Ever since an Alpha Omega representative took time to comment on my post “Horizons Versus Lifepac,” we’ve been sold. It’s a really good fit for my Drama Queen who grasps the math concepts fairly quickly and easily but tires of a math lesson that drags on too long or gets too repetitive. Imagine my surprise (not) when her younger brother turned out to be the exact same way?
So here we go on Horizons Math, Round 2! My “math-genius-I-might-be-biased” son and his short attention span work well with the short, colorful sections and the spiraling content. I love it when we find something that works and we can stick with it! It’s because of that I decided it was high time for a review, and I’m happy that Alpha Omega agreed! (<– Translation: This is a paid review of the Horizons Second Grade Math Set. But I already love them – that’s not likely to sway my opinion much is it?)
Meet the Horizons Math Set (2nd Grade)
The Horizons Math Set consists of a Teacher Guide and two colorful, consumable workbooks. These are the true workbooks (not worktexts like their LifePac curriculum if you are familiar with those.) For Horizons Math the lessons are in the Teacher Guide. The benefit is that the students have two slim workbooks to complete that don’t have a lot of bulk or unnecessary material for them.
Inside the student workbooks you will find colorful lessons spanning a front and back of one page, broken into small sections and grouped by like process. For example, you might have a section of addition sums, followed by a section of counting by 5’s, followed by a section of matching number words and numerals. The content is spiraling so that as you add new material, you review old material and all the topics rotate through the entire text several times before the year is over. This is great for my math-smart but short-attention-spanned kiddos.
You can find a complete list of the Scope & Sequence for the Horizons materials, as well as sample pages to download, on the Alpha Omega website.
Because the student texts are divided into two workbooks and because the pages are perforated, they’re also very portable. I learned with Drama Queen (who can be kind of hard on her workbooks, folding the cover back, messing with edges of the pages) that it worked best for if we tore the lesson out and put it on a clipboard. Surprisingly my son is much nicer to his workbooks so we can leave the pages in and he can take the workbook with him wherever he wants to go with it!
More About The Horizons Math Teacher Guide
The best thing, for me, about the Teacher’s Guide is that at this age I can use it as much or as little as I want/need. There are days my son wants to do “all the stuff” at the beginning of the lesson and there are days he wants to just skip to worksheet. My daughter would take it or leave it. And there are some days where I step in as teacher and say, “We’re going to do all the stuff today.” It goes with our relaxed, eclectic homeschool style.
Okay, so “all the stuff?”
Inside the Teacher Guide you find all kinds of nifty stuff. Let me take you on a tour of the Teacher Guide.
At the beginning of each Teacher Manual, you’ll find a readiness evaluation, some tips for preparing and teaching a lesson (explaining all the sections and symbols in the teacher lessons,) and a scope and sequence for the year. Next you’ll find three master lists for manipulatives needed, concepts learned, and additional worksheets and which lessons they appear in. There is a little bit of prep work but the lessons are all laid out for you. If teaching math is something you’re not confident with doing, the Teacher Guide is going to help walk you through it.
The next section in the Teacher Guide is the actual teacher lesson plans. There are 160 lessons in the Horizons Math year, and each one is one is prepared for you. Beginning with a list of concepts and objectives for the lesson and a few teaching tips, the teacher lesson lists the materials and worksheets needed and then walks you through a list of activities to do with the child. Each lesson starts with an activity or two that is not related to the worksheet (such as counting aloud to 100,) and then moves into a set of activities to do before the child does each section on the Horizons worksheet. This section makes up the bulk of your Teacher Manual.
The Rest of the Teacher Guide
The remainder of the Guide consists of the Answer Key for the lessons, the Additional Worksheets, and the Answer Key for the worksheets. The Teacher Guide really does have everything you need except for physical manipulatives. Using the list of manipulatives at the beginning of the book, you can create a math box to hold everything you need in one place.
Customizing Your Teacher Guide
You can use your Teacher Guide exactly like it is and it will be just fine. In fact, my 2nd Grade Teacher Manual is still exactly like it was when I bought it. By the time my daughter got to 3rd grade, I wondered why I didn’t take it off the binding and put it in a binder? So I did. I added divider tabs for each of the sections so that I could more quickly find what I was looking for. If binders and divider tabs automatically make you feel more organized like they do for me, it’s definitely an option. =)
How We Use Horizons Math With Our Busy Learners
I’m not sure if Drama Queen and Little Prince are more kinesthetic or auditory or visual, but this I do know: they are busy. They’re movers and wigglers – and Little Prince is always in fast forward. Because of their “need for speed,” and because of how easily they grasp new math concepts, they both tune out and get bored (cranky) with long, repetitive lessons. Some days they even get restless with the colorful, short, quickly moving Horizons lessons. Over the past three years we’ve developed some habits for doing our Horizons math with our busy learners.
5 Ways We Adapt Horizons For Busy Learning
- Skip and Cut Out – Especially on extra restless days, if there’s a section with a concept that I *know* they are strong in, I will mark off half the section or let them skip it entirely unless we’ve skipped that a couple times in a row.
- Move Around The Page – For some sections (like filling in the missing numbers from 50-100) I can see them getting tired or frustrated. In that case we will move on to the next section and come back to keep boredom and frustration from really setting in. (Sometimes we even move across the page to the next lesson and come back!)
- Move Around The Room – I let them sit at the table, or move to a chair, or lay on the floor. I want them to be comfortable so that they will be able to focus on the math instead of what their body needs.
- Do as much or as little of the “practice math” out of the teacher book as they *need.* Obviously we have to teach the new stuff, but we don’t have to do all of the practice. Sometimes I know they need to practice a skill or haven’t in a while, so I insist.
- Stop or take a break when they get fatigued. Sitting to do math (or handwriting or reading) can often be exhausting for wigglers. It’s not something they are likely to grow out of but will need to learn how to excel with. Teaching them to take a break *before* they reach critical meltdown is a part of what they will need to succeed.
I’m sure you have all known someone who was really bright and yet struggled in school because they were bored and not sufficiently challenged. My husband was that kind of student, failing when not challenged, excelling when learning at his own pace and with sufficient challenge. I see some of this in Drama Queen and especially in Little Prince.
I do want to teach my children how to do what needs to be done even if it’s boring, but I also don’t want to bog my kids down with unnecessary practice when they have full grasp of a concept. It’s for that reason, combined with their wiggles, that I allow a lot of skipping and moving. I want to make sure that we’re staying at a level of sufficient challenge. If it gets too easy, they *need* to skip ahead to stay challenged. With the Horizons Math, I don’t have to worry about that because I know that Horizons Math is fairly challenging and that all the concepts will cycle back around again. Nothing is going to get “missed.”
Who is Horizons Math a Good Fit For?
I honestly think Horizons Math would be a good fit for *almost* anyone. With the exception of struggling learners, and children who benefit from a Mastery approach to math, Horizons Math is structured well with a good pace and a good steady cycling of concepts. It’s affordable, too. You could argue the full kit is a little pricier than some other options but you get a lot more than you get with those cheaper options, too. (And I don’t mean just the teacher manual but I mean the quality, too.)
Horizons Math is well laid out for the teacher and for the student both. Parents who need the detailed lesson plans, students who love workbooks, and learners who like the interactive activities between sections on the worksheet would all be pleased with Horizons Math.
Visual learners would appreciate the colorful lessons, auditory learners would appreciate the involvement of the teacher in the lessons, and kinesthetic learners would appreciate the hands on manipulatives called for such as flash cards, play money and clock model. The activities at the beginning of the lesson involve all three of these learning styles, and with a little tweaking you could tailor them even more to suit the needs of your child. (I have my son do the worksheets auditorily.)
Our “verdict:” Horizons Math is a very good fit for us, indeed.
*Alpha Omega Publications gave away a Horizons Math Set of for the “Homeschool Edition” of the Mommy Time Party, May 2013.*
A very special “thank you” to Alpha Omega Publishing for the chance to review our favorite math curriculum for you. Though I received compensation for my time and for promotion during the Mommy Time Party, I do my best to provide an honest review. All opinions stated here are my own. For more information about how I do reviews, check out my Disclosure Statement and Review Policy.