How to Choose the Correct Math Level for Your Child

How to Choose the Correct Math Level for Your Child

When starting with a new curriculum, or transitioning from a traditional school to homeschooling, choosing the proper math level can be intimidating. Does “level 1” equate to 1st grade? Is the curriculum a rotating curriculum and you always start on level 1 no matter what age your child is? Do the numbers even mean anything at all? Placing a child in the proper level is one of the most intimidating and overwhelming part for new homeschoolers. Heck, even seasoned homeschoolers get scared by new curriculum sometimes!

Easy Level Placement With ShillerLearning


We feel your pain. Placing your child doesn’t have to be confusing. Many kids don’t like to feel like they’re being tested any more than you want to wade through a bunch of resources trying to figure out what to do. Our system is easy, quick, and effective.


Step 1 - Start with the first book in your kit.

Step 2 - Open to the front cover where you’ll see “Quick start guide.”

Step 3 - Read through the guide and get ready to work through the Review Tests.

Step 4 - Begin at review test 1 in the book. The introduction will tell you what materials you need. Grab the needed materials and get ready.

Step 5 - Prepare your child for the review. Each test reminds your child that the review exists to help them get the most out of their math time. The child-friendly language and step-by-step instructions will make this a relaxed time for both of you.

Step 6 - Administer the test and make sure to take notes. All you have to do is follow our script and work your way through the test. Each question lists the corresponding lessons in which the concepts were introduced. You’ll want to take notes to write down any lessons that your child needs to cover.

Step 7 - If your child has lessons that need to be introduced, begin with those lessons before moving on. Once you’ve finished all the lessons in a section, you can move on to the review test for the next section.

  • If you find your child mastered the first two tests in a book, you may want to jump ahead to the last test in the book to see if they master it as well. Or, if you do a brief flip-through of the section and you’re sure your child has a good knowledge of all the concepts in the test, you may choose to only ask questions you suspect your child might not know.
  • Most review tests don’t take more than 10-15 minutes. Your child might become fatigued from this process, it is advised to do one test a day until you’ve properly placed your child.


Step 8 - Once you have placed your child, will complete the review test again at the end of the section so that you can make sure to cover the lessons your child needs to be repeated.

This process is easy, fun and quick for you and your child. It requires no prep work for you and very little follow-up work. Then you can open and go with the curriculum at the right lesson and be on your way!

Need some more guidance on placing your child, or determining which kit is best for your needs? Shoot us an email or give us a call and we’re happy to help!

See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher, now homeschooling her dear son - an only child. Amanda and her family reside in an Airstream parked in Washington State. She loves Washington's outdoor opportunities. When not homeschooling, she also blogs, works as a virtual assistant, and loves creating hand-lettering pieces.

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Tips to Know When to Teach Fractions to Kids

When to Teach Fractions to Kids

I’ll never forget the joy in my son’s eyes when he shouted out- “Mom! Four quarters make one dollar, now I get this fraction thing!” It’s that moment of realization and understanding we absolutely love as homeschool parents. The moment when we realize our kids ARE getting it and we CAN thrive at home educators.  


For many children, making the connection between all those slices of pizza being the same as one whole pie is easy. Until you write it down on paper and take away the word pizza.


Or the child who can easily grab half a sandwich… but then stares at you like a deer in the headlights when you ask them to find the ½ written out.


It can be hard to translate real life into numbers on a paper- or even visual representations.


Homeschool parents are often frustrated by fractions. They see their children interacting with the “real life” examples and struggling to translate that over. Or parents worry the concept will be too difficult or confusing for their children. These are legitimate concerns.   Yet they shouldn’t stop you from teaching this important skill. We’re here to give you tips not only on when to teach this basic math skill but how to teach them in a way that won’t bring any tears or frustration.

The Best Way to Teach Fractions to Homeschoolers


The team at ShillerLearning discovered there was a gap in the fractions curriculum available to home educators. We saw this gap across all teaching modalities, especially among the Montessori-based home educators. Nothing truly hands-on existed for parents. We heard again and again from parents with no idea what to do. Our hearts broke for kids who cried over boring worksheets that didn’t make sense.


