by Michael Leppert
Much of the best learning materials available to homeschoolers is developed by professional teachers either active or retired. These dedicated people are constantly seeking ways to help their students and create unique and inventive products from their searches.
One such example is Conceptual Learning Materials, created by Dianne Knesek, a retired Montessori teacher and curriculum coordinator of many years. Ms. Knesek owned and operated a tutorial program for Montessori children, public and private school students and homeschoolers. Her tutorial material was created to help students realize math concepts in a more powerful way than just the cursory attention they received normally. Her math material is based on Montessori principles, especially in the earlier grades, K-4. Ms. Knesek chooses to strive for a conceptual understanding of math principles rather than on drills of facts and the like; she acknowledges that such facts are readily available in good textbooks. Therefore, her line of products is called “Insights into Math Concepts”.
Dianne’s materials are colorful and inviting to work with. Heavy cardstock manipulatives are particularly appealing in the early grades when children learn best through their hands. More abstract taskcard units have a color cardstock option, as well as blackline and digital PDF formats.
One can view each of the CL series as a math unit. For instance, there are several such units that teach the difficult concept of fractions. Understanding what a fraction means is presented in early grades through labels for concrete fraction circles and an incremented series of matching cards. As children see these examples and work with them, they become acclimated to what fractions are in a real-world sense. Third and fourth graders progress to Fraction Concepts in which they learn fraction vocabulary, comparisons, equivalency, addition and subtraction of like fractions, and simple multiplication and division concepts. Middle and upper elementary grades progress to Fraction Operations which presents addition and subtraction of unlike fractions; More Fraction Operations covers multiplication and division of fractions and a full review of all fraction concepts. Additionally there are manipulative series to label fraction number lines and sequence various fractional values.
Insights also offers several algebra manipulative series as well as four taskcard series including negatives, order of operations, concepts, and equations.
Dianne has created blackline masters or digital downloads for those who prefer that format. This allows homeschool parents to begin immediately with worksheets as the end of each day’s section. She also offers blacklines that complement the cardstock manipulatives in a more abstract worksheet format.
Conceptual Learning’s units also cover Percent, Decimals – Introduction and Advanced, Estimating, Geometry and many other topics of mathematics. To find an excellent math curriculum organized by both concept and grade level, written by a hands-on veteran of teaching, visit www.conceptuallearning.com. MjL