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Math resource thread - everyone please post!

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Since math is THE hot topic around here ALL the time, would everyone post within this thread (even if you cut and paste from other threads where you have posted) the math program(s) you have used, what you did/didn't like about them, and whether or not your kids were prepared for the challenges of the higher maths after using said program(s).


This could be a great resource!!

Edited by StaceyinLA
Changing the title/didn't work
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Abeka Algebra and Pre. DS didn't retain as much as I would have liked, but he did pass. Went on to Saxon and it just didn't work for us either. This summer we did Keys to Algebra and he did well. Have also supplemented in the past with Aleks, and we like that very much. DS isn't so mathy. Presently we're doing Lials Intermediate, and that is going very well. Can't teach my son these concepts by just giving him a cd and say learn...he needs humans :)

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Guest Cheryl in SoCal

Maybe it's the title. I didn't click on this thread for a while because I thought it was about resources for math instead of a resource thread for math curricula.


Didn't work list:

Horizons (4 wasted years)

Saxon (3/4 year)


Neither taught my children to understand math. I used them as directed and even used the DIVE CD for Saxon. One child was able to memorize how to "do" math and did extremely well (got 100% on almost every lesson and test) but had no clue what he was doing. The other couldn't memorize fast enough and math was a nightmare for him. Every year became worse and worse because how much he didn't know or remember increased as the curricula advanced. It kills me that I waited so long for Horizons to work. I was naive and figured since I was following all the directions that it would eventually work. I didn't make that same mistake with Saxon.



MUS (5 years)

Lof (6 months)


I found an MUS demo DVD and watched it. My children LOVED it and learned several things just from watching the demo so I was sold. That was when I realized that my son who looked great didn't understand math at all. He seemed astonished at what he had learned and kept saying over and over how he didn't know that's what such-and-such meant. I took them all the way back to the beginning because their math foundations were filled with huge holes. They progressed at their own pace, which was fairly rapid in the beginning because they were older, and have now "caught up." However, more importantly, they understand math. I too have learned a lot from watching the MUS DVD's. I was taught math the "traditional" way and was like my son who was very good at it but didn't really understand it and, because I didn't understand it, I didn't like it. I now understand and LIKE math.


I hesitated to list LoF because we haven't used it that long but my kids just LOVE it so I added it. We use it with MUS, about a year behind MUS so they learn everything in MUS and LoF stretches them more. It also keeps them working in a subject more because they will be reviewing/stretching with LoF for an additional year. However, they think the best thing about LoF is that it's funny, LOL.


I bought a couple of levels of AoPS to use similarly to how I have described using LoF but haven't started it yet so I can't say anything except how wonderful and very different it looks from traditional math curricula.


We will never leave MUS completely because we LOVE the way Dr Demme teaches, and I think after our nightmare experience in elementary school he has become kind of a math security blanket for my children. They are ADAMANT that they NEVER want to leave MUS!!! We have found that the skeleton built by MUS is very solid and easy to add meat from another curricula to it.

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We've used or are planning to use:


Life of Fred

Hands-on Equations

Art of Problem Solving texts

Foerster's Algebra

Lial's texts (starting with BCM) with optional DVTs

Singapore Discovering Mathematics

Patty Paper Geometry (have book, need to buy patty paper...)


If we don't ditch Foerster's for AoPS, I was planning on the Math without Border's CD-ROMs.


I will most likely get Geometer's Sketchpad, as it's used by both DM and the Math without Border's Geometry program (which we may or may not use... to far in the future!)


I also have a Zacarro book, but haven't gotten to it much.

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*Singapore math Primary Series

*Singapore NEM series (drawback is that it doesn't follow standard US sequence which might impact standardized test scores)

*Lial's Introductory Algebra - good straightforward text for a student who likes a textbook that isn't over-verbose and has lots of practice problems. I think it works best for a more mature student. I wouldn't use it with a student who is doing algebra early (ie., 6th or 7th) - I'm sure others have been successful, but my boys just wouldn't have been mature enough.

*Art of Problem Solving - have used geometry and introductory algebra (neither finished yet). I love this series almost as much as the Singapore series. It is definitely not for the faint of heart math student.