Something had to change


We created our Fractions Kit for exactly this purpose. It’s an open-and-go, 100% multisensory and engaging curriculum. You’ll discover it’s modeled just like our popular Math Kits I and II. We’ve used the same Montessori-inspired language, lesson structure, and manipulatives to bring this important basic math concept to life.


No more boring worksheets. Your children will use colorful pieces, real materials from home, and more. They’ll not only learn what a fraction is but why they matter. Your students will learn how to identify them in the real world. With joy and ease, they’ll complete equations, learn about denominators, and more. You will love not having anything to prepare but opening a book. Students will love learning and have a blast doing it. We’ve even heard from families whose children choose to work on this kit in their free time because they enjoy it so much.

When Should I Introduce Fractions??


Most children are ready around 2nd grade. However, fractions can be introduced from the time your children are very young. Give concrete examples in real life anytime you’re able. Count coins with them so they can see how 4 quarters, 10 dimes, 20 nickels, and 100 pennies all = 1 whole dollar. Cut up their sandwich and name the quantities. Discuss the percentage of sales and which fraction they match up to. If they have real-life situations in their brains already, they’ll be less intimidated.


Here at ShillerLearning, we don’t believe in putting an age limit on when children should be learning something. Isn’t part of what we love about the Montessori Method that children learn on their own pace? We have young children working in our kit, all the way through teens. We’ve even had a few adults work through the kit to help fill in gaps in their own education!  


If you don’t give age ranges, how do I know when to start my child on the kit?


This is a question we’re asked all the time. It can be confusing to not get a cut and dry answer. For most children, fractions are added in Kit I along with Book 2 or 3. Sometimes families will wait until they’re done with Kit I, others add the kit in alongside Kit II, Book 4. The overwhelming majority introduce fractions at Kit I Book 2 or 3.

Options and Tips for Introducing the Fractions Kit:

  • Give your student a choice when they’d like to do fractions and how often.


Your student may want to work once a week on fractions, drop their current book, for now, to focus exclusively on fractions, rotate the kit book in at their leisure, or complete the entire book after book 3. These are only a few suggestions, your student may choose when they’d like to work on them

  • At least through fourths needs to be introduced by the end of the second review test in book 3. Your student will need this information to move on to the next section.


  • Foundational knowledge of division can be helpful, but not necessary


  • As you progress through the Kit, you’ll eventually hit a point where you need to have completed specific lessons in our Math Kits to proceed.  


The Kit will last for several years! In general, it’s not something that’s worked all the way through because of this.


Want some additional help with this foundational & basic math skill? Love “real life” learning, games, crafts, etc? Make sure to grab our FREE Fraction Activity Pack for additional lessons. You’ll find lessons designed for all ages- toddlers through teens. As always, they’re full of the best of Montessori-inspired games, crafts, lessons, works, and more.

Don't forget to Pin and Save!

See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher, now homeschooling her dear son - an only child. Her family resides in an Airstream parked in Washington State and loves Washington's outdoor opportunities. When not homeschooling, Amanda blogs, loves reading, and creates hand-lettering pieces.

Enhance Your Math Lessons with these Fun Montessori Pi Day Activities

Enhance your Math Lessons with these Fun Montessori Inspired Pi Day Math Lessons

My High School math teacher had all the digits of pi wrapped around the upper portion of the classroom wall like a border. Any student who had memorized them all by the 14th of March got bonus points in the class. Only a few kids were able to accomplish this feat. My teacher celebrated by bringing in pies and having a fun “pi-day” in class.

You can incorporate Pi-Day into your homeschooling as well.

Here are a few ideas to get you started planning your "Pi Day" School Day:


  • Talk about what Pi is: Bake a pie- math, reading skills, and snacks! What more could a homeschooler want??


