In our homeschool, we do math pretty much every day. We normally do school four days a week, and three of those days the kids do their normal math curriculum.
One day each week is spent practicing math facts, and lately, we’ve been doing it with CalcuLadder from School Made Simple. Calculadder is a great supplement when it comes to memorizing the math facts.
CalcuLadder consists of a carefully-designed sequence of 96 one-page drills, divided into six one-year units spanning 16 drills each. Any unit can be used as needed at any grade level and with any math curriculum.
Because my kids who use this are in first grade, we used CalcuLadder 1.
CalcuLadder 1 – How it works
CalcuLadder 1 covers basic addition and subtraction. The kids are thoroughly drilled on all addition and subtraction facts with answers less than or equal to 20. Drills 1-14 have a suggested time goal of 2 minutes.
The drill levels are carefully sequenced to add new facts while reviewing previous ones (mastery approach). The final two levels provide a comprehensive review of all facts and have a suggested time goal of 3 minutes. The idea is to get basic addition and subtraction facts down so that the student knows the answers instantly and doesn’t have to think about it.
CalcuLadder 1 is recommended for first through third grades, or to fill gaps in basic math mastery for older students.
Working on our math facts
On our CalcuLadder days, I simply distribute the kids’ worksheets and set the timer. They work through as much as they can until the timer dings. It became evident immediately that the kids would be working on different levels. My arts and craftsy Caroline is a couple units behind my little science guy, Max. But, I totally expected that.
Did you see the flowers growing up the side of the paper? Those “grow” as the kids advance to new units. Isn’t’ that cute? You’ll also notice the scripture on the bottom of the pages. The verses change with each new level.
But what about the other levels?
CalcuLadder 2 includes drill Levels 17 through 32, which cover advanced addition and subtraction and basic multiplication. Levels 17-23 cover multi-column addition and subtraction, including problems with carrying and borrowing, addition problems with more than two addends, and so on. Levels 24-32 include comprehensive drill on multiplication tables through the “9’s”, with a special drill on telling time! Use CalcuLadder 2 in grades 2, 3, 4, or higher.
CalcuLadder 3 includes drill Levels 33 – 48, which cover advanced multiplication and basic division. Levels 33-36 finish up multiplication tables through the “12’s”, with ongoing review of previous facts. Subsequent Levels deal with multi-column multiplication (including partial products), as well as basic division problems with and without remainders. The relationship between multiplication and division is also covered. CalcuLadder 3 is recommended for grades 3, 4, 5, or higher.
CalcuLadder 4 includes drill Levels 49 – 64, which cover long division and related skills, plus decimals and basic fractions. After reviewing advanced multiplication, your student is thoroughly drilled on skills essential to success in long division, such as place values, rounding, and product estimation. The procedural aspects of long division are thoroughly covered. Fractions are introduced, along with the relationship between fractions and division problems. Decimals are introduced and applied to addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. CalcuLadder 4 is recommended for grades 4, 5, 6, or higher.
CalcuLadder 5 includes drill Levels 65 – 80 and serves as the heavy-duty fractions unit in the CalcuLadder series. To be sure of your student’s readiness, Level 65 checks your student’s mastery of long division. Subsequent Levels cover every aspect of adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing fractions and mixed numbers. Key skills are addressed, including reducing, canceling, and finding common denominators. CalcuLadder 5 is recommended for grades 5, 6, 7, or higher.
CalcuLadder 6 includes drill Levels 81 – 96. After reviewing fractions and decimals, CalcuLadder 6 covers percents, and how percents, decimals, and fractions work together. It then goes into English units of length (inch, foot, yard, rod, furlong, mile, fathom), weight (ounce, pound, ton), and volume (teaspoon, tablespoon, fluid ounce, cup, pint, quart, gallon, peck, bushel). Very useful for cooking and practical know-how! Metric units of length, volume, mass, and temperature are also covered, as well as how to convert between English and Metric units. The final three Levels cover geometric concepts and terminology relating to plane figures, plus finding the area of simple shapes and measuring land area in acres. CalcuLadder 6 is recommended for grades 6, 7, 8, or higher.
What about children who aren’t doing math yet?
ReadyWriter is a unique pictorial approach to stylus skills (beginning penmanship for students from preschool through about second grade.)
ReadyWriter includes 16 exercise levels to promote stylus mastery as students complete various lines, curves, and characters. Students repeat levels each day until she can complete it with reasonable smoothness, confidence, and accuracy. Below you’ll find an example of level 2, but you can find a sample of them all on the ReadyWriter page.
My preschooler, Lou, has been working with these and she’s been advancing a level about every 2-3 weeks when doing the exercises 2-3 times a week.
As you can see, there is a Calculadder or ReadyWriter for every stage in your homeschool!
CalcuLadder will be a staple supplement in our homeschool for a long time to come. Having the math facts memorized play a crucial part in later math courses, and CalcuLadder helps us achieve that in a fun and easy way.
* I received a complimentary copy of these items in exchange for my personal, honest review. All opinions are my own. No other compensation was given.*