Inspiring Math Storybooks for Young Children

It’s nice to have a few fun math picture books thrown in with your usual bedtime reading to help get kids thinking about math as part of their everyday world along with stories of pirates, animals or whatever happens to interest your kids. Here are a few books that my children and I have enjoyed lately that can help spark an interest in math concepts and ideas. The Boy who Loved Math by Deborah Heligman and LeUyen Pham erdos I love this book. It tells the story of Paul Erdős who had the most incredible life as a mathematician. He was a prodigy with two math professors for parents. His mother had lost two daughters to scarlet fever before Paul was born, and as a result she was extremely over protective with Paul, to the point that she didn’t want him going to school for fear of him picking up any germs. Staying at home and left to his own devices, he was able to develop his mathematical ability. Paul Erdős was so focused on thinking about math that he lived a very unconventional life, including never learning to butter his own bread, do laundry or drive a car. Instead he relied on friends and colleagues to take care of him, and in return he would travel around the sharing his knowledge with other mathematicians. He wanted to spend all of his time thinking about math.  Paul Erdős was such an interesting figure because he lived the way that he wanted to live without regard for social convention, money, fame or status, which is a very appealing idea for kids (and adults!). He shared himself and his mind and he showed the world that math can be fun. Bedtime Math Stories by Laura Overdeck and Jim Paillot bedtimemath My kids can’t get enough of this book. The book is arranged into short stories about food, animals, vehicles, sports and odd jobs that are followed by questions to be answered. My 6 year old and my 9 year old are both able to take part in trying to figure out the answers to the mental math problems because for each story there are three levels of question to answer (Wee Ones, Little Kids, Big Kids). The only problem with this book is that it might keep your kids up late wanting to complete another story. Luckily there are two books in the series and judging from the success and how much my kids like these books there are sure to be more on the way. The illustrations are great and sometimes cute and funny. Highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to help get kids thinking about math. Check out their website and a Facebook page. grapesofmath Greg Tang has a whole series of fun math books. If you like Bedtime Math the Greg Tang books are a little bit similar in style. He has written two books of math fables for the younger kids and a number of riddle based problems books for older children. You can read the books for free on his website, and be sure to check out the rest of the Greg Tang site for fantastic free math resources, especially the Kakooma section of the site; it is a lot of fun. Math Curse by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith mathcurse Math Curse is an older book, but it holds up well. It follows the idea of math in everyday life, and shows how it applies to everything. The books start with a teacher telling her class that “You can think of almost everything as a math problem”.  The next day the main character wakes up and sees everything going on in her life as a math problem, so she thinks the teacher has put a math curse on her. It’s a fun, interactive book, that will help kids see how math relates to their daily lives and it introduces them to all sort of concepts like volume, time, fractions, measurement, and money in a humorous way. This book would be especially great for teachers.

Fun Ways to Help Kids Learn Mental Math

Metal Math is the solving of mathematical problems using nothing but the human brain. In its most basic form, mental math can refer to doing simple addition, subtraction, multiplication or division problems in your head. It can also refer to math tricks and secrets that give people the ability to do much more complicated math problems in their heads quickly.

Obviously the ability to do math in your head is a very important skill for children to master, and it will be useful to them throughout their lives. It is really worth the effort in getting your kids interested and excited about math because there is research showing that children’s proficiency in math correlates strongly with their future earnings, and a good way to go about doing this is by helping them become really good at mental math.

fun mental math

Learning to do mental math takes a lot of hard work, practice and can be a bit difficult, but as with most things, the more your kids practice the better at it they will become. Before getting to the really cool part of mental math (the tricks), your kids need to have a solid foundation in basic math facts. They should be able to quickly add and subtract numbers from 1-20, know their multiplication tables up to the 12s, and know basic division. Once that is mastered, they can move onto the fun stuff and learn all the neat tricks that will make them love math and really excel at school.

This post has a mix of resources that can help with mastery of basic math, as well as resources that are helpful for learning mental math tricks.

Free Online Mental Math Games

  • Mission 2110 Mental Maths is a very fun and slick game for children in grades 4 to 6.
  • Topmarks has a great list of mental math games with appropriate ages listed.
  • Math Blasters has been around for a while, but it is definitely worth a look. There are lots of different forms for Math Blasters you can get it as an app, as a Nintendo DS game or play it directly on the Jumpstart site.
  • Math Playground is a good mental math game for grade 4-6.

