Resources for making math meaningful

The Problem: In public and private schools, students take math courses on one track and science courses on another. They will not be asked to use their math to solve science problems until they reach high school chemistry. Then, SURPRISE! Suddenly there is a heavy burden of problems placed on them at the moment they are grasping to understand an abstract subject. Half of the students will be lost from the sciences while the other half will struggle to remain. Few will excel. The Solution:

Many homeschoolers or parents will try to supplement math instruction at home with one of these tried-and-true math programs:

Singapore Math. A very popular math program with homeschoolers that is also used in some private schools in the US, comes out of Singapore. Singapore math books are said to be responsible for the high rankings of Singapore students in the math TIMSS tests. You can order from these 2 suppliers of SM in Singapore: (Comment: Popular is cheaper, but you need to read descriptions on the Times one. – Julia) Find it at Popular Bookstoreor Times Bookstore or out of the US at higher prices from the Singapore Math site.  

Bridge Math is a 7-week short course designed to teach students the applications of math that they have neither learned nor practiced. After Bridge Math they will excel in high school science, because they will be properly prepared for it. In this course, students will learn when and why different math tools will be used. While the course discusses the topics of geometry, trigonometry and calculus, the only prerequisite for Bridge Math is Algebra I. Most of the math problems encountered by scientists every day can be solved using the techniques taught in this course along with arithmetic and basic algebra. “Why take Bridge Math?” Students educated under the traditional system are poorly prepared for the type of problem solving that will be required of them in high school science courses. High school graduates who have avoided upper level sciences will be poorly versed in the type of problem solving that is so useful in everyday life. These skills can make all the difference in a graduate’s professional advancement and decision-making abilities. Bridge Math provides the missing content. “Who will benefit from Bridge Math?” Bridge Math is for any student who wishes to learn to solve practical problems using the math tools and skills acquired since grade school. It is strongly recommended for anyone who will take a high school course in chemistry or physics or any course in The Spectrum high school science series by Beginnings Publishing House.

Ruth Beechick’s 3-R’s is a packet of three little booklets one of which is titled “An Easy Start in Arithmetic.” These 3 little booklets (plus wall chart) are sold as a packager. Dr. Beechick shares simple, practical, non-stressful ways to introduce reading, writing and arithmetic to preschool through 3rd graders. Special Price: $8.95


Mathematical Reasoning: Mathematical Reasoning, Book 1 (grades 1-3) and Book 2 (grade 4-8). I’ve never met a child who did not thoroughly enjoy these highly visual books. These are about the only “workbook” math programs that are truly FUN as they present just enough of each of the different math concepts to teach a child without burning him out. Unless you are a very busy Mom, we don’t think the Teacher’s Manual is necessary for Book 1, but do recommend it for Book 2. At the end of Book 1, some multiplication is introduced; so, if your child has not yet learned his tables, set the book aside until he does. Each book contains age-appropriate sections covering Number & Numeration, Geometry, Operations, Measurement, Relations, and Tables & Graphs.

There are two ways to use these books: 1) to simply present the pages to the student to be worked (used by many parents as a math program); or, 2) use the Teacher’s Manual along with the Student Text to go beyond simply solving math problems to developing the “reasoning” behind the solutions. Special Price: $18.95

Mathematical Reasoning Teacher’s Manual Book 1 & 2: These texts go beyond just giving the answers to the problems in the student texts. The TM’s take the child deeper into the “thinking skills” stage of math problem solving. If you do not have time to work with your child, you will probably not need the TM for Book 1, but you’ll need it for Book 2. Special Price: $10.95

Math-It!: This is a great favorite. It is a drill facts program and is especially valuable for the child who is a kinesthetic learner or who likes math tricks (figure the square root of 5625 in your head in the next 15 seconds!). There are four levels of “play”: Add-It (additions facts), Double-It (doubling facts), Half-It (halfing facts necessary to multiply large numbers by 5), and Times-It (multiplication facts). Each level comes with its own 8×10 cardstock answer board and a set of 1-1/2″ x 1-1/2″ problem cards. Each problem card has a corresponding answer block on the answer board; and, when all the problem cards are placed on the answer board, the board is full. When the answer board can be filled within 60 seconds, the child is considered to have “mastery” of that level.
We recommend using Math-It! for any age child to make sure the child has total mastery of all his drill facts. Included with Math-It! are an instructional tape, an illustrated instructional book (which takes math facts way beyond the times-tables and introduces lots of “math tricks”), and an 81 page comprehensive Guide to Learning Math Concepts for children through age 14. This is truly an amazing and wonderful program! Special Price: $44.00

