20 Best Tips

5 Reasons to Make the Switch to Teaching Textbooks Online

{disclaimer ~ this is a sponsored post in partnership with Teaching Textbooks}

It’s been nine years since our family made the switch to Teaching Textbooks and just over a year since we started using Teaching Textbooks 3.0, the online version of their program. While the academic content is the same, the 3.0 version offers additional perks to the traditional book and CD-rom method we have grown to love. 

Using Teaching Textbooks was a game changer for our family. We went from went from literal tears and frustration with math to happy kids who thought math was fun. I’ll admit that I wasn’t sure if the online version was going to be a good fit for our family (and I may have balked a little bit at that new-fangled option), because I’m typically a pencil and good-old-fashioned-book kind of girl. 

But after a year using the online subscription-based 3.0 version I can honestly say we are even more in love with this incredible program. We have used Teaching Textbooks from Math 3 all the way through Pre-Calculus – read on to see why the 3.0 version has us hooked!


We’ve had quite a bit of sports-related travel in the last year with our boys and guess what? Math can be accessed anywhere we go, since most everywhere has wifi now (insert an evil *little* laugh here). No need to bring separate books or disks for anyone. One laptop and we are ready to work on math.

In addition, at home our kids typically work from different computers which means (with the physical disks) each year I had to reload the program onto a different computer. There was also the year one of our kids went through two hard drives on her laptop. With the 3.0 version, all the math levels are stored online and can be accessed from any computer in the house, and no disks need to be loaded or programs transferred from year to year. 

No Disks or Books

In the past, our boys were famous for misplacing their math disks. Or wrecking their textbooks. Teaching Textbooks 3.0 has been a fabulous solution for us because there is nothing to lose – everything is digital. This may seem trivial, but guess what we can never find when we need to flip back to a past lesson to review a concept – our textbook!

The 3.0 online version has an ebook that can be viewed in a different browser window or even printed off if you choose. One thing I love about this: I can pull up a browser on my computer, flip back to a specific lesson, and we can review and work on a problem on one of the kid’s computers. More than one person can be logged into the account at a time – hello, wonderful!

Grade Storage

We won’t talk about how many computer issues we’ve had over the years and how many hard drives I have in a drawer (for real).  With the 3.0 version, Teaching Textbooks stores your grades for you, even after your subscription is over. You don’t have to worry about where that grade book disappeared to – they’ve got you covered. 

As a parent of four, I absolutely love that my parent home page allows me to see all of the kids at a glance, including past levels. There’s not logging in/out of different levels because it’s all conveniently in one location. 

Also, did I mention that Teaching Textbooks does the grading for you? The program grades each question as your child completes it, giving instant feedback, and also provides a digital gradebook which can be printed off at the end of each section or as a whole. 

No Disk Drive Needed

When our oldest started taking classes at the community college, we needed to get her an inexpensive lightweight laptop and opted for a Chromebook without thinking that all the way through. With no disk drive or storage capacity, she was working from two different computers until Teaching Textbooks 3.0 Online was released. 

All of the Teaching Textbooks 3.0 programs work on MAC, Windows, and Chromebooks. Tablets and phones can be used as well with the Puffin browser (3rd party browser, support limited). For our family, the Chromebook aspect has been HUGE this past year. The full Teaching Textbooks 3.0 was one of the few programs we didn’t have any issues with! 

Completed Lesson Notifications

A more recent feature that has been added is the lovely “Completed” notification next to lessons that have been finished 100%. I have to say, this is one of my FAVORITE new features that has been added to the program. Prior to this update, the parent had to do a little more digging in the grade book to see if a lesson was 100% completed, but now – there isn’t any hiding if a kiddo “forgets” to do a problem. I’m going to assume it’s not just one of my boys that likes to try this…and maybe this would be helpful in your home too

There are so many other features to love about Teaching Textbooks 3.0 and you can read our full thoughts on it here, but if it’s something that has piqued your interest – keep reading to see how you can try it for free!

Try Teaching Textbooks 3.0 for FREE

If you’d like to test out the 3.0 version, you can start a Free Trial of the complete program, up through Lesson 15. The trial includes lectures, solution, eBook, and grading on each of the products. If you decide to purchase the full version, everything transfers over for you! 

And bonus – you can try ANY and EVERY level. They are that generous! Learn more HERE. 

Not sure where to start? Download and print a placement test online. 


Skip Counting Charts from 2 through 15 Printable (Updated)

* file updated 10/17/18

Our skip counting charts have been in our classroom over the years in one way or another, either as posters for our morning board routine, or more recently we have printed them out postcard size (four to a page) and on a jump ring for handy reference.

Let’s face it, sometimes multiplication facts can be a little tricky. 

Why skip counting? Essentially, skip counting helps our kids learn the concept of multiplication and gives them a great foundation for grasping math facts. Once they have mastered skip counting by 3s, it is easier to grasp the concept of 3 x 4.