  • Cylinder works,


  • Pi-digit matching,


  • Fractions with circles (our Fraction Kit is a great option for this!),


  • Use a compass to make different size circles,


  • Measure out 3.14 inches or feet of string,


  • Have pot pie for dinner,


  • Number writing practice writing the digits of Pi,


  • Read about famous mathematicians,


  • Research how it got the name “Pi”,


  • Take a field trip to a local pizza place and get a lesson on spinning the perfect pizza pie,


  • Check out Pi day activities at your local library,


  • Read the book Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi,


  • Practice making the Pi symbol in rice, sand or with our grain set,


  • Make the Pi symbol out of playdough or clay,


  • Find Pi with a variety of circles!

Here are a few lessons from our math curriculum you might want to use on Pi day as well:


Math Kit 1:


Book 1

Lesson 2- Shapes

Lesson 10- Shapes Matching

Lesson 15- Comparisons Among 2

Book 2-

Lesson 42- Subtraction With Circles


Math Kit 2:


Book 5

Lesson 10- Diameter and the Chord

Lesson 113- Angle Degrees

Lesson 114- Protractor and Radius

Book 6

Lesson 84- Planes

Lesson 85- Circles and Spheres

Lesson 118- Measuring a Circle’s Circumference

Lesson 119- Circle Circumference and Pi


Happy Pi Day!  

Like these ideas? We think you’ll love our free monthly printable packs too. Subscribe to our newsletter to be the first ones with access to the packs.

See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher, now homeschooling her dear son - an only child. Her family resides in an Airstream parked in Washington State and loves Washington's outdoor opportunities. When not homeschooling, Amanda blogs, loves reading, and creates hand-lettering pieces.

The U.S Math Crisis

The U.S Math Crisis


We have a math crisis in the U.S.


Maybe that's the least of our problems. But maybe not. Consider this:


  • 80% of US 8th graders cannot calculate fractions, decimals and percentages.

  • 40% of US 4th graders cannot tell NE from SW on a map.


It's really just us. The world does better:


  • In Germany 35% of teens take and pass advanced placement exams; in the US it's 4%

  • In Japan kids start algebra two years ahead of those in the US.


What are the repercussions?


  • In the California State University system 60% of Freshman are required to take remedial math and science classes
  • One in five adult Americans cannot:

Calculate the total of a purchase w/tax & tip

Locate an intersection on a road map

Enter background information correctly on a form

  • MIT economist Lester Thurow says that only 20% of Americans have the work skills and education to be competitive in the global marketplace


And no one believes it! In a recent study 71% of high school parents say that they are satisfied with the math education their children are getting. Ouch.


The US has a math crisis. And the repercussions are serious. Join ShillerLearning and the Rising Stars Foundation in creating better outcomes for our children and country.


See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Larry Shiller

Larry Shiller is President of ShillerLearning, whose mission is to help kids learn and fulfill their potential. Shiller has degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Harvard Business School and is the author of Software Excellence (Prentice-Hall).

A father of three, Shiller is active in non-profits and his hobbies include working with local startups, music (Shiller is an accomplished violinist who - when not helping children learn math and language arts - performs in the NYC tri-state area), tennis (Shiller's team made it to the USTA national finals in his skill bracket), Quoridor (Shiller is a former USA Champion), backgammon (Shiller is the Voice of Backgammon, doing commentary on backgammon tournaments worldwide), table tennis, and flying (Shiller holds a private pilot's license).

Multisensory Multiplication Games for Homeschool

15+ Multisensory Multiplication Hacks for Homeschoolers

Children learn best when all of their senses are engaged. A multisensory approach in education is not simply a catchy trend. It’s a proven approach to enhance learning and cement concepts. Hands-on math education teaches concepts in a way no textbook ever could. By engaging the senses, our children can experience concepts in a more concrete way. This helps subjects that might feel extremely abstract, such as multiplication, become relatable and less intimidating.  


Give these hacks a try in your homeschool to see your children thrive with their times' tables!

