# Maths Pyramids for Mental Maths Practice

Recently updated! Mental Maths practice is fun especially when you do your addition and subtraction up and down pyramids!

How do these pyramids work?

1. Add the 2 numbers next to each other in a row and write the answer in the circle above those 2 numbers.
2. Add all neighbouring numbers in every row.
3. Fill in the answers until the row above is full.
4. Now add those numbers until you fill all the rows and reach the top of the pyramid.
5. Where the numbers start at the top, subtract the number below it to find the missing ‘neighbouring’ number.

Note:

• Some pyramids work from the bottom up – addition, while others work from the top down – subtraction. One pyramid involves several addition or subtraction sums per pyramid = lots of practice!
• Each sheet has several pyramids = loads of practice.
• There are 2 pages for each level = plenty of practice.
• And we all know that Maths practice = mastery.
• The next level has a higher number of values or more numbers in each row.
• Place each sheet in a plastic protector and let your children use a dry wipe pen.

Visit my Free Maths for more Maths pages such as Maths Rockets Butterflies, Flowers, In & Out for loads of fun practice!  Enjoy 🙂

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Recently I shared some ideas on how to Tailor-make your curriculum.  Just as when you buy your children’s clothes, you may sometime need to try a size smaller or larger to get the best fit, so, too, it is with finding the right fit for your child’s homeschool curriculum.

Your child’s age is often a starting point, however your child may need to begin at an earlier grade, or stay on a level longer than the professional calculated for the average child. Your child may need to skip over a grade where he finds work too easy in order that he finds the level that stimulates and challenges him.

This individualization should be the practice in every classroom, but the school system usually focuses on the average child and so the more gifted or special-needs child often fall through the cracks.  Because homeschooling is a one-on-one education, it is far easier for a parent to find the perfect fit for their child.

I urge you to customize your curriculum and subjects for each child.

Some of the most challenging subjects that require individualization are
Reading, Writing and Maths.  This post has quite a few links to my archives.  Please bookmark them to read later if you don’t have time today.)

• Teach your child their phonics so that they know how to sound out every letter in the alphabet and then combination letters called blends.
• Use flashcards, charts and picture games to practice and master phonics.
• Find a series of early readers that are both entertaining and interesting and which contain almost all the words your child can sound out and read.
• Use partnered reading where your child sits on your lap are next to you, and you whisper in their ear as they read and sound out their words.  You can see that we use a ruler or pointer to help with tracking along the sentence.

Writing

• Don’t fret/ push/ demand/ panic if your child isn’t ready to write out his own narrations / or write neatly.
• Keep on assisting him and encourage oral dictations, recorded narrations or dictated narrations, or traced over or printed dictated narrations. The vital skill of narration is being practiced and the writing will come later.  Read about being your child’s Narration Scribe
• Gently encourage your child to write an opening sentence and then the concluding sentence. Work on developing 3 sentences that form a paragraph.  Before long he will be doing more and more of his own written narrations.
• Find an alternative activity that your child enjoys instead of the prescribed narration – there are so many options and alternatives!  Purchase my Narration Ideas booklet with over 100 ideas and options instead of just writing!
• Writing is such an important skill that you should find a way for your child to present his thoughts and understanding with narrations because Narrations show you what he knows.

Mathematics

• Mathematics is a very important subject and it is vital to find the right level and pace and approach for each child.
• Swap or add another Maths book if the course your child uses progresses too quickly.  Look for an exercise or book that offers more practice lessons, or one that provides more visual or practical work.
• Use concrete apparatus for as long as is needed.  Work with beads, blocks, number lines, counting fingers or whatever helps your child.  It really doesn’t actually matter how long your child needs these “props”.  If it helps, then use them!  Don’t shame your child or let him believe that he is immature.  Make physical apparatus options available.
• Gently encourage your child to do the same activity again without the physical apparatus and teach him how to picture the blocks or bead in his head.  It may just suddenly ‘click’ and he will be able to continue his work without the objects.
• Encourage Maths drills with games and mental Maths worksheets.
•  Use different approaches as and when needed, for example, use blocks, flashcards, use number lines, and or computer games to teach, practice and master a concept.
• Work for mastery — you want your child to feel a sense of confidence.  Maths is a very emotionally charged subject for some children.  Don’t give up at a point of anxiety or stress.  Look for creative ways of doing the work so that your child feels good about themselves.

