In one word, FUN! FUN! FUN! Oops, that's three words. The Family Math Series from the University of California at Berkeley is just that - loads of FUN! These activities and games use common household items to teach skills like logical reasoning, measurement, probability, arithmetic, word problems, geometry, and statistics (to mention just a few things). The books are designed for children and adult family members to work together in the home, which make these "a perfect fit" for the homeschooler. Family Math was designed to supplement your math program. Emphasis is placed on promoting mathematical understanding and thinking, developing problem-solving skills, and making math applicable to daily life.
Family Math for Young Children is designated for children four to eight years old. It begins by explaining the concept behind "family math." Moving forward, Family Math for Young Children outlines ways to create a "mathematical environment" in your home. This is where the fun begins. "Investigations, Activities and Explorations" includes information about the activity pages, organizing information, and charts for you to copy as needed (there are only a few). The rest of the manual from pages 37 to 148 is filled with fabulous, smile filled activities to do with your child!
At the beginning of each activity, you will find a section called "This is About," which lists the skills to be practiced. Next, there is a list of supplies you will need and suggestions for preparing for play. One activity we did from this book was "Button Boxes." It highlighted the skills of "adding" and "following instructions." Supplies needed were an old egg carton and some buttons. We pretended that we were operating a button booth at a school fair. Our job was to fill orders according to some very special rules. Two additional activities that we enjoyed, "Making Salads" and "Fish Bowls," allowed us to "play" using algebra, addition, subtraction, logic, and listening skills all at the same time!
Family Math is the second book in the series and is designed for ages five to 12 years old. In this book, there is grade level indicator with each activity, as well as information concerning the skills being practiced. Activities are somewhat more difficult and/or more detailed then the first book. The format is basically the same with a "Tool Kit" list and a "How to Section" at the beginning of each activity. Opening activities include: identifying odd or even numbers, addition, word problems, tangrams, working with one hundred charts, and using calculators. Other chapter titles include: Word Problems and Logical Reasoning, Measurement, Numbers and Operations, Probability and Statistics, Time and Money, Geometry and Spatial Thinking, and Estimation.
Family Math (The Middle School Years) is the third book in the Family Math Series. It targets children in the 10 to 14 year old age group. Written to provide a better understanding of algebra and number sense, it follows in the footsteps of Berkeley's other two Family Math volumes. There are 29 separate activities in the opening "Algebraic Reasoning" section alone! In the second section, "Number Sense," there are an additional 28 activities covering developing mental math skills, exploring the work of the Greek mathematician Euclid, probability, and most things in between. Finally, sections covering tracking student progress, teaching, and college application of algebra courses climax Family Math (The Middle School Years).
All of the Family Math books include helpful lists of skills generally covered by public schools in your child's age group/grade level. They also give a list of resources that may provide additional help or information as needed. The Family Math Series can be purchased directly from the University at Berkeley or from other retailers. Family Math will be releasing a fourth volume in this series sometime this spring.
This really is a GREAT investment for building strong math skills with understanding in our children! I liked the communication aspect in this type of teaching along with the variety it provided from traditional "worksheet" math. If you take a summer vacation from school, Family Math could provide a much-needed review of math skills without a lot of fuss, or complaints for that matter!
-- Product Review by: Teri Lucas, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine
Family Math II: Achieving Success in Mathematics (K-6)
It just keeps getting better and better! I don't know about you, but I definitely would rather PLAY than sit and DO school. Although Family Math II: Achieving Success in Mathematics follows the same general format as its predecessors, Family Math for Young Children, Family Math and Family Math - The Middle School Years, it is even easier to use (if that can be done). Again, you will need access to a copier and some simple household items, but substitutions work just as well and are even encouraged in some cases!
Instead of a bar graph, grade levels are clearly written below each game title in a small circle. Highlighted skills are grouped together under four main categories: Probability and Statistics Introduction, Algebraic and Logical Thinking Introduction, Number Sense Introduction, and Geometry Introduction.
With game titles like "Ice Cream Cone Math" and "Baseball Cards," there is something to appeal to even the most reluctant math student! For those who can't bear to be inside on a sunny day, a section is included that highlights games that are done outside using sidewalk chalk. A student and parent may complete the activities or a group of students. It all is so much fun that you just might forget that you are actually learning! Family Math II makes it easy to see why they've subtitled this one "achieving success in mathematics."