Multisensory Multiplication Games & Hacks for Your Homeschool


  • Building equations with blocks- Children’s play blocks make the best manipulatives! Create a visual example of the equation you are solving with a set of blocks. By building the equation, children benefit from a tactile experience of physically feeling the numbers as well as the visual benefit of seeing the quantity. Children can also build a visual representation of the times table with blocks if they feel ambitious. This is a fantastic way to incorporate hands-on math into your home. [The ShillerLearning math curriculum does this with decimal material (base ten blocks), number cards, the operator set, and later number tiles (along with the lines of The Stamp Game].


  • Draw out the equation- For example- Take the equation 4x6. Have the student draw a 4 by 6 grid of stars/circles/flowers/ etc. to visualize the equation and count the total number. You may use the ShillerLearning Graph sheet or Blank Number Grid for this.


  • Dots or stickers- This is done similar to drawing as above. Using BINGO daubers or small stickers, children create a visual representation of the equation.


  • Multiplication songs- Check out the ShillerLearning CD's for the “Multiples of Four”, “Count by Fives”, and “Powers of Ten” songs to use in your homeschool. Kids love to sing and dance to these songs!


  • ShillerLearning’s base ten decimal materials- These are the blue manipulatives in our Math Kit I. Using the materials provides students with a concrete way to make a physical representation of numbers, equations, and value.


  • Use art- Children with a creative streak can greatly benefit from incorporating art. Giving them a chance to make a beautiful multiplication table can help immensely. Turning equations into pictures is another approach for incorporating art.


  • Tap numbers with fingers on the table- This can be an especially useful way to work on multiplication facts. The student taps one finger for each number. If they are working on counting by 3s, for example, they would tap their finger harder for each multiple of three.


  • Jump it out- Similar to above. In this approach, children jump up for each number and do a jumping jack on the multiple.
  • Money- Using cash is an excellent way to give kids a hands-on, real-life experience with multiplication. Allow them to figure out how much change is needed at the grocery store, to sort and count change, and other money experiences.


  • Use a ball- Say an equation and toss the ball to your student. They can toss the ball back after answering the equation. Roleplay and have the student ask you the equation. Occasionally throw in a wrong answer to see if your student catches it. You can also write numbers on a ball. Toss the ball to one student who makes note of the number on top. The ball is then tossed to the next person who makes note of the number on top. Students then work together to solve the equation of those two numbers multiplied to one another.


  • Food can sometimes be the answer to a problem- Use small snacks as manipulatives to eat after the equation has been solved. Students can build out the equation with their favorite treat and eat the answer!


  • Completing multiplication tables- Proving a student with a blank multiplication table to fill out can have surprising benefits. Some children may need to fill our a table dozens of times along with incorporating other techniques listed here. You may print additional grids for your multiplication tables from your customer downloads.


  • Number tiles- Another hallmark of ShillerLearning’s materials are our number tiles. You will recognize how these are used if you are familiar with the Montessori Stamp Game. Students use these to build equations as they move on from the base ten materials. The number tiles are the final transition in moving from concrete (base ten materials and number cards) to abstract work (just pencil and paper or mental math) in the basic operations. Instead of the unit cubes, we use the “1” tiles; instead of ten rods, we use the “10” tiles; instead of the hundreds of flats, we use “100” tiles; instead of the thousand cubes, we use “1000” tiles.


  • Card games- Divide a deck of cards evenly between two players. Each player flips two cards at a time and multiples the amount shown on their cards. The player with the highest equation takes the other players cards. Play continues until someone runs out of cards, or for a set amount of time. Creating multiplication games with materials already on hand is an excellent way to build skills!


  • Dominos- These already have two numbers on each piece. Multiply the two numbers together. Play a game similar to the approach above. You can also adapt the regular dominos game so that players can place a piece that has the same answer as one already on the board.


  • Cooking- Following a recipe is an excellent way to work on multiplication skills. From measuring ingredients, adapting measurements, adjusting recipe size, and adjusting serving skills. Cooking together is an excellent way to work on math together.


  • Flash cards- ShillerLearning’s flashcards are an excellent resource. These cards help children learn facts without just rote memorization. Each card demonstrates how to make the equation out of our base 10 materials as well.


