Free High School Math and everything else you ever wanted to learn

January 19, 2011

I was looking online for some ideas to teach Algebra.  I stumbled on these great videos all done by a man named Salman Kahn.  In each video, he picks one concept and then walks the viewer through it step-by-step.

It turns out that Salman Kahn had a younger cousin who needed a bit of long distance math tutoring.  From that small start, he has created the Khan Academy with thousands of YouTube videos explaining math concepts plus a myriad of other topics in short 10 – 20 minute chunks.

Read the inspirational story of Salman Kahn (under the FAQ tab), the man behind all the educational videos.  His ambition is to provide a world-class university level education to the world for free.   Khan Academy provides lectures similar to online universities from some of the best colleges out there.  His work is really a great contribution of knowledge to everyone in the world.

On his home page, he has over 70 video explaining the Algebra I concepts in an organized list.  Directly below it are another 180 videos working Algebra I problems with step-by-step explanations.

It’s an entire video Algebra I curriculum, entirely free!  If you explore the tabs and rest of the page, you’ll find videos on tons of other topics as well.

After my son finishes his Math 7 curriculum in the next month or so, he’s planning on working his way through the Algebra I videos.  We’ll post an update about how it goes.

Has anyone else used the Kahn Academy videos?  How did they work for you and which ones did you like the best?


Posted under Math Curriculum, Math Websites

Fun and Easy Way to Learn All the Math Facts – Math Rider Review

November 8, 2010

I’m always looking for easy ways to get kids excited and learning their math tables.

Drilling math facts has got to be one of the more boring and arduous tasks of early math education.  It’s often as hard on the parents as the kids.

We just found something new to add to our math toolbox.  In return for an honest review, our family was offered a trial copy of a fun game called Math Rider.  My 9-year-old daughter sat down the first time and spent almost an hour jumping her horse, ‘Shadow’, over addition fact obstacles on the quest to save the princess.  She enjoyed the game so much, that the math practice was swallowed along with the ‘spoonful of sugar’ added by the game.  (See the end of the post for what the kids said about the game)

MathRider - A New Intelligent Math Game

Here is what we think:

The Math:

  • Drills all 4 sets of math facts from 1 – 12, starting with addition and progressing to subtraction, multiplication, and then division.
  • The game automatically figures out the speed to present the math and which questions to choose based on how the child is doing.  The faster they are answering, the faster the new questions come.  And they see the ones they have trouble with more often.  We found it to be very well adapted to the skill level of each child.
  • With easy, medium, advanced, and mastery levels for each type of math problems, the math facts are introduced in small chunks at a time, making them easier to learn.

The Game:

  • All my children can have their own accounts with different log-ins.
  • Controls are easy.  You only need to type in the numbers and hit enter for the horse, Shadow, to jump the obstacles.

  • The quest is broken up into ‘rides’ that last 30 questions, which is a nice chunk to keep interest without getting bored.  Then each ‘ride’ is plotted on a section of the map, so the player can see their progress in the quest.

  • The story is fun and there are rewards for each completed level that the player gets to keep in their home field.

The Feedback on how the math is going:

  • If you miss a problem, your horse Shadow stops, and the problem and the answer appear in big numbers on the screen while a voice recites the math fact.
  • After each ride, there is a row of bars for each problem attempted.  Green bars mean you answered the problem faster than previously.  Yellow is slightly slower and a red bar is a lot slower.  The kids can easily see how they’re doing visually.  Mouse over any bar to get details about the specific problem.

  • There is a statistics page showing all the facts currently being attempted with details about each.

  • A running score and percentage of mastery is kept.  Further visual feedback of your progress is given by how high your flag is on the flagpole
  • Prizes are earned for each level completed.


  • Current sale price is $37 with 30 day money back guarantee for any reason.


  • The story line is the same for all four math operations, although the prizes do change.  My son was a little disappointed that the quest didn’t continue with a new storyline when he advanced to subtraction.
  • My oldest son is spoiled by state-of-the-art graphics and thought the drawn characters were a bit ‘kiddie’ looking.
  • There is some frustration at about the 85% mastery level where two of my kids seemed to get stuck, completing ride after ride, but not reaching mastery level.  I think this may resolve with a bit more practice typing numbers accurately.

What the kids think:

Review by Alex, 11-years-old

“I liked how he turned simple flash card problems into a computer game and made it with a medieval storyline.  I think it’s a fun way to do my math.  I like that it has all four types of problems, addition, subtraction, multiplication,and division.”

