Results 1 to 6 of 6
  1. #1

    Default Thoughts on literature-based math for real world context?

    Maybe I haven't looked hard enough but I haven't seen a lot of products that teach math in literature form with real world context. (Do word problems count as "real world context"?) I have a few Life of Fred books (yet to start them) and they seem like interesting stories but the math concepts are pretty light.

    Beast Academy also looks interesting but I haven't tried it.

    What are your thoughts on a literature-based math curriculum? Like in the form of real books that incorporate math concepts, logic, reasoning, etc.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. Thank You Leaderboard
  3. #2

    Default has a program a bit like that. It has history elements. Most people I know don't think it's sufficient to be a full program, but I haven't used it, so I can't really say.

    You have a 1st grader, right? So no Beast Academy quite yet anyway, unless your child is really gifted and ready for the 2nd grade series (I think it's mostly out). It's a very, very challenging program. It came out too late for my boys to use the whole thing, but one of them did about a year and a half of it total and it was great. The other one it was all wrong for and he got nothing out of it. I wouldn't call it "real world." The textbook hook - aka, that it's a comic - is brilliant and beautifully done. However, the meat of the program is in the practice book and the problems, which are very puzzly, and not very "real world." If you're interested in Beast Academy long term, we found that Miquon was excellent preparation. But it's not the only option for sure.

    I'm not a fan of Life of Fred, but, yeah, it's pretty much the only program that's comprehensive that's like that. And it works well for some families.

    We read a TON of living math books - aka, real books about math - when my kids were younger. We got a lot out of them. However, if we hadn't additionally done hands on practice and paper and pencil/whiteboard and marker practice, then my kids would not have progressed in their hands on understanding.

    I do think word problems are how math and the real world meet... but math is also an abstraction of the real world. Some kids are actually more comfortable with the abstraction of numbers than with the concrete applications. Ideally, you have to go back and forth (what go is being able to solve multi-variable equations or simple addition problems or calculus intervals or whatever if you can't also take real information and create the equations and solve them and then apply the solutions - Common Core math tends to focus a lot on being able to go back and forth between the two - even from a young age). However, word problems aren't every kid's cuppa when they're younger - it asks kids to combine language and abstraction and problem solving all at once and sometimes they're not ready. Contrary to what the Common Core demands, it's okay if those skills develop asymmetrically.

    Still, with that in mind, Process Skills in Problem Solving from FAN Math is a good Singapore method word problem series. And the Ed Zaccaro books may be something you like - some of the problems in Primary Challenge Math can be done by a first grader. And there's a lot of word problems in there - plus, it has a talky, cute style. Mr. Zaccaro is an awesome speaker and educator - he creates good challenges for kids in math.
    Want to read about my homeschool?
    Children's Books, Homeschooling and Random Musings...

    Want help homeschooling or sending kids to college?

  4. #3


    If you are working with a first grader, we played lots of games instead of using a curriculum. Those are real world contexts to a child. There are lots of great games that encourage math skills, ones that are created for that purpose and those that just happen to have math.

    Board games we loved:
    Sum Swamp
    Money Bags Coin Value

    Living math books are great too. I found lists of wonderful ones to get from the library.

    Bedtime Math

    This curriculum has lists and lists of living math books, you can look at the books lists for ideas and they have curriculum you can purchase that goes with the books.

    This book list is a great one to cover math concepts

    Here are some fun activity books that make math more real too:
    Big Ideas for Small Mathematicians: Kids Discovering the Beauty of Math with 22 Ready-to-Go Activities

    Games For Math Playful Ways To Help Your Child Learn Math by Peggy Kaye

    Math Games & Activities from Around the World

    Murderous Maths - They have a new revised set for younger students which includes Brain-Bending Basics, Magic Maths, The Secrets of Sums, and Shapes and Sizes. These books are very entertaining and makes for interesting discussions about math. This does not have lots of games, but there are a few.

    Don't forget that cooking and science experiments contain math too.

    Critical Thinking Co has lots of workbooks that help think about logic and math differently. I use their books and we are quite happy with them.

    We really like Beast Academy, but it doesn't start until 2nd grade. We are using it in conjunction with the math books form Critical Thinking Co.

    I want to note that Life of Fred is not a secular curriculum.

  5. #4


    Why are you interested in literature-based math? Are you sure this is the only format that will work for your daughter for math, or are you guessing or extrapolating? What are you planning to do for other subjects? Are you planning to do literature-based language arts, literature-based science, literature-based social studies as well? If you are, it will leave you with a mountain of literature, and a guaranteed early burnout.

    In my experience homeschooling 3 of my kids through early elementary years, it was very hard to find suitable, challenging, interesting, meaningful curricula for many subjects. I ended up putting together my own literature-based curricula for pretty much everything, but math.