Check out all our math songs on these albums:

Like this? Check out our Math Kits to help teach your children more about money. They help children understand the concept of money, make change, and other practical money skills.

See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher, now homeschooling her dear son - an only child. Her family resides in an Airstream parked in Washington State and loves Washington's outdoor opportunities. When not homeschooling, Amanda blogs, loves reading, and creates hand-lettering pieces.

Multisensory Fraction Materials Hacks

3 Hacks to Expand the Life of Your Multisensory Fraction Materials

You love multisensory fraction materials. What to do with these materials once fractions have been learned? Creative hacks to expand their life for years.

There’s been an ongoing debate over “unitaskers” in the home. For those who don’t know, a “unitasker” is an item that only does one thing. These are often found in the kitchen. Egg slicers, cherry pitters, and melon ballers are common examples of “unitaskers.” Occasionally a few creative people will find additional uses for them. For the most part, they get used for only one task. As minimalism and simplifying become more popular, these “unitaskers” are getting more attention than ever.


Helping Montessori Materials Find New Life


These items exist within the homeschool world too. Parents often shy away from purchasing materials because they struggle to see the investment in something they might only use for a short period of time. We want to get the best ‘bang for our buck’ in all our investments for home education. By purchasing high-quality Montessori materials, we can reuse them from child to child. This helps extend the life of less often used resources.


The Montessori Method is careful and intentional about the materials used. You’ll find the same materials used over a span of several years. Children will have a chance to become familiar and comfortable with items. They will be able to grow in how they’re used and teach younger siblings ways to use them. Within the Montessori setting, you’ll also find materials reused over and over. Intentionality is placed in being good stewards of resources and reusing anything possible in different ways.


A little bit of creativity can also go a long way. Finding ways to extend the life of our materials ensures we’re getting the most we can for our money. We’re always amazed at the amazing creations children make with our decimal materials, wooden shapes, and other manipulatives! Kids are so creative. Sometimes letting them loose with a shelf full of materials and a little bit of free time yields amazing results.  

3 Ways to Use Fraction Circles Within Your Homeschool

Fraction circles are one material parent often shy away from. They are key multisensory fraction materials. Yet, home educators often worry they are not used long enough to justify the expense. We are often asked if the lessons in our Fraction Book can be completed without the fraction circles.


While it can be done, it’s not going to be especially easy. All our lessons are written with the fraction circles in mind. They are beautiful and children love using them. Made from durable plastic, they’re designed to last. We’ve also made sure to make them visually appealing with bright colors children love. The Fraction Kit will do an excellent job teaching your children fractions. It can be used interspersed with your lessons (we do “fraction Friday” at home). Or you can work through it completely after Math Kit I or book 4 in Math Kit II.


The fractions circles can be reused in other ways too! They don’t have to sit on the shelf until it’s fraction time.  


Work on fine motor skills by using them for tracing. Obviously, you can get a perfect circle with the “whole” circle piece. Children also love tracing the smaller pieces. They will become pictures of pizza, pie, geometric patterns and designs, and more. Kids also love the challenge of getting all the pieces placed together to make an even circle. You’ll be amazed at what your child comes up with when they are shown how to trace fraction circles.


Provide your builder-in-training with new building materials. The pieces come apart to become awesome building blocks. Watch as your child delights in creating towers and building walls. They can be especially fun when combined with other building blocks to add color, texture, and even decoration! These multisensory fraction materials suddenly become so much more with your creative builder.


Try some mosaic work. Mosaics are an excellent way to work on visual-spatial skills, patterns, and creativity. The size of the fraction circle pieces makes them wonderful for beginner mosaics. The inner edges are already made to nestle together and the colors create beautiful works of art. While the rounded outer edge gives kids an interesting challenge to figure out how to build their layout. Try using them alongside the wooden shapes for even more options.


These are a few ideas to help get you thinking outside the box. We hope you’ll enjoy finding other uses for the fraction circles, and all your other Montessori materials.

