It's my opinion that using a math curriculum with young children is not required. Learning addition, subtraction, multiplication and division is just more fun with games and real-life experiences and that's the majority of what's covered during the elementary school years.
Skills such as telling time, counting money, estimating, measuring and calendar skills are much easier to understand when they occur in the context of life. For the majority of kids, if they are involved in math related activities they will learn them. Kids are motivated to tell time once they realize that their friends will arrive at 3:00, or they will leave the house for dance class at 4:00. They learn to understand the calendar when looking forward to birthdays and holidays. Measuring is applied with a variety of crafts and they learn about money when they want to buy something from the store. As long as they are doing activities and an adult or sibling takes the time to help them understand time, money, measuring and other skills when questions arise, they will be learned without too much extra effort.
Therefore, just playing math games can go a long way for elementary level math. Once the basics are mastered, decimals and fractions can also be taught with games and experiences.
I've had similar conversations with two different friends recently. Basically I said something like what I wrote above and then listed a bunch of math games and activities. Actually it doesn't take a lot of games. Just a few basics will do. They cover the same skills and repetition is the key to basic math.
- Uno Card Game
- War - Divide a deck of cards between the players. Each player flips up a card and the player with the highest card takes them all. Repeat until one player has all the cards. If there is a tie when the cards are flipped up, three cards are placed face down and the fourth card is flipped up. The player with the highest card takes them all.
- Adding War - Same as adding war except players flip two card and the player with the highest total takes all the cards. In case of a war two cards are placed face down and two cards face up. The player with the highest face-up total takes the cards
- Black Jack 21
- Gin Rummy
- Shut The Box
- War and Adding War with Speed! Cards
Math Page, and these great blog hops for more educational activities.
Learning Flexibility Via Math - Barefoot Hippie Girl
Math is a Problem - What Now? - Every Bed of Roses
When Math Brings Tears - One Magnificent Obsession
Math, Tears, Frustration, Perfect Arithmetic - Hammock Tracks
How to Make Your Child Fall in Love with Math - Navigating by Joy