From the HSLDA E-lert Service:


10/20/2011 10:00:58 AM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Homeschooling on a Shoestring--Spotlight On: Math

HSLDA's Homeschooling Thru the Early Years Newsletter
October 2011--Homeschooling on a Shoestring--Spotlight On: Math

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Dear Friend,

A few months ago, we introduced this series on homeschooling "on the
cheap" with our "Spotlight on Social Studies,", followed by "Science on a
Dime." This month, let's
review a few basics, then highlight some ways to explore math on a
meager budget!

What does it cost to homeschool?
While the average cost is roughly $500 a year per child, this figure
usually goes down with subsequent children, since resources can be
shared, membership costs are not multiplied, etc. During the four
years that we were without a full-time income, I was able to
homeschool seven children at a time for less than $100 total in a
year, once I had accumulated a few non-consumable resources. (Hey, I
had to use math concepts just to write this paragraph!)

It is possible to homeschool with just a Bible and a library card, but
most of us will buy at least a few things. You'll want to invest in
your core curriculum materials first, then add other items as your
budget allows. (See sidebar for more ideas.)

How to save on textbooks and other curricular materials

> Read how to present elementary math "Without a Textbook" by Cathy

> Use multi-level materials such as Math on the Level or Katherine Loop's biblical
math products.

> Borrow or rent books--check with your local support group.

> Purchase used books. Some
sources include used curriculum shops, exhibit halls, library sales,
support group sales, online swap boards (and of course, the HSLDA
Curriculum Market! ).

> Provide educational "wish lists" to family members for gift-giving

> Use your state's standards of learning as a guide to check out
appropriate library books. (Search for "Standards of Learning" + "Your
State". You are not required to use these standards, but it can give
you a starting point.)

> Use World Book's standards
of learning with library books and manipulatives or real-life

> Use a major textbook publisher's math scope and sequence with manipulatives.

> Use What Your Child Needs to Know When or The Checklist (or Teaching Children by Diane
Lopez) as a guide to what to teach, then use library books or
living books. (Are you sensing a pattern here that includes library
and card?)

> Search online for free homeschool ____ (math, history, geography,

> Laminate your books and answer keys with clear Contact paper for

Everyday activities for "math on a budget"

> Mathematics is simply the study of the patterns and order in the
world that God has made. It ranges from elementary arithmetic--the
basic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and
division--to more advanced math, the language of the natural sciences,
engineering, medicine, music, and more.

> As Becky Cooke and Dianne Kummer pointed out in their June HSLDA
high school newsletter:

> "Dealing with numbers is part of everyone's life from counting
change, to telling time, to calculating square footage for a new
carpet, to doubling the measurements of ingredients in a recipe, to
figuring out a grade point average. Remind your [children] that people
in all walks of life use math--real estate agents who calculate
principal and interest, economists who deal with trends and
projections, machinists who calibrate tools, or construction workers
who read blueprints and make scale conversions. Even those aspiring to
be moms will use math in budgeting, comparison shopping, and putting
that meal on the table!"

> While most of us will use a textbook or organized teaching approach
of some sort to teach math, the most effective learning--or at least
reinforcement of concepts--often takes place in the context of
everyday living or family activities, and many are free or very

> Introduce or reinforce math concepts with manipulatives such as
beans, homemade flash cards, colored pieces for counting or pattern
recognition, popsicle sticks (rubber-banded by tens for place value,
with ten-stacks tied with ribbons to denote hundreds). Joyce Herzog's
Box of 10 is one example of a
manipulative-based learning program for preschool through

> Encourage preschoolers to set the table or pass things out--this
teaches one-to-one correspondence, an early math skill. A very young
child may count orally from one to ten but will count the same finger
two or three (or five) times, or put all the plates at one place, all
the forks at another, etc. A child who has learned that each person
gets one fork, one spoon, one plate, and one cup has learned the basic
concept of one-to-one correspondence.

> Use math games such as Monopoly, True Math, Set, 24 , and Number Jumbler. Games
don't have to be specifically "math" games to be educational; we
allowed pretty much anything with points or money--and we required
them to rotate the banker duties. (We actually assigned Friday as
"math games day," so the children could play math games if their other
math studies were done, or they could use Friday as a catch-up day if

> Brain teasers and puzzles help build logic and thinking skills as
well as spatial reasoning.

> Find math in the Bible. From the seven days of Creation, to the
animals entering the ark two by two, to all the references in the book
of Numbers, to a timeline of Adam's descendants, or even a scale model
of Noah's ark, the Bible is full of mathematical application.

> Kids love measuring cups, scales, and tape measures. A plastic bin
of feed corn with old Tupperware cups, bowls, and measuring implements
can occupy children for hours on a sheet on the lawn or floor. Give a
child two rulers and see how long it takes him to figure out he can
put them end over end over end to measure a ten-foot space. Jessica
Hulcy of Konos calls this "discovery learning."

> Teach basic operations and fractions using food or cooking. Cut the
pizza in half, then into fourths, then eighths. Give a child ten
cookies and tell him to divide them fairly with his siblings--not only
will he figure out how to divide, he'll probably figure out the
remainder! Have your children double or triple a recipe. Need more
ideas? Check out Single-Serve Recipes by Joyce Herzog,
> "Math Never Tasted So Good" by Cheryl Bastian
(, or
do an online search for "candy" + "math".