See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher, now homeschooling her dear son - an only child. Her family resides in an Airstream parked in Washington State and loves Washington's outdoor opportunities. When not homeschooling, Amanda blogs, loves reading, and creates hand-lettering pieces.

Don't Be Scared of Teaching Homeschool Math

Don't Be Scared of Teaching Homeschool Math With these 5 Tips

Math is the #1 subject home educators say they feel unqualified to teach. Teaching homeschool mathematics to kids is intimidating for many parents. We often feel like we don’t have a good grasp of it ourselves. Or that we need to outsource it to someone else. I get it. Math was my least favorite subject in school. Guess what? It’s now one of my favorite parts of homeschooling. Join me in saying, “Math is fun!”

The Top 5 Reasons to Not Be Scared of Teaching Math

#1- Homeschool Math is not like it was in school.


Know what I remember from math in school? Standing in front of a blackboard being asked to solve an equation in front of the entire class. After talking with thousands of homeschool parents, this is a top memory for many of them too. I think this is one of the main reasons we’re scared to teach mathematics. When kids are on the spot, feel embarrassed, or singled out, it can be detrimental. While I don’t have any hard and fast data on this, I believe it to be true.  

When I was a kid I could solve problems on my own. The minute the teacher put me up there in front of the class I froze. I bet lots of you did too. If we can identify this as a negative feeling and experience, it can help us move forward with teaching.

The second thing that stands out to me when I was in school: worksheets. So. Many. Worksheets. And so many total busywork worksheets. How many millions of pages are printed on busywork sheets in schools every year? By choosing to teach at home, we can teach competency and closure. No busywork or repetitive worksheets required.

Teaching homeschool math looks 100% different than the standard school model. (There will be consistency between ShillerLearning and the Montessori method, I’m mainly comparing to public schools here.) It can be relaxed, it can be engaging, and *gasp* it can be fun!

#2- You can custom-tailor for each kid.

There is no pressure to move a kid along to keep up with the class. No pressure to stick to what a specific grade level says your child needs to learn. You have the freedom to repeat lessons as many times as needed, or as your child desires. If they’re struggling with a concept, you can leave it to come back to later. If there is a lesson they love, you can repeat it to their heart’s content. Plus, you can incorporate lessons and activities based on each child’s unique interests. Have a budding entrepreneur? You can start teaching business math. Have a kid who is always on the move? Use the ShillerLearning ball and our kinesthetic activities to keep them engaged and give them the movement they need!

#3-  Math games for kids.

Teaching through games not only can build math skills. Games teach social skills, visual/spatial awareness, reading, and more. We are so fortunate to be home educators at this time. There’s a vast availability of games to help teach skills and that math is fun. They don’t even have to be “math games.” Classic children’s games help reinforce concepts without the kids even realizing they’re learning. Starting a family game night once a week is not only fun but educational!

#4- There is math everywhere

Growing up, I knew I needed to learn math to function in the world. I didn’t understand how the worksheets were going to correlate to my real life though. By teaching our children at home we can involve them in the day-to-day uses. They can count out money for us at the store. We can have them measure ingredients when we’re cooking supper. They can help us watch our speed on the road. Once we start looking, we can find ways to incorporate it into our children’s lives without them even noticing.

#5- We script everything for you

When using ShillerLearning’s materials, everything is scripted. You won’t have to study up to review concepts. There’s no need to learn “new math.” Heck, you don’t even have to know the answers! All you need to be able to do is read the scripts to your child. It is the easiest homeschool math curriculum on the market. If you come across something you’re not familiar with, you can learn alongside your student. Kids love it when their parents show a love of learning too! When you encounter a lesson that’s a new, or difficult for you, it gives you the chance to learn. Our materials are open and go, need no prep work, and no study on your part. We’ve done this to help take the fear out of teaching for you.

See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher who is now homeschooling her only child, a seven-year-old boy. Her family resides in an Airstream that is parked in Washington. She loves Washington's outdoor opportunities. When she’s not schooling, she also blogs at, works as a Virtual Assistant and loves reading and creating hand-lettering pieces.

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