played in 30 minutes or less. Even a busy family can find 30 minutes to spend together playing a game.

Building Smarter Kids and Stronger Families through the amazing Power of Play! – that is SimplyFun.

If you would like to experience the power of play, visit SimplyFun. They have offered At Home readers a discount code that is available through July 31, 2015. At checkout, just use the code SHREVIEW for 15% off of your first purchase. You can’t beat that. I have been eyeing a couple of their items to use this code with. I imagine you’ll find something, as well.

At Home.

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