Review by Brooke, 9-years-old.

“I really love it.  It puts fun things in a game, but it’s really just math.  I like how it tells stories to you about math.”

Review by Chris, 7-years-old.

“I like it because it’s pretty easy and it’s kind of fun . . . and it’s easier than my other math :-)”

In summary, I found MathRider to be highly beneficial to my kids – mastering fundamental math is a key to all the math they will learn in the future.  If you have kids who are struggling with math or could use a boost in their abilities and/or confidence, then I recommend you give MathRider a try.  Here is the link once more:  Math Rider.

Posted under Math Curriculum, Math Websites

Practice Grade-Level State Math Requirements by Playing Online Games!

September 9, 2009


photo by Jo Jakeman

Math is supposed to be fun, right?

At our house, math work seems to inspire the most creative moans, physical contortions, and excuses why it doesn’t need doing.  angry_smiley  So, we’re always looking for new ways to play the old math game.

Here’s our new twist on a math curriculum:

Internet 4 Classrooms has gathered TONS of links to website resources for teaching, and their math section is awesome!

Here’s what we’re doing:

  1. Go to their math page.
  2. Click on appropriate grade level under “State Assessed SPI’s”
  3. Tadah!  You’ll now find every state required math skill sorted and listed down the left side of the screen and to the right are lots of links directly to websites with games, lessons, and more that teach that exact skill.
  4. Have your kids either work on a certain number of skills, just ‘play math’ for a length of time, or join in and encourage their interest until they get so involved they forget they are doing MATH!

Even if you already have a math curriculum, this site can give you some fun online games to help drill play with a math concept that is particulary difficult.

I’m also looking for good math websites to compile a free E-Book Math Guide to the Internet, so I’d love to hear (in the comment section) what your favorite sites are. 

Please share!

Posted under Math Curriculum, Math Websites

Steps that Multiply – “Math Teachers at Play” Blog Carnival #4

April 3, 2009

I’m happy to host the 4th edition of the “Math Teachers at Play” Blog Carnival!

Learning math starts with baby steps and as our skills multiply, we need less and less help to take bigger and bigger steps.  So, here are some great articles organized by steps. 🙂

Baby Steps

(We need lots of help understanding math to make any progress)


Wendy Piersall presents Spring Math Worksheets: Counting Money posted at Animal Jr..

And just in time for Easter and all its candy, Shauna presents candy math posted at Treasure Seekers.  She says, “While homeschooling my older daughter for kindergarten, I used some Halloween candy to help teach basic math concepts. (At this time of year, you may have extra Easter candy on hand!) The ideas can easily be adapted and expanded on depending on the student’s level.”

Denise presents How DO We Learn Math? posted at Let’s Play Math!.  She says, “To teach effectively, I need to understand how students learn. I can think of at least 3 ways that I have learned math — what about you? How do you and your children learn?”

Elissa presents Red Light Green Light: 9 Tips to Organizing Your Classroom posted at Miss Cal.Q.L8

Here is a fun set of lessons teaching the ways to add to 10: Magic Number Lesson Ideas

Childhood Steps

(A little math help is appreciate, but we’re ready to step out a bit on our own)


 Bogusia Gierus presents Subtractions and Decomposing Numbers | Nucleus Learning posted at Nucleus Learning.

Brent Yorgey presents Chessboard counting posted at The Math Less Traveled. See also the solutions here.

Here’s a fun article about Math Salons, a great idea for get-togethers based around a math lesson.  What a fun idea to make math more interesting and fun:  Sue VanHattum presents Math Salons and Base Eight posted at Math Mama Writes….  She says, “This is about my math salon, and a children’s story I wrote.”

Adventuring Steps

(We’re off on our own, but may fall in a few puddles along the way)


Praveen presents What’s the Chance That the Patient Has the Disease? posted at Math and Logic Play.

If you have a child multiplying 2-digit + numbers, you’ll have to take a look at the video in this article showing how to do calculate by drawing a few lines on paper.  Fascinating!:  Marco DSouza presents Become a human calculator posted at Technology at work and play. Understanding the concepts of Trachtenberg and Vedic mathematics to solve complex math in your mind!

Here is an interesting discussion on the philosophy of real world math:  Michael Croucher presents Martial Mathematics posted at Walking Randomly.

Check out Maria’s video lessons – if you have some visual learners:  Maria Miller presents Division of fractions conceptually posted at Homeschool Math Blog.

