BJU Press's math curriculum for kindergarten through sixth grade was written for use in classrooms, but it is easy for homeschooling parents to teach. The courses include biblical worldview references that are more plentiful beginning with Math 2.
The curriculum is designed to be taught from the Teacher's Editions using manipulatives, activities, and interactive discussion. The fourth editions of these courses emphasize teaching children to explain their answers and the mathematical reasoning they use for problem solving. Otherwise, changes from previous editions are minor. The courses for grades five and six are still third editions. I include brief reviews of those two courses below, and I will expand those reviews when their fourth editions are published.
These courses teach both conceptual understanding and mastery of math facts. They do an excellent job of presenting concepts in a variety of ways to reach students with different learning styles and abilities. Math facts receive attention in grades one through three with daily practice, and fourth graders practice math facts in the Math 4: Reviews book.
Teacher's Editions provide complete instructions for teaching each course. The courses are presented in chapters, with a number of lessons within each chapter. An introductory page for each chapter outlines objectives for each of the lessons. Then the Teacher's Editions provide step-by-step scripts for what the teacher is to say and do for each lesson. They also include reduced reproductions of Student Worktext pages with overprinted answers.
The fourth editions of these courses introduce relatively new math terms and methods that might be unfamiliar to some teachers. One of them, the ten frame, has become a common visual aid used in math programs in recent years. These courses also use two newer terms that are sometimes used in reference to the ten frame but also in other instances: composing and decomposing. The Oxford Owl website presents a simple explanation: "Composing numbers refers to joining groups or a set of numbers to make another number, while decomposing numbers means to break numbers down to their component parts."
An example from Lesson 13 in Math 2: Teacher's Edition will give you an idea of what this looks like in the lesson plan. It says,
Distribute 10 counters to each student. Instruct the students to separate their counters into two parts (sets). Choose students to tell how they decomposed their 10 counters. Write for display the addition fact combinations for decomposing 10.
These instructions are followed by a list of those addition facts so that the teacher doesn't have to figure out the possibilities. As in this example, the strategy and language might be unfamiliar to the teacher, but the instructions are clear enough that it is easy to see what is to be done.
These courses are dependent upon a teacher's presentation. Students have their own Worktext for each course that is used for practice and reinforcement. Worktexts in other programs usually provide both instruction and problem-solving practice. Since in these BJU Press courses much learning occurs through activity and discussion, worktext learning is a lesser part of each lesson. You cannot just give the student the Worktext without first teaching the lesson.
The Student Worktexts are colorful, appealingly illustrated, and include cumulative review and quizzes at the end of each chapter. The worktexts are not very durable because they have a glued type of binding, but this binding makes it easy to remove pages and give them to children when you teach the pertinent lessons.
Courses for grades one through three each have a Reviews workbook with two pages per day of additional practice on concepts taught in that day's lesson, concepts and skills from prior lessons, and math facts. Math 4 has a similar book although it is subtitled Student Activities.
An inexpensive Student Manipulatives Packet adds elements for hands-on learning, and each student should have his or her own packet. (Most manipulatives are printed on heavy card stock. This keeps the cost down, but you might prefer plastic manipulatives for some of them since plastic pieces are easier to handle and last longer.) Booklets of tests are sold separately as are their corresponding answer-key booklets.
A Teacher's Toolkit for each course is provided either on CD-ROM (at the back of the Teacher's Edition) or online. Each Teacher's Toolkit has the answer key for the Student Worktext and the Review or Student Activities book (when there is one for the course). It also has printable pages to be used for instructional aids, student enrichment, extended practice, and fact review activities. Some courses include calculator activities or reproducibles for manipulatives that are not in the Student Manipulatives Packets. BJU Press also sells Teacher's Visual Packets (designed for classrooms) for each level, but these are already available as smaller, printable pages in the Teacher's Toolkits. The Teacher's Editions have lists of all resources needed for each lesson, including those from the Teacher's Toolkit.
Subject Kits for each level include a Teacher's Edition, a Student Worktext, a Student Manipulatives Packet, a Review book (for grades one through four), a Tests booklet, and a Tests Answer Key. If you choose to buy items individually and want to save money, the publisher offers suggestions for substitute and make-it-yourself manipulatives. These suggestions can be found either in the Teacher's Edition or online.
Math K5 (fourth edition)
BJU Press's K5 math course is designed to build a foundation for understanding math concepts starting at the kindergarten level. At the beginning, it teaches number and quantity recognition, how to write numbers, and counting. It goes on to teach numbers up through 100, beginning addition and subtraction, an introduction to fractional parts (e.g., one-half), geometric shapes, time, the calendar, money, and measurement.
