Found our new math! (And some tips for Miquon users) -LONG post-

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  • BlessedMommy

    Okay so ended up being really long so I hope no one falls asleep while reading it.  I just wanted to share my excitement about our new math curriculum and also share some tips for other Miquon users or those pondering it.  


    We started out our homeschooling journey at a university model school (partial private Christian / partial homeschool).  So I had to purchase the curriculum they chose.  So we started out using Saxon 1 with my 5 (now 6) year old.  There were a few aspects I liked about it but, over all, I knew this math was not the right fit for my daughter.  When we switched to exclusive homeschooling, I started researching… and researching… and researching some more.  I knew that I wanted to do a mastery based program with her but, in my extensive research, I concluded that a little of both, mastery & spiral would be beneficial.  Buy there are SO many to choose from!  After nearly 2 months of researching, reading reviews, SCM posts and pondering, I finally PRAYED about it. (Duh!  There’s a novel idea!)  And it’s funny, I suddenly had a strong feeling in the pit of my stomach that 2 of my 3 top contenders were NOT the route to take.  So I searched a bit more and all of the sudden I read about CLE math (on here of all places).  Somehow, in my 2 months of research, I never heard of CLE.  The more I read about it and the more reviews I read, the more I felt that God was truly answering my prayer and this was one I should choose.  


    So I finally made a decision!

    For the mastery, I went with the remaining choice in my top 3… Miquon (and we already owned cuisenaire rods so that worked out great) and CLE is obviously the spiral.  You are probably wondering how on earth I plan to use these two curriculums together.  Well, I am using Miquon more or less as a supplement to the CLE to provide mastery understanding & more practice where needed.  Since they are both more advanced than Saxon 1, I decided to order the 2nd half of CLE 1st Grade (the 2nd teacher’s manual and the last 6 light units) and the first 2 Miquon Lab Sheets plus the Annotations, Talks to Teachers and 1st Grade Diary.  Since my daughter finished Saxon early, we have already started with the new material and so far I am LOVING it and so is she!  She really loves the CLE workbooks and asks to do them even if I had not planned on doing a lesson.  (Now, her love for Math is nothing new…she has an unusual knack for it but, she definitely seems more excited about this new material than she was about the Saxon).


    When my materials came in, my sweet husband stayed home with the kids while I went to a coffee shop for about 5 wonderful hours so I could familiarize myself with the new materials and figure out how I was going to use the two together in a way that made sense.  Before getting the materials, I pondered things like Miquon 2 days a week and CLE 2 days a week (We typically do math 4 days a week), or 1 week of Miquon and 1 week of CLE.  Once I actually started reading through everything I could see how both can be easily used together every day.


    I really fell in love with Miquon when reading Notes to Teachers because it is teaching me how to change my approach to teaching Math (and maybe even other subjects in general) for the better.  It’s helping me focus more on my daughter’s delight in the exploration process and less on the need to always adhere to a “lesson plan” and get it done “on time”.  I’m a bit type-A…okay maybe more than a bit 😉 and I can see how God is using this to help me change the way I teach my children.  And this same thing goes for the Charlotte Mason methods.  I truly feel that God has led me to this and I’m learning and embracing it a little more each day.  I have to be really intentional about it because of my type-A tendencies.  I often think we do so much more “growing” as adults than when we were children.  🙂   


    Anyways, some key points I love from the Notes to Teachers are (some are specific quotes of Lore Rasmussen shown in quotation marks)…

    -“Children do NOT make senseless mistakes or random guesses if they are not pushed into making them”

    -Create an atmosphere where children can skip what they don’t yet feel ready to do.

    -allow freedom of movement and free use of all “lab materials” (manipulatives)…the materials will not be crutches but rather, “the child’s version of the laboratory behavior of the adult researcher who makes direct observations, sets up experiments, collects data and generalizes from them – before he is willing to accept ideas as facts”.

    -Don’t pressure children to complete every problem; allowing them to “skip any difficult material until they are interested enough to ask about it”.