Time

• Start by stretching out a one-year curriculum over 18 months to provide a wide margin of time to enjoy themes and topics that your children enjoy, time to take detours or take longer scenic stops.
• Continue working longer on any concepts to practice and fully master a skill.
• Read about my experiences extending time on a curriculum — Re-using Sonlight and doing it differently and Best Homeschooling Decision-More Time .

In every subject, in every grade, adjust your course to suit your child’s interests, ability and pace.  Try find the balance between challenging and mastery, gently increasing the work load and difficulty, but allowing for their sense of “I can do it!”

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# K5 Review

My daughter loved to work on all the programs and especially enjoyed the creative activities.  She (recently turned-12-years old) said this,

“I enjoyed the options the program provided and the fun activities.  The lessons were very helpful and gave me a boost in Maths.”

Let me start from the beginning ~

Their initial assessment was excellent. The results were detailed and clear, and for the first time in our homeschooling career, I had an accurate breakdown in my child’s Maths and Reading skill levels and abilities.

My daughter loved the Maths Facts section – mental maths “designed to help kids develop instant recall of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts”. She worked positively to maintain high scores and loved to see her mastery results on the K5 Math Fact Matrix display. What impressed me was that the program constantly adapted to reinforce specific maths facts which she missed or took too long to recall.

The Maths program has excellent explanations of new maths concepts with good, clear examples of the work, followed by the exercises.  Without too much fuss, K5 gave a quick sound effect to indicate success or mistake.  After the exercise series, my child was given time to play on an “arcade game” which gave her a few minutes of  fun as a refreshing break.

The Reading and comprehension was thorough and very comprehensive. I was impressed with the comprehension questions and the vocabulary extension.

We struggled with the Spelling program because there was no “teaching” or pre-learning component on the spelling lessons presented.  The program presented the vocabulary test and practice almost blind.  Despite trying to change the grade levels, we didn’t seem to find our level and so we did not enjoy the spelling program.

My only regret was that we didn’t have reliable, speedy Internet service during our free trial period and so we missed several days each week of online learning.  But I highly recommend this program to any homeschooler!  It is excellent and very effective! From an educational perspective, it is outstanding and their methodology is excellent.  From a parent’s perspective it is very easy to use, log in to assess and keep in touch with the child’s progress.  For the child, it is simple to log in and work on his or her own.

K5 Learning has a referral program, which pays participants \$25 for each new subscriber that clicks over to K5, so my daughter and I will be very grateful if you click here to go start your free trial!

Blessings,

# Free Trial K5 Learning

I seldom promote products and have never done reviews, but an invitation to try K5 Learning caught my attention.

K5 Learning has an online reading and math program for kindergarten to grade 5 students. I’ve been given a 6 week free trial to test and write a review of their program. If you are a blogger, you may want to check out their open invitation to write an online learning review of their program.

After receiving this invitation, I popped over to check out their website and I was very impressed.  Their demo videos looked so inviting and their approach and methodology seemed excellent.

My initial thoughts were that my youngest is already in grade 5 & 6 and up in most her subjects and that this might not fit into our homeschool schedule, but their Math Facts heading caught my eye and I thought that this would be worth doing the free trial.  They explain ~

“Learn math facts online and say goodbye to counting fingers”

“Recalling math facts efficiently is critical because it allows a student to study more advanced math topics without being bogged down by simple calculations.”

So, I hope to use K5 Learning with my youngest and trust that she will both enjoy and learn a lot more than she does with my Mental Maths fun worksheets and Bananagram spelling games.

For more information please go to http://www.k5learning.com/.  I will be back with my honest review in 6 weeks time.

Blessings,

# Maths Matters – What Works!

Another “What Works!” post ~

After tutoring my eldest daughter through her high school maths course all the way to graduation, and now working with my junior high daughter in her maths course and doing middle school maths with my youngest, I know that maths matters … but it also can bring tears and the mutters!

Here’s 12 maths principles that I’ve seen work ~

1. Maths needs daily exercise – much like having to walk the dog!  My kids do 2 pages of maths exercises every day except for Fridays. We mix it with maths drills, times tables practice or word problems.
2. Use manipulatives. Maths comprises of abstract concepts. Young children especially need to work with real objects.  When teaching any new concept, start with real objects and teach with examples. Use blocks, Unifix cubes, real measuring jugs and scales, work with tape measures and rulers. Use number lines, pie pieces, apples and oranges.  Whatever works, use it.  Keep trying until you find the “one thing” that clicks with your child.  Let your child practice with these objects. (Pop over to my free Maths pages for these manipulatives.)
3. Take your time here at the physical level.  Don’t rush.  Make sure the child understands the concept well and is confident before going back to the books.  If your child forgets, revise with manipulatives.  If they get stuck, go back to manipulatives.  This is vital.  Confidence is a huge factor in maths success.
4. Encourage mental maths muscles.  Train your children to think maths problems. Exercises with number order (what comes before/ after a number), bonds (adding numbers to each other) and times tables are essential.  This follows the manipulative stage. Train them to get the answer quickly.  Speed and confidence here will make the rest of problem solving and other exercises a breeze! (Check through my mental maths pages here.)
5. Do drills.  Even just 2 minutes of drills (oral, physical fun or mental maths pages) daily will help ‘cement’ the maths skills.  Do this before the maths book work.
6. Make it physical and fun.  Do fun physical workouts when ordinary drills and manipulatives are not working to combat tears and tantrums. Recite the tables while jumping on a mini trampoline, while skipping with rope, when bouncing a ball, clapping hands, doing hopscotch … it is fun and it stimulates the brain!  Use playing cards and dominoes for fun maths drills and mental maths.
7. Maintain the course ~ if it works.  Stay on the same curriculum if it works. Don’t switch around too much.  Each curriculum has been designed to follow concepts. Some conceptually spiral, each year developing the concepts to the next level.  Jumping from curriculum to curriculum may cause your child to stumble across ‘new’ concepts without having the introductory work.  Many moms have shelves filled with maths books and maths courses and they still haven’t found a good ‘fit’.  May I suggest that you choose the best of the lot and supplement here and there with other exercises or examples.  BUT, I also encourage you to abandon a book that does not fit (it may not have enough examples/ too many word problems and not enough clear explanations) with gentle grace and look for an alternative.
8. Tutor high school maths.  If you or dad can tutor, great. It worked for me and my daughter.  If not, find a friend, student, retired teacher, high school student or professional tutor to help your child.  This is especially important with high school maths.  Don’t let maths tantrums and upsets cause you to ditch homeschooling!  Often a 3rd party person makes a huge difference in a teenager’s attitude. The student must report regularly to the tutor and be accountable for the work they understand and the concepts that they struggle with.  Often tutors are great for pre-exam revision.  The tutor can prepare the student for the type of work to focus on and the questions to practice.
9. Practise the skills.  “Practice makes perfect” is absolutely true for maths.  Many maths books lay out brief explanations, give an example, and then go on to the practice exercises.  Generally most students need to practice with the introductory examples several times to completely understand the new concepts.  When the child starts a maths problem, they have some doubts and questions.  When they manage the examples and the initial, easy problems, they gain confidence.  But they need to establish this process with a few more similar problems before moving on to more difficult sums.  Where maths books progress too quickly to more difficult exercises, or provide too few similar practice problems, children lose confidence.  If they haven’t “got it” with the easy work and then struggle with more complex problems, they become afraid.  Fear forms into frustration which then manifests into anger.  Supplement your child’s books with examples or go online to find similar work.
10. Do maths early, when your child is most awake and fresh.  Maths requires mental fitness and this is most often early in the day. My teens often put off their maths lessons because they didn’t enjoy it much, but when they finally had to do their lessons, they were tired and they struggled more. I advised them to do it first and get it over with for the day.  For young children, maths and handwriting should be done at the table, early in the morning.  We do our seat work (or disciplinary subjects = those 3R’s) first and then go on to read alouds and narrations.
11. Estimations are essential skills!  Along with mental maths and confidence, the most important maths life skill is to estimate within range.  I only discovered this as an adult, but I find that it is perhaps the most underrated skill at schools.  Teach your children to “guess” quickly and then “prove” their guess.  It is fun, quick and it builds enormous confidence in their maths ability.  This can be done as “living maths”; in the kitchen while cooking and baking, in the garden when laying out vegetable beds and planting seedlings in rows, while cutting material, making dresses or designing woodwork patterns, while packing away toys, doing hobbies and crafts, or travelling on road trips.
12. Many children will always “hate” maths.  Their brains are just not wired to excel in maths.  However, maths literacy is vital and will greatly improve their independence and confidence in daily life.  Stick to the most reasonable maths program and assist your child to at least master the basics. My artistic, creative daughters have been unhappy about maths for years, but I have not negotiated with them that they drop maths until at least grade 10.  For matric, maths or maths literacy is a compulsory subject and your teen will still need the above skills. Our South African maths literacy course is excellent.  It is real, relevant and within the ability of a ‘non-maths’ student.