The skip counting charts cover the numbers from 2 up to 15. The number pages up to 12 each have a little ‘rhyme’ at the top, show how skip counting with that number works, and then skip counts up to whatever 15x that particular number would be. 

The numbers 13, 14, and 15 do not have a rhyme, but each number skip counts up to the number 15 (per reader request for their Classical Conversations study). 


Hope these are a help to you!

*updated October 2018 to reflect multiplication for all tables up through multiples of 15.

Our Favorite Homeschool Math Curriculum

Almost seven years ago, in 2009, we were facing tears and much drama when it came to math time. One of our daughters knew her facts and could compute facts in her head with little problem, but when it came time for her to figure the answers and write them down on paper, it became a very long and drawn out process. She would second guess herself. Recheck her problems over and over. What should typically take little time, turned into tears and frustration, and led to one girl strongly hating math. 

It was at that point that we put the worksheets aside, turned to some friends for advice, and ordered Teaching Textbooks to try. It was a perfect fit, and we immediately ordered a level for our youngest daughter as well. The changeover was made to the program for all of our kids once they were able to work on the first level of Teaching Textbooks, and we have used it ever since. Truly, it’s a program that I recommend to all of my friends, especially those that dread teaching the upper levels of math. (You know who you are.)

While math was one of my favorite subjects in high school and college (there is something oddly satisfying to me to be able to work out a problem and have a tangible solution to that problem), I will admit my brain has a hard time switching between Algebra 2 and 4th grad math. Call me crazy, but having Teaching Textbooks has been a magnificent relief to my over-stretched brain. For this upcoming school year our kids will range from 5th grade math up through Geometry. The mere thought of that makes my brain hurt – yet happy, since I know we have a solid program in place to teach the kids. 

All Levels of Teaching Textbooks are Self-Grading

If you’ve ever had to grade endless papers, especially when you get to the high school level, you will be most thankful for this feature of Teaching Textbooks. (Pre-Calculus will be self-grading as of August 2016). A few years ago we had a non-grading version of Pre-Algebra, and OY! Let’s just say it was a huge headache. It was well worth it for me to upgrade to the self-grading version and take that hassle off my hands, especially when we took into consideration that three other kids would be using the program as well. As a parent, the gradebook is EXTREMELY helpful. For our high schooler, I can print off a copy of the gradebook to include with transcripts. 

The Kids Can Work on Math Independently


A laptop and a set of headphones, along with the program, is all it takes to get started. You don’t really need the headphones, but if you have kids that are distractible (or perhaps a parent who can’t focus – ahem), headphones are a wonderful addition. Each of our children can work on their math lessons independently, from third grade and up. The lessons are typically read/spoken to the children, and once they do the solving of the problem, they know immediately if an answer is correct/incorrect. 

For our children, this immediate feedback has been key for them in moving through lessons quickly – and quickly identifying areas they struggle grasping. Because I can see their grades as soon as the lesson is completed, I can also check to see what problems they may have answered wrong, and help them if needed. 

Continual Review and Second Chances

Each level of Teaching Textbooks includes continual review, so you can be sure your children are mastering an area. In addition, kids are also receive a second chance. There are times when our kids figure up the correct response, but type it in wrong, and other times when they get it entirely wrong. Receiving a second chance allows them a moment to look back over the problem, re-figure, and enter in the correct answer before moving on. 

We Can Use the Program With Multiple Children

With four kids, I want to find curriculum that makes sense for our family monetarily as well. While the upfront cost of the program can seem intimidating, when the cost is broken down between four children, it becomes very manageable. Once a level is purchased, we don’t have to re-buy the program (unless the kids use the workbook). 

Our kids work primarily on the computer, and refer back to the workbook, but do all of their figuring and writing on graph paper, making it a great way to pass the programs on to our younger children. 

Thorough Explanations and Understanding

Last year we let our oldest help choose her curriculum for the year and took her input regarding a few subject areas. She decided to try something other than Teaching Textbooks for Algebra 1. Within the first three months of the switch, she was growing increasingly frustrated, even though I was able to help explain concepts, and also find some video clips for harder concepts. By mid-semester she came and asked if she could switch back to Teaching Textbooks. She decided to go to the very start of the Algebra 1 program and work through each lesson. It wasn’t that one program was easier than the other, but the lesson walk-throughs and explanations of Teaching Textbooks gave her a solid understanding and were not as confusing to her as other programs (let’s face it, Algebra isn’t for everyone). 

The Program Travels Well

Although we do try to plan our vacations not during typical school weeks, there are times when we have doctor’s appointments or the kids are at their grandparents. The only thing they need to bring along is the CD-ROM portion of the level and then pop in a disk to complete their lesson. Now granted the kids may not be entirely thrilled about this part of the program, but it definitely is a benefit for me! 

