Posted in Resources

4 Math Curricula Homeschoolers Love

It is always surprising to me how many people claim they are bad at math or hate math when it is a necessary part of daily life. People don’t seem to realize they use it all the time to figure out the tax or exchange on a purchase, to figure out the best deal at the grocery store, to figure out how much yarn to purchase for a pattern, and so much more! Math can be quite the four letter word, but your child can come to enjoy the subject with the right curriculum.

curricula homeschoolers love

4 Math Curricula Homeschoolers Love

If you’re looking for a comprehensive homeschool math curriculum catered to your child’s learning style, you’ll love these 4 math curricula homeschoolers love, for beginners through college, and from the mastery method to story-based. Check them out!

Math Mammoth Mastery Based Math Program

Grades 1-7


Math Mammoth is a comprehensive math program that is ideal for homeschool families with multiple children. It’s the most pedagogically sound math program we’ve ever used in our homeschool. It includes placement assessments and lessons that cater to your child’s learning preferences. Choose between computer-based work or printable chapters and worksheets.

Check it out.

Life of Fred Math Books

Kindergarten/Primary to College

Life of Fred Elementary Math Series

If the drill and kill approach is not helping your child fully grasp math concepts, try a new method. If your kids prefer reading books to completing math worksheets, check out Life of Fred math books. These supplement books weave math lessons into funny, fictional stories kids enjoy reading.
These books contain more than silly stories – every chapter includes a “Your Turn to Play” section where kids apply the real world math concepts Fred (the main character) has learned. One of the most-sought after curricula.

Check it out.

Horizons Math Curriculum

Kindergarten/Primary to Grade 8


Filled with over 100 attention-grabbing lessons, these easy-to-use Alpha Omega curriculum sets include colourfully illustrated student books covering math concepts. Each set comes with a helpful teacher’s guide with daily lesson plans, answer keys, and worksheets. Your child will learn elementary math concepts in a teacher-guided, interactive format.

Learn more about K – 4 curricula
Learn more about Grade 5 – 8 curricula


Downloadable Math Riddle Worksheets

Grades 3 to 6

Math Riddles by Math Galaxy

Add some light-hearted fun to math time! Enjoy these affordable, silly, convenient printables with your child. Review math concepts while giggling over the math riddles included in Math Galaxy’s worksheets. Choose from more than 300 pages of printable down loads that add a little fun to lessons.
Topics include time, money, multiplication, division, and more.

Check it out.

What math curriculum do you love from the above list? Or what math curriculum do you recommend? Please let me know in the comments below!

Love, Luck &


Please note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and buy, I make a few pennies to keep up Homeschooling in Nova Scotia. Thanks for your support!

Posted in Resources

5 Fun Math Resources

Math typically isn’t the first thing parents think of over the summer. But my daughter tends to take her time with math (and we have the flexibility to let her take her time in our homeschool), so we often end up working on math for some of the summer. This summer, we are also brushing up on some times tables that she doesn’t quite have down pat, using Times Tales.

I’ve rounded up some FUN math resources, from music videos to volcanic explosions, so you can brush up on some skills over the summer and/or make math fun starting this fall! The best part is, they’re all on sale (and if you’re Canadian, Canada Post isn’t going on strike this month after all).

fun math resources

5 Fun Math Resources

1. Rock n Learn: Early Math

Try these super fun DVDs. Your kids can enjoy the sounds of rock and even hip hop to help them get excited about learning math. The Early Math DVDs cover addition and subtraction, telling time, and money and making change. Each DVD includes 12 to 18 video segments, and each video lasts about an hour.

Cost: $36.99 US (save $23) –> Get It Now

2. Times Tales

Times Tales is a very popular tool that uses stories to help kids memorize their upper times tables. It is what I am using with my daughter to solidify some of her times tables this summer (although we don’t have the DVD). This version includes videos and games. Why? It helps kids learn the multiplication tables in an hour – with songs and visuals!

