Little Learning Labs: Math Games for Kids: A Net Galley Review

Is your kid totally into math? Or maybe the opposite is true and they do everything they can to get out of completing mathematics assignments. Both traditional schoolers and homeschoolers alike struggle with mathemtaics concepts. One of my favorite ways to overcome this is through hands-on activities, especially where games are involved!

My kids really love games of all kinds. Mathematics games are a genius way to introduce as well as solidify topics in a concrete manner. I’ve always loved titles form Little Learning Labs. I was certainly not disappointed in this title either. 

The games are arranged by topic in the table of contents making it easy for you as teacher or parent to find exactly what you need. Geometry, curves, graphs, mathematical theory and more can be covered in a clear and understandable way…even for those of us adults who are not super “mathy” by nature!

My favorite activity was right at the beginning! By using toothpicks and gum drops you can clearly explain prisms. They are 3D models…and absolutely delicious! I firmly believe that in addition to hands-on, food is a wonderful way to retain understanding!

I highly recommend this title if you are looking for some new and creative ways to present mathematical concepts.
Disclaimer: I was given this title through Net Galley in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

I Know It: A TOS Crew Review

I Know It Interactive Math Lessons K - 5 grade

I’m always on the lookout for supplemental materials, especially for math. My daughters do well in math., but often feel frustrated with traditional teaching methods. I find traditional curricula to be the best way they learn after trying a few other ways, but still they need something to help them see the fun in math. I Know It has been an incredibly fun way to supplement our math lessons each day!

I Know It Interactive Math Lessons K - 5 grade

This program comes from the same people behind Super Teacher Worksheets. My daughters usually have daily drill practice for math facts which they enjoy, but they were pretty excited to try something different! You can use I Know It on either a computer or tablet, you just need to have access to a web browser. 

Once you as the parent are signed in you will be able to create accounts for each of your kids. They have adorable little character icons so each child can have a different picture. This is great for younger children, but even my kids enjoyed having a different animal represent them! You will also set a grade level for each child as well. This can change so if you find the first chosen level to be too easy or too hard. I really like this option. While homeschooling it is easier to pinpoint missed content which may need reviewed. 

Another fun feature allows you to assign specific tasks for each child. This again is a great way to make sure they are working on areas that need shoring up. One of my kids does very well in math…until she doesn’t! She will spend hours working out problems she understands happily, but as soon as she stumbles, she doesn’t want any part of it. With this online practice I have opportunity to guide exactly what skills she will focus on each day. I love that I can see their progress and they can track their progress as well! They can see what answers were wrong and track their improvement as well. Many online programs allow the teacher to see this, but not the student so I find this to be a unique and helpful tool. 

On this exercise Beth could see both correct and incorrect answers. I can down with her and see the same problem she saw, help her understand it, and allow her to try again! 

For the most part I allowed my daughters to choose what skills they wanted to practice each day. I did guide both Rose and Beth to choose word problems because that is a current area of trouble for them both. All three girls couldn’t wait to work with this each day. They enjoyed using our iPad (2nd generation) instead of the computer and would often ask if they could do more than their assigned time to work! 

Rose wanted to make sure I included her thoughts in my review! She said this was one of the most enjoyable supplements she has worked with for math. She is in 8th grade, but worked with the 5th grade material. She is one who often has to review a concept multiple times before it sticks, so giving her an opportunity to succeed, even on a lower level, is incredibly valuable. It isn’t a waste of time for her as she processes more simply worded problems because she can apply the same concepts to more complex problems. Both Grace and Beth also thoroughly enjoyed working with I Know It although I think Rose is the one who liked it best. 
We definitely intend to continue using this throughout the year and I think the price per child quite reasonable for a year’s subscription. I see this as being valuable for students who are right on target and can use it to supplement their current work, wish to move ahead and learn new concepts as they quickly master what they are given, and as remediation for those who may have missed steps and concepts along the way. I really think this can be used by just about anyone no matter where your child stands with math. My only disappointment is that it ends with 5th grade math. I do hope they continue to create content which could be used up through middle school as I think they have done a quality job with what is available. 

