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Math Basket: Creating an Individualized Math Curriculum


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Allow me to introduce you to our Math Basket. It’s becoming our favorite part of the day. Yes, that’s right. It’s even more fun than handwriting. I know. Hard to believe.

Kindergarten Math Basket
Resources for creating an individualized math program for early elementary.
it’s math. in a basket.

First of all, a big THANKS to my friend B who gave us this basket along with a ton of stuff to fill it up. Love you!

We were planning on easing into math this year. Slowly introduce kinder concepts, play some games, and use the activities from What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know – just some hands on, fun stuff.

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
My mouse had a different idea…

My plans were not enough. He is interested in EVERYTHING MATH. From large numbers and counting to time and money. He told me once that when he’s not talking he’s thinking about numbers. Yikes! My personal nightmare!

It’s hard to let go of what I want: an easy-to-follow, evenly paced math curriculum that comes in a box with a set of cute, bright manipulatives and a colorful workbook with one page per day. However, How-He-Learns trumps What-I-Want every. single. time.

I went back to look at my homeschool goals and thought about how to address his needs.

Then I made a list (okay many lists) of what I have already and what is available through the library and online that will suit our needs. Turned out I had just about everything covered. I just needed a better way to organize it.


What’s in our basket?

√  Textbook
√  Manipulatives
√  Weekly Math Literature Selection
√  Game or Puzzle
√  Workbook
√  Dry Erase Worksheet
√  YouTube Video

I’m looking for variety, not confusion. Therefore, although I use a lot of different materials, most of them have companions – I’ll match the text lessons with the manipulatives, the YouTube video will go along with the read-aloud, the puzzle pieces can be used as counters for workbook practice, etc. These are not seven stand-alone components.

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What’s NOT in our basket?

X  Weekly themes based around one topic

To address his need for variety and make sure we are still hitting everything, I am including multiple topics each week to review, practice, and introduce new concepts. In the first example basket below, you’ll see that we are introducing money this week. Rather than pull worksheets, games, text pages, and literature all about money, I’ve included pattern review, and practice with adding and zero. Multiple topics each week provides ongoing practice to master concepts. Plus, he won’t complain that he’s bored… well not too often.

X  Too much material / Too many choices

IMG_7138.JPGWhen I first gathered our materials I didn’t have this nifty basket to contain them all. Instead I had a Big Pile of Math Stuff. Yes, we would eventually get through this Big Pile of Math Stuff, however it was too confusing to have so much material and too many choices. Choosing from three workbooks, six library books, lots of games, puzzles, and other STUFF was a challenge. I felt like we weren’t getting anywhere.

I still have our Big Pile, but it’s contained behind my desk. I’m more selective about what goes in the basket each week. With less materials I can see the progress. We are digging deep into these math concepts, and he is mastering the material.

X  Extensive writing

Fine motor and handwriting is a challenge. We practice that separately in a fun way. I don’t want him to feel that math time is tedious and repetitive. Drawing boxes and coloring in ten-frames would be frustrating for him. Therefore, the majority of our math work is done orally or with manipulatives.

X  Lesson Plans

One of our goals is to keep up with grade level standards, but I don’t feel that the primary grades require drawn-out lesson plans in a specific order. Reading together, learning through puzzles and games, and using manipulatives is naturally engaging. We are covering all the basics and more by following his interests.

It’s Basket Time

When it’s Math Time, my oldest opens the box on the floor and we play with what’s inside. This is literally the lesson plan. He chooses what to do, how much, and in what order. Because the materials are engaging, he gets through everything at least a few times a week.

Textbook: Strayer-Upton Practical Arithmetics

The last addition to our math basket, our textbook, was a suggestion from my virtual homeschool BFFs when I asked for some kind of affordable curriculum that will support oral math practice. It’s a tiny textbook covering two years that we are taking page-by-page.

Originally published in 1934, this book introduces the facts in a very simple, straightforward way. There are many practice questions for each concept with supporting story problems, fact practice, and old timey pictures. I love me some old timey pictures.



One type of manipulatives each week such as a piggy bank full of coins, real working clocks, measuring tape and rulers, dominoes, small dinosaur counters, legos or duplos, blocks, cars… Simplifying manipulatives has been key. Otherwise it just turns into a box of toys. We’ve got plenty of those already!

Weekly Math Literature Selection

I have a pile from the library that I keep behind my desk. I choose one per week that we read as many (or as few) times as he chooses. He loves read-alouds, so this is where we usually start.


Game or Puzzle

He is so excited to learn new games and practice puzzles with math. When I started looking around the house, I found that we had a lot of games on hand: Uno, cards, Yahtzee, Monopoly, checkers, backgammon, tic-tac-toe, and more. Most of our puzzles were gifted to us: tanagrams, sets of pattern blocks and creatures, and pentominoes.


We have a few to pick from: Disney Addition and Subtraction, Discovery workbooks from the $1 Spot at Target, and we use the K and 1st Grade Brainquest workbooks from time to time. I’m going to add flashcards to this category, though they could be a game, too.

Dry Erase Worksheets

I have some number practice sheets from TeachersPayTeachers or sometimes I draw up a few problems. There is almost always a super challenge question. If we are adding three numbers in the text the Super Challenge Question is a problem with five numbers. It’s blowing his mind! Five numbers!!!

YouTube Video

He will either watch a math read-aloud or song. These have been great for wrapping up Math. It gives me time to put one thing away and get out the next, and gives him a breather in between. I may include instructional videos down the road.

Weekly Basket Examples

Topics & Materials

Review: Patterns, 2 and 3 Number Practice

Sting Ray and Squid Pattern Blocks, 2 and 3 worksheets for dry erase

Practice: Addition Facts, Adding with Zero

Disney Workbook, Zero the Hero book, A Place for Zero video

New Concept: Coin Names and Values

Textbook pages, Piggy Bank with Coins

Topics & Materials

Review: Subtratction Facts

Target $1 Subtraction Workbook, Problems on Dry Erase

Practice: Time to the Hour, Tanagrams

Clocks, A Second is a Hiccup book, What Time is it Mr. Crocodile videoTangoes game

New Concept: Adding Three Numbers

Textbook, Problems on Dry Erase

Now if someone could tell me how to make him stop hammering me with questions while I’m driving… No more numbers in the car! I’m not so mathy. Working out how many seconds are in a day with him while driving through torrential downpours is seriously a hazard.

Don’t Forget
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10 thoughts on “Math Basket: Creating an Individualized Math Curriculum

  1. Julie-ann Kleu says:

    Thanks for your post. I love this Math basket- I think we may implement one soon!

    I have researched some information on the textbook that you are using, and it seems that it is for grade 3-4. Is it working ok with your kindergartener? Mine is 5.5yr old and a total math brain, but I want to make things fun and hands-on for him, while covering the basics too.

    Any thoughts would be appreciated, thanks!

    • Some Random Lady says:

      Lol, yes! A total math brain! The concepts start out easily enough. I was teaching a lot of what is in the beginning of the book in 1st/2nd public school. We were doing about 1-2pgs per week until we got to around page 40, which starts larger number addition and subtraction. We weren’t going as fast, and he wanted something he could do everyday. I ended up moving to Math in Focus 1st grade. I like it a lot, and he likes that we can do more each day. Strayer-Upton is still in the basket, and I can see us going back to it again over the next couple years. Hope that helps!

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