Running Steps

(We take all we’ve learned and leap over the math hurdles we encounter.)


Dave Marain presents Another Quadratic Function SAT Problem posted at MathNotations.  An example of the type of quadratic function (parabola) question that is currently being tested on the SATs with answers, solution and discussion.

Pat Ballew presents Testing Understanding of Slope posted at Pat’sBlog. What a difference a subtle shift in a graph can make…

If you are looking for an interesting field to apply math skills:  TeacherC presents Investigating Social Inequity in the Mathematics Classroom posted at An (aspiring) Educator’s Blog. The mathematics classroom is a place where students can explore inequity and social justice issues that affect their communities and the world.

Test your math skills on these ancient Algebra problems:  Jon Ingram presents Ten 16th century word problems posted at Lessons taught; Lessons learnt. Ten algebra word problems, taken from The Whetstone of Witte, the first book on algebra ever published in English, slightly over 450 years ago.

John D. Cook presents Springs, resistors, and harmonic means posted at The Endeavour.

Edmund Harriss presents Surfaces 1: The ooze of the past posted at Maxwell’s Demon.

Dave Marain presents Those “Function” Questions on the SATs – Practice, Tips posted at MathNotations. This post looks at a different kind of function question of the type that could appear on the SATs. Issues of coping with function notation and convoluted wording are addressed. The problem also deals with number theory topics appropriate for middle schoolers.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these articles!  Feel free to post a blurb about the carnival on your blog.  Enjoy! 

Posted under Blog Carnivals, Math Curriculum, Math Websites

Some Great Ideas About Teaching Math and Multiplication!

March 10, 2009


Need some math inspiration?  (We’ve often hit points where it doesn’t seem like anything we’re doing is working)

Check out the latest ‘Math Teachers At Play” Carnival for some new ideas.  She has gathered posts on Elementary Concepts, Arithmetic, Basic Algebra and Geometry, Advanced Math, Math Puzzles, and Teaching Math.

Sometimes it pays to try something totally different.  I’ll post about our latest math and school experiment tomorrow.  Enjoy

Have you tried any new math ideas that have worked well?  I’d love to hear from you in the comment section!

Posted under Blog Carnivals, Math Websites

A Homeschool Mom’s Great Math Blog – Let’s Play Math

February 25, 2009


Denise is a homeschool mom who knows math inside and out and has put together tons of great articles, ideas, and links in her blog with the great name:  Let’s Play Math!

Here are some of what I enjoyed on her blog:

Thank you for all the ideas!

Posted under Math Curriculum, Math Websites

Is Math Too Hard to Learn or Teach? Try Living Math!

February 24, 2009


Do you think you are bad at math? Does you child think he or she is?

Math seems to come up often in complaints about early education.

So, if you’re looking for a new approach, you might want to try Living Math which consists of:

  • Early exposure to math as it is used in real life, instead of contrived worksheets.
  • Not requiring mastery of math on a set time table
  • Liberal use of math literature and history to make math come alive and feel more real.
  • A goal to encourage a child’s natural love of learning (even while learning math 🙂

Julie Brennan, a homeschool mom of four, offers lots of Living Math resources on her website:


Posted under Math Curriculum, Math Websites

Timez Attack Review! The best and FREE multiplication game ever!

January 19, 2009

Timez Attack

We found an awesome game called Timez Attack that does wonders for practicing the 2 through 12 multiplication facts.  Here’s a review of the pros, cons, and our own family’s experiences.  (my kids loved the free version of Timez Attack enough to fork over their own money for the upgrade.)

There aren’t many things more boring than doing times table flash cards over and over.  The designers of Timez Attack wanted to make math practice more fun, so they designed a real video game with a great environment, graphics, and monsters you defeat by knowing your multiplication facts.

And as their service to kids everywhere, the full functioning base version of the game can be downloaded for free.  If you want to upgrade to the full version, you get extra graphics and worlds to practice your facts.

Free Version Pros and Cons:

  • Pro:  It’s FREE!
  • Pro:  The math is complete = ALL the math facts from 2 to 12.
  • ProShows the concept of multiplication lots of different ways:  a matching number of creatures appear when the fact is presented, a matching number of dice-like dots appear on the door, and the multiplicands appear on the belly of the monster.
  • Pro:  There is ‘exciting’ time pressure to get the answer right.  The monster will ‘bonk’ you if you take too long.
  • Pro:  Children learn where the number keys are on the keyboard, and how to use them quickly.
  • Con:  You only have access to the dungeon level, so each time you complete a set of math facts, you start over in the same dungeon with the same monsters behind the same doors.  It can get a bit boring.

