Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ray's Arithmetic in Action


Pin It


Earlier this year (after we got counting to 20 down =) I started using Ray's Arithmetic with my three year old.  If you're not familiar with Ray's, its a charming little set of textbooks from the 1870's that focuses on manipulative math that leads to mental math instead of today's common workbook mentality.  It helps the child learn the 'why' of math by using household items to work the problem for themselves, instead of just memorizing fact tables without gaining any actual understanding.  I love it because at only three years old, my son has been able to figure out every one of the questions in the lessons that we have done so far (we are up to lesson 11).  Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division have all been touched on in simple ways that children can grasp by simply moving pegs (or apples, or rocks, or whatever!) around.

If you frequent this blog and have seen my lesson plans, you may have noticed that we do math two days a week.  I believe that Ray's suggests three days a week, but since Trevor is so young, I thought two was plenty enough.  Ray's suggests taking one lesson per week, visiting it anew the first day and then going back to it subsequent days to see if the child's comprehension has deepened.  Playing games that stimulate the 'math mind' are encouraged for days that do not officially have a math lesson.


I want to show you an example of what one lesson in Ray's New Primary Arithmeticwould look like...


There is a picture in the book, but I printed out my own so it would be larger, clearer, and able to manipulate.




The questions would go like this (I modified a few since my picture is slightly different than theirs in the book):
  • In the picture, how many birds are sitting in the tree?
  • How many birds are flying in the air?
  • There are three flowers on one branch and three flowers on another branch: how many flowers are there together on both branches?


Then the manipulation would start, looking like this...

Trevor moving the birds around to solve the questions below.

The questions would go like this:
  • How many birds are two birds and five birds?
  • How many are seven birds and four birds?
  • So, how many are 2 and 5? 7 and 4?
  • How many birds are five birds and two birds?
  • How many are four birds and seven birds?
  • So, how many are 5 and 2? 4 and 7?

You can see how it gets them to start learning different things about numbers (like 2+5 is the same as 5+2) in a simple, fun, doable way.  The goal is that eventually the child will naturally move from having to manipulate objects to solve a problem, to being able to visualize the solution.  After doing this for a few months now, I have seen that Trevor no longer has to point to objects as he counts them and he is starting to be able to very simple problems without moving anything around (ex. If John has two apples and his sister gives him one more, how many apples does John have now?)

I think it's a really neat way to do math.  Technically the Rays Arithmetic Series goes up to 8th grade (I don't know how long each individual child would take to go through it) and is less than $80 for the entire set that can be used over and over for subsequent children (no workbook pages that need to be replaced!) so for me it was worth the gamble and so far it has been totally worth it!  Or if you are comfortable not having a physical book, you have get the entire thing for FREE online!  Since the book is so old, it is public domain.  You could just print out lessons as you need them or read to your child off of your eReader if you have one.  Here is the link to the free online book.

Have you ever used the Rays Arithmetic Series with your children?  I'd love to hear how it worked for you!


22 comments:

  1. Wow, I have never heard of this, but isn't it amazing how after over 100 years of research and studies, we can still learn from this and possibly even better than the strategies most of us are currently using. Thanks for linking up to Thinky Linky Thursday!
    Lori @ Cachey Mama’s Classroom

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, right!?! And so much cheaper too =)

      Delete
  2. Over from TGIF. This sounds a lot like the Fred of Life books that I just heard about yesterday. I think we are breaking away from the workbook mentality. Math has been such a struggle lately and my oldest is only in the 1st grade!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've never heard of Fred of Life! If this idea sounds like something you'd like to pursue, I'd check out the public domain version of Ray's and print out a few lesson and just give it a try! You'd get a taste of it and not have to pay a penny =)

      Delete
  3. I've heard so much about this program in my homeschool journey. I've always wondered what it was like. I've also heard about Fred of LIfe books. It's so wonderful to have such great choices. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Very interesting. I tend to find I enjoy many of the older books and that they are appropriately challenging. Thanks for linking up to TGIF! Have a great week,
    Beth =-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great post! I use the Practical Arithmetic Series which was created in the 1930's and has a lot of word problems. I love the nostalgia that comes along with these types of books. I didn't realize this series was online! Thanks for sharing that and for giving us the "in action" ~ that is my favorite part! Visiting from DEEP ROOTS AT HOME...