If this sounds like a great program to you too, there is a free 60 day trial to interested homeschoolers and teachers!  The free trial page is here:

Check out what my Crewmates have to say! 

Interactive Math Lessons K - 5 grade {I Know It Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Building my Confidence: My Year-Long Journey to Understanding and Appreciating Mathematics!

I’m starting here with Exploring The World of Mathematics from Master Books. As I read a chapter I’m then reading through the corresponding mathematical concepts in this book: 

Next I’m reviewing concepts through practice using the Green & Gold series from Math Mammoth and some concepts from the Real-Life Math series.
The final aspect of my plan is to read through a series of books by Dankia McKellar. They were written for middle schoolers and I’ll be honest I’m not a fan of all the titles or the constant references to boys, dating, being “sexy” and pop culture. STILL, her writing style is easy for me to follow and they have been very helpful for review! I’m not intending to have my daughters read them simply because they present a worldview contrary to what we want for them. I wish there was something like this that didn’t include the need to do this. So I am NOT recommending them for your daughters, but I AM recommending them for YOU if you need a more down-to-earth way to review mathematical concepts. Our local library had all 4 available. 
Do you have any resources you want to recommend to me? I’d love to hear about them! 

Family Membership from CTCMath: A TOS Crew Review

CTCMath Math seems to always be that one subject that I find myself questioning if I’ve chosen the right curriculum. If you have a math-minded kid this is usually not an issue. My experience is they will thrive with any curriculum as long as it is challenging enough. It’s a completely different story with those kids who are less mathematically inclined that the struggle begins. I have heard rave reviews about CTCMath online. We had the opportunity to review the Family Membership and right now homeschoolers can get 60% off + 6 bonus months. This is an amazing deal if you are looking for an online program! Also there is a wonderful free trial available. (Hurry! Both of these offers end November 15!)   

CTCMath All three of my daughters used CTC Math.Grace – 3rd GradeBeth – 5th GradeRose – Basic Math and PreAlgebra (7th grade) I appreciated very much that this is perfectly suited to customize to each student. Grace has a late birthday so while she is “officially” in 2nd grade she is much more advanced in her studies and is ready for 3rd grade work. Beth is also advanced although not a full grade-level ahead. Rose has always felt a struggle with math. I personally feel it is simply a mental block because it isn’t enjoyable for her, but even so she needs some shoring up in certain areas. Having the opportunity to adjust their mathematics studies to their personal needs is spectacular. With most other online programs I’ve used my girls are assigned a certain grade level and must work through in an orderly pace. This is not necessarily bad, but for us the customization abilities have been a great benefit. 

Beth prefers to use pencil and paper when making calculations, but that is only option with this program as there is allowance for traditional borrowing and carrying. This is also a unique feature I have not seen before in an online program. Grace and Rose preferred to do everything on the screen and knowing they would be able to continue as they had been taught was wonderful! 
I had the girls take assessments of each section and then only assigned their weak areas for assignments. This was great because some of the concepts were already mastered. I very much appreciated they did not have to work through extra. I know it never hurts to review concepts, but I like knowing they can move at their own pace. This is especially helpful in the beginnings of the grade when there will always be a minimal amount of review.
The girls did their work all together this one day so I could get some nice photos of them in progress. Usually they did their work at different times and in different locations. The living room couch was a favorite for Grace and Rose while the living room floor was the preferred location for Beth! This is one benefit to online at-your-own pace programs. I really wasn’t involved in the learning process at all. That can be both good and bad. When they are getting things wrong and I need to explain if I haven’t first watched the video my explanations may be more confusing. On the one hand I liked having someone else teach the concepts because sometimes I struggle with that. On the other hand I’m not sure if I’m ready to completely hand over the teaching of mathematics. I’m still considering that. 
My one frustration was in learning how to work with the program from a teacher perspective. My girls had no trouble at all once I was able to get their assignments in the “task” sections. I felt rather confused at the start. I easily setup the girl’s individual accounts, but after that I wasn’t sure what to do. I would have liked to have some instruction and guidelines for where to start for assessment or if it is expected just to begin at the start of the grade-level. I like step-by-step instructions for the beginning of any program and that seemed to be lacking. Still, this was my only downside. My girls loved the program! 
How about you? Have you had experience with CTC Math? I’d love to hear about it! 
Take a look at what my Crewmates have to say! 

CTCMath Online Math Tutoring {Reviews} Crew Disclaimer

Science for Every Teacher from Novare Science & Math: A TOS Crew Review

Novare Science & Math As much as I love homeschooling and teaching my girls, I’ll readily admit one thing: Science and Math are not my area of expertise. I did well enough in school in these subjects. Honestly, I did very well in all of my schooling, but for science and math, especially as I moved to higher and higher levels in these areas, I had to work harder and harder to earn those grades. Let’s not even get started on whether or not I retained any of it! There are some wonderful resources out there for curriculum, but I haven’t seen anything written for the teacher to learn. I was highly intrigued by the opportunity to review Science for Every Teacher from Novare Science & Math. A book written for me as my daughter’s teacher is something I rarely have the opportunity to enjoy.  

Novare Science for Every Teacher

 The scientific area covered is Physics, probably my least favorite of all the sciences I studied in high school. Even so, I read this with an open mind and an eagerness to re-learn (or maybe even learn for the first time) some of the fundamental laws of physics which govern our world. I was very interested as I read through the various chapter titles and saw how the various subject matters were things we deal with in everyday life. Sound and light waves, heat and temperature, Momentum, Pressure and Buoyancy…these are just a few of the areas covered. Each chapter has a very clear explanation of the laws as well as the mathematical equations needed to determine how to apply them to real-life problems.  

 The structure of the chapters are visually helpful as well. I really like That before beginning each chapter there are clear goals presented. Much like the objectives we write for a lesson plan, this gives a clear guide of where the reader will be led. I also like that different sections are color-coded for easy referencing at a later time. One of the most valuable parts of each chapter is the applications for use in the classroom. There are several ideas for each topic and all are doable whether you are in a homeschool or traditional schooling setting. 

 I found the information to be presented in a way which was completely relatable even for someone like me who has forgotten most of what I learned in high school. What was really neat for me was to see how what feels to be lofty ideas are actually concrete facts I use on a weekly and sometimes daily basis for cooking, driving, and more. I don’t remember my physics class bringing the reality of what I was learning into perspective in quite this way. I also liked how the history of our understanding of the laws of physics progressed through the ages. 

 In addition to this title written to teachers there are many courses offered from Novare Science & Math including these titles:  
Earth Science: God’s World, Our Home  
Introductory Physics 
General Chemistry
 You might also be interested to know many well-loved homeschool curriculum companies utilize resources from Novare Science & Math such as Memoria Press or Potter’s School. It always peeks my interest when companies with such high reputations use the resources at which I’m looking. My only concern is the treatment of religious beliefs. Within the first three chapters the ideas of faith and science and how to approach them at the same time are discussed. I felt that all of the information given was factual and accurate, but I was left with the impression that the author believes faith and science should be approached separately This goes against my belief that faith should shape every aspect of my life. I would have been happier to see a more balanced view of faith and science presented. I would recommend this book to anyone preparing to teach the science of physics whether in the homeschooling community or in a more traditional learning setting. Even with my concerns, I found it to be enjoyable to read and beneficial to brushing up in this area of science. Make sure to check out why my Crewmates have to say about this and other titles from Novare Science & Math! 

Biblical Based Science {Novare Science & Math Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

UnLock Pre-Algebra from UnLock Math: A TOS Crew Review

UnLock Math When I talk to my homeschool mom friends, we almost all agree that math is one of the most intimidating subjects to teach. What is intimidating in elementary school is even a greater challenge in middle and high school! Math has never been the easiest subject for Rose and I’m always excited to try new approaches. Even though mathematics is not her favorite subject, Rose is always ready to try new things and approached UnLock Pre-Algebra from UnLock Math with an open mind, eager to see how this program worked.  

UnLock Math pre-algebra

 I appreciate very much that Rose could work at her own pace. We had already begun to address pre-algebra topics, but they haven’t stuck very well…until now. We are working a bit slowly through the program because that is what is best for her at this season, but she is thoroughly enjoying each lesson! 

 When I asked her what she like about it, she told me that the lesson videos explain things very clearly and concepts she has not yet understood began to become clear. We have found that having someone other than myself or her dad explain a topic feels less intimidating. I don’t really understand the reason behind this, but I’m grateful when I find a quality curriculum that gives her this opportunity. She also likes that the assessments are short and to the point. One thing I like about this program is if she struggled, she could re-watch any video she needed to. We took advantage of this a couple of times. Sometimes because we were interrupted with “life” events which were uncontrollable and it was a good way to review. Other times it was because the assessment revealed she needed the instruction given once more. Both are typical reasons homeschooling families need this option, and it is important to be able to do so easily.  

 While our current curriculum is not computer-based, I have found this to be a perfect fit for my oldest daughter. I’m very pleased with the progress she has made am excited to have her continue using UnLock Pre-Algebra. This is one of the easiest online programs to navigate for both student and teacher. After showing her the initial setup I was able to allow her to work independently without any trouble and check in on her progress at anytime.  UnLock Math While I personally think it is beneficial to complete the unit in order, you also do have the option to skip over lessons which may not be needed. This is a good option if you are using the program to fill missing gaps or for students who are more advance and do not need instruction in certain areas. We will be progressing in order, but I do think this option is beneficial. I have highly recommended this program to several homeschooling friends already who are looking for an online option for higher math levels. I also look forward to giving my girls the opportunity to learn math with this program. UnLock Geometry is the newest of the courses offered and I’m excited to see new courses from this quality company.    Take a look at what my Crewmates had to say!  Pre-Algebra, Algebra and Geometry {UnLock Math Reviews} Crew Disclaimer

K5 Learning Online Program: A TOS Review Crew Review

K5 Learning  My daughters are just like every other child of this century. They adore their technology! I’m often quite hesitant when it comes to including technology as a part of our regular learning program because I am well aware of the dangers posed online. That being said, I’m not against technology completely. I am just extremely picky about what technology we use and how we use it. I was very excited for my girls to have the opportunity to try out the online program from K5 Learning. We used this delightful program as a supplement to our regular studies. 

K5 Learning

 There are three subject areas covered within the program: Math, Reading, and Spelling. Prior to beginning the program students take an assessment to determine their course of learning. Each student will have their own accounts and a unique course of study. All three of my daughters have been using the program and it has been a lot of fun for each of them!   

The assessment results are easy to understand, and I appreciate that the program sets itself for each students needs. This means if you have any gaps in your child’s learning you’ll quickly identify it and they can work on these specific areas where they need it most. I also really like the feature which allows the parent to create spelling lists. Even if you currently have a spelling program which you are happy with this will allow for a different way of reviewing the words.

The girls would ask to be the first one to do their computer work each day. This tells me they truly enjoy it! The lessons are short and simple, but clear. They are presented in a fun, story-like way that kept my girls engaged. The lessons’ brevity did not keep them from wanting to work more. The graphics are not the most modern, but I personally appreciate this. I tend to appreciate less distractions or my girls where technology is concerned. They thought the stories and illustrations were fun and I typically had to pull them away from their work each day because they were enjoying it so much.

   The most helpful thing for me was seeing where the girls placed in math and reading with the assessment tests. They were at the points where I thought they were, which was affirming, but more than that I am pleased that they are getting specifically directed instruction to fill in those gaps. Math seems to be the area where gaps happen most often. One thing I did realize was that some of the perceived gaps are not always actual gaps. Math curriculum often varies in its sequence even if the scope remains the same. The problem is many standardized tests to not account for this. While many recognize this and some are trying to address it, there will always be some differences between curricula and this is a great way to not only assess the issues, but have a practical solution to them.  While this is not a full curriculum, the program is intended for children of all educational backgrounds and I highly recommend it as a supplement no matter how your child is learning. Subscriptions are available monthly or annually. We will be continuing to use the program and the girls couldn’t be happier!   Check out what my crewmates have to say!K5 Learning {Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Math Mammoth Light Blue Series Level 7: A TOS Review Crew Review

Affordable Quality Math {Math Mammoth }
Whenever homeschool moms get together, it doesn’t take long before the subject of curriculum arises. Without a doubt the most questions surround the subject of math. I personally can’t wait to talk about why we use Math Mammoth and our journey to find it! Rose was excited to have the opportunity to try out Grade 7 from the Light Blue Series which would be considered a complete pre-algebra curriculum.

