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  1. #1

    Default unschooling math resources

    Unschooling math scares the bejeezus out of me. I want to find lots of resources so that I can feel secure that I am doing something in the right direction.

    I am looking for resources that we can do together, I am willing to teach more advanced concepts if he is ready to work through some of the basics. I am focusing on math that is done 1st-3rd grade. Also I want hard copy books, games and the like. He is not interested in videos games right now (that uses math). He'd rather play his video games. He likes doing this because we can do them together.

    Here is what I am going to try out over this next year:

    Murderous Maths - They revised some of the first books in the series for younger readers, so we are trying them out.

    The Everything Kids' Math Puzzles Book: Brain Teasers, Games, and Activities for Hours of Fun by Meg Clemens
    This book looks like fun, with lots of puzzles for different ability levels.

    Amazing Math Projects: Projects You Can Build Yourself (Build It Yourself) by Bardos, Lazlo C. - This book truly looks amazing. It has fun activities like how to measure how tall a tree is with trigonometry. It gives you the tools and explains the math. I can't wait to try this out.

    DS saw this book at the library and was so excited that I decided we had to give them a try. Let's hope that we can avoid cavities.
    • The Hershey's Milk Chocolate Multiplication Book
    • Hershey's Milk Chocolate Weights And Measures Book
    • Hershey's Kisses Addition Book
    • Hershey's Kisses Subtraction Book

    These books I am waiting to arrive, but look like they have potential:
    • Big Ideas for Small Mathematicians: Kids Discovering the Beauty of Math with 22 Ready-to-Go Activities
    • Math Games & Activities from Around the World -

    Math Games - These games were created specifically to practice math skills
    • Learning Resources Sum Swamp Game
    • Learning Resources - Money Bags Coin Value

    I have to say I was skeptical if these games would work. Would DS see through my ploy to learn math> It turns out it works. He acknowledged that he knew I got these games to learn math, but he likes to play board games. Since this is working, I am going to try their other games:
    • Learning Resources Head Full Of Numbers
    • Learning Resources Pizza Fraction Fun
    • Learning Resources Dino Math Tracks Game

    Games that are not expressly made to learn math, but math is needed to play
    Mille Bornes Card Game (adding large numbers)
    Pay Day (money)
    Any game that keeps track of points

    I know there are lots of free games that can be downloaded online or created using dice or generic cards, but DS seems to respond better to a specific game with specific rules. I notice if we use regular cards for a game there seems to be some idea of flexibility in rules, so there is always debate. For us, these games provide the needed structure in a game so that there is little or no debate over the rules.

    Lastly, I have decided that the math we also use in science experiments. It helps ground the math in something real.
    Last edited by Mariam; 07-05-2015 at 09:04 PM. Reason: clarity
    A mama who teaches college writing, as well as help her 11-year-old in
    choosing his own life adventure. Using Global Village School to support our desire to develop a sense of social justice and global awareness.

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  3. #2


    My children also loved to play math board games.

    At that age, in addition to Sum Swamp and Money children really liked Sequence Numbers (addition and subtraction including double digits) and Check Math (multiples - suggested for 3rd grade and up).

    I recently mooched a book on Book Mooch that looks interesting but we haven't used it yet. It is 'Math Wizardry for Kids' by Margaret Kenda and Phyllis Williams. (Mine is the 1995 edition - there might be an updated edition available.)
    homeschooled 4th through 8th grade - currently in public high school 10th grade
    Dumplett (girl - age 15) and Wombat (boy - age 15)

  4. #3


    I like your line up of resources. I have many of the books you listed. My DD also learns math best through games. She wishes that there was a game based curriculum out there!

    I recommend this math game book. She includes some great games.

    My DD has enjoyed these math related games:
    Mythmatical Battles
    ​​~ DD-13 homeschooled
    ~ DS-17 formerly homeschooled, now attending private school

  5. #4
    Senior Member Arrived RTB's Avatar
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    Feb 2012


    The Snap-it-up card game series has worked well for both my kids (one for reading and one for math). And they are pretty cheap, so that is a bonus.

    ETA: Think Fun has several spacial / logic games that are fun. I find them on Amazon. Don't forget a tangram puzzle set, and you can do some tessellations for fun too.
    Last edited by RTB; 07-05-2015 at 08:39 PM.
    DS 14, DD 12
    Year 8

  6. #5


    We have Math Wizardry For Kids too--great book. I handed it down and then replaced it for the new guy.

    He's using Games For Math over the summer: lots of old style DIY games for preschool to third grade.

    Great list, Mariam.

    ds figured out two digit addition with regrouping in the context of Yahtzee. His "incidental math" skills are way beyond his workbook skills. I don't want to accelerate him but he is so math oriented compared to my other kids that he deserves to have fun with it for the same reasons that kids who love to read deserve to take out lots of library books.

  7. #6


    I have a slew of math-ish books for DD. My biggest hurdle with her has been to get her interested in math as a language; she knows it's mostly used as a tool. She's said she wants to go into the sciences yet has been resistant to math as something formulaic that needs to be memorized in order to be understood. So because she's loved any and all sciences and sees them everywhere, we've made sure she knows math is everywhere too (and can be just as interesting).

    Sideways Arithmetic from Wayside School (series)
    Penrose, the Mathematical Cat (three books)(actually anything by Theoni Pappas is interesting) I would say Penrose is for the true math-lover
    The Number Devil (this was rather entertaining night-time reading)
    And now that she's a preteen, Danica McKellar's books have come out to reinforce concepts like integers and fractions and percents.

    Your list and other peoples' sources look pretty awesome too. We instituted Free Math Friday so we (or she!) read these books, played math games, or made her figure out something tangible, like how much allowance she'd need to buy a car, hah, or taking her allowance and figuring out the tax and tip on the Friday a.m. breakfast, calculating how long it would take us to get home from breakfast at x speed, how much diesel it would take to get home and how much that diesel costs. Anyway, turning things into a game seemed to help her get over her dislike, and having the Free Fridays helped her do the other 4 days of our not-unschooly world.
    Eclectically homeschooling 8th grade dd, who likes science as much as art...

  8. #7
    Senior Member Arrived Elly's Avatar
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    Jul 2013


    Double shutter is another good game for logic/addition skills.

    DS is *really* enjoying Prodigy. He's doing math that he would never have done on paper (and for much more time). It's actually quite handy for me, because I can see the areas he's scoring more poorly on and I'm going to try and focus a bit of time/attention there. (We don't unschool math, but I take a very eclectic approach as working through any math program just hasn't worked for us).

    Odd Squad is a TV/math show, although I'm not sure how much he's learned from it. Also CyberChase, but that's aimed at slightly younger kids, so I've tended to discourage him from watching it recently.

    Sir Cumference book series
    Any Marilyn Burns math books

    I'm still trying to figure out how best to do math with DS. For a while I did more a topical approach, so we, say, spent a week focusing on place value, and I found whatever episodes of odd squad/cyberchase did that, any relevant books from our library, puzzles, games (Dino Math Tracks). We also did a few games weeks, or puzzles weeks, where we'd just do that. I also bought an Evan Moor Daily Math book. It has half a page of questions for each day of the week (maybe 5 problems). I like continually going over basic skills, and it isn't enough to be overwhelming.

    4th year of homeschooling DS, now 9!

  9. #8


    Most of my suggestions have already been given, but I'll second the Sir Cumference books, Penrose (my Kiddo who generally disliked books went crazy for a mathematical cat and I learned a lot too), and Number Devil. Another book he liked was What's Your Angle, Pythagoras?. There are a ton of free printable math games and ideas on Pinterest (just throwing that out there) and just bouncing questions around works too. Kiddo and I sometimes play a kind of made-up math trivia game where I ask him a math question and if he gets it right he gets to ask me one. Cooking makes for great hands-on math and science. Cyberchase is a great show and Hulu has the whole series, but it might be a bit much for 1st-3rd at times.

    Also, if he's not a die-hard Hershey's fan, they have similar math books with Reese's Pieces, M&M's and other tiny candies. If he likes Star Wars and you want a more traditional workbook, there's the Star Wars math. We did them here and there and they were cute, they are CC but just like everything you just take what you want and ditch the rest. Or you could make up your own silly/geeky questions that will thrill your kiddo.

    Hope at least some of that helps. Math scared the tar out of me too, still does but he's trekking along despite me.
    Kiddo - 7

  10. #9


    Cyberchase is popular with DS, as well as Odd Squad. I didn't think to add them to the list, but DS watches them all the time. A while ago, he came to me to tell me how fractions worked after watching Cyberchase. I hadn't even discussed fractions yet.

    I'm going to see if he likes the Sir Cumference books. I know he explored them in Reading Rainbow. \

    We also watch the Bill Nye pre-algebra and algebra videos. He loves Bill Nye, so while they are too advanced, he will watch them over and over again.
    A mama who teaches college writing, as well as help her 11-year-old in
    choosing his own life adventure. Using Global Village School to support our desire to develop a sense of social justice and global awareness.

  11. #10


    I never once used a curriculum, book, etc. for math. Dead honest... I pretty much pulled math out of my arse using daily life.

    I did use a few games I made up for practicing math facts, and I suggested she time herself and drill herself on facts for speed and accuracy. This was a big part of elementary math. Flash cards, timed tests, and fact dodge ball. (used independently and upon request) She was pretty good to do a little each day without being told.

    Had the kid do a ton of regular arithmetic that presented itself daily....or simply made up a dozen or so problems off the top of my head for her to do if she was learning a new process. (granted, I just taught her basic arithmetic, fractions, decimals, money, time, measurement, conversions, intro to geometry, a little pre-algebra, etc. Toward the end, she did a pre-algebra curriculum herself with a book she picked, and consulted with me a little, but not much. She'd learned that she preferred to watch math instructors explain her questions on youtube by then, and could find what she was looking for herself)

    Examples of her math problems...

    If there are 5cc's in a teaspoon, and 29 and a half cc's in an ounce. How many teaspoons must be in an ounce? If there are three teaspoons in a tablespoon, how many cc's in a tablespoon and how many tablespoons in an ounce? If I need to give a cat 3cc's of wormer, but only have measuring spoons, which one should I use, and how much should I fill it?

    Ok, we need to find the area of your room for new carpet. Measure it and tell me how much carpet and pad we need. Do a cost analysis of the three colors of carpet you picked out, including the cost of pad and installation. (Elle got extra points for this one because she made a case that she could put in the most expensive carpet for less total cost by renting carpet installation equipment and doing it herself with a little help from hubby.) (Again, we have her obsession with "This Old House" to thank for this)

    We can get 12 oz of peanut butter for $3.49 or 16oz of peanut butter for $4.15. Which is the better deal?

    The movie starts at 5:40. It's 1 hour and 50 minutes long, and there are usually 10 minutes of commercials. It takes 20 minutes to get home. What's the earliest we will be home tonight?

    Here's a budget for five dinners....knock yourself out. Be as creative as you want, but understand you can't go over budget.

    If the car gets 28 miles to the gallon, and gas costs $3.69/gal. use google maps to figure out if it costs more to buy this list of items from the local grocery store, or the discount store fourteen miles away. Which would you do?

    Triple this recipe. Write it out and let me check your numbers before you make it.

    If we can give a destructively nervous dog one milligram per kilogram of Acepromazine to calm them during a thunderstorm, how many 10mg tablets can we safely give to an 85 pound Labrador?

    How much will 6% tax be on a $67.43 purchase? What will the total bill be? (extra points if they ask if anything purchased is food)

    I'd have her write out checks for bills, and balance the checking account for addition and subtraction practice. (I also thought it was a good idea for her to know exactly what things cost, how insurance and taxes work, how to read investments, how much loans and credit cost, and how to avoid paying more than you have to)

    I taught her to make change and count the money back to me. your bill was $15.36 and you gave me a twenty. Four pennies makes forty, a dime makes fifty, two quarters makes sixteen, and four ones makes seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty. (this is a lost art....counting change back this way is a brilliant way to visualize adding and subtracting.)

    As she got older, all costs for college were put on the table and analyzed, too, as part of her decision making process. It absolutely astounds me that people don't talk to their kids about money and debt in a clear frank way.

    But yeah....we just used typical every day math situations. Did a lot of physical manipulatives when she was little. Did tons of measurement with both metric and US customary units. Lots of questions do you figure out? Lots of cooking using American and European recipes with units in cc's and grams.

    She had one year....around third grade....when she hated math. Not sure what that was about. But she was doing a ton of measuring and improving speed with her I left her alone for a year or so. Somewhere around sixth or seventh grade...she suddenly loved math and wanted to do it all the time on her own.

    When she started eighth grade, they put her in Algebra One for high school credit. I thought she'd crash and burn. School said it was an appropriate placement from her test results.

    As it happened, Algebra One clicked for Elle on the first try. She got A's.... and a creepy math and science center referral. (It's actually a very cool math and science center, but she elected not to go because she felt she'd have to give up too much to do it....long commute, no theater participation, and she could get AP math and science at her regular school)

    But yeah....that's what unschooling math looked like to us..... Giving the kid a list of basic math objectives she needed to learn on her own schedule with as much or as little help from us as she wanted. Expecting the kid to do a little math every day. Using math problems from everyday life.

    Seemed to work out ok.
    Last edited by CrazyMom; 07-07-2015 at 04:16 AM.
    Retired Home Schooler
    One kid, Elle, Sophomore at The University of Michigan studying Cell/ Molecular Biology Go Blue!
    One hubby, 23yrs

    Not a fan of homophobe, Everett Piper, who is sometimes promoted by others at this site. Read about him here::
    CAUTION: might make blasphemous remarks that could potentially offend religious people. Please use ignore feature if sensitive.

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unschooling math resources