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you so much for your comments, ladies! It's nice to know that others enjoy the good ole books too =)

    ReplyDelete
  7. I've heard of this in passing, but never really investigated it further. I haven't been able to figure out matht for next year perhaps this will work for us. Thanks for the review--I'm off to check out the higher levels.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh great! I'd love to hear what you think of the higher levels once you look at them. I have the whole set, but don't know what an older child should be learning these days to compare. Thanks for the comment!

      Delete
  8. Hi Amy - I know it's been a long while since you posted this, but I'm curious if you ever ended up using Ruth Beechick's Parent-Teacher guide to Ray's Arithmetic. After reading your post, I hopped over to Amazon to take a look at Ray's, and saw the guide being recommended as well. It only has a couple reviews, so it's hard to tell how useful it would really be. Any thoughts?

    ReplyDelete
  9. I do have the parent-teacher guide because I bout the whole set and it is included in that. It consists on an introduction to the methods used in Ray's (the 'why's and 'how's) and then goes on to break down what each grade will look like. I found it very helpful, but by no means necessary.

    Something that I really like that I have discovered since writing this post is that Mott Media makes workbooks to go along with Rays. Once again, not necessary, but I find them worth the money because it saves me time. Here's the link if you want to check them out too: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0880622369/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0880622369&linkCode=as2&tag=livinga0b-20

    Feel free to ask more questions if you come up with any!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks so much for the info! I hadn't realized the set was available a a whole. I just ordered it along with the first workbook. My daughter will be four in a few months, so we'll take it easy starting off, but I'm very excited to have a go at this. The format of Ray's is a lot like the way I was taught math in high school--through problem sets and discovery rather than text explanation and drills. (I went to a private boarding school :D ). Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great! I'm glad you are excited to start!

      Delete
  11. My son who is 5 began Kindergarten this year without any prior preschool training. We let him play and enjoy life and day 1 we began Ray's. He has learned to write his numbers with ease and is learning addition with ease as well. So far, I am happy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so happy to hear your positive testimonial! Thanks for sharing how Rays has been working for you!

      Delete
  12. I know this post is from a while back. However I have found it most helpful! Thank you ladies for all the comments that you have shared. I have been contemplating making the switch to Ray's and have been hesitant... This has helped. We have one daughter going into 4TH another into 3RD and then our little guy will be in 1ST. So much fun. I am super excited about Ray's and adding the McGuffey Readers to our school days as well.
    Blessings,
    Brittany
    visiting from beautyfitfortheking.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am so glad you found this post and the comments helpful! We sill use and love Ray's and the McGuffey readers too! The only negative of Ray's that I have found is that it doesn't cover all the 'extras' like patterns, measuring, money, telling time, etc. (or at least not extensively). Those things can definitely be learned naturally, though, so it's not a big deal.

      Delete
  13. Just great here, keep sharing! I will look out more from that.

    ReplyDelete
  14. {\rtf1\ansi\ansicpg1252
    {\fonttbl\f0\fnil\fcharset0 ArialMT;}
    {\colortbl;\red255\green255\blue255;\red34\green34\blue34;\red255\green255\blue255;}
    \deftab720
    \pard\pardeftab720\partightenfactor0

    \f0\fs26 \cf2 \cb3 \expnd0\expndtw0\kerning0
    \outl0\strokewidth0 \strokec2 My eldest is almost 3 and I intend on using Ray's once we start school (in three years). But I thought you might know of a few suggestions as what to do after 8th?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Goodness! Not sure what happened there!!

      Delete
    2. Haha. I'm not sure either, but that's ok =) So you are just really looking ahead here, right? My oldest is almost 7, so I don't have any real experience with high school math. At that point, I'm assuming that any good math book on Algrbra, Trig, Geometry, etc. would be good. With a solid basis from a program like Ray's, you child would be ready to conquer any higher math program I bet! The one negative about Ray's is that it doesn't really cover "extra" things like time, measuring, etc. (very extensively at least), so I've been quickly breezing through Saxon with my kids, just to hit those things. I will probably keep doing that and if it goes well, continue with it in high school. I am not currently aware of any higher math curricula from the 1800s like Rays. It might be out there, I just don't know about it!

      Delete