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Math by Topic or Concept


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As a math teacher, I have been a fan of SM math.  Now, teaching my two boys (will be 1st and 4th), I'm going crazy with math books. I hate how piecemeal they are; although, I understand why they are that way.  However, my 1st grader is able to "get ahead" in math by exploring topics in his mind.  My 4th grader (ADD, VSL) is behind in his operations, but can do conceptually harder work.


SO - I'm thinking I'd love to have something that is about adding and subtracting, something to explore multiplication, something to delve into fractions, etc.  Then I can pick up from those things what they are ready to explore.  I'm confident in my ability to explain the math, so I'm looking for something with good activities, problems, manipulatives, etc.  I am drawn to BA, but I'm worried it will be too challenging for my oldest.  He needs to see usefulness, so I'm thinking about SCM Your Business Math.  We are in LOF Cats, and I'm not enjoying it, wanting to pay that much for all those more books, etc.  Could we just skip ahead?

Thanks for suggestions!

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Miquon allows you to work either on a single concept, following it through the workbooks, or you can go for the mix of topics, as they come up, by going through the workbooks in order. There is a chart in the back of each workbook to help you see what is in each workbook so you can decide how to use them. Miquon is discovery-based and comes from more of an Asian-math perspective. Miquon makes heavy use of Cuisenaire rods for visualizing and experimenting, and the topics run from 1st-4th grade in level. Miquon is a great program to use prior to Singapore or Math Mammoth, or as a supplement from a different perspective to go more traditional math programs.


Just a thought, but BOTH your DSs might really enjoy this approach. You could actually start your older DS with the Green (#4 of 6) -- maybe even Blue (#3 of 6) -- workbook, which would be lots of review which would give him a lot of confidence, and work at a quicker pace (say, 2-4 pages a day) if that works for him. 


Of all the math programs we did up through 4th grade, our DS#2 (who is very VSL with mild LDs in math, writing, and spelling), connected best with Miquon. Starting in 5th grade, we found Math-U-See, which was very visual (video lessons) and hands-on (manipulative-based), with very simple, clean B&W pages and not too many problems per page.


For your older DS (maybe in a year's time), another really nice program for seeing the topic from several different angles, and adding extra practice as needed on a specific topic is the Keys to … workbook series. The workbook sets are "per topic", with these topics for late elementary/middle school: Fractions, Decimals, Percents, Measurement, Metric Measurement.


For our DS#2, through late elementary/middle school, we used MUS as our spine, and supplemented with Singapore 4A/B, 5A/B, 6A/B, and some of the Keys to Fraction, Decimal and Percent workbooks. It was a great combo for him. I would have thrown Beast Academy into the mix for BOTH our DSs,, but DS#2 was about to graduate from high school when that came out -- too late for us. ;)


For your DS who "needs to see usefulness": MUS is very pragmatic, as are the real-life word problems in Singapore. Life of Fred would be another good option. We also found that supplementing with a manipulative and matching booklet (pattern blocks, geoboards, multi-link cubes, etc.) were a help up through about 5th grade for "seeing" how/why concepts work and extrapolating the usefulness of the concept. Another excellent supplement of real-life / every day math usage is the 3-volume Family Math series by Marilyn Hill. At the high school level, Jacobs Algebra opens every single lesson with real-life usage of the concept taught, so that may be a useful program down the line.


Welcome to homeschooling! And BEST of luck in finding the best matches 

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kiwik, I'll look at those as well.


Lori D, thank you for all the many suggestions.  I have used Miquon in the past with my oldest, but stopped because he is color blind and the rods were hard for him.  We have taken to using them again, so maybe Miquon is worth a shot.  I thought it was interesting that your DS#2 used MUS instead of Miquon, or did I misread that?  Is there a reason you like MUS more for him?

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Lori D, thank you for all the many suggestions.  I have used Miquon in the past with my oldest, but stopped because he is color blind and the rods were hard for him.  We have taken to using them again, so maybe Miquon is worth a shot.  I thought it was interesting that your DS#2 used MUS instead of Miquon, or did I misread that?  Is there a reason you like MUS more for him?


SO sorry, I did not word that clearly!


DS#2 who is VSL with mild LDs used a lot of different things for math in grades 1-4 while we tried to figure out what would be the best fit for him. (Mostly, we figured out what was NOT a fit!  :ohmy: )  Miquon worked the best for him during those years, and so we used it for a spine in 1st grade, and then a supplement in grades 2-4 (while trying other programs). We stumbled on MUS in 5th grade for him, and used MUS for grades 5-12 as the spine, with Singapore and Keys To… workbooks as supplements for grades 5-8.


So, we did not drop Miquon in favor of MUS, as we didn't find MUS until DS had finished Miquon.


The reason we liked MUS for DS was that it met his needs:

- visual explanations (video lessons) -- VSL need

- hands-on manipulatives made concepts very concrete -- VSL need

- very clean page layout, with a manageable amount of problems -- LD need

- first 3 pages of each new lesson focused on mastery/building the concept, last 2 pages also included word problems and review of past concepts, so mostly mastery but with some helpful weekly review -- LD need



re: color blindness and colored rods

Oh my, that is interesting, and it throws a monkey-wrench into MANY techniques for VSL learners, as many rely on use of color!


MUS also uses colored rods, but the rods have a sort of raised series of "bumps" to indicate how many it represents (so, the 4-rod has 4 raised square areas on top). The rods are different in size (hollow on the "bottom" so each "bump" represents 1-cubed-cm in volume if you were to fill with water -- also the hollow side can be a helpful way to visualize negative numbers. The bumps would likely make the MUS rods each stand out as a bit different (plus, some are lighter and some are darker in saturation, which would look like shades of gray that would be different from one another). However, The MUS rods and cuisenaire rods are slightly different in size and colors, so they are NOT interchangeable.


What about using a sharpie marker to just write a small number at one far end of each of the cuisenaire rods (say, on all 4 sides at the far right end of each rod), and then do the same for the pictures of the workbook pages? Would that make the rods more usable for doing Miquon? DS would definitely make the connection between the visual length of the rod or the picture of the rod, and the number on the rod -- it might even help him start making connections between  written numbers (which are very intangible/abstract) more quickly. For example: three 3-rods equals one 9-rod...


Anyways, hope that clarifies! Warmest regards, Lori D.

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