Which math learning materials are best?
Learning and teaching math comes with a unique set of challenges. To help your children acquire the knowledge base they need to stay on track with the curriculum, try math learning materials.
Math learning materials can be part of your child’s current math instruction or provide supplemental practice to improve concept mastery. These days, you can find traditional workbooks as well as plenty of digital materials to help your child build their skills and confidence.
Wondering which math learning materials are right for your child? Give our buying a guide a read to explore what’s out there. We’re sharing a few recommendations, including our top choice, Horizons Math Third Grade Complete Set. This dynamic set comes with a variety of manipulatives, including play money, flashcards, and games.
Considerations when choosing math learning materials
Common Core vs. traditional math
Implemented in 2010, Common Core refers to new standards set by the Department of Education. It standardizes not only which skills are taught at each grade level, but also how they’re taught. As it pertains to math, Common Core methods emphasize real-world understanding of math concepts and execution over memorization.
Traditional math refers to the method of instruction prior to Common Core. It often includes isolated instruction of tasks that are then combined to solve more complex operations or problems. It also involves pattern recognition and reasoning and some memorization.
Mastery vs. spiral approaches
Math is taught mainly through either the mastery of the spiral approach.
With the mastery approach, students learn one new skill at a time and must master it completely before they can move onto the next concept, which gives them a solid foundation.
The spiral approach, on the other hand, repeats concepts over and over, starting with the basics and gradually adding new complexities each time for a deeper understanding. Some say this approach keeps students more engaged, while others say it can move too quickly for some.
Features of math learning materials
Digital work vs. workbooks
Digital math materials consist of video tutorials, interactive math games, or online exercises. These are ideal for self-paced, unsupervised learning, though it should be noted that they’re better for practicing concepts as opposed to introducing new ones.
Physical workbooks include exercise books, practice tests, and reproducible pages. These are engaging but lack the interactive factor of digital materials. As a result, they’re preferred for side-by-side learning or as a tool during supervised instruction or practice.
Teacher’s guide and answer key
You may come across two terms as you compare math learning materials: teacher’s guides and answer keys. Teacher’s guides provide instructional materials for adults, including guidance with lesson plans. Answer keys provide the solutions to exercises and problems, which saves you valuable time on crunching the numbers yourself.
Manipulatives refer to colorful learning tools that serve as visual and tactile aids to illustrate more abstract concepts. Math learning materials often include paper money, flashcards, blocks, charts, dice, or measuring instruments. Some lessons stipulate whether manipulatives should be used, and others may not, so feel free to use these aids as you see fit.
Math learning materials price
Math learning materials with a limited or focused curriculum cost between $10-$17. Inclusive materials with a variety of exercises and activities run closer to the $25-$40 range. Comprehensive math learning materials, including those geared toward homeschooling, may cost as much as $60-$100.
Math learning materials FAQ
Q. Should I invest in other classroom or visual aids to use with math learning materials?
A. Many parents invest in whiteboards. Not only are they handy for instruction, but they also allow kids to write and practice math outside of their notebook or computer. It’s also common to purchase age-appropriate educational math games and manipulatives like cubes, puzzles, blocks or Legos.
Q. Do workbook-based math learning materials come with digital access?
A. Only some workbooks have corresponding digital resources. If you’d like both types of materials, spend more on a comprehensive set. Keep in mind that these often come with serial numbers or licenses, which may only provide access for a limited time.
Math learning materials we recommend
Best of the best
Our take: Comprehensive materials collection with workbooks, activity guides, and planners.
What we like: Colorful and engaging workbooks. Utilizes spiral method to revisit core concepts.
What we dislike: Doesn’t always include manipulatives.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Best bang for your buck
Our take: Covers instruction and exercises for half the year at an affordable price.
What we like: Clear explanations and mastery-oriented curriculum. Variety of visual models.
What we dislike: Only covers half the year’s curriculum, and no answer key.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
Our take: Utilizes the Singapore method to promote concept mastery and conceptual thinking.
What we like: Includes common word problems. Process-oriented solutions help kids learn step-by-step.
What we dislike: Very short problems and a large space to write them out.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.