Thinking outside the box for math led me to Miquon Math Lab Materials when my oldest son was in first grade. I was looking for a discovery-oriented approach to math for my inquisitive, hands-on child. He did not respond well to rote memorization or drills, so the Miquon approach was enticing. Its unique approach incorporates mathematical patterns and relationships, and students use addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and fractions from the beginning. I have since used these materials with my younger sons for their early primary years.
Elementary Math with Miquon Math Lab Materials
The Miquon Math Lab Materials consist of one teacher’s manual that covers all of the levels. In addition, there are six student books designed to be used over a three year period beginning in first grade (two books per year). In our case, because we homeschool year-round, we just started a new book as soon as we finished an old one and continued through until we were done. The other required resource for the Miquon program is a set of Cuisinaire rods–rectangular wooden or plastic rods from one unit to ten units long. The rods have a specific color for each size, so children learn to recognize that a white rod = 1, a red rod = 2, and so on.
What is Miquon Math?
Developed by Lore Rasmussen in the 1960s, Miquon math was still considered “new math” when I was an elementary student. Arising from a need to supply a more hands-on approach for math skills, Miquon Math Lab Materials combine the best of traditional curriculum with methods that encourage creativity and inquiry. The biggest negative for me was having to find a curriculum for my boys to move into once we completed the Miquon materials! However, I found that each of them had a good foundation on which to build when they did move on, and the transition was a relatively smooth one. The best features of this program include the following:
- Few word reading skills are required. The program does, however, introduce students to a “math vocabulary,” such as notation and chart reading. My children were all late readers, so they were all able to understand the Miquon material easily.
- The lab sheets leave room for students to add their own problems, and the sheets have a handwritten appearance which makes them seem more user-friendly. The pages are printed with blue, green, red, orange, or green ink, but they are clutter-free. Pages are perforated for ease in pulling out of the books and using them in a different sequence.
- Students are introduced to both metric and common English units of measurement. The Cuisenaire rods are based on the centimeter scale.
- Varied activities include sorting, dice and card games, lotto, number line races, and (our favorite) making mini-books. Students use the Cuisenaire rods on almost every lesson.
The teacher’s guide contains explanations and background material on each topic. Examples, graphics, and answer keys, along with scope and sequence combine to make Miquon Math Lab Materials easy to implement. This program is easy to customize, because the student books include progress charts in the back which shows parents exactly what areas are covered on each page of the books. When a student needs a little more practice with a certain concept, choosing the appropriate lessons is a breeze. The first student book, The Orange Book, includes practice in the following:
- equalities and inequalities
- number lines and functions
- geometric recognition
- length, area, and volume
- clock arithmetic
By the time students work their way through The Purple Book (the last in the set), they are doing long division and multiplication, graphing, squaring, factoring, geometry, and word problems.
The affordability of Miquon Math Lab Materials makes them a practical choice for the early years of homeschooling. These materials offer a broad scope of math skills and appeal to a variety of learning styles, especially hands-on learners. Whether used as a stand-alone math program or as a supplement, these materials have deservedly stood the test of time. You can find these books from used sellers on Amazon here: Miquon Math.