    -Keep the emphasis on learning by the child rather than teaching by the teacher.

    -“The child should learn at an early stage in his educational development, that he himself has the major responsibility for his learning and progress.  Under conditions of self-pacing, they work at higher levels of accomplishment than when the teacher dictates the standard.  They tend to work hard and cheerfully without developing a sense of pressure, failure or guilt”

    -Check your attitude towards errors.  If you place too much emphasis on errors, it may squelch your child’s self-confidence.  “Skillful handling by the teacher of the child’s mistakes is important to a child’s development.”

    -“Errors are the teachers problem…the teacher must discover the cause”.

    -“Most children are self-corrective.  Since we do not want an attitude of defeat to develop, do not force your concept of time on young children.”

    -Never strive for / expect 100% correct responses. “Such a goal often results in posing problems that do not engage a child’s best thinking. Learning should include some struggle, so that even the best learner has the experience of stretching himself beyond his capacity.”

    -Children should get their main satisfaction from the work itself, NOT the teachers approval of the work.  Keep praise spontaneous.


    I could keep going but, I don’t want to rewrite the entire book.  haha.


    So here is what our new typical math day looks like…

    –Math Journal & Calendar (this is 1 thing I kept from Saxon but, it seems pretty cohesive with CLE) – my daughter can do this independently if she is up before the baby & I (which she typically is) and on a good day, this will be done before breakfast.  She fills in the next date on her calendar with the next shape in the monthly pattern and the weather on the weather graph.  She fills out her journal page which now includes writing out the date, writing out the days of the week for “yesterday is, today is and tomorrow will be”, filling in the “number of days in school” boxes which places emphasis on place value, completing a number pattern, doing her coin cup (this varies… I either write coin inciments which she needs to figure out the amount or I tell her how much to put in the cup using the fewest amount of coins possible) and finally the clock box (showing the time on the clock face, writing it in digital form and filling in the times for 1 hour ago and 2 hours from now.)


    –Math Warm-up with Miquon – This will vary greatly from day to day.  As I track her progress and note the areas of struggle, I use this knowledge to choose which lab sheet(s) to do, or I allow free “play” with manipulatives, or play a game or do some sort of activity that reinforces something she needs to work on or something from that days CLE lesson.  *You do NOT have to use Miquon sheets in order, especially if your child has already finished an entire year in a different curriculum.  (This is actually hard for me to get used to but, I’m getting the hang of it).


    –CLE Lesson and Light Unit – CLE stresses the importance of flash card review.  We do this but, so far, not every day and generally only the ones I know that she does not have down really well.  Sometimes I try to disguise this with a game of some sort just to make it more fun.  *Number line hop with sidewalk chalk is one of her favorites.  So far the lessons have been pretty short and simple which is a nice change since Saxon lessons seemed a bit long at times.  I really like how the begining light unit activities require involvement from me and then they move into independent work.  I do wish they typed the word problem in her book because she was always able to read them independently in Saxon and I think she can visualize it better when she reads it herself.  But, I think that changes down the road.  Then we come to the speed drill.  I had mixed feeling about this at first because I know my daughter and I was worried it would make her feel pressured and stressed but, decided to try it out.  I was very casual about it and told her to do as many as she could before the timer stopped but, that she did not need to finish them all.  The first day she only got a few because she got stuck on one (subtraction is not as easy as addition is for her).  But in the score box, I gave her 3/3 to reflect that she got all of the ones she tried correct.  The next day I told her, if she didn’t know it, to just move on to the next one.  The next time she had subtraction she got a 6/6 but skipped 6 problems.  So this is helping me see where she needs more work.  (But, I’m not telling her that…just making mental notes that we will do more Miquon activities, games and lab sheets revolving around subtraction.)  And I plan to use the speed drills like a Saxon fact sheet on occasion, simply to give her more practice.  I felt that daily fact sheets on top of all of the other stuff she did in Saxon was a bit overkill but, I could see how using them intermittently can be beneficial.