Parental Override on the Grade book

Parents can also go into individual lessons and see how many problems were completed, marked wrong, and also if the solution to a problem was viewed. For several of our children, this is key. While a perfect score isn’t always possible, we do want to make sure the kids fully understand the concepts being taught (especially since math concepts build upon each other). When I look at the grade book each week, one of the key things I check is if our kids have viewed the solution. Each time they get a problem wrong (and after they have a second chance to answer it), they are given the chance to see the problem solved in front of them, and the ‘teacher’ walks them through the steps. 

As a parent, you can also choose to delete an answer to a problem or have a child redo an entire lesson. For one of our children (who gets frustrated with one or two problems wrong), I will delete the answers and let him go back in and retry it. It’s something little, but it makes a huge difference for him. The key is having him master the concept even though I’m not expecting a perfect score. 

When Your Computer Dies…

Over the last three years we have had TWO laptops bite the dust, one an accidental dropping and the other a complete fail. We were able to pull out the hard drive on both laptops, reinstall the programs onto our new laptop, and transfer the grade books over to the new computer with no problem (incidentally, the folks at Teaching Textbooks are fabulous to talk you down from a proverbial ledge should this ever be an issue for you as well). I’m rather adept at it now, so local friends, I’m happy to help if you need it. 

Not Sure Where to Start? 

Teaching Texbooks offers placement tests for your children so you can get a better idea where to start them off. Click here to take a peek. 


Using Times Tales for Tricky Multiplication Facts

Educents is a blog sponsor and provided a digital copy of Times Tales for our review.

using Times Tales to learn multiplication facts

Multiplication facts have been a bit tricky for two of our kids, especially many of the ones in the 6, 7, 8, and 9 tables. Drilling wasn’t effective and was making life unpleasant.  Flash cards were not our friend.

Our fifth grader is constantly trying to sneak answers out of me, and although he eventually does get the correct answer when he thinks it through, recall isn’t as fast as it could be. Our youngest is beginning his multiplication journey, so over the last few weeks both he and his brother have been working together to learn their facts using Times Tales. Instead of groans and frustration, the two are learning together and remembering (without needing to ask me for help!).

As I’ve been sharing our progress via Instagram and Facebook the past bit, I LOVE hearing your comments and hearing how successful it’s been for your families also! I am so excited to share a more in-depth look at the program with you all. Be sure to read through as well, because there is a 15% off coupon code for you to grab!

How Times Tales Works

Times Tales animated math

Although it may seem like pictures and silly sentences, Times Tales is a digital video program that teaches the following multiplication facts using visual mnemonic stories: 3×6, 3×7, 3×8, 3×9, 4×6, 4×7, 4×8, 4×9, 6×6, 6×7, 6×8, 6×9, 7×7, 7×8, 7×9, 8×8, 8×9, & 9×9.

The program includes two DVDs or video downloads, each focusing on a set of problems: the lower facts and then the upper facts. Multiplication facts based on 0, 1, 2, 5, and 10 are not included in the program since children typically have an easier time learning those facts. DVD 1 covers the upper 3s and 4s times tables and DVD 2 covers the uppers 6s, 7s, 8s, and 9s.

Learning multiplication facts with Times Tales-5

Each number is given a visual clue to help children remember the prompt. We used the Times Tales download, so I transferred the videos to my iPad and the boys watched it together that way. We focused on Part 1 immediately after our break, waited two weeks, and then worked on Part 2 together. (Note: it is recommended that you work with the first DVD for at least one week before you begin the second.) We followed along as they recommend and the results have been FABULOUS!

Learning multiplication facts with Times Tales

Our oldest isn’t needing any help with his facts and able to immediately answer the multiplication facts – and has easily translated into division as well.

Here’s a quick look at the steps of the video (about 30 minutes each) and also a short video clip to show our boys ‘in action’ with the program.





Part 1

Learn the characters – kids are introduced to the different characters and the numbers they represent.

Part 2

Learn the Stories – Kids learn the multiplication facts by watching the short video story clips (less than 10 minutes).

Part 3

Beat the Clock – play a game and answer the questions within 3 to 5 seconds. The questions are based on the stories the kids learned in the prior part.

Part 4

Flashcard Practice – the problems/flashcards are shown on the screen and kids can either pause the video to answer, or let it run and see if they can beat the video. A division challenge is also included as a part of this section and kids see if they can guess who is missing from the problem.

There are also flashcards available as a part of the printable portion of Times Tales that can be printed off, both with prompts and as straight multiplication and division facts.

Final Step – The Written Test

Learning multiplication facts with Times Tales-7

In this step, kids work on the written tests that are included as a part of the program. There is a crossword puzzle challenge, a practice test (including the characters for visual clues), and also a full test with only the numbers and no clues.

What Mom Loves About Times Tales

times tales for learning multiplication facts

Other than printing things off to use later with the kids, there was really little that I had to do prep-wise for the boys. I did sit with them while they watched the video to observe what was happening. A few things I love:

  • The characters are memorable and ‘translate’ well. The boys haven’t had any problem learning or remember the numbers that each character represents or translating them to actual numbers for math facts.
  • The stories stick with you. Our girls used Times Tales years ago and were chiming in with the facts (and still remember them!). In the days following our first lesson with Times Tales, I would hear the boys stop for a moment in their math program and repeat one of the stories to solve a problem they were working on.
  • All the printables are included with the program. The only pesky part is putting the dice together (but I promise it isn’t that hard!). Otherwise you can save it to use with younger children and print off as many copies as you would like.
  • Two sets of flashcards help with recognition. For younger children, or those needing a little prompting, there are two different sets of flashcards included: one with visual prompts of the characters and one with the straight facts. Cards for division practice are also included with the program
  • It is a fun way to learn, rather than rote repetition. The boys have especially enjoyed this part and the more ‘hands-on’ aspect the program brought to math. Instead of pulling out flashcards, the boys enjoy rolling the dice to work on their math problems.

One reader emailed to ask if I thought the videos were cheesy. Now personally, I might not have thought our boys would like them, but since the clips were so short (30 minutes each), they were short enough to engage them while teaching the facts – and the stories stuck! Knowing the program works is a huge encouragement to me.

The day after we watched the second part of the Times Tales focusing on the upper multiplication facts, I pulled out the dice to see what Kaleb would remember. All we had worked on the day prior was the video itself and the practice test, with no review after that. Here’s a peek at how Kaleb did remembering the facts he learned:





I was really blown away! He gave the correct answers right away without even hesitating. For a boy that has only worked on his lower multiplication tables and not had any prior work with the upper facts – I was amazed!

Overall we have LOVED using Times Tales (and I may be a wee bit upset with myself for not pulling it out earlier for Zachary). It was a short time investment (and not a huge out of pocket expense either) for something that clicked with our kids and helped knock out something that was difficult for them.

Start Using Times Tales

The Times Tales programs are available through their website HERE

Purchase the Times Tales on DVD here (21.95)!
Download Times Tales Digital version here ($19.95)!


Nativity Pocket Chart Calendar Cards – Free Printable

Nativity Pocket Chart Calendar Cards

Hopefully you all are enjoying a little break at some point this upcoming week with Thanksgiving {well, at least those of you in the US!}. December isn’t that far away, so here’s a head start for you to print and laminate before the month of December begins.

A reader emailed and asked if I would be willing to create Nativity Pocket Chart Calendar Cards. While she loved the free December pocket chart calendar cards I shared several years ago, she wanted one featuring Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus – and I absolutely wanted to help her out.


How to Use the Nativity Pocket Chart Calendar Cards

Use the different colored number cards to try different pattern sequences: an ABC pattern, ABAB pattern, AABB pattern and other patterns you can make up together. Here’s an example of different patterns using the cards from September.

pattern example

The set also includes a calendar header for the month of December as well.

Nativity Pocket Chart Calendar Header

Additional Calendar Helps

Here are a few additional printables and helps for you all, including the pocket chart that we use, laminating tips, and additional printables you may like:

Yearly pocket chart calendar numbers from Homeschool Creations copy Pocket chart holiday and special occasion cards


Additional December Pocket Chart Calendar Pieces

Pocket Chart Calendar Cards for the month of December

If you’d prefer a different set of Christmas themed calendar pocket chart calendar pieces, feel free to grab a free set here.

PDF Printing Problems

Having trouble downloading or printing this file? Be sure to check out the post on PDF Download Problems for tips and tricks on getting the files to download properly. The solution is usually something simple and quick!

Simple Math Tip to Keep Numbers Straight

Do your kids have trouble keeping their numbers straight and make simple calculation errors because they shift numbers into the wrong columns?

Simple Math Tip to Keep Numbers Straight

A few of our kids have had trouble keeping their math figures ‘neat’. And by neat I mean there were calculation errors because numbers were getting shifted over and then added or subtracted incorrectly.

Frustrations mounted because the errors, but the kids couldn’t seem to keep things lined up properly, so we grabbed something fairly simple to help out – a sheet of graph paper.

Graph Paper-1

Each box gives them enough room to put a number in  and helps them get everything lined in columns  properly. For our oldest (who just started Algebra 1), it will also be handy for graphing.

Graph Paper-1-2

I can honestly say using graph paper for math has been one of the easiest things we’ve done to help out, and all it required was a pack of paper. That is a win-win for me (and the kids)!

Another Quick Tip for You

Sticker dots for reading

If your kids are feeling overwhelmed with reading, find out how two simple sticker dots helped us out!