My Favorite Math Curriculum for Boys

I love math so here I get to talk about my favorite math curriculum for boys. They may also work for girls as well but since my daughter is only 2, I’m not sure what she will use just yet. You can also read about what my favorite writing curriculum is for boys. This is our 6th year homeschooling our family and I still feel like a newbie. Every year brings something new that I’ve never encountered before. Your children grow and so do you as a teacher.
Want to see my Favorite Math Curriculum for Boys? I've used these resources with my two boys and they've been a hit or miss for us.
We started homeschooling in the 2nd grade using a text from the local school board. The first math curriculum I bought was Math U See Beta because I loved the hands-on approach to math. Unfortunately, each level focuses on one topic and my visual spatial learner son was not pleased with that. He got bored and just didn’t want to do it anymore.

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Saxon Math

We started with Saxon Math 3 in grade 3 with my oldest. I had all the components, the meeting book, teacher’s manual, and workbook. There’s a huge manipulative kit that they suggest you purchase but I wasn’t going to pay $100 for it. We already had the Math U See blocks so I looked for everything else at the dollar store or we made our own clock and hundreds charts. We also used candy, they are the perfect way to motivate little learners after they get a correct answer. The workbook is double sided but we only did one side and I’m saving the other side to use with my younger son, M2. I just don’t think you need that much repetition at this early elementary age. I’m currently using Saxon Math 1 with M2 who is in senior kindergarten at the moment. I bought it used locally for $15. I looked through the K book but it looked like it would be a repeat of material he already knew so I started him with the grade 1 book. He’s doing really well with it. I’m only using the teacher’s manual with him. I do everything else on the whiteboard. I just draw/write out the questions and he answers them on the board. Sometimes he gets all buggy about writing so I write the answers for him. He can do the math no problem, he just doesn’t like writing all that much.   After we moved onto Saxon math 5/4 which is a completely other beast. There’s a student text, a solutions manual and then a test/worksheets booklet. The text is written to the student. You have a lesson with practice questions and then there are a set of 30 questions that encompass all the previous lessons materials. I love this spiral approach because you are able to review previous material. However, if your child is struggling with a concept, the next day’s lessons add something new which can put the child further behind. This is when we had to stop and focus on that topic for a bit until he got it before we could move on. Since there is no workbook for this level, your child has to write out each question to answer them. This did not go well for my fourth grader which at the time, I didn’t realize so I pushed on. We eventually tried out Singapore math but ended up back with Saxon for grade 6.

Math Mammoth

I had the opportunity to purchase Math Mammoth on sale from Homeschool buyers coop so I jumped at it. I bought the dark blue topics to use as a review. I really like it. If M1 is having trouble with a particular topic I print out some worksheets to get him thinking about it in a different way. I also had the opportunity to review the grade 6 curriculum as well. Unfortunately, there isn’t a grade 7/8 curriculum at this time. I tried to use this as our core curriculum but it got too repetitive at times because of the sheer number of questions. The layout looks clustered with so many questions on one page.

Life of Fred

We found Life of Fred Fractions in the fifth grade and M1 loves it because it tells math through a humorous story which is right up his alley. We are currently working through Decimals and Percents. I’ve taught decimals with Saxon and Math Mammoth so now we’re trying LOF. At the beginning, I figured that he needed to do numerous questions to get it but I’m trying this method to see if he’s able to retain more. These LOF books are not comprehensive in my opinion. There’s a story about Fred, who is a five-year-old math professor at kittens university. There are your turn to play sections with 5-10 questions. The book moves quickly which is why it’s not good as a teaching tool but better for review. It also gives a more practical math application from the story line.


Our favorite math manipulatives that we often use:
  • Math u see blocks
  • Counters – M&Ms, chocolate chips, or bottle lids
  • A number chart
  • A scale
  • Measuring tape
  • Money -real/fake
  • Thermometer
What are your favorite math goodies? You can also read the other post in this series:
Funny and gross history books for boys
Awesome homeschool resources - my favorite writing curriculum for boys
Check out what the Virtual Curriculum Fair from Homeschooling Hearts & Minds. Check out what other bloggers are saying about math or science: Do you want to participate in the 2014 Virtual Curriculum Fair? Go ahead:


    1. I’ve been thinking of teaching textbooks as well, the only thing stopping me is price.

  1. Thanks for the great reviews! We also tried Math U See at the beginning but found it to be repetitive, my oldest really dislikes “school” coloring and lost interest very quickly with the beginning lessons. We ended up skipping chapters at a time to move on to new concepts, seems wasteful. I really like what you have to say about the Saxon Math. It sounds like you just use the teacher’s manual and do the problems on a white board. Would you please advise whether or not you think it’s necessary to purchase the workbooks at all? We use a notebooking style of homeschool for the most part and I really don’t need pre-printed pages, I just want to make sure that the concepts and problems are covered well enough in the teacher’s guide for me to teach them.
    Thanks in advance!!

    1. I don’t buy the workbooks, for the amount of work on one page, it was something that I can easily recreate on the whiteboard, so $30 wasn’t worth it for me. If you needed to save time, otherwise, we’ve been fine without it.

  2. We have been doing Life Of Fred since Kindergarten, My children are in grades K-6, we found Life Of Fred to be very comprehensive for all the children, perhaps that’s because we started from the beginning Apples, If you dont start from the beginning it is easy to get Lost with The Fred Books and find it not comprehensive. My 9year old boy loves it so much he is now already in the Algebra books, and taking online college courses for credit.

    1. We just moved from Saxon to LOF, this is new territory for me so I’m hoping we’re on the right track.

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  5. We have considered starting our math with Singapore Math. Any reason you switched from it back to Saxon?

    1. It moved too quickly for my oldest. I am actually using it currently with my second son and he loves it. For him it works really well. I think it depends on the child.

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