I share this all with this background ~ My early childhood years of insecurity with maths made me literally throw up with fear, especially in high school!  Then, when I was a student teacher, I was once assigned to a school’s maths teacher for all the grades 3, 4 and 5 maths classes.  I spent hours and hours on my lesson preparation because I was terrified that I couldn’t teach maths.  It quickly made me realize that the best method to preparation and understanding was lots of “scratching of pencil on paper” and using several different textbooks to see the different approaches to teach the concepts.

A brilliant mathematician does NOT necessarily make a great maths teacher!  In fact, the teacher who may have struggled with maths may make a more compassionate teacher and will know exactly how they learnt the maths skills through practice.

When I tutored my high schoolers, I did the maths work for them (with them sitting watching and listening), then with them, and finally I sat next to them as they worked.  If they were stuck, I would try another approach or break it down differently.  Even though I taught these lessons, I didn’t always have time to prepare before hand, and so the two of us figured it out together.  We battled, struggled, sympathized and encouraged each other as we went along.  It was the one place in their independent studies that we were vitally connected!

Mom, you can teach your child maths!  You do not need to be a maths whizz!

# Maths Pyramids for Mental Maths Practice

Mental Maths practice is fun especially when you do your addition and subtraction up and down pyramids!  Updated!

How do these pyramids work?

1. Add the 2 numbers next to each other in a row and write the answer in the circle above those 2 numbers.
2. Add all neighboring numbers in every row.
3. Fill in the answers until the row above is full.
4. Now add those numbers until you fill all the rows and reach the top of the pyramid.
5. Where the numbers start at the top, subtract the number below it to find the missing ‘neighboring’ number.

Note:

• Some pyramids work from the bottom up – addition , while others work from the top down – subtraction. One pyramid involves several addition or subtraction sums per pyramid = lots of practice!
• Each sheet has several pyramids = loads of practice.
• There are 2 pages for each level = plenty of practice.
• And we all know that Maths practice = mastery.
• The next level has higher number values or more numbers in each row.
• Place each sheet in a plastic protector and let your children use a dry wipe pen.

Visit my Free Maths  for more Maths pages.  Enjoy 🙂

• Subscribe Click to receive all my new posts packed with practical tips, projects, plans, pages & art ideas by email

# Make your own Mental Maths Practice Worksheets ~ Blank Templates

### Do you want to make your own quick, fun maths worksheets?

If you visit my  Remedial Maths Activities Page you will find all the Mental Maths downloads.

View the original Mental Maths posts here  –

Mental Maths Practice ~ Fun Worksheets! and Maths Flowers for the photos and tips.

• These downloads are in pdf file format and are great to just print and use.
• Each set of worksheets has a blank template page.
• I recommend that moms can print out about 10 blank templates and write in their own numbers that they want their children to practice.
• Some moms place each page in plastic page protectors and use dry-wipe markers for quick and easy maths practice. They slip in a new page for the next practice.

I have had requests for these math templates in MS Word doc files so that moms can type in their own numbers for their own practices.

Image via Wikipedia

### How do I customize my blank template in MS Word?

3. Now open this doc file
4. Press Control + A to Select All (Everything will be highlighted. All the templates from this page will go on a hidden clipboard)
5. Press Control + N to open a New Document
6. Click on the new page
7. Press Control + V and Paste (All the original templates will now go on to your new document.)
8. Save and close the original (to reuse later.)
9. Name and save your newly created blank templates with a new name (e.g.: homeschool/maths/multiples6)
10. Now you can type in new numbers in the appropriate shapes.
11. Click in the shape, and select a clear, large font, middle alignment
12. If the shape does not allow text, right-click on the shape and select “Add Text” from the pop-up menu
13. Save as you go.
14. Print out the pages you have created
15. Viola!  Your own mental maths practice worksheets

I hope this helps you! 🙂

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