Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Math is a subject that many parents dispair of teaching. Those that are good at math can have problems if their children don't find it easy - not knowing how to explain in a manner that makes sense to the child. Those that are not good at math, or are even math-phobic find it even more daunting.

However, math can be fun! We are fortunate that there are resources out there that can teach you and your children math; not just a step-by-step "trust me, this is how you do it" type of methods, but actually how to think about math, why an answer is the answer, different correct ways to get the answer, and how it works in real life.

In the early years, it is important for your child to work with real items - preferably items that the child likes, like lego's, sea shells, buttons, or little cars. Domino's and playing cards can add fun to math.

Overview, Years 1-6

At Maple Hill Academy, we use the free Mathmatics Enhancement Program (MEP) course at

You will need to email them to get the password for some of the pdf pages, (this is to protect the information from the UK students who are doing this program in the schools....) - however, they are very happy to help homeschoolers.

The MEP course is very CM friendly. Although the lessons may be a little long for a while, as you get used to the program, most families can do the lessons in 15 to 20 minutes a day. If you are a family that takes longer, just set a timer. Also, there is a variety of types of activities.

You need to download the Lesson Plans, the Practice Book, and extras like the Copy Masters, Number Cards, etc. It is tempting to just give the child the practice book, and just do that. Don't give in to temptation! The lessons have a lot of fun activities that lay a foundation for later work.

If you are not starting Maple Hill in Year 1, you may need to evaluate in which year of MEP to start your child. The course is challenging, and requires children to think about math in a different way than most math courses. I recommend starting a child in an earlier year (working quickly through it if the child is able) instead of starting at a point where you may need to move them back if the work proves too challenging. In general, I would say that if you are starting Maple Hill Years 1, 2, or 3 - start in MEP at Year 1. Maple Hill Years 4 or 5, start in MEP Year 2 or 3. Don't worry, MEP year 6 is fine for pre-algebra courses. (See below if your child is starting Maple Hill Year 6 or above.)

Overview, Years 5-12

Starting in year 5, Maple Hill Academy starts to switch to the Life of Fred Books. However, as an alternative there is a couple of programs from the makers of MEP, that are well worth looking at. They are here as an alternative, as they are free, and very well done.

MEP years 7-9 are a very good program... however it was developed for students that have NOT done the MEP years 1-6. Year 7 is reportedly easier than MEP 4 or 5. Start here if you are starting Maple Hill Academy in year 6 - 9, and have not done the earlier MEP courses.

GCSE is High School Level courses. I have not researched them deeply, but they are supposed to be good.

The Life of Fred Books will be used at Maple Hills Academy in years 5-12.

Practice Math Facts for Free

It is possible to practice math for free - and have fun doing it! And this is a great use for decks of cards that are missing some cards..... turn them into "Math Decks"

Remember the game of War? (If not, check the link...) - turn it into fun practice! (Remove the face cards or use J as 11, Q as 12, K as 13 if you want your children to know facts including those numbers.... but start with them removed. an Ace is a 1 (and is therefore low....))

  • > and < - play the basic game... greatest wins
  • addition - show 2 cards and add.... greatest wins
  • adv. addition - show 3 cards, or 4 cards and add....
  • subtraction - show 2 cards, subtract smaller from larger
  • multiplication - show 2 cards and multiply
  • adv. multiplication - show 3 or 4 cards and multiply
  • fractions - show 2 cards... smallest is on top for the fraction.
  • improper fractions - show 2 cards... largest is on top for the fraction
  • Integer addition - Red cards are Negative, Black cards are Positive. Add the 2 cards
  • Integer subtraction - Red cards are Negative, Black cards are Positive. Subtract the 2nd card from the 1st card
  • Integer Multiplication - Red cards are Neg. Black cards are Pos. Multiply the 2 cards
  • Wild - show 3 cards... player does whatever math they want with the 3 cards.
  • Integer Wild - Red cards Neg. Black cards Pos. Otherwise same as Wild
Another fun game is "Krypto". You can buy Krypto cards at a teacher supply store - but from my memory of the game, you should be able to play with playing cards from 1-9. Maybe add a couple of jokers to be a zero. You deal out 5 cards to each person (they can't look until everyone is ready), then place face up a single card that is the answer. Everyone lifts up their cards, then figures out math to use all their cards, and come up with the answer. When you think you have an answer, you yell out Krypto! - then you have to explain how you get the answer. You can add, subtract, multiply, divide, and even add exponents for advanced kids. (You can play with just add and subtract, but there may be combinations that don't have an answer.)

Example - I get cards 3, 8, 2, 1, 4 and the answer is 6. I come up with 4 - 3 - 1 + 8 - 2 = 6.

My sister and I would play, and would pretty much pick up the cards and yell Krypto immediately as we played it so often.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing!!! I had been struggling with the what to do for Math this year.

  2. I am glad this is helpful. Check out my other articles on math too for more information!

    I love math, and I know it can be fun!

  3. I'm trying to add a bit more creativity & fun with math this year as well.

  4. I hope that this gave you a few ideas!

  5. Thank you so much for this wonderful information!! This post is full of helpful tips!!
    Be Blessed!, Angie in GA

  6. I am glad that you found this helpful!