Stories at the beginning of each chapter feature Farmer Brown, his wife, and Cheddar the mouse. These characters and the farm theme are used frequently throughout the course.
Manipulatives play an important role in introducing new concepts at this level. The same set of manipulatives is used for both the kindergarten and first-grade courses. It contains geometric shapes, fraction pieces, play money, a hundred chart, number cards, mathematical operations sign cards, dot-pattern cards, rulers, ten bars, ten frames, and place-value pieces.
Children will also complete worksheets from their Student Worktext that require them to write numbers, circle items, draw connecting lines, and color. Frequent review is included.
The subject kit includes the Teacher's Edition, the Student Worktext, and the Student Manipulatives Packet. There are no tests for kindergarten.
Math 1 (fourth edition)
This first-grade course teaches concepts such as place value, addition, subtraction, problem solving, time, money, simple geometry, and fractional parts. In the fourth edition, BJU Press has added a full chapter on data that includes work with tally charts, picture graphs, and bar graphs. The final chapter reviews most concepts taught in the course.
Each chapter begins with a story featuring Digit the clown and Cecilia the seal.
The same Student Manipulatives Packet is used for both kindergarten and first grade. See the list of items in the kit under Math K5.
Math 2 (fourth edition)
The adventures of Matt O'Malley and his sidekick Paddy the beaver are featured in stories that begin each chapter. Biblical worldview concepts begin to be more prominent in this course, both in the stories and elsewhere in the lessons.
Math 2 continues teaching place value, addition, and subtraction (up through four-digit numbers), while also introducing multiplication (single-digit multipliers) and division, two-step word problems, money, measurement, and problem solving using information from graphs and charts. The final chapter is entirely for review of concepts taught throughout the course.
This course still uses manipulatives, but it does so less often than in previous levels. The Student Manipulatives Packet includes a place value kit, a ten frame, number cards, math signs, rulers, number squares, thermometers, shapes, characters, play money, fractions, and fact cards.
Math 3 (fourth edition)
Math 3 features stories about Hailey and her pet squirrel Horatio. The course covers multiplication up through 10 x 9, division with one-digit divisors, and briefly teaches the concept of remainders. Students should master their multiplication and division facts this year.
Math 3 also does quite a bit of work with fractions and decimals. Lots of word problems help develop application skills. This course continues to incorporate the ten frame, number lines, a hundred chart, a place value chart, rectangular arrays for multiplication, and other visual aids to teach concepts in a variety of ways. The final chapter is dedicated to review.
Students will use manipulatives, although to a lesser extent than in the earliest levels of BJU Press's program. The Student Manipulatives Packet for this level includes counters, geometric shapes, number cards, a fraction kit, play money, a place value kit, a clock, rulers, and thermometers.
Math 4 (fourth edition)
Students continue to use manipulatives with this course as they study multiplication, division, fractions, decimals, geometry, time, measurement, graphs, and metric measurements. The final chapter on pre-algebra introduces positive and negative numbers and the coordinate graph with ordered pairs.
Stories at the beginning of each chapter follow the adventures of Captain Bailey and his search for a priceless silver medallion.
The Student Manipulatives Packet for Math 4 includes geometric shapes, rulers, a clock, a thermometer, number cards, a fraction kit, a play-money kit, a place-value kit and mat, measurement flashcards, and multiplication/division cards. (This course has very few changes from the third edition.)
Math 5 (third edition)
Math 5 reviews basic operations and expands work with fractions and decimals. It also teaches number concepts (e.g., positive and negative numbers), metric measurement, geometry (surface area and volume), ratios, proportions, percents, and how to work with data and graphs. The Student Manipulatives Packet for grades 4-6 (for third edition courses) is required.
An aviation theme is used throughout the text. The Teacher's Toolkit includes "Christian Worldview Shaping" instructions and activity pages; these activities relate to the chapter theme while bringing a Christian worldview to bear on real-life situations.
Math 6 (third edition)
Math 6 covers fractions, decimals, percents, ratio, probability, measurement, plane geometry, and statistics. Students continue to use manipulatives from the Student Manipulatives Packet for grades 4-6 (for third-edition courses). Introductory stories for each unit reflect the theme "Courage in Crisis." The Teacher's Toolkit includes "Christian Worldview Shaping" as described for fifth grade.