    So, that’s pretty much it for now.  We have only recently started using all of this and now we are in Summer, so we have not really done much the last few weeks.  So I’m sure, over time, my “system” may be tweaked and fine-tuned a bit but, for now this seems to be working really well.  


    In conclusion, here are some tips I wanted to share for those using or planning on using Miquon…


    1.)  In the Notes to Teachers, Lore, mentioned buying 2 sets of notebooks so that you, the teacher could complete 1 set yourself to use as your answer key.  However, I found the worksheet copies in the Annotations book to be large enough that I am just filling the answers in there, creating the annotations book to also be an answer key.  Seriously, no need to buy 2 sets of Lab sheets.  That brings me to…   


    2.)  After realizing that some of the lab sheets could be used in more than 1 way, I came up with the idea to place the sheets under a clear dry-erase surface so that ALL of them can be re-used for more practice and also re-used by my son.  So I won’t need to purchase any other sets.  I figured, since this is just supplement and mastery, I really didn’t need to keep record of it…the CLE will be for record keeping.  For a little over $2 I got a report folder with a clear cover to use.  It works great but, I have to use alcohol to erase it.  Then I remembered that my daughter has this Crayola dry erase board (she got it for her 3rd birthday and it get’s used all of the time).  I can just slide a Miquon sheet inside and when she is done and I have looked over it, it easily erases w/out alcohol.  This is the same one she has…


    3.)  So, to make it really easy to pull the sheets out, I took the books to Staples and had them cut the binding off and 3 hole drill them.  I got the Avery A-Z divider tabs and filed the sheets in order in a 3 ring binder.  That way when I know I want to work on Subtraction, located in “D” or PLace Value in “M”, I can flip right to it and pull what I need.


    4.)  Lastly, I added tabs to the Annotations book so that I could easily flip to the level chart and then whatever section I need.


    Thanks for listening all!  🙂


    Oooops! Forgive my many typos. I kept getting sidetracked & did not proofread very well.


    I am glad you found the right combination!  I think some students do need to combine math programs to get the right fit.  I had never thought of combining mastery with spiral.  I guess that is what we are doing though, if you consider RightStart to be mastery.  It is a different kind of program anyway.  I have shared on here about our recent addition of CLE Light Units.  So you may have read my comments.  But it was on here where I first read about them too.  We are happy adding them in.  We are at LU 204 and 304 now.  They do have the word problems written in the student’s book.  We will not be able to fit in all 10 LU per year while doing other math, so I will use the scope and sequence to pick which ones to do, or maybe every other one.  It seems some LU have more review and less major math lessons, so I am okay skipping some as long as the topic is covered with RS and then it is just review and re-inforcement with CLE.  They do the math drills each day and set their own timers.  They make a mark where the timer stops and then continue in doing the rest of the problems.  They find it fun and the right challenge to see how many they got right in time and to mark it on the graph.  Sometimes they use their abacus and that’s okay!


    Blessed Mommy, I want to thank you for sharing all of this.  Your excitement is so aparent!  I loved the lines you pulled out from Notes to the Teacher and it makes me want to read it myself even though we’re not using Miquon.  I totally agree with the points you shared and would love some more inspiration along those lines.  I also will now look into CLE even though I’m not (intentionally) searching for a math program – just because you are so hapy with it.  Also thanks for sharing what a typical day looks like for math in your family.  You have given me some good ideas.




    Thats great Wings2fly!  I’m glad I’m not the only one doing combined math currics.  🙂  Thats a great idea about having them set their own timers.  Helps them hold their own accountability. 


    Thanks Shannon!  The Notes to Teachers is not very expensive at all.  Even if you don’t plan to use Miquon, I think it’s a great read and I think her teaching methods mesg well with CM teaching methods. (I’m still prety new to all of this but, that’s what I’m taking away from it anyways).  And I finished reading the entire thing in 1 afternoon.  Thanks for your kind words.  🙂

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