Mental math

Towards the end of MEP Year one, the book introduces lots of math activities to develop mental math. Alhamdulilah Allah has made it relatively easy for children to understand two math formulas.

1. The first formula they have learnt if a+b=c then a=c-b and b=c-a
We do lots of problem solving using this formula. So I say we have 14 apples altogether. If I have 8 how many do you have? Sumayya easily works out the answer is 6. Sometimes I say write all the possible addition sums for number X, i.e number 15. So, they write 8+7; 6+9; 15+0 etc.

2. The second formula is If a+b+c=d then a=d-(c+b) ; b= d-(a+c); and c=d-(a+b)
Again we do lots of problem solving activities where children are required to apply this formula. For example: Sumayya, Inaya and Marjaan has 15 dolls altogether. Sumayya has 4 and Inaya has 7. How many dolls does Marjaan have? To solve the problem they use the above formula a+4+7=15; a=15- (4+7); a=15-11 a=4

Or, they do maths exercises where they are asked to complete the table so the addition sum in each column would equal to 15. In general, we are still strengthening a lot of the concepts taught in MEPs YEAR 1. mashaAllah, so far I am happy with the programme and children seem to be used with the type of activities presented there.

  • They can now work with different types of tables and time tables
  • They understand the concept of measuring. We use different types of measuring units when measuring different things. Litre/ml for measuring liquid, metre/cm for measuring length, kg/lb for measuring weight and hour/minute for measuring time.
  • They did hands-on activities for measuring liquid using jars, measuring weight using kitchen scales, measuring length using rulers and problem solving activities using clock
  • Counting by 2’s, by 3’s, by 4’s and by 5’s till 100. This is really important to develop mental maths
  • Working on countdown by 2’s, by 3’s, by 4’s and by 5’s from 100 till 0. This is still a bit challenging so we keep practising
  • They can work out most addition/subtraction sums with numbers 0-20 mentally. For example, Sumayya uses no math manipulatives or fingers to work out 15+9. She counts up 9 numbers from 15 in her head and tells me the answer is 24.

I think we will start using MEP YEAR 2 soon. I have looked at some Math Workbooks at local WHSmith and online. I found them much too easy for the age group they were originally designed for. I do think MEPs is much more challenging and if not broken up by a parent can be too much for a child. Looking back I can tell Year 1 was definately difficult work for Sumayya. She started Year 1 when she just turned 5 and we were able to finish it within 6-7 months. Alhamdulillah, Allah has made it easy for her later and she actually started enjoying it more. So, we will continue with MEP YEAR 2 and do of our own supplementary materials/activities on the side inshaAllah.


Summer at last!!!


Alhamdulillah we have been thoroughly enjoying fine summery weather for the past week. It is so hot and we have been so busy trying to make most out of this weather. I let the kids spend a great deal of time out in the garden. Here is the list of things we do in the garden

1. Qur’an hifdh
2. Painting
3. Collecting different types of leaves and see who has the most diverse collection
4. Collecting twigs, grass, wild flowers and think of a quick arts/crafts project to do
5. Read books on the trampoline
6. Enjoy ice lollies, milk lollies and homemade juice/smoothies on the benches
7. Have circle time and picnic
8. Praying asr salah together out in the garden
9.  Lie down and observe the sky and different shapes of clouds
10. Water fight with garden hose

We do baking a couple of times a week as usual, mostly we bake traditional uzbek somsa and bread.

Last week we did lots of arts/crafts. We planted some flowers in big flower pots and have been learning more about flowers. We learned that flowers need sunshine and water to grow, their growing cycle (from seed to flower and back to seed etc) and we have labelled all the flower parts as well. This is the 1st flower they made. It was very easy and fun. Let kids draw 4 outlines of their own hands, draw the nails for petals and get children to number the nails/petals (to practice numbers Sumayya wrote numbers 0-20 and Safiyya 0-10), arrange and stick in flowery position, cut out a circle from construction paper for the middle part (they can write their own names in the middle), used pipe cleaner as a stem and tissue paper as a leaf.

The second flower was to learn the flowers’ living cycle and flower parts. 1. Ask a child to draw outline of a flower on hard stock paper. I drew one on board and they copied. 2. Cut out a circle for the middle, we used a construction paper. 3. Cut out a stem and leaf from construction paper or any harder coloured paper. 4. Use folded tissue papers to fill in the petals. 5. Ask a child to write a sentence about flowers. 6. Label the flower parts (flower, petals, stem, leaf, root) and ask children to write or copy the words in the correct places.

We have also included small folding book on one corner of the paper. I used 1/4 of A4 paper folded in 4. They got to design and decorate the cover as you can see above. When it is opened I asked children to draw a picture of seeds on 1st page and write the word Seed, draw picture of root on 2nd page and write the word. And When it is opened fully draw the picture of a flower, write the word and colour in (1st it opens horizontally and 2nd vertically and so it is taller on last opening)

Safiyya’s flower

Arabic. We read Arabic story books, review the vocab, watch the prophets’ stories in Arabic and practice handwriting daily. Alhamdulillah it has been going well.

Sumayya’s writing

Safiyya’s writing

Reading and handwriting. Sumayya has been enjoying plenty of chapter books. She has been reading one of the Geronimo Stilton series. She finds the language a bit hard to understand, it is full of humour and witty language. Something good for a change but I wouldn’t spend money on such a book lol. Usually I just use Charlotte Mason’s narration method for reading comprehension. I wanted to see how Sumayya does the worksheets on reading comprehension and printed some pages from Have Fun Teaching’s Grade 1 level. She found them all much too easy and I was once again convinced that continuously using worksheets is boring and doesnt actually put child’s mind in touch with ideas presented in text. If child is asked to narrate, however, she will have to use her own imagination and understanding capability and extract which bits of the story she remembers most etc. It gives us parents a clue on their use of words, imagination, ideas and what interests them most etc.

I found nice handwriting and spelling curriculum recently (the link is given in useful websites page). But I didnt have time to print and organize all the materials yet. We have been using this Reading and Copywork a sister compiled some time ago. I downloaded it from homeschool forum and using it just now with Sumayya.

There are hadiths and verses from the Qur’an, as well as nice short stories to read and reflect. After reading child is asked to copywrite 1-2 sentences from the story. Sumayya loves this book, alhamdulillah

We discussed the above hadith with Sumayya after she read it. It left her thinking deep, then she wrote You will be with the one you love. I love Allah and His Messenger. 

This one was a verse from the Qur’an “Verily the promise of Allah is true”. Then she wrote a letter to her dad underneath that says “I love my daddy. He reads Arabic books to me. He buys me an ice cream. He takes me to the park. I *love sign* dady”. I was meant to send this to Father of the month competition over at Abi Homeschools too, but never got around it subhanAllah.

Safiyya has been doing lots of phonics activities. Like I said, she is a bit lazy to read, finds it a bit hard to concentrate and join the phonics. But she is too quick to do phonics related activities. Maybe I should try flashcards with her again inshaAllah.

Matching words that start with the same letter sounds

Identify and circle the beginning sound of each word

Practice handwriting and numbers.

Numeracy. We try to reinforce the concepts presented in MEP Year 1 with lots of easy but fun activities with Sumayya. For example we play one less/one more; two less/two more game. First, I shout out 5 numbers. She has to write down in silent what number is one more than each of those I shouted out, and what number is one less than each of those. So, if I shout out the numbers 9, 45, 87, 79, 18 She would have to write down one less numbers: 8, 44, 86, 78, 17. Then she would have to write down one more numbers: 10, 46, 88, 80, 19. Then I shout out another 5 numbers but this time she would have to write down 2 more and 2 less numbers than those I shout out. I check at the end and count how many ticks she collects. Write down Excellent if no mistakes. Simple but fun and easy. We play this game using numbers 0-100 and Alhamdulillah she does so well. Planning to do 3 more/3 less and 5 more/5 less games next week inshaAllah.

We do some worksheets with Safiyya. We review her numbers 0-20, both recognition and handwriting. Alhamdulillah she does well. We do lots of counting activities with her, keep reinforcing shapes and colors too. She has learned shapes, colours, numbers in Arabic too.

Apart from those we have been trying to spend more time outdoor. Last week we went to City Park to enjoy the fountains, to Lister Park to enjoy the playground and we went for a walk to Chellow Dene Reservoir, pictured below.

We also enjoyed having my friend Vanessa over from Scotland for 2 days. It was so nice to see both girls spending good time with their aunty and bonding well. Alhamdulillah.

MEP: Year 1


I think I have mentioned somewhere before that we finished MEP Reception with Sumayya last summer. I really liked the book though some math concepts presented was a bit challenging for Sumayya at that time.

We did start MEP Year 1 this September but then clashes with public school made it unable to continue. Plus I found the beginning of Year 1 too easy. I somehow expected it to be a bit more difficult as things were getting more difficult towards the end of Reception. So, we left it there and were using some worksheets, workbooks here and there.

With push of a dear sister I started using them again. I like MEP math programme because you get the whole year of math curriculum, teaching materials along with teaching guidelines completely free. You print them off, quick look before each lesson and go ahead with your math session. Alhamdulillah the programme incorporates the use of math manipulