Thursday, July 11, 2013

Helping Kids with English & Math (Book Review)

It's summertime and, yes, the livin' should be easy. That means it's time for our children to run, swim, play, explore nature and just generally enjoy being kids.

That being said, it doesn't hurt to take a few minutes every day to reinforce the concepts they learned in school last year and prepare for their studies next year. For assistance with my children's summer learning projects, I turned to DK books.

I found some amazing titles that have really helped both me as "instructor" and the kids as "students." I don't know about you, but I don't know a whole heck of a lot about how they teach math nowadays. I know they are big on explaining your answers using words, which is pretty much foreign to me. I also have largely forgotten any of the math concepts I learned in school.

This is where "Help Your Kids With Math" and DK's "Math Dictionary" come in. "Help Your Kids With Math" is a step-by-step visual guide that takes you through everything from addition and subtraction to powers and roots to quadratic equations. I think this is going to be an invaluable resource for our whole family in the years to come. 

The "Math Dictionary" is another useful resource for the entire family. I hope I'm not the only one who keeps forgetting how to define polygons and quadrilaterals. I wish I had this book much sooner, because there have been many times I've had trouble helping the kids with their math homework. This book has more than 300 entries on words, phrases and concepts used by grade-school students in their math classes. Colourful illustrations help to keep the concepts light and enjoyable.

While these math reference books are great for parents and kids alike, my kids were most drawn to these "Math Made Easy 10 Minutes A Day" workbooks. The ingenious part of these fun workbooks is the attached timer.

My kids were so excited about the timers that my daughter did four pages of math on the first day the books arrived. And that was on a school night. My son also enjoyed seeing how many pages he could do in 10 minutes. Often they let the timer continue until they came to the end of a page. That meant they ended up doing more than 10 minutes of math, without any of the complaining that sometimes comes with homework time at our house.

There is a separate workbook for each grade, from JK to 5.

I am much more comfortable helping the kids with English than I am with math. Nevertheless, we all forget the finer points of grammar sometimes, don't we? "Help Your Kids With English" is a step-by-step visual guide to grammar, punctuation and writing. This book is seriously great for kids and adults alike.

There are no dry, boring pages of text to wade through. Rather, each page is broken up by colourful illustrations, charts and examples. It covers many elements taught in Canadian schools, including parts of speech (nouns, adjectives, adverbs), tenses, commas, syllables and question marks. I bet there are very few people who couldn't use a refresher course in grammar - me included!

My kids also got their own "English Made Easy" workbooks at the appropriate grade levels. The books cover reading, writing, spelling and grammar, supporting the language curriculum taught in Canadian schools. Gold stickers are included and there is a chart at the beginning that allows children to put a gold sticker next to every page completed.

Some of the topics covered in the Grade 4 workbook include homophones, conjunctions and writing a book review. The books also include short stories and story comprehension questions. Children are asked to write their own news reports, conversations, poems, scripts and instructions following the guidelines given. I think we are going to have a lot of fun with these books.

How are you occupying the kids this summer? Is summer learning a priority for you?

*I was provided with books for review purposes. All opinions are my own.


  1. Great review!! We always do a bit of book work over the summer {though our sun is actually taking Geometry at summer school, since its a bit easier to focus on when its the only class you have & he struggles with math...which we do too so we feel horribly guilty}.

    1. Math is challenging for sure. Sometimes it takes a bit of extra attention and often we just don't seem to have the time. I hope the class time flies by for him!

  2. Visiting from Ahola Friday. I'd like to invite you to my Friday Flash Blog, where you can share your best blog entry of the week! The party goes on ALL weekend at And who knows, you may just get featured next week.

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  3. Where do you find these books? I don't see them online on Amazon, I'm in the states tho. I wonder if they have them in the US. They look like great books!

  4. Nope, nevermind. I found them! Very cool, thanks for the reccomendation!

    1. Great, Heather. I'm glad you found them. My daughter was doing her 10 minute math this weekend while we traveled in the car. I was quite impressed! :)

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