> Take a field trip to the grocery store. Let your child compare
quantities, quantity pricing, weigh the vegetables, find a quart, a
pint, a gallon, etc. Need a starting point? Try Grocery Cart Math.

> Calculator skills can be fun and games for elementary students.

> Even if you don't want to share your family budget with your
children, they can learn to budget their own allowance or earnings, or
maybe you are willing to let them plan the budget for a family trip or
the homeschool savings for next year's curriculum. Teach them early
that b-u-d-g-e-t is not an ugly word, but is simply a spending plan
(and it must balance!).

> Teach your junior high student to balance a checkbook, even if it is
with an imaginary account (see budget item, above). It's not practical
for a young person to graduate with an A in calculus and still not
know how to reconcile an account.

> Calendars help children learn the concept of time and seasons. Mark
special dates and let the children cross them off as each day passes.
Go over the days of the week and months of the year.

> Teach your kids to read the car gauges (of course, you've probably
noticed that they quickly learn to read the speedometer and keep you
apprised of the needle's position).

> Teach them to tell time using an analog clock (with traditional
round clock face and numbers). Studies indicate the possibility that
some children struggle with learning to tell time and then later with
time management because they've seen only digital clocks. A digital
clock shows only that the time (the actual number) changes, but
doesn't illustrate the passage of time as an analog ("judy") clock
does. Another helpful tool is a Time Timer, , which visually indicates the
fraction of the hour passing by.

> Do you feel guilty building an occasional household catch-up day
into your lesson plans? Putting the Legos away, sorting the Matchbox
cars, tidying the colored pencils vs. the markers, reorganizing the
linen closet or sorting the pantry, and other such tasks are
classification and organization--valuable language arts, science, and
math skills!

And a math activity for mom or dad? Count your blessings!

Next month: Low-budget language arts ideas.

Vicki Bentley
HSLDA Toddlers to Tweens consultant

More on homeschooling on the cheap:

> "Homeschooling on a Shoestring Budget" HSLDA Homeschooling Toddlers
thru Tweens

> "What Does It Cost to Homeschool?"

> "Navigating the Used Curriculum Route" by Vicki Bentley, Practical
Homeschooling magazine

> "What Should I Be Teaching?"

> Use multi-level curriculum. Use grade-specific materials for each
child for skills subjects such as math and language arts, then use
multi-level materials for content-area subjects such as science,
social studies, character/Bible, art, health, etc, working with all of
your children together, to economize on time and money! (See the
earlier newsletters in this series for more suggested multi-level
curriculum ideas.)

Search for "free homeschool" + "subject"

Math in Scripture

"Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add
to nor take away from it."
(Psalm 139:7, NASB, emphasis added)

The LORD your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye are this day as
the stars of heaven for multitude.
(Deuteronomy 1:10, KJV, emphasis added)

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to
divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for
seasons, and for days, and years:
(Genesis 1:14, KJV, emphasis added)

A few math resources:

> "I Don't Love Math, So How Can I Homeschool My Child?" by Lori Lynn
Lydell (

> "God and Math?" by Katherine Loop

> "How to Succeed with Math" by Mary Pride (article--Practical

> "Math in the Home" by Kara Murphy of Homeschooling Today
> "Teaching Math Processes" by Dianne Craft

> "Choosing a Homeschool Math Curriculum"

> My Box of 10 by Joyce Herzog--Manipulative-based resource to
encourage mathematical thinking.

> Beyond Numbers: A Practical Guide to Teaching Math Biblically and
Revealing Arithmetic: Math Concepts from a Biblical Worldview by
Katherine Loop
> Three-way math cards

> Mathematical Reasoning series from Critical Thinking Press

> Think-It-Through tiles sets for early, primary, or upper elementary math.

> Family Math
Stimulating games, puzzles, and projects for parents and their
children in K-8th--includes numbers and estimation, logical thinking,
probability and statistics, geometry, measurement, and calculators.
Also has a step-by-step description of how to organize a Family Math
class for your co-op.

> I Hate Mathematics! Math
for Smarty Pants are two
books in the Brown Paper School series with text, illustrations, and
suggested activities offering "a common-sense approach to mathematic
fundamentals for those who are slightly terrified of numbers."

> The Sir Cumference series by Neuschwander and Geehan (includes Sir
Cumference and the First Round Table, Sir Cumference and the Sword
in the Cone, and more);

> "Biblical Math Information" by Christian Perspective

> Timberdoodle math resources

> Math downloads at

> Mixing in Math
More than 200 resources that blend math with fitness, nature, cooking,
and daily routines such as cleaning up. (Also available in Spanish)

> "The Game that is Worth 1000 Worksheets"

> Many homeschool online groups have subject-specific content. For
example, the Workboxes yahoo group has Math Ideas Mondays.

> Making Math Meaningful curriculum for kindergarten basics through
trigonometry, by David Quine

> Developmental Math by George Saad--Workbooks for individual

> Curriculum Resources listing at HSLDA's Homeschooling Toddlers thru
-> What do you look like when you get out of bed?

It's hard to look our best all the time. HSLDA works to present
homeschooling in an engaging, dynamic, and informative light to
the public news media.

More reasons to join HSLDA...

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