Cost: $19.99 US (save $10) –> Get It Now

3. Math Slam

It is what it sounds like – a “Bop It” for math learning. Math Slam is a tool that uses sounds and lights – and slams – to engage kids in a fun contest of math acuity. There are 3 levels with 13 questions each. As your kids get faster they boost their score!

Cost: $40.99 US (save $2) –> Get It Now

4. ShillerMath Fraction Set

ShillerMath is a comprehensive math program that I almost picked up for my kids when they were younger. Their Fraction Set is a comprehensive supplement to any math curriculum. Part of why it’s great is because it is hands on and incorporates visual, kinesthetic, and practical learning. It includes a fractions lesson book, answer guide, parent guide, catchy songs, and unlimited downloadable resources.
fun math resources
Cost: $89.95 US (save $10) –> Get It Now

5. Magic School Bus Math Explosion

My kids loved the Magic School Bus when they were little! Mix a little hands-on science with math and you have active learners on your hands! It can be difficult to grasp math concepts if they aren’t applied in the real world and this is a delightful antidote for young learners.
fun math resources
Cost: $53.99 US (Save $6) –> Get It Now

Love, Luck &


This article includes affiliate links. If you click through and buy, I make a few pennies to keep up Homeschooling in Nova Scotia. Thanks for your support!

Posted in Homeschool Information, Resources

Homeschool Math with the Abacus

What is an abacus? Do you imagine one of these?
math with the abacus
That’s more of a baby toy and can’t be used effectively for calculations any more complex than addition and subtraction, but a real abacus can be.

Homeschool Math with the Abacus

math with the abacus
The abacus is an ancient calculator that has been used for thousands of years. It is still in use today, especially in Asia and the Middle East. The word “abacus” originally comes from the Greek word “abax” for “counting board”. The Greeks used boards with sand on them to draw out their equations. The Romans used boards with grooves and beads or rocks. The Abacus we are more familiar with originated in Asia.
The Chinese abacus has 7 beads on each rod, with 2 on the top and 5 on the bottom, separated by one horizontal beam.

math with the abacus

The Japanese abacus is called a soroban and has 5 beads on each rod, with just one on the top and 4 on the bottom, divided by one horizontal beam (the reckoning bar). It has at least 9 rods, and the number of rods is always an odd number.

math with the abacus
Each abacus is set to zero when all of the beads above the bar are up (not in contact with the reckoning bar) and all the beads below the bar are down (not in contact with the reckoning bar). The Japanese abacus pictured above is set to zero. The units rods on the Japanese abacus are the rods with the dots on them. The units rod on the Chinese abacus is the one on the far right.

For either abacus, on the units rod, if you raise one bead below the bar up to the reckoning bar, that represents 1. Two raised up to the reckoning bar represents 2 and so on. A bead above the bar lowered to the reckoning bar represents 5. To the left of the units rod, you will have the tens. A bead above the bar lowered to the reckoning bar in the tens rod represents 50. Two beads below the bar raised up to the reckoning bar represent 20, three represent 30, and so on. On the soroban, you can also show decimal places, to the right of any units rod.

Did you know the abacus, especially the soroban, can be used not only for addition and subtraction, but also multiplication, division, and also square roots? In 1946, a person using the soroban outperformed an electric calculating machine!

The abacus can be a very useful tool in your homeschool. It is visual and tactile, and its usage can be transferred to mental math easily. Once a child has done calculations repeatedly using the abacus, they can start to visualize them without using the abacus – math calculations can become a mental “picture”.

Your child can make a Japanese abacus out of Popsicle sticks! Here’s a great how-to at Once you have made or bought your own abacus (I recommend a soroban because it’s a bit easier to use and handle), you can start using it with your children to make homeschool math fun!

Here is an article on How to Teach Mathematics Using an Abacus. (Please note that they are using a Chinese abacus in the article, but you can easily follow the steps with a soroban as well.) Your children will have fun clicking those beads for a change instead of the usual pencil and paper. It sure beats counting on your fingers!

Start with addition and subtraction and then give multiplication and division a try. You may find your visual learners memorizing the patterns each number makes. Once this starts happening, they may be able to “use” the abacus in their mind. Here is a handy, step-by-step lesson plan designed for Grades 4-6 at the PBS website, complete with worksheets.
If you would prefer your child learn about the abacus and mental math from someone else, you could try a UCMAS centre. UCMAS has locations all over the world and their programs are for ages 4 and up.

Let me know if you make or try out math with the abacus in your homeschool!

Love, Luck &


Posted in Reviews

An Affordable Online Tutor – Review

Whether you homeschool or your kids are in public or private school, you’ve probably found yourself wishing you could afford a private tutor at one point or another. You can’t be an expert in everything, but the cost per hour most tutors charge … yikes! And if you’re a homeschooler, tutors may be busy during the day (in their day job) when you need them most. I’m happy to share that there’s a solution – an affordable online tutor for middle school through college, available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, GradeSlam!

affordable online tutor

My two kids have been using GradeSlam when they needed homeschool help for the last few weeks. It’s so easy to access a tutor! Your child can simply login and click on the subject they need help with:

affordable online tutor


Once you’ve chosen a subject, a tutor will pop right up and ask how they can help:

affordable online tutor


Then your child and the tutor can type back and forth about what they’re working on, whether it’s a paper, a concept, or a specific question. (I recommend registering under your child’s name instead of your name though, as the tutors kept calling my kids Kimberly *grin*).

affordable online tutor


I found GradeSlam especially useful because I work from home full time and don’t have the time to painstakingly go over concepts when it isn’t my strength – science and math for instance. GradeSlam can be so valuable for giving your students help in your weak subjects, or when you just don’t have large chunks of time to devote to their weak subject.

My only criticism of GradeSlam is that for math they could benefit by a whiteboard. Hopefully they will provide one in future so they don’t have to express exponents in potentially confusing ways.

If you have a child in middle school, high school, or college, you need to give this affordable online tutor a try. It would make a fantastic gift for your child starting college or university this fall! They provide tutoring in all subjects, even many foreign languages. Educents has two amazing GradeSlam specials to choose from!

3 Months of Unlimited 24/7 Online Tutoring (all subjects) for only $20 US. That’s less than half price!

One Full Year of Unlimited 24/7 Online Tutoring (all subjects) for only $99 US. Save $81!

Educents offers a number of different tutor options for you to explore. Check out Expert Online Tutor for college tutoring or Tutor Doctor for one-on-one tutoring for children and adults. If it’s times tables your child is struggling with, we LOVE Times Tales for learning them in a fun, easy way in our homeschool.

Love, Luck &


Please note: This review contains affiliate links. If you click through and buy I make a few pennies to keep up Homeschooling in Nova Scotia. Thank you for your support! This review was sponsored by Educents in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Posted in Homeschool Information

Delay Formal Math?

delay formal math

Delay Formal Math?

Are you unsure about how to handle math with your child? Does paper and pencil math move them (and you) to tears?

When does your child need to begin formal math instruction?

Kindergarten/Primary? Grade 1? Or can they begin even later? You might be surprised to know that in our homeschool, formal math instruction began around Grade 4 age. This wasn’t something we arrived at before we began homeschooling, but something that happened gradually.

Learning math naturally

When each of our children were merely toddlers, my husband would naturally engage with them in ways I didn’t think of myself: counting stairs when going up and down or asking them to point the way while they were riding on his shoulders – left or right, north or south. He instinctively started dealing with spatial consciousness and numeracy. We played games in the car that involved estimating speed and distance, such as guessing what time we would reach our destination and seeing who was closest.

When our firstborn was three, my husband started playing chess with him, along with other board games. We started giving him a small allowance at age three so he could naturally learn how to count and handle money. Already a Star Wars fan at about age five, we bought him the Star Wars Math CD-Rom. We were delighted to see that he was learning so many great math concepts simply by playing games.

A formal math curriculum

We were starting to see that math fun could happen anywhere. However, we still thought he had to use a formal math program and tried a few math curricula. Our son hated pencil and paper math and resisted it – there were complaints and even tears. We were frustrated, but knowing that he had an aptitude for math and not wanting him to develop an aversion to it, we backed off. We encouraged him to keep playing math games on the computer, and board games too, including chess.

When our son was about nine years old, we gave a computer-based curriculum a try – Teaching Textbooks. It was a hit! He loved spending time on the computer and, being a very auto-didactic child, loved doing the work on his own. But how did he do? Did having very little experience with formal math instruction up to that point doom him to struggle with it? Not at all. He had no problem jumping right in.

We followed the same path with our daughter – no formal math instruction to begin with. She didn’t show the same aptitude for math as her brother, but she had fun with Cuisenaire rods, math shape blocks, board games, and video games. And she also started receiving an allowance at age three in order to learn about money. Like her brother, she began learning about fractions and measurements through baking in the kitchen with me as a toddler/preschooler.

When our daughter was eight years old, we had the opportunity to review an online math program, ALEKS, for a few weeks. She had no problem picking it right up, and in just a few weeks had completed a quarter of a full year program. When she began studying Grade 4 level work, we started formal math instruction using Teaching Textbooks as well. While our daughter does complain about math from time to time, and takes her time with it, she usually gets things correct on the first try.

Math instruction in history

I am not the first to delay formal math instruction – historically, math instruction was delayed until age 10 or even later right up into the 20th century. Research has been done that supports the delay of formal math, finding that children’s brains aren’t ready to think abstractly until around age 10 and that they ultimately do better with formal math when it’s delayed.

There are a number of books and resources available to read more about delaying formal math:

• The Bluedorns recommend delaying formal math until age 10. You can read an article at Trivium Pursuit or check out their book, Teaching the Trivium: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style by Harvey & Laurie Bluedorn

• The Moores believe in delaying formal studies of any kind until around age 8-10. You can check out their book for more information, Better Late Than Early by Raymond & Dorothy Moore

My hope is that my children will both continue to enjoy math, having been able to have fun with it from a young age. Math in the kitchen is still a big hit!

Have you delayed formal math instruction in your homeschool? How do you make math fun? Please let me know in the comments below!

Love, Luck &


This article contains affiliate links, if you click through and buy, I make a few pennies to keep up Homeschooling in Nova Scotia. Thanks for your support

Posted in Resources

What is Math Mammoth?

Is math a struggle for your child? Or perhaps yours is like mine and it’s not so much a struggle as the one subject they just do not want to do. Math Mammoth may just be able to help!

what is math mammoth

What is Math Mammoth?

Math Mammoth is a collection of digital lessons and worksheets focused on developing different math skills for children of all ages. You can find lessons that range from basic addition and subtraction to more advanced subjects like statistics and linear equations.

My kid finds the no-nonsense, straightforwardness of this book more to his liking.” – Tammy L. via Educents

One of the coolest and most innovate aspects of Math Mammoth is all the ways you can interact with it. Since it is a digital package, you can complete pages on a computer or print out and work with the sheets, but that’s not all! You can also use Math Mammoth on an iPad with annotation software. This is a great way to get your children learning on the go!

Buy Now

Three Ways to Interact:

  1. On the computer
  2. On a tablet
  3. Hands-on: choose the pages you print

I wish this was possible several years ago when we first tried out Math Mammoth! My children prefer doing math on a computer or tablet instead of with pencil and paper. Check out my original Math Mammoth review here.

You can purchase subjects individually, which are sometimes spread out over three lessons. For example, Early Geometry is great for grades 1-3, Geometry 1 is for grades 4-5, and Geometry 2 is for 6-7.

what is math mammoth

Two ways to save

Math Mammoth Blue

If you are interested in a series of workbooks focusing on different subjects, Math Mammoth Blue is the way to go. Math Mammoth Blue features all the content you need for students in Grades 1-7, broken down into their own categories such as fractions, money, and geometry. These are great for filling in trouble areas on a case-by-case basis.

what is math mammoth

Math Mammoth Light Blue

what is math mammoth

If you want more of a complete curriculum, look no further than Math Mammoth Light Blue. This product is designed to teach over the course of a year and features all of the content in Blue, plus cumulative reviews and tests. It also features a bonus Soft-Pak math software.

what is math mammoth

Easy access for all ages

No matter their age or skill level, any child will get a great learning experience with Math Mammoth. The comprehensive nature of the program, the simplicity of use, and the way it delivers information make Math Mammoth the perfect companion piece for young learners. Check it out and your child’s troubles with math will be extinct before you know it!

Love, Luck &


P.S. Isn’t that mammoth toy in the picture just adorable? I know you’re thinking it!

This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and buy I make a few pennies to keep up Homeschooling in Nova Scotia. Thanks for your support!

Posted in Free Homeschooling Resources

Free Minecraft Themed Math Worksheets Your Kids Will Love

Do your kids love Minecraft as much as mine do? Do your kids need some encouragement to practice math? How would you like a Minecraft themed math addition refresher for your kids before starting your homeschool year?

Minecraft themed Math

Free Minecraft Themed Math Worksheets Your Kids Will Love

If you answered yes, feel free to download Multi Taskin’ Mom’s FREE Minecraft Themed Addition Worksheets now. These fun math worksheets include single digit to double digit addition, making them useful for kids age 5-12.

Personally, I’m delighted that my children love Minecraft. It’s such a creative gaming endeavour. Sometimes I even assign things for them to make in the game that correspond with what we are learning in our homeschool.

Are you looking for more ways to take advantage of your child’s interest in Minecraft? Here are some great ideas shared on the Educents blog. They cover math, reading, writing, and more:

There are even more ways to let your child enjoy their passion in your homeschool! Check out all the discounted Minecraft-themed educational products offered at Educents. Consider putting together a whole unit. Surprise your child with learning they will delight in this fall!

How do you incorporate your child’s love of Minecraft into your homeschool lessons? Please share!

Love, Luck &


This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and buy I make a few pennies to keep up Homeschooling in Nova Scotia. Thanks for your support!


Posted in Homeschool Information

2014 Reader Favourites

2014 reader favouritesHappy New Year! 2014 is over. Can you believe it? It’s always interesting to see which posts were the most popular (had the most page views) over the course of a year. Knowing what you, my readers, love most helps me determine what to give you more of in 2015! I hope this post also helps you catch some posts you may enjoy and missed the first time around! Here are your favourite posts of the year!

2014 Reader Favourites

Number 1: Sewing a Frozen Elsa Costume (Part 1-3)

sewing a frozen elsa costume

Collectively, these three posts about the process of making an Elsa costume for my daughter’s dance solo, are the favourite post. There must have been a lot of little Elsas running around this year.

Number 2: Teaching Kids to Knit

teaching kids to knit
I love knitting and thoroughly enjoyed teaching my own kids to knit, starting when they were each about 4 years old. Here you will find some tips for getting your children started.

Number 3: Educational Board Games

educational board games
Board games are a big part of our homeschool and our lives in general. In my opinion, all board games are educational. Here you will find some of our favourites and what your kids can learn from them.

Number 4: Day in the Life Week 2014

day in the life
Here you will find out what a typical day is like in our homeschool, with one Gr. 11 and one Gr. 6 student this year.

Number 5: Not Back to School Day 2014

not back to school day 2014

We love to celebrate the first day of homeschool as a Not Back to School Day with other homeschoolers each year.

Number 6: Culinary Arts in the Homeschool – Cake Decorating

cake decorating
My 10 year old daughter has been heavily into cake decorating this year. I share what she’s been up to and a great resource to help with the culinary arts in your homeschool.

Number 7: Delay Formal Math?

Delaying formal math is a surprising concept for some homeschoolers, but it has worked well for us. We waited until each of our kids were around Gr. 4 until we introduced a formal math curriculum. Read what we did instead and how it worked.

Number 8: Curriculum Week 2014

curriculum week

Every year we share what curricula we are using (or planning to use). Read about our 2014-2015 curriculum plan.

I hope you enjoyed Homeschooling in Nova Scotia in 2014! I’m looking forward to sharing in 2015. Did you have a favourite 2014 post? Have you made any New Year’s Resolutions for you or your homeschool? Please let me know in the comments below!

Love, Luck &


Posted in Resources

Online Reading and Math Program: Try it Free!

Online reading and math programK5 Learning has an online reading and math program for kindergarten to grade 5 students. I’ve been given an 8 week free trial to test and write a review of their program. If you are a blogger, you may want to check out their open invitation to write an online learning review of their program.

Even if you aren’t a blogger, your child in Kindergarten (Primary) through Grade 5 can try K5 Learning free for 14 days!

I’m looking forward to telling you all about what my 10 year old daughter and I think of the program in the coming weeks!

Love, Luck &

Kimberly Charron

Posted in Homeschool Information

The SAT: How to Study for SAT Math

how to study for SAT mathMore and more Canadian universities are requesting the SAT test as one of the requirements for admission. I am delighted to have a guest blogger today, sharing how to study for the Math portion of the SAT test for your homeschooler. Be sure to check out the great links she’s included! And watch for a post next week on the writing portion of the SAT. ~ Kimberly

SAT Math problems can be tricky, and the best way to succeed on the three SAT Math sections is to 1) thoroughly review all the tested concepts, and 2) approach each Math question with a solid, step-by-step strategy. There are two types of questions on SAT Math: Multiple Choice, and Grid-ins. The multiple choice questions will always offer you 5 answer choices, 1 of which is correct. The grid-ins are formatted in exactly the same way except they don’t have any answer choices. You must arrive at a numerical answer on your own, then bubble them in on the answer sheet. Good news: the grid-ins have no wrong answer penalty, so always guess!

Here’s how to approach each SAT Math question for maximum effectiveness:

Step 1 – Write down what the questions is really asking. You may need to find 1/y, instead of y. Or you may be asked about the “ratio of lemons in a jar to limes in a jar,” but have to solve for the two parts of the ratio first. Write down the end goal before you start solving.

Step 2 – Write down any key numbers, variables, or equations provided by the question. Don’t just skim the question and start solving. Forcing yourself to slow down and process each piece of information will give your brain time to sort through it. If you see an inequality for example, you might want to draw it on a number line quickly.

Step 3 – Examine the answer choices. Are they numbers, or variables? If they are numbers, would it be easier to plug in the answer choices (or backsolve) rather than doing the algebra? We can always use the fact that 1 out of the 5 is correct to our advantage, testing each choice! If they are variables, can we pick numbers to make the question simpler? For example, we can use “2” and “5” for “x” or “a number.” You can also choose numbers for unknown values in the question-stem. For example, on percents questions, always pick 100 for the starting value! It makes the math much easier.

Step 4 – Solve, writing every step down! Once you’ve decided how you’re going to solve (doing the math, backsolving, or picking numbers), go ahead and put it into effect! Many students make errors by trying to do steps in their head, or all on their calculator. Neatly write each step out so there’s no risk of making a simple math error that would cost you an easy point you should have gotten!

Step 5 – Double-check that your answer makes sense. Before you bubble in your choice, double-check your answer against what you wrote down in Step 1. Are you really done? Make sure you didn’t accidentally stop halfway by mistake. Many SAT Math problems have “intermediate” steps, and it’s easy to lose track of where you are as you solve!

Don’t forget to review your algebra and geometry concepts (luckily, there’s no Trig on SAT Math!). You’ll also need to review some number properties – factors/multiples, odds and evens, etc. Finally, even if you see a question that you have no idea how to solve on SAT Math (there’s likely to be a few), see if you can approximate or estimate. If the answer choices are very far apart, there’s often no need to fully solve. Can you round decimals to the nearest integer to approximate, or is there 1 or 2 answer choices that don’t seem logical?

This brings us to our final SAT Math tip: if you can eliminate at least one answer choice, GUESS! You’ll get +1 for each correct answer, and -1/4 for each incorrect answer, so as long as you can confidently eliminate at least one choice, always, always guess!

Vivian Kerr is a Los Angeles-based test prep tutor, blogger, and content creator for Learnist with 7+ years experience. She offers tutoring online via Skype for all sections of the SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT with