Monday, September 7, 2015

Do you have an advanced student who is looking to dive deeper into math or perhaps you are a homeschooler seeking a multimedia math experience for your kids? In this post I will share our favorite online math finds. The good news is all these sites offer math learning at least through middle school (up to age 12 or 13), so younger advanced students have an ample room for growth exploring these sites.
Online Math: Options for Advanced Learners

1. Khan Academy

I wrote a separate post about Khan Academy math curriculum before. You really cannot go wrong with this comprehensive approach to math. Students can watch videos multiple times, if needed, to master concepts. They stay motivated with points and progress reports. Unlike Common Core classroom, Khan Academy curriculum does not chew through the same problem in five different ways, but it does offer alternative approaches to some problems. Khan Academy approach might be especially beneficial for visual learners. I have found only one “con” with it – there is always an incentive to go further, not necessarily deeper, into math, and there is little review of prior material, so the student who did not get firm foundation in a specific area might struggle later.

2. Redbird Mathematics

Redbird Mathematics
Stanford University School for Gifted and Talented Youth (EPGY) has found a new home – it’s now officially Gifted and Talented. There is no “proof” needed to register your child with Gifted and Talented website and sign up for the courses they offer. I think $90 is a reasonable quarterly price for an Independent Study program that offers both mathematics and language arts (just mathematics is $60 for 3 months). A friend of ours shared a coupon for 3 months free, so we are trying out mathematics 5th grade now, and I really like the approach of doing a pretest first and then either diving directly into problems or explaining concepts based on the results of that pretest. Also, each unit links math to its use in real life. The first multiplication unit was about industrial engineers optimizing a pizzeria. The second unit (division) is now about nutritionists that have to figure out daily dosage, etc. Each unit ends with a project that involves a simulation, and each section is short enough to be completed by an advanced student in about 15-20 minutes. The only problem is that if your student did not “get” the concept from a rather short explanation and you are not good enough in math to explain it to them, they might be “stuck”. This is why Stanford also has a tutor supported version of this program that is, of course, more expensive, but might be worth it, especially for those of us who homeschool advanced students in higher grades.

3. Prodigy Game

ProdigyIf your child is like mine, he or she loves adventure games. Prodigy game presents a beautiful adventure world to explore with quests, fights that give you coins, and stores where you can spend those coins and equip your character. In other words, it behaves just like any adventure game, except that a player has to solve math problems to win a fight. The basic version is free, and it’s completely sufficient in terms of breadth of the world or breadth of math material. Paid version will allow you to get more money and more prizes faster, so, to a degree, it’s not really worth it, if your goal is to get your student to learn more math. If a student is stuck, there is a short explanation under a question mark explaining the math concept. While the game does not replace a formal curriculum, my daughter was willing to figure out a lot more 6 and 7th grade math problems than she would if I gave them to her. It gave her math skills a big boost when she played this game every day during her spring in the third grade. Eventually she got to the point where the questions were repeating themselves, so she sort of lost interest in it, but it was great while it lasted.

4. Math Fights

My daughter really enjoys the idea of math competitions, and I have good news for competitive math wizards. They can test their math skills in live competitions with other people around the world who love math on Math Fights site developed by Art of Problem Solving. The site is free and active even though it doesn’t appear to be actively supported. The problems presented on this site come from American math contests that start in middle grades, so they are best suited for middle school math lovers or for really advanced elementary school students. Also, the problems are timed – if both competitors didn’t answer a problem within 3 minutes, they get 0 points and the next problem starts in the round of 5 problems per fight. We usually do math fights together where I contribute one answer per set when the problem is from the area that Smarty did not learn yet, and then I explain her the solution. It’s a great brain stretcher in the morning before school, since it takes only about 10 minutes or less to do one fight. The site also offers a rare opportunity for my perfectionist daughter to lose and we celebrate losses with a pillow fight.

5. Math Kangaroo

Last year, Smarty participated in a real math contest – Math Kangaroo. I wrote a separate post about Math Kangaroo describing the experience. Even though Smarty didn’t do as well as she hoped (top 20 places), she did reasonably well and was within top 25%. She plans to participate again this year. Registration on Math Kangaroo site is $20, and it will give you a year access to a media library with previous problems and solutions that your kids can try to solve independently. In comparison to Math Fights, the content is more suitable for the younger grades with a big focus on logic (Smarty’s area of strength) and spatial reasoning (her weakness). Out of all the sites I listed here, it’s probably the best for those students and parents who want to do deeper into math and not accelerate into higher grades.

6. YouTube

My daughter never really warmed up to watching math videos on YouTube. I blame that horrific YouTube interface that appeals to ADHD in all of us and encourages random link clicking in the hope that something more interesting comes along. However, there are amazing channels for math enthusiasts on YouTube. Check out this post with fun math YouTube channel recommendations from my fellow math Mom Erica at What Do We Do All Day.

Your Turn

Online destinations for mathematically advanced learners

What online math programs or games did your kids try?

More Math for Kids?

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Bethany@Math Geek Mama said...

This is a great list! Some of these sites I haven't heard of, so thanks for sharing! :)

Ticia said...

Now I must check out Prodigy, sounds like something my kids would love.

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

My kids like Prodigy, and Emma is a Khan Academy fan.