    There are so many tried-and-true great math programs for every type of kid's interest and ability that there is, really, no need to piece-meal math too. Think about your 'big picture', think about the amount of literature you plan to use for everything else. You do not have to make it harder for yourself. 1-st-grade math is not that complicated.
    mom to 3 girls: DD10, DD9, DD6

  6. #5


    My younger daughter is a voracious reader. When she did something that required us to take something away from her as punishment, taking away books was the only thing that had any affect on her (luckily she was a pretty good kid so we didn't have to do it often but taking away tv or toys didn't have much of an affect on her behavior when it did need correcting, the thing she cherishes is books) She actually got in trouble at school in second grade because she was reading a book in her lap instead of paying attention to the math lesson. A literary approach to math would have made math something she could connect with. There are kids who can and do thrive with literary math because if they are going to read every spare second they have anyways, why not get some math in there too?

    But she was not the average elementary school child at all. She learned to read, mostly on her own with a little help from her big sister, when she was three years old. When she was 5yo, she could read on a second grade level and loved reading short novels. When she got to second grade, they tested her reading level again and she topped out the test they gave her at a 7th grade level. She may have been reading with comprehension at a higher level than that but that was where the test topped out. Spending the whole day doing nothing but reading would have been a dream come true to her. But she was most definitely an extreme exception, not the rule.

    All that to say, literary math is a great method for children who whole-heartedly enjoy reading or being read to but it is not the only way, nor even the best way necessarily, to present elementary math with a real world focus.Games and activities are actually the best bridges to real world math for most young children. That is why most elementary math curricula are full of them.

    Another reason why the workbook approach to math is wildly popular in both institutional schools and homeschool is ease of use. Most people find it much easier to just "do the next page" in a workbook, especially when the rest of their day is filled with much more interactive learning and lots of reading. Another sub-group of homeschoolers that workbooks seem to appeal to are those who are math-phobic themselves. One last thing to remember about the workbook approach is that you do not have to make your child write for every single problem on the page. You can do the problems on a white board together or have her act them out with toys or manipulatives or even just do them orally.

    I know in your other posts your main concern seemed to be not getting in a power struggle with your daughter over math and that is a very valid concern. You could purchase the most highly recommended math program in the world and it won't do any good if it just sits on the shelf because it doesn't get done. But homeschooling has the potential to completely change the relationship dynamics in your family. You may find once you start homeschooling and your daughter has time to relax and learn at her pace, not the pace the teacher sets for the class, that subjects that she despised doing in school or as homework are no longer as big of an issue any more. You may find she doesn't fight you over school work when she doesn't have to struggle to keep up because she can take all the time she needs to master concepts instead of having to keep pace with the whole class.

    One final note, I do know of one other curriculum that uses a story as a way to introduce math concepts. I hesitated to mention it before because it is by a christian author who has stated that her math books are christian. It is called Math Lessons for a Living Education. If you are okay with doing a little editing to bring the text in line with your religious beliefs to get a literary math program, it might be worth a look. You can take a look at samples on
    Last edited by MapleHillAcademy; 04-01-2018 at 06:30 PM.

  7. #6


    Quote Originally Posted by MapleHillAcademy View Post
    All that to say, literary math is a great method for children who whole-heartedly enjoy reading or being read to but it is not the only way, nor even the best way necessarily, to present elementary math with a real world focus.Games and activities are actually the best bridges to real world math for most young children. That is why most elementary math curricula are full of them.
    Really great point. A child who isn't much into reading will not be getting the concepts even if it's wrapped in a nice story.

    And thanks to the other posters for your input. Guess time will tell. Too bad I'm such a planner. Otherwise I'd just wing it. But I know I'm taking my kid's lead regardless of how much I try to plan.

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
About us was created to provide information, resources, and a place to share and connect with secular homeschoolers across the world. aims to be your one-stop shop for all things homeschool! We will be highlighting information about wonderful secular homeschool resources, and keeping you up to date with what is going on in the world of secular homeschooling. But that is only the beginning. SHS is your playground. A place to share the things that are important to you. A place to create and join groups that share your interests. A place to give and get advice. There are no limits to what you can do at Secular Homeschool, so join today and help build the community you have always wanted. is a community and information source where secular homeschoolers ARE the majority. It is the home for non-religious homeschoolers, eclectic homeschoolers, freethinking homeschoolers AND anyone interested in homeschooling irrespective of religion. This site is an INCLUSIVE community that recognizes that homeschoolers choose secular homeschool materials and resources for a variety of reasons and to accomplish a variety of personal and educational goals. Although, and its members, have worked hard to compile a comprehensive directory of secular curricula, it does not attest that all materials advertised on our site, in our newsletters, or on our social media profiles are 100% secular. Rather, respects the aptitude of each individual homeschool parent to fully research any curriculum before acquiring it, to ensure that it holistically meets the educational, personal, and philosophical goals of each homeschooler.

Join us
Thoughts on literature-based math for real world context?