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6 Ways to Do Math Without a Math Book


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I’ve always been too afraid to ask, but I’m 90% sure that math is my kids’ least favorite subject. I know that math books are great and are obviously beneficial in teaching math. But, I do think that even the best math programs can cause a lot of anxiety in our kids.

6 Ways to Do Math Without a Math Book
Written by Alicia Hutchinson of Learning Well Community.

While I’m not ready to throw away our books, I like to keep an open mind when it comes to math. I remind myself that it’s okay if we don’t finish the entire book or if we skip the first 30 lessons that are all review anyway. 

The math that I use in my daily life doesn’t come from a book, so there are a lot of things out in the world that can teach my kids math. Maybe even better than a book.

1. Play Games

Just doing a quick Google search of “math games” will give you tons of ideas, but here are a few we love:

  • Yahtzee
  • War, but with adding or multiplying. When you both flip your cards to play, your child adds or multiplies the two numbers.
  • Pizza Math

But you can find lots (and lots!) of other math-related games for all ages!

2. Combine Groceries and Coupons

I love handing over coupons to the kids while we’re shopping and having them figure out how much our food will be with coupon savings. Also, percentage discounts are great for real-world math practice, too.

6 Ways to Do Math Without a Math Book

3. Read

Sometimes literature can teach things in a way that regular instructions cannot. Here are a few great math books that won’t feel too math-y to kids who’d prefer doing just about anything else:

4. Use Manipulatives

Using something other than words to demonstrate a math concept is excellent for visual learners. Use blocks, snap cubes, paperclips, dice, counters, scales, money, even rocks…whatever you need to use to make it click for your child. If you have young children, this rainbow counting bears set is super cute and can also be used for color matching, sorting, etc.

Living Math

5. Use Real-Life Math Around the House

When we moved into our current house, you can imagine how much school wasn’t going on. The fact that unpacking was taking up so much of our school time forced me to get creative to squeeze math in here and there. During that time, I would have my kids order pizza and calculate the total with tax.

We had to tear out the carpeting, so I had my kids find the area of the flooring we’d need to recover. Then, they calculated how much new flooring would cost. That’s a lot of math!

I also had them find the area of our bookshelves and determine how many books they would hold. Another “assignment” was figuring the amount of money we’d need to set aside for plumbers based on their quotes.

Using real-life to teach math is a great way to do it. Most of the time your kids will enjoy it because they’ll see that it’s useful, and you’ll get some answers you really need in the process!

6 Ways to Do Math Without a Math Book

6. Put Technology to Work

Use your devices to teach math. Use apps, the calculator, or a computer-based math curriculum. Sometimes the technology piece is the one your child might need to complete a math puzzle for them.

I like to set aside a few days each quarter to put away the math texts for the day and just do real math. It’s a great balance for my kids and a much-needed break from the regular routine. I hope these ideas have inspired you to take a little break too.

What are some of your favorite ways to learn math without books?

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3 Comments

  1. I’m almost scared to admit this, but this year our kids don’t really have an official math curriculum. They are young-grade 5, grade 2, and K. We use technology, some worksheets, Life of Fred, a lot of manipulative, games, and a whole lot of real life. It has been going really well. And by the way, I am 100% sure that my oldest two hate math-they have told me a lot.

  2. My oldest liked math and wanted to do math … so I got a math book. And killed it for her in about 30 seconds. Her griping poisoned the well for the younger kids. Five years later, we’re still battling it out but at least I’ve stopped trying with the repetitive drills. Right now, we do Life of Fred, the “your business math” from Simply Charlotte Mason, the “The I Hate Mathematics Book” book (it has a lot of logic puzzles), the Sir Cumference books, and any number-related game I can find.

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