Starting with RightStart™

I am looking forward to sharing monthly about our journey with RightStart™ Mathematics! RightStart™ has loaned me curriculum for my two youngest daughters in exchange for sharing our honest thoughts and opinions.

I have always struggled with teaching my children math. Math comes easy to me which makes teaching it hard. So many times I have frustratingly said, “I don’t know why you don’t understand! It’s so easy!” I forget that not everyone thinks or learns like I do.

My oldest daughter (12 yrs old) doesn’t do well with repetition and worksheets. She has an amazing memory and she learns best by reading–once she’s learned something, she stores is safely away in her brain and doesn’t need a lot of repetition to remember it. My middle daughter (8 yrs old) is easily frustrated with anything that involves extensive writing. She learns best by with hands on activities and by listening. I’m often impressed by her ability to retain what I have read to her even when it appears she isn’t listening. My youngest daughter (4 yrs old) loves to learn. She is constantly asking for more–more worksheets, more pages to color, more activities to do.

All these different learning styles is enough to make my head spin! I was so happy when we happened upon a great math session at our state’s annual homeschool conference this year. It was hosted and led by the author of the Videotext Interactive curriculum. I learned more about my children and their learning styles in that one hour than I have learned in six years of homeschooling!

Tom Clark from Videotext Interactive highly recommended RightStart™ Mathematics. I had visited their booth during previous conferences and I was always intrigued by the way they taught math. We decided to look at their curriculum again and see it was what we needed for our youngest daughters.

After handling the manipulatives and hearing more about why the teach math the way they do, I was sold. It just made so much sense and I knew that the hands on stuff was exactly what my 3rd grader needed.

I went over the review tests found on the RightStart™ Math website and chose what levels we needed. In August, a huge box arrived at my home full of all kinds of math goodness. I’ll be honest, I opened the box and then closed it and put it aside for a couple of weeks. At first, it was a little intimidating. There was so much stuff to look at! Tally sticks, tiles, workbooks, games, an abacus, geometry panels, a calculator…so much stuff!

Then I opened the teacher book and started reading the lessons and it no longer seemed so intimidating. The lessons are well written and guide you step by step in what to say. The lessons are short and to the point. Feeling confident, I started planning out our lessons for the first few weeks of school.

We are only a couple weeks into our journey with RightStart™ Math right now. After the first two days, my 3rd grader said, “I love our math this year!” My kindergartener loves it as well and often asks to do more than one lesson a day. They love the manipulatives and the AL Abacus is helping them to really see math instead of just learning facts.


I look forward to posting more through the year about our adventures with RightStart™ Math. Come back to see if the enthusiasm and excitement continues!

Laura from


Top Questions for the Week

When will RS2 Level C be available?

We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The writing is complete and the final proof is well underway. We’ll be updating the website in the next few weeks with a more detailed timeline for all of you who are patiently waiting. We are so excited for you to see the new lessons!


Level D helpful hint: Check numbers and subtraction 

We’ve had a few of you call us regarding Lesson 49 in Level D. This will help to clarify check numbers for those of you working with them for the first time.

Just as you would check your answers in a subtraction problem by adding the answer (difference) to the the number subtracted (subtrahend), you can add the check numbers in the same order (difference plus subtrahend equals minuend).

For example:

                           83 (minuend)                     check number: (2)

                          -33 (subtrahend)                check number: (6)

                           50 (difference)                   check number: (5)

5+6=11 which is check number 2

If you want more information on check numbers, watch this webinar. Scroll to the bottom of the page and it’s right there for you to reference.


Aspen and RightStart™ Mathematics Level A Lessons, Installment #4

Aspen has been doing great in her lessons, however is at times getting frustrated as she feels she is not learning fast enough. For example, when were were doing a lesson and using the AL Abacus to double check her addition, she thought she would be “cheating” if she used the abacus itself. I asked her why she felt it was cheating, and she replied that it made it easier, so it must be cheating. She’s really trying to use her mind’s eye, and it took some convincing that it’s perfectly fine to keep using the abacus for now, and for the next levels as she needs it.

Aspen is truly loving the lessons regarding the coins. She has made a game out of dumping out my purse so we can go through the coins to add. She struggles a bit with the dimes and the nickels. I have a feeling that the size confuses her a bit between the two coins, as she’s noted that the bigger one should be more. We’ll just have to keep playing with the money, as she has to add it together in order to put it into her piggy bank.

Aspen’s favorite game thus far has been the addition memory game. She absolutely loves it when she can say what she needs before asking for help or using the abacus. On occasion she still uses it, as she tends to get stuck on the 7′s and 8′s when coming up with the other addend to make 10. Now any normal memory game is a little boring to her without the added challenge of addition.

Partitioning for Aspen has been a bit challenging when using the Part-Whole Circle sets. She does well with the abacus, but when the circles continue to be brought into play, she seems to have a bit of a road-block when she looks at them. Eventually she gets it, but they do frustrate her. When having the two parts, she comes up with the whole easily, however, determining the part, when the whole and one part are given stumps her, and she takes a bit of time to come up with the answer. She tries to do it in her head, but quite often grabs her abacus to find the answer.

Aspen has been doing fairly well with telling time. She has been working on it, and loves to try to figure it out. She seems to really struggle with it, when she has to note if it’s bed time. Imagine that! If you tell her to note when it is time to go to the pool or somewhere fun, then she does seem to be at the top of her game.  :)   She is pretty confident in the whole and half hours, but the other variations still cause her a bit of confusion.