Math Olympiad Contest Problems for Elementary & Middle Schools: This is truly a book to teach thinking skills. For example: Problem One asks, “If today is Friday, what day will it be 100 days from now?” What makes this book unique is its layout: Section One teaches the process of problem solving. Section Two covers the problems themselves. Section Three has the answers. If the child really doesn’t know what to do with one of the problems, Section Four offers simple hints to the student. Section Five is a step-by-step Solution Manual for the student who is completely stuck. This is followed by several Appendixes dealing with everything from Basic Concepts for Young Mathletes to Working With Exponents. Not just fun, but useful. Special Price: $21.00

Math Word Problems Levels A, B, or C and Math Word Problems Set of Three: A, B, and C. Critical Thinking titles (they publish Mathematical Reasoning, described above). These word problem books are the original expensive one-volume text divided into more useable books for specific grades. The publisher recommends the following order: Level A (whole numbers & fractions) is for grades 4-6; Level B (decimals & percents) is for grades 5-8; and Level C (whole numbers & percents) is for grades 5-10. Choose the title that best fits your child’s needs or purchase all three at a savings. Math Word Problems Levels A, B, or C Special Price: $11.00 each. Math Word Problems Set of Three: A, B, and C Special Price: $23.95


Jacob’s Math texts Jacob’s Elementary Algebra Kit and Jacob’s Geometry Kit: have sold more than Saxons. Most students have testified that when compared to Saxon Math, Jacob’s Math is far easier to understand and is much more interesting since it contains problems that are more “real.” The “Kits” include student book, parent’s/teacher’s manual, and test booklet (tests for each chapter, mid-term and final exam). The Teacher’s manual is written to be used in a classroom with overheads which (overheads) are not available; and are even (in our opinion) unnecessary, due to the self-explanatory nature of the student text. The main value of the TM is that it contains answers to some of the problem sets. Jacob’s Elementary Algebra contains most of what is contained in Saxon Algebra I and Saxon Algebra II. (Saxon does not have an independent Geom etry text, but includes a small amount of Geometry in its level II text).

Jacob’s Geometry is a complete geometry text. This is important because the College Entrance Exams often contain more geometry than they do algebra. Jacob’s Elementary Algebra Kit Special Price: $79.95 Jacob’s Geometry Kit: Special Price: $84.95


Algebra and Trigonometry: Functions and Applications Kit by Paul Foerster: Harold Jacob did not write an advanced algebra/trig text; but, when asked which one he would recommend, he said this text by Foerster is the closest to what he would have written. We sell the Student Text and Solution Manual together. A teacher’s manual exists, but it is nothing more than the Student Text with the material from the Solution Manual in the margins of each page. We consider this distracting to the student. Foerster presents his problems is such a way that students learn that there is more than one way to solve most problems. Sections include Functions & Relations; Linear Functions; Systems of Linear Equations & Inequalities; Quadratic Functions & Complex Numbers; Exponential & Logarithmic Functions; Rational Algebraic Functions; Irrational Algebraic Functions; Quadratic Relations & Systems; Higher-Degree Functions & Complex Numbers; Sequences & Series; Probability, Data Analysis, and Functions of a Random Variable; Trigonometric & Circular Functions; Properties of Trigonometric & Circular Functions; and Triangle Problems. There are also several appendixes and a Glossary.Special Price: $125.00 – reviewed by Elijahco

Other popular math programs including Saxon Math, Math-U-See, Making Math Meaningful, Key to…series, Miquon Math are listed here.

Other useful math resources:

Living Math has a lot of non-program math.- Traci

A useful math worksheet site is:

For an introduction to the Vedic Mathematics Sutras – The World’s Fastest Mental Math System you can see here and visit Vedic maths


Math lessons - to go with children's literature sorted by grade or subject at URL 

Tips for better Mental Math here by Dr. Alexander Bogomolny, former associate professor of mathematics at the University of Iowa and currently a developer of an award winning site Interactive Mathematics Miscellany and Puzzles.


A bundle of math articles links are to be found here.


Math games activities and ideas at the Family Education site.

Cool Math -





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