*Math-U-See - we're using geometry right now for ds#3 and it's great for him. He also used the early elementary program because Singapore moved too quickly for him. But we transitioned out at 4th grade and put him back in Singapore to complete the PM series. I have 3 boys doing 3 different geometry programs :tongue_smilie:


Dislikes: Let me just say these didn't work for us but I know they work fine for others.


*Chalkdust geometry - discovered we don't do well/need video math. Also it's pricey and the amount spent didn't help us at all.

*VideoText - same as Chalkdust

*Saxon - tried it many years ago. We're definitely not Saxon folks!

*Upper level ABeka - like the lower years (1st - 6th) but do not like the upper levels.


These were fine, but nothing to special (they got the job done rather painlessly):


*Jacob's Geometry - this is what we used after ditching ChalkDust

*Jacob's Algebra - I like the approach but it didn't work for ds so we switched

*Algebra 1 A Fresh Approach - This is what we switched to and it is clicking with ds so that's good. Nothing really exciting about it, though. It's cheap and gets the job done.

*ALEKS - we used this in conjunction with our other math several years ago. The boys liked the diversion. I think it helped solidify concepts.

*Life of Fred - good and bad. Beginning Algebra was a hit for my ds in 7th, but I don't think he had quite enough practice to solidify the concepts. We're doing that this year with NEM 2 and AoPS Intro. Algebra. LOF Geometry with my ds#2 was a bust. He is not into that teaching style, and I found I had to do too much reading to help him (to know where LOF was going).


We've used quite a few programs because I find that each boy works differently.

Edited by CynthiaOK
forgot LOF!
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Crossing the River With Dogs: a book based on methods/strategies of approaching different kinds of problems rather than on conventional mathematical topics. My daughter liked this a lot and acquired the basics of a "tool kit" in terms of techniques and ways to think about word problems.


Discovering Algebra: by Key Curriculum Press. My daughter did well with this but it is not the best book at explanations (but then, none of the books I've looked at really are). It begins slowly with rather a lot on data points and graphs, but then the pace picks up. This is basically an honors algebra book; towards the end it covers some things that are typically presented in algebra II. It did have some occasional projects that were fun and engaging, like making a rubber-band bungee jump for action figures or small dolls and graphing what happened when additional rubber bands were added to lengthen the cord; then kids have to figure out the predicted number of bands to use when the figure is dropped from a predetermined height, so that the figure comes closest to the floor as possible without hitting it. Occasional activities like this make a welcome change from the unrelenting paper math.


I have looked at CoMap's four year program, which unlike any of the others, does not separate the years by subject (algebra, geometry, etc.) but combines them throughout. The books are not incremental in the usual sense. Rather, each unit starts with a real problem that requires people to use mathematics to solve. Year one, for instance, has voting patterns and predictions, satellite mapping and area estimation, animation, testing and test scores, plus more. Kids are required to think about what kinds of math would be necessary to solve the problems. I'm very attracted to this program, bought the first book used to look at, but have not yet begun it with my daughter. By the end of the four books (which I suspect could take three years for a mathy or interested student), kids will have completed the equivalent of a traditional program up through pre-calculus. There are huge on-line resources including lots of other units to substitute or add, including ones like the mathematics of knots, and the structural math used in building flying buttresses on cathedrals.

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Discovering Algebra: by Key Curriculum Press.

Have you seen the Discovering Geometry text? It's by the Patty Paper Geometry guy, and it includes a lot of patty paper activities, as well as lots of links to art and nature. It's very inquiry based and although it gets lousy reviews on Amazon, it looks fabulous to me. :tongue_smilie:


I'm thinking of combining it with the Zome Geometry book (we already have the awesome Zometools Advanced Math kit), for a more arty/hands-on approach to geometry.



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Russian Math - made ds think about math from every direction

-he hated all the prime factoring but then appreciated it

later when he saw how useful it was to him


MCP - has been great for my concrete thinker


CTC - good supplements to add in some conceptual work




Saxon - the incremental method drove ds1 nuts (though I tortured him

with it for years!)

- ds2 got perfect scores but couldn't remember anything afterward


Ok, not great:


Rod & Staff - good solid math for ds1 but not advanced enough

- way too much drill for ds1, may be good for ds2


We will begin Forester Alg.1 with the Math w/out Borders DVD. I'll let you know.



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Have you seen the Discovering Geometry text? It's by the Patty Paper Geometry guy, and it includes a lot of patty paper activities, as well as lots of links to art and nature. It's very inquiry based and although it gets lousy reviews on Amazon, it looks fabulous to me. :tongue_smilie:


I'm thinking of combining it with the Zome Geometry book (we already have the awesome Zometools Advanced Math kit), for a more arty/hands-on approach to geometry.




Actually I just ordered it last Friday! I'll let you know more about it once it gets here.


And I'm still toying with the idea of integrated math (algebra, geometry, trigonometry mixed together in progressive levels) through CoMap. I'm very intrigued by their stuff and have an old, used copy of the first year book, which approaches a series of real-world problems: voting and predicting election results; satellite imagery and area estimation; animation and transformation in space; etc.

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My daughter used Lial's Beginning Algebra, Jacobs' Geomety, and Lial's Intermediate Algebra at home. She then placed into College Algebra which she took at the local community college. She followed up with Trigonometry at the community college. These last two classes used Sullvan's Precalculus. She then took AP Statistics online from PA Homeschoolers. It was a good class and prepared her well for the AP exam.




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We used but hated: Saxon 8/7

We love: The Art of Problem Solving.


Below I copy what I wrote about them in a different thread:

We did NOT like Saxon (used 8/7) for the following reasons:

1. The topics are touched on briefly, then the next lesson jumps to an unrelated concept, only to return to the first topic several days later for another little bite.

We found this approach not effective; our kids prefer to learn about one concept in depth until it is mastered and only THEN move on to the next topic (and we as instructors believe that this is a more effective way to learn).

2. The problems are very repetetive and a lot of drill; many problems follow the same format and don't require the student to think, but follow the prescribed procedure over and over again.

While this may certainly produce mastery, our children did not need that much repetition and were bored.

3. The book presents math as something useful - but utterly devoid of joy. At no point we got the feeling that the authors themselves were excited about the material. It felt like "take your medicine because it's good for you" .

We have switched to Art of Problem Solving, Intro to Algebra (DD is starting on geometry next). We found that this met all our requirements:

1. The material is presented in very much depth, with student led discovery of principles and relationships. The book goes well beyond the scope of the traditional algebra 1 text and includes much harder problems.

2. While there are a large number of practice problems available, they are very varied and require the student not only to master the topic, but also to think creatively and discover ways to apply the concepts to a novel problem.

3. You notice on every page that the author is excited about math, finds it tremendous fun - and this enthusiasm radiates out to the student. This is exactly the attitude we parents have towards math and which we like to instill in our children.


Please note that AoPS is not for everyone; there are kids for which Saxon may be the better fit. I can only say that for my kids who are interested in, and good at, math, AoPS was far superior to any other curriculum I have investigated.

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BJU w/dvds or online lessons, through Algebra 2 (and Precalculus if you don't mind it on the light side). I didn't use dvds up through pre-algebra, but they were our salvation for Algebra 1 through Precalc.


What I like: A lesson done by a teacher every day. Assignments, introducing the lesson, help, review, excellent calculator instruction.

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We used Saxon from Kindergarten through 8/7. They then switch to BJU because that's what their co-op teacher uses. Saxon was a bit dry after 3rd grade, but prepared them very well for higher math. No problems here. My two older ones excelled in the high school math courses, and the youngest will start Algebra I in the co-op next week.

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ER used BJU math from Math 1 through Algebra 2. I loved, loved, loved BJU math for the elementary grades (1-6). I liked Fundamentals of Math (7) and PreAlgebra considerably less, but really liked Algebra 1. ER & I both despised BJU Geometry and BJU Algebra 2. We decided not to even bother with BJU PreCalculus. I heard rave reviews of Lial PreCalculus here on the boards, so I got it, and we didn't like it at all. The text was just way too "busy". We switched to Lial's Algebra for College Students and ER did great with it. He used the text as a reference book and just worked his way through the Student's Study Guide (which is actually a workbook), and did fine. He was able to CLEP College Mathematics and College Algebra.


EK used BJU Math from Math K through Algebra 1. She did GREAT until she got to the halfway point of BJU Algebra 1. It was then that I decided it wasn't worth seeing her cry every day as she tried to do her math. We switched to Teaching Textbooks and started over with Algebra 1. But this time, it "took", and she is now doing Teaching Textbooks Geometry and Teaching Textbooks Algebra 2.

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