Popular Books

There are lots of great math books that give really good overviews of the best mental math strategies and tricks that are useful for kids to learn. It was a little hard to narrow down the list so we are including all of our favourites. Check your local library for these titles, as they are all pretty popular books and will probably be available (for free!)

  • The Verbal Math Lesson Level 1: Step-by-Step Math without Pencil or Paper (for ages 5-7) is a popular book with homeschoolers. This series has three levels that correspond to grade levels, so level one is for kids in grade one, etc. Verbal math is basically the same idea as mental math and this book is a good starting point to help your kids begin to learn how to do math in their head.
  • Speed Math for Kids: The Fast, Fun Way To Do Basic Calculations by Bill Handley (for ages 9+) is a good introduction for kids to mental math. It teaches kids how to multiply and divide large numbers in their head, what they can do to make addition and subtraction easy, tricks for understanding fractions and decimals and how to quickly check answers every time they make a calculation.
  • Greg Tang has a really cool series of books are a slightly different approach to mental math. There are seven books in this series including Math Fables (ages 3-6), Math for All Seasons(ages 5-8), Math-terpieces (ages 5-9), The Grapes of Math (ages 7-12), Math Appeal (ages 7-12), The Best of Times (ages 7-12) and Math Potatoes (ages 7-12). These books helps students learn to manipulate groups of objects in their mind using rhyming couplets, riddles, and visual clues. Also check out Greg Tang Math.com.
  • Arithmetricks: 50 Easy Ways to Add, Subtract, Multiply, and Divide Without a Calculator by Edward H. Julius (for ages 10+) has easy math tricks that are appealing for kids. In addition to the 50 tricks, the text includes a review of mathematical concepts, applications, math curiosities, illustrations and parlor tricks. This is a very well-reviewed and highly recommended book for children in grade 5 and up.

If you are looks for mental math books a couple of titles that you will come across often are Short-Cut Math by Gerard W. Kelly and Secrets of Mental Math by Arthur Benjamin and Michael Shermer. These are great books to help older children to learn mental math, but we wouldn’t recommend getting these for anyone younger than 13 or 14 years old because they are written for an adult audience and would probably be a bit too much for younger kids.

Workbooks

If you want your kid to get good at mental math they will need to practice. It is generally recommended to do at least 15 minutes a day of math practice. An easy way to get kids to practice is with some fun workbooks. Here are a few that have great reviews.

  • Daily Mental Math Series have workbooks for kids in grade 2 to grade 10. They are great for math practice to improve kid’s mental math skills
  • Singapore Mental Math Series are very popular workbooks that have a strong focus on mental math strategies. They have workbooks for grades 2-7.

Apps

Apps are sort of perfect for having kids practice their mental math. There are so many math apps to choose from that would be helpful to mental math practice we tried to narrow it down a bit, here are a few of our favourites:

  • Math Bingo (for ages 5-12) helps children learn to add, subtract, multiply and divide using the simple game of Bingo. This is a good app to help kids improve their math basics.
  • King of Math Junior (for ages 6+) is a mathematics game set in a medieval environment where you climb the social ladder by answering maths questions and solving puzzles.
  • Mathmateer™ has different math missions that involve various math concepts. It’s fun and helpful for kids learning math.
  • Mathemagics – Mental Math Tricks this is a very popular app that has been out for quite a while. It shows you almost 60 math “tricks” and then lets you practice what you learned in the lesson with a practice session. For older kids ages 12+ and adults.
  • Quick Math – Arithmetic & Times Tables (for kids in Grades 3-6) and Quick Math+ (for kids in grade 5 and up) helps kids practice mental addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and mixed operations using handwriting recognition. It’s very fun and addictive to play.
  • Math Evolve (for ages 6+) is an arcade style game that is designed to help kids practice math facts, number sense, and mental math skills.

Free Online Videos

Schoolhouse Rock: Multiplication Classroom Edition If you are looking for something a little retro that reminds you of your own childhood, check out this DVD. It’s not for everyone, but definitely worth a look if you were into Schoolhouse Rock as a child.

For a slightly older child who has mastered the basic math facts have a look at this very watchable series on some of the more common mental math tricks:

Toys

Sometimes kids just aren’t into the worksheets and books so you need a little bit of a different tactic. Here are some fun games that will help your kids with their mental maths without them even realizing they are learning.

  • Math War Addition and Subtraction Game Cards is a fun game to help reinforce addition and subtraction. A lot of the reviewers for this game mentioned that kids have so much fun that they don’t even realize that they are doing math.
  • Think Fun Math Dice (for ages 8-12) and ThinkFun Math Dice Jr (for ages 6+) are both fun and inexpensive games for early math learners. Parents like these dice because the games help reinforce key math concepts, the games are short and you can take these dice anywhere because they are small.
  • Sumoku (for ages 9-13) is a fun crossword-style game with numbers. Players add up their numbered tiles to a multiple of the number on the die. Scores grow with every connected row and column. It provides addition, multiplication and division practice, adds in some Sudoku-like puzzle problem solving.
  • Sum Swamp Addition and Subtraction Game (for ages 4-7) helps kids learn the basic operations of addition and subtraction. Players roll all three dice and create a number sentence by placing the highest number first, the operation symbol second and the smallest number last. The player then adds or subtracts the numbers, and moves ahead the sum or difference.

Websites with good Mental Math Tricks for Younger Kids

Luckily for parents, many mental math secrets are easily available online. Here are a few sites that break down some of the more common mental math secrets that kids can learn.

  • Woodlands Resources is a good straight forward list of some of the best multiplication math tricks that are suitable for younger kids.
  • Dear Teacher has a great breakdown mental math tricks for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

photo credit: Biscarotte via photopin cc

 

 

How to Help your Kids with Math (Grade 4-6)

There are some super helpful online math resources that are perfect for kids who might be struggling with math, or for kids who are looking to improve upon their existing skills.

It’s obviously important to have good math skills these days,  so we have come up with a handy list of some of the best math curriculum websites, apps, and games to help you help your child learn to love math (well maybe) and improve their math grades.

math girl
 

*If you are looking for math help for younger kids check out our post for kids who are pre-k to grade 3.

Best Websites with Math Games

Obviously a really easy way to get kids to practice math is to make it fun. So with that in mind, these are our favourite free websites with great math games:

  1. Arcademic Skillbuilders is a great site that has online educational video games that help kids learn basic math. The games are free, but if you are a teacher you can sign up for the Arcademics Plus option that lets teachers customize game content to fit lesson plans, monitor student progress with data tracking reports and motivates students to improve performance with earned achievements and awards.
  2. Sheppardsoftware is another really good site that has fun online math games that cover all of the math fundamentals, including early math, basic and mixed operations, fractions, pre-algebra, dollars & cents and place value.
  3. Mangahigh is a really high quality site that has fun educational Math games. The site is aimed at teachers, but anyone can use the free versions of its excellent games.
  4. Multiplication Games is an amazing resource for learning multiplication facts and has a great collection of math games.
  5. Math Playground is another really good directory of math games, logic puzzles, practice, word problems and math videos.
  6. Hooda Math has math games, apps, movies, tutorials, worksheets and much more.
  7. Math for Grades 3-6 this site is a great resource for math games with links to all the best games on the web for different topics like algebra, fractions,  measurement, geometry, patterns, money, data, integers, and estimation
  8. Kids Numbers is a free math resource designed by teachers, for students and children of all ages. On this site students can practice all aspects of math, including addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
  9. Math-Play has a large collection of free online math games for elementary and middle school students.
  10. Math Bingo is a free fun way for children to practice math facts on the computer. You can do addition, subtraction, multiplication or division BINGO. You can also get this game as an iPhone app.

Best App for Helping Kids Learn Math

Of the math apps that we’ve tried our favourites are Splash Math Apps. These apps are designed to be kind of like interactive workbooks that cover an entire school years’ worth of material. In the apps you drag and drop shapes, pop bubbles, rotate clock hands to solve problems. A weekly e-mail report feature keeps track of student progress.

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Splash Math Apps go from grade one to five. AskATechTeacher did a great review of the grade 5 app saying Splash Math (grade 5) “is robust, satisfying, and intuitive enough, fifth graders will have no problem installing, setting up and using it independent of adult assistance. The start-up steps are clear. Screens are colorful and uncluttered making their purpose easy to understand. The space theme will appeal to most fifth graders, especially with ‘space’ being a common fifth grade unit.  Parents and teachers will be pleased that math skills are aligned with fifth grade Common Core State Standards and include an endless supply of problems on topics like decimals, fractions, dividing by two digit numbers, place values, number sense, multiplication, division, measurement, and age-appropriate Geometry and Algebra. Each topic has between four and twelve worksheets where kids drag and drop shapes, rotate clock hands, pop bubbles and lots more as they solve problems. The app uses an adaptive learning algorithm to determine the child’s level and gradually increase the difficulty with the user’s skill.”

Top 6 Websites with Math Lessons/Curriculum

Math curriculum sites are a great option for parents whose math skills might be a little rusty because they have lessons that explain concepts and then have your kids practice what they have just learned. Here are some really good math curriculum websites:

  • IXL Math is a math practice site with 2,000 skills covering junior kindergarten to grade 10, and an unlimited number of computer-generated problems that adapt to your child’s ability, increasing in difficulty as they improve. It also offers immediate feedback and question-specific explanations to solidify understanding of each concept. Parents get a weekly e-mail update on the child’s progress. The child can earn awards and certificates as they reach important milestones. Curriculum can be tailored for U.S, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa and the U.K. Cost– $9.95/month or $79/year or they allow you to complete up to 20 questions per day for free.
  • Dreambox Learning  is an online program designed for ages 5-8 that has educational games that are individualized for students, adapting the curriculum just for them. Cost– $12.95/month or $59.95/6 months and they also offer a 2 week free trial.
  • K5 Learning  is a multi-award winning online after-school study program for kids in kindergarten to grade 5 that uses adaptive technology to help kids develop instant recall of basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. Cost-Monthly subscription First child $25 additional children $15 annual subscription first child $199 additional children $129. The site also offer a 14 day free trial.
  • Time4Learning for homeschool, afterschool, and summer skill sharpening, Time4Learning’s award-winning pre k to eighth grade curriculum combines the technology kids love with the education they need to make learning fun. Cost$19.95/month for the first child and $14.95/month for each additional child.
  • Maths-Whizz from the U.K is an award-winning online’ math tutor’ that uses interactive animations and tutoring methods to deliver measurable results. Includes math resources and math games for kids. Cost -$19.99 per month, per child or try the free trial.
  • ALEKS  for ages 5-18 is a web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system that has a “complete curriculum solution for math with access to full course library”(U.S curriculum) that is able to targets gaps in student knowledge. Cost $19.95/month,  $179.95/yr or try their three hour free trial.

More Supplemental Math Resources worth Checking Out

If you are looking for some other types of supplemental material there are a few programs that are popular with homeschoolers that can also be helpful for kids in a school program that are worth having a look at. They are:

  • JUMP Math is a teaching program originally designed to help struggling math students by breaking concepts down into small steps. JUMP offers curriculum-based programs, materials and training for teachers and parents to enhance math lessons for students in Grades 1-8. The program’s mission is “To enhance the potential in children by encouraging an understanding and a love of math in students and educators.” If you are a parent and are just looking for supplemental resources a great place to start are with the JUMP at Home Worksheets.
  • Brain Pop is a fantastic site if you are on the market for a supplemental resource that kids will enjoy doing. Brain Pop is an educational website that has short animated movies for students in grades K-12 (ages 6 to 17) covering the subjects of science, social studies, English, mathematics, arts and music, health and technology that feature the recurring characters Tim and Moby. Brain Pop has about 70 math videos with a huge range of topics.  A basic family Brain Pop subscription starts at $99 and you must commit to subscribing for the entire year. Discount codes are occasionally available.
  • Watch Know Learn has free educational videos with lots of math content available.
  • Help Your Kids with Math: A visual problem solver for kids and parents is a great resource for helping parents help their kids with math.

Sources

  1. AskATechTeacher
  2. Amazon
  3. Top Ten reviews

 

How to Help your Kids with Math (Pre-K to Grade 3)

Featuring the Best Math Websites, Apps, Software, Workbooks, and Books

How can parents help their children with math at home? There are lots of different approaches you can take to help your kids develop their math skills. You can use software packages, apps, workbooks, books, videogames and websites just to name a few things. So to try to help you out a bit, we have gathered up the best of all sorts of different kinds of math resources that are out there and checked out all the reviews to pick out the very best stuff.  If you have something that you have used to help your kids with math, let us know we would love to know about it.

math
 

*If you are looking for math resources for older kids check out our post for math help for kids in grades 4-6.

The Best Free Websites with Math Games

There are lots of sites where you can play free math games that are fun and help reinforce concepts the child has already learned. The following sites are our top four:

  • Funbrain Everyone loves this site. It’s the #1 site for online educational games for kids of all ages. It has good graphics, easy navigation, free educational games, online books, and comics that develop skills in math, reading, and literacy.
  • Houghton Mifflin Kids’ Place Math Houghton Mifflin is a company that publishes textbooks, reference works, fiction, non-fiction, and educational software and videos, and this site is their interactive math resource that is great for math practice.
  • Math Cats is another of our favourite math sites. This site has no advertising and features lots of open-ended math activities.
  • Jumpstart is great free resource for online math games. No ads, great graphics and fun games from one of educational software’s most well-known brands.
  • Skoolbo is another interesting free site to have a look at. The site “is the world’s largest educational game ever! Skoolbo is a literacy and numeracy program with more than 50,000 questions designed to assist 4 to 10 year olds in their journey to mastery of essential reading and mathematics skills.”

Best Math App

If you want an amazing math app for your kids get Park Math. This is the best math app that we have come across so far.

parkmath
The reviews for this app are really good, it won 2011 Parents’ Choice Silver Award winner from the Parents’ Choice Foundation, 2010 Best Kids’ iPhone/iPod App of the Year Award from iLounge and it also got a Children’s Technology Review Editor’s Choice Award for Excellence in Design. In a review of Park Math on GiggleApps they say “This app helps kids ages 1-6 explore math concepts in a way that is bright and cheerful and above all else, never seems like work. I am impressed with how content-rich the app is, having 7 activities to choose from as well as two levels of difficulty, all with a lovely theme of animals having fun, playing at a park. Recently, an iPad version, Park Math HD has been released which also includes a 3rd level as well.”

Websites with Math Lessons/Curriculum

There are a number of websites with really great math curriculum lessons that you can try out for free (before committing to a subscription). We’ve narrowed it down to our five favourites, they are:

  • IXL Math is a math practice site with 2,000 skills covering junior kindergarten to grade 10, and an unlimited number of computer-generated problems that adapt to your child’s ability, increasing in difficulty as they improve. It also offers immediate feedback and question-specific explanations to solidify understanding of each concept. Parents get a weekly e-mail updates on the child’s progress. The child can earn awards and certificates as they reach important milestones. Curriculum can be tailored for U.S, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa and the U.K. Cost– $9.95/month or $79/year or they allow you to complete up to 20 questions per day for free.
  • Dreambox Learning  is an online program designed for ages 5-8 that has educational games that are individualized for students, adapting the curriculum just for them. My daughter uses Dreambox and really enjoys using it. Cost– $12.95/month or $59.95/6 months and they also offer a 2 week free trial.
  • K5 Learning  is a multi-award winning online after-school study program for kids in kindergarten to grade 5 that uses adaptive technology to help kids develop instant recall of basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. Progress on each and every math fact is monitored until mastery is obtained. Cost-Monthly subscription First child $25 additional children $15 annual subscription first child $199 additional children $129. The site also offer a 14 day free trial.
  • Time4Learning for homeschool, afterschool, and summer skill sharpening, Time4Learning’s award-winning pre k to eighth grade curriculum combines the technology kids love with the education they need to make learning fun. Cost$19.95/month for the first child and $14.95/month for each additional child.
  • Maths-Whizz from the U.K is an award-winning online’ math tutor’ that uses interactive animations and tutoring methods to deliver measurable results. Includes math resources and math games for kids. Maths-Whizz is aligned to national maths curricula across the world. Cost -$19.99 per month, per child or try the free trial.

Best Math Book for Kids ages 5+

When researching this post we came across this book that looks to be a great resource for teaching kids math at home.

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Family Math has over 300 pages of lively activities, that uses easy instructions and simple objects such as beans, blocks, pennies, buttons, and string, parents and kids solve problems together.  It’s recommended for families with children five to twelve years old

The Best Math Workbooks

If you are looking for workbooks a great company to check out is School Zone .

You’ve probably seen these workbooks around if you have spent any time looking for workbooks because they are sold everywhere. What you might not know is that they offer the workbooks in different forms, as well as the hardcopy books that you easy buy in stores; you can get software with interactive workbooks or workbooks in app form.

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Sources

  1. Top Ten Reviews
  2. USA Today
  3. GiggleApps
  4.  Amazon