End of year MATH update: Outsourcing, Games, and Bravewriter

End of year MATH update: Outsourcing, Games, and Bravewriter

This post is part of a series exploring how we study math. You can read which curricula I use and why, how I prep, and how I handle procuring and storing supplies in previous posts!

It’s the end of the ‘school’ year and, man, I think we really nailed math. I followed the Engage NY curriculum for my first and third grader (read why and how to get this free resource here) and things really got good after the winter break. Here’s why:

I outsourced, I added games, I lowered my expectations for writing

Intro to your new teacher

How do you outsource teaching in an RV, you might ask? The lovely internet, my friends. I was hanging out with my good friend, Kelsey, and comparing our resources for homeschooling our kids. She mentioned that her math curriculum is a daily video that the kids watch downstairs. When the video is finished, they come upstairs and she works with them to complete a worksheet reviewing the concepts taught. Nice, I thought. But won’t work for me.

I was wrong! In a random (failed) internet search I stumbled on Mr. Duane Habaker. He’s a teacher (or coach?) who has a YouTube channel for every lesson explaining to teachers and parents how to teach each lesson for the Engage NY curriculum!

Screen Shot 2019-06-11 at 10.47.34 AM
Screenshot from Duane Habecker’s awesome math YouTube channel

So, for the second semester, the boys and I watched their lesson, in which Mr. Habecker explains how to do the homework, and then I helped them do the problem set (with similar problems). It was amazing. Bringing in a third ‘teacher’ helped me transition into coach and partner rather than a power struggle of teacher/student.


At one point my 8 year old got really frustrated that his 3rd grade math lessons seemed to take so long while his younger brother seemed to fly through the 1st grade lessons. We brainstormed why that might be and realized that a lot of the first grade curriculum younger brother already knew because of all the games we play (and from watching older brother learn!). So, we decided to add more math games that taught concepts my third grader was working on.

The best example I have is Math War. My friend had sent me a pdf of math concepts that could be taught through card games. We modified the game to fit our fraction work and had a grand time playing and laughing. Really, another game changer in terms of building our relationship and talking about math in a meaningful way instead of working through rote fluency activities.

Math war in the Guadelupe Valley, Baja, Mexico

Jot it Down / Partnership Writing

Finally, one of the biggest changes I made this year was the amount of writing I required for math. As you probably know, I’m an avid Bravewriter follower. I think Julie Bogart knows exactly what’s up when it comes to teaching writing and creating a loving, magical homeschool. (If you haven’t read her book, The Brave Learner – please put it on your list!).

Here’s what I did:


I let the boys tell me their “Why or why not, Explain your answer”. Sometimes I would write it down for them sometimes I wouldn’t. Sometimes I would write down their answer and they would trace my words.  Lately my third grader has show more confidence in writing, so we talk through his answer and then I act as his memory and help him remember what he wanted to say. To read more about the stages of writing, please check out Julie’s site. It will transform the way you homeschool.

Just so you know – it’s a big paradigm shift and it took some time for me to really get it. I started reading through Julie’s ideas last summer and really started to implement them this winter… and I’m so grateful I did!

What about you? Are your kids rocking math this year? Are you loving your curriculum? How do you spice it up? I’d love to know!

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