With four kids (ages almost 3 to 13), we've tried our fair share of books, apps, manipulatives, and curriculums. This is a master list of some of our favorite math-related products for all ages.
Whether you have a toddler who is just discovering numbers and shapes or a teenager heading into Algebra or Physics, I hope you'll find some great ideas on this list. I will do my best to amend this page each year with new resources and tips - along with updated reviews.
Some of the products in the list below were sent to us to try. Other products are ones that we purchased ourselves or were given by family members and friends. Know that I will always provide both the pros and cons of each featured product. I will also edit this page annually with new remarks to ensure that you hear about products beyond the "honeymoon stage."
As our four kids continue to grow, we have learned that some kids naturally love math. Others are not as fond of the subject. That being said, with a positive example, plenty of practice, and a splash of wonder added in - ALL kids can learn to love math and can become proficient in math. With hard work and focus, math can transform from a burden to a joy.
Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers are naturally eager to learn math. It's true that they may count from 5 to 42 and skip the rest of the number sequence...but they will do it with unbridled enthusiasm! Enjoy this time with your little one as you explore shapes, colors, numbers, and counting at a slow and leisurely pace.
Whether you are homeschooling or helping little ones with basic math concepts, laminated posters are handy to have on-display for easy teaching. We make frequent use of our Numbers 1-100, Days of the Week, and Months of the Year posters. The day/month posters are great for older kids too because they save you from spelling "Tuesday" out loud over-and-over again throughout the year.
We've had this Rainbow Bead Abacus since 2016. Well-constructed with a sturdy base and colorful wooden beads, this abacus is super fun for hands-on counting activities with toddlers. (Of note: I wish the beads had been color-coordinated in groups of five for easy mental math and grouping).
If you have kids, you've probably tried a number of math apps. Same here.
One of very best math apps/programs we have used to-date, however, is IXL Learning.
IXL is a personalized learning program that spans a wide variety of subjects - Math, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, and Spanish.
For the purposes of this article, I will focus on the math component - but note that the other subjects are also well-done.
There are several factors that make IXL stand out as the best math app currently on the market to our knowledge.
Don't fret if your child is working above or below grade level. All IXL memberships provide unlimited access to every grade level available on the site for the subject(s) in your subscription.
In summary, we highly recommend IXL. It is an amazing resource for homeschoolers, but it works equally well for summer break review or homework help. In many ways, it performs as a "tutor" right in your home.
Pricing for a single-subject (ex: math) membership starts at $9.95/month or $79/year for one child. Each additional child costs $4/month or $40/year. You can also buy combo packages which include other subjects.
All workbooks are not created equal. I learned this early on after thumbing through some "math skills" and "summer slide" style workbooks at Costco and Target. Don't be misled by colorful covers or alluring promises. Many workbooks on the market are poorly organized and do not follow a sensical structure in terms of mastery and growth. In typical workbooks, concepts are smattered throughout - some pages are easy, some are hard.
After using Kumon workbooks for many years, I can attest that they are exemplary in their category. For starters, you can focus on ONE particular concept that your child needs to work on - addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, etc. The books build in difficulty slowly and steadily and children can mostly work independently through the pages. I tend to buy one or two Kumon books for each of my elementary age children each summer to help them retain old concepts and get ahead with new concepts.
We purchased this small manual teaching clock several years ago and have used it at least three days a week ever since. The compact size makes its easy to tuck away and pull out when needed. Kids and adults can easily spin the minute and hour hands to learn about time in a hands-on way.
Our almost-13-year-old daughter completed Algebra over the summer this year. She used Jacobs' Elementary Algebra as her primary text and we also purchased the corresponding DVD for instructional purposes. The text has a friendly and non-intimidating look - with comics to start each chapter and appealing glossy pages. The author of the text writes well and students who enjoy the language arts will probably feel an affinity to this text. The weakness of the text is that more example problems are needed to show students how to dissect the various problems in each lesson.
For students working independently, I recommend the corresponding DVD. Each segment is short and to-the-point. Dr. Callahan, a young female, uses a chalkboard to work through sample problems from the lessons. Although a bit antiquated in format and quality, the DVD certainly serves its purpose as an aide to the text.
Thanks for stopping by! Stay tuned for more of our favorite math products and resources.