Paid Version Pros and Cons:

  • Pro:  All the great benefits of the free version.
  • Pro:  Two additional levels with MANY more graphics and interactions for the kiddoes while they are practicing.
  • Pro:  The game play is more ‘video-game’ like, ie. lava to dodge and rivers of fire to cross on the dragon level, moving platforms and crawling spiders to catch on the robot level, etc.
  • Cons:  It’s not free – the full version costs $39.99 – (However, this is similar to costs for a Wii, Playstation, or XBox Game)

Our family’s experiences:

  • Kids loved it:  My 9-, 7-, and 5-year-olds all loved the free version and got the rest of their school done so they could play “that cool math game.”
  • Played with friends: My 7-year-old daughter had two friends over to play and dragged them over to play Timez Attack.  The three girls played for half an hour, cheering each other on and racing to yell out the answers in time.  The same girls asked could they please play Timez Attack the next time they came over.
  • Spent their own money: After a month of the free version my children began begging asking politely for the paid version.  I refused, for a while (after all, the math is the same), but then made them a deal.  Any child who put $5 of their own money towards the upgrade could play it, and I would pay the rest.  All three of the older kids gave me $5 from their own savings.
  • Times tables before addition: My 5-year-old completed the 12th level and is probably one of the few in the world who knows his multiplications facts to 12 . . . but not his addition.  🙂
  • Just the facts: The only downside is the lack of real world application or word problem type practice, but I figure that comes in the regular math curriculum.  This game is to make the repetitive practice of the times table fun and addictive until you know them backwards and forwards.  Timez Attack does that better than any game or flashcard system we’ve tried yet.

Having my kids ask to practice math . . . it’s as gratifying as having your kids ask for seconds of broccoli 🙂

For other multiplication ideas, see these posts:

Posted under Math Curriculum, Math Websites

Learn the Multiplication Times Tables Fast and Easy!

January 13, 2009

Lately for math time, my three oldest kids, 9, 7, and 5-years-old, sit around listening to stories like:

“A huge tree (three) decided it wanted to skate (eight). At the skating rink, he was having a grand ol’ time when the owner said he had to leave because he was so big and heavy he was leaving dents in the floor (denty floor = twenty four)”

We’ve finished the whole times table in 6 days or so, spending 10 – 20 minutes a day. Now we review the tables once or twice a week to help them get faster at with the facts.

What a fun way to learn math – listening and remembering silly stories. And unlike repeated boring numbers over and over, you’re a lot more likely to remember the denty floor and the big tree in skates.

Here’s the book: Memorize in Minutes : The Times Tables

And the teacher who wrote this book has a website, with tons of great math ideas, games, and more. If you have a student struggling with multiplication, definitely give him a visit.

And to address the skeptics:

Two main objections to this method:

  1. It doesn’t teach math concepts or what multiplication actually means. You’re right. I teach that separately. This method is strictly an effective way to memorize a fact I want to know without having to calculate it.
  2. It takes too long – you have to translate numbers into ‘tree’ and ‘skate’, then remember the story, then translate ‘denty floor’ back into 24. Yes, it take a bit longer to start with, but your mind quickly learns and will eventually skip the whole story part and you’ll find the answer immediately jumps to mind. The more silly the story the easier you remember the facts with much less repetition. It’s fun, easy, and much faster.

Posted under Math Curriculum, Math Websites

Free Math Videos Done By Teachers –

December 1, 2008


Looking for some help with upper level math?  Math Vids is a new website, launched in March, that is connecting math teachers and students via online video math lessons.  As the website is getting up to speed collecting video math lessons, they are offering a free membership along with their paid subscription service.  So, if you have a middle school up through college math student, sign up right away while the free membership is still available. 

How it works: 

  • Math teachers (like you) make and contribute videos. 
  • Math Vids staff review the videos for appropriateness and accuracy after which the video is posted.  Student rate the videos and the best ones move to the top of the list. 
  • Since there are multiple videos on the same topic, so you get a variety of teaching styles, which makes it more likely one will fit you.

Are you a good math teacher yourself?  MathVids also offers an opportunity to earn free stuff, like a graphing calculator, if you can make high quality math tutoring videos that are consistently highly rated by the students.  It’s your chance to contribute and get a few prizes as well.

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Posted under Math Curriculum, Math Websites