Affordable Quality Math {Math Mammoth }
Rose was very excited to give pre-algebra try! 
I really like that the teaching is directed towards the students. It is written on the worksheets and anytime she needs to refer to the lesson it is easy enough to for her to find the answers. We teach Rose still directly, but having the information right there is really good. The lessons contain some review and word problems as well so she gets a good foundation. I tend to pace her a bit more slowly than a lesson a day. I do this for two main reasons. The first is she gets overwhelmed if the number of problems is excessive and can then shut down. This is not a good way to start a math lesson! The other reason is I want to make sure the lesson fully settles in before moving on to the next concept.


 If you read our weekly updates you will see that my husband has taken over Rose’s math teaching in the afternoons. He also feels the teaching portions are easy to understand and clearly presented. This again is important for Rose if she needs to look back. Sometimes she has a hard time understanding the more complex concepts, so clear and direct teaching is vital. He also appreciates that it isn’t full of busy work. That was the problem with some of the previous math programs we tried.

If we were to sit down over coffee I would have a full list of why we absolutely love Math Mammoth. Here is the rundown of what I would tell you:
1. Solid teaching
I have yet to find any course that is as good as this one. It thoroughly teaches concepts without busywork. It is also easy to pace. If your student needs to go slower than a lesson a day, you can easily break the lessons up into multiple days. I usually do this with Rose. At the same time, if your student is more advanced, they can easily go at a faster pace, which suits the needs of Beth.
2. Easy to use
Both my husband and I teach math using Math Mammoth. When I was on the search for a new curriculum my husband was a big part of this search. He loves math and at one point thought he would become a math teacher. We are at the point where it is easier for him to teach math than it is for me because he remember the rules where I’m constantly needing to look the rules up while teaching. Especially as we are moving into Pre-Algebra it is important rose has clear instruction. He is the best choice for this and has only good things to say about Math Mammoth.
3. Self-contained instruction
Rose needs one-on-one teaching, but not all kids need that. My other two daughters often read through the teaching material and don’t often need a lot of direction. This may change as they move up, but for now they like that it is written to the student so they can give it a try on their own. I absolutely check in to make sure they understand, but it is nice to know they can work at their own pace if they like.
4. Multiple methods 
 I find this curriculum works well whether you have a tactile, auditory, or visual learner. I have one of each and all three are thriving. I also like that there are multiple strategies taught for the same mathematical concept. Both pencil and paper and mental math strategies are taught. This is nice so your kids can find the method that makes the most sense for each individually.
5. Cost effective
 This is hands-down the most affordable full curriculum available. Just do a little shopping around and you will soon see how reasonably this curriculum is priced. This is a huge benefit if you have multiple children. 
 A couple of years ago I recorded what our schoolroom sounded like during math lessons. All three girls work out loud and are able to function pretty well this way! This happens a little less as Rose is getting older and she usually works with my husband in the afternoons, but this was back when all the girls were working during the day on math. I love hearing their voices as they think out loud!

A post shared by Melissa (@gracefilledhs) on

 Here is some more information about the curriculum directly from the author.

I highly recommend this program. Make sure to check out more reviews from my Crewmates!
Affordable Quality Math {Math Mammoth Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Times Tables the Fun Way: A TOS Review Crew Review

Times Tables the Fun Way {Review}

   Times Tables the Fun Way {Review}What comes to mind when you think of memorizing times tables? Dread? Intimidation? Mind-numbing boredom? If you are like me, this was what my traditional math education left me feeling. I’m happy to say it doesn’t have to be that way anymore! My girls absolutely loved using Times Alive online lessons with animated songs and stories to learn times tables the fun way. Even the two who have already worked to memorize them found this to be fun and enjoyable! Unlike the traditional method of rote memorization, Times Alive uses stories, songs, and memory tricks to help the process stick. All three of my daughters have completed it, but I will focus mostly on my youngest daughter, Grace’s, experience. She is seven and had only been introduced to the idea of multiplication from hearing her sister’s math lessons. She had no prior formal instruction in this area until beginning Times Alice.  

We reviewed the online version of  Times Alive and I was very impressed with it both because of my daughter’s response and the teacher-friendly resources. Each of your children will have their own record, so make sure to remember the name with which you sign them in the first time. It is recommended to be used a lesson a day at least twice a week. This was not at all a problem. In fact, the only problem I had was getting her away from it! “Mommy, can I please work on my times tables?” Was asked multiple times during the day. In fact, she finished the entire program in a week because she was having so much fun! The best part is she has retained what she learned. It was such a fast and painless way to introduce and for the most part cement her times tables up through 9.       Times Tables the Fun Way {Review}  The graphics are charming and do not distract from the most important part, the songs and stories. The numbers often become characters in the stories and are involved in funny little situations which leads to learning a math fact. All three of my girls have been singing the songs and giggling about the stories since we started the program. One of Grace’s favorites was 6 x 6 = 36  because the story talked about thirsty sixes. She found this completely hilarious.   My other two  daughters have also enjoyed the fun of this program! Both girls are working on much more difficult multiplication with multi-digit numbers, but as they watched their younger sister having fun, they both asked to work through the program. They giggled along with her and love quizzing her on her multiplication facts as well! We discovered a couple of facts which Grace struggled to recall so I brought her back to those to review which was easy as could be.  Click here to see a sample of a Times Tables the Fun Way story!   Times Tables the Fun Way {Review} 

Record keeping is absolutely wonderful with this program! You do want to make sure you accurately type in the same name for each student so you can track their progress. You can see exactly how much of the program they have completed and how well they are doing at the checkpoint assessments. It is printable and user friendly, more so than other tracking reports I’ve seen from different online math programs. I quickly assessed that Grace was moving at an incredible pace, but she was also retaining what she was learning. If I felt she was not retaining as she progressed I would have had her complete the lessons again. I would like to be able to see which ones she missed specifically, but seeing the percentage is very helpful. All of the tests are printable so I think I would like to use that option as we review some of these again so I can see better where she is not retaining facts.

My oldest daughter has also greatly benefited from this program. While she is working with much higher levels of math, she sometimes has a hard time recollecting her math facts. She gets there eventually, but because it isn’t immediate she is frequently frustrated. These stories, songs, and tricks have been incredibly helpful to her in this area.

Whether you are just starting out teaching multiplication or you are looking for a way for facts to stick, this is an excellent resource at an incredible value! Be sure to read reviews from my Crewmates!


Times Tables the Fun Way {Review}

  Crew Disclaimer

DIY Display Project from EEME: Review

Time for another review of the EEME monthly projects! These are becoming quite popular in our home, especially with Beth who is my little mathematician. 
This project uses the base project from the first month of lessons and all the extra pieces needed to complete this. Beth was excited that this would display numbers. I have to say all the wires feel intimidating to me at first, but my girls don’t feel that way at all and I’m glad for that. The video step-by-step instructions are very easy to follow. 

Beth prefers using the the iPad for the instructional videos over the computer. I agree that the touch screen makes it more user friendly for my kids to run the videos on their own without having to navigate the mouse. This means when she needs to pause the video or back it up a little she can do so much more quickly. 
Beth’s favorite way to to put these projects together is to watch the video all the way through, then go back and watch it again as she puts it together. While she doesn’t always do this, she is a whole-picture kind of kid and this way seems to go more smoothly for her. In contrast, her older sister, Rose, likes to do a single part at a time and work through the video by pausing a lot. It’s interesting to see how each of the girls attacks problem solving differently. 
My wireless keyboard comes in handy for answering the questions which pop up after the sections. I love this part of the project because it helps the kids process what they are doing and help see how they are not just building, but also understanding. 
These lessons are an incredible addition to our homeschool. This is an interactive experience like no other which I don’t think would be available to my kids in a typical traditional school. If you have a child who loves to take things apart and put them together, this would make a wonderful gift for them!