Aspen was working with her dad doing the teens with her school work, and was getting really frustrated. I grabbed her abacus and we did the RightStart way of saying the teens, such as 1 Ten 3, then she was easily able to come up with the correct number, and quickly converted it to the conventional number way: 13. Her dad just looked at her, and was surprised by how she was able to come up with the correct answer going that route, as opposed to just knowing the convention number off the top of her head. He’s really noticing how well she is doing and is attributing it to her using RightStart in helping her advance in her math skills.

Aspen has been becoming a great cook’s helper, as she loves to help with the measuring and mixing. She gets to help find the correct measuring unit, either in the measuring cups or spoons to help create our kitchen masterpieces. (At least she things they are.) She is getting to be consistently correct, and going through the lesson on fractions was quite easy for her. She did extremely well when working on the second edition fraction lessons (as I had an advance copy). She didn’t call them the correct name, for example called the thirds “threes” instead, but after corrected, she flew through the lesson and found it to be so much fun. She is continuously playing with her Fraction Puzzle and Fraction Magnet we have located on our refrigerator.

RightStart™ Manipulatives

What’s so special about the manipulatives used for the RightStart™ Mathematics program? Let’s run through the list.


AL Abacus: This abacus has 100 beads, is grouped in 5s and 10s using color. It is different from the Chinese abacus, the Japanese abacus, and “play” abacuses (where each string of beads is a different color). Both sides of the abacus are used in different ways. The AL Abacus is available in various colors, sizes, and materials.
Six Special Decks of Cards: Basic cards (0 to 10), multiplication cards, fraction cards, money cards, clock cards, and Corners™ cards make up the six decks.
Fraction Charts: One plastic fraction chart stays intact and a second chart is pre-cut to allow  the child to manipulate the individual pieces. Very importantly, this chart includes the 1/7ths and 1/9ths. It is also one color so that the student doesn’t associate a specific fraction with a specific color and encourages the “mixing and matching” of fractions without the constraints of color.
Abacus Tiles: These tiles are a representation of the AL Abacus allowing for a child to see what more than one hundred beads would look like.
Geometry Panels: We make these ourselves!
Place Value Cards: Adaptation from Montessori’s decimal cards.
Goniometer (Angle Measurer): Although this is not an item we make, it is no longer produced and almost impossible to find elsewhere.
Drawing Set: These pieces can all be found individually elsewhere and we assemble this in our warehouse. Triangles don’t having inking edges and the T-square is transparent for ease of use.
Base-Ten Cards: These drawings represent ones, tens, hundreds, and thousands with the groupings of five to allow for quick recognition of quantities. Images align with the AL Abacus bead grouping. Other base ten cards, stamps, and/or blocks ignore the grouping in fives.
Yellow is the Sun CD: We make these ourselves, although you can download the song online and the music is in the back of the teacher’s manual.


Math Balance: Pegs for the balance are on both sides of the balance arm which allows for twice as many weights to be hung on a number making multiplication a breeze. Weights are also 10 grams which is used in RightStart™ Mathematics Second Edition (RS2).
Centimeter Cubes: Our centimeter cubes weigh one gram. This is an important aspect for RS2!
Geometry Solids: We have a set of 12 wooden shapes. In RS2, these specific shapes are important because they are measured and weighed, as well as identified. Different shapes and sizes will alter the lesson significantly.
4-in-1 Ruler: This ruler measures in centimeters, millimeters, and inches in sixteenths. What makes this ruler special is inches divided into tenths! When a calculation calls for 4.3 inches, the student can precisely measure and draw 4.3 inches, rather than approximating.
Colored 1” Square Tiles: We had a hard time finding tiles that were consistently one inch square. Sadly, there was a LOT of variance. We have these tiles made in the USA now and have the precision needed. Quantities are 50 in four different colors.
Geoboards: These come two to a set. Pegs need to be 7 x 7. Many geoboards are 5 x 5 which will not allow for enough space for the children to do their lesson work.
Casio Calculator SL-450: This child-friendly calculator has a quirk that allows for skip counting, so the SL-450 is needed.
Mini-Clock: This clock is geared, which means the hour hand will appropriately follow the minute hand. Hour hand is color coordinated to the hour numbers and the minute hand is color coordinated to the minute numbers.
Tangrams: Tangrams can be found in all sizes and colors. Many other tangrams have rounded corners making measuring a challenge. RightStart™ provides two sets with two different colors and have sharp and precise edges. Lessons in RS2 reference the two colors.


Tally Sticks: These are craft sticks. If you have some around the house, that will work! You will need 55 sticks.
Plastic Coins: As long as you have 30 pennies, 20 nickels, 20 dimes, 20 quarters, and 4 half-dollars, you’re ready to go.
Folding Meter Stick: Any meter stick will work. Ours folds simply for convenience.
Geometry Reflector: This handy reflector creates for reflections. It is made of transparent material, so it can also been seen through for additional comparisons. A rectangular hand-held mirror will also the trick.


We’re all for saving money. I’m right in there with you all! If I can shave off a penny here and a dollar there, I’m a happy girl. So, let’s say you can find some of these manipulatives at a second hand store, discount store, or borrow from your friend. That’s fantastic.

But then you still need the rest of the items.

The RightStart™ Mathematics kits have a significant discount savings. So, unless you have an amazing treasure of manipulatives at your fingertips, it’s usually cheaper to buy the kits because of the healthy discounts incorporated into the kit pricing. Discounts on the Starter Kits range from $30.00 (SK-G) to $83.50 (RS2 Math Set) to $112.00 (RS1 Complete Kit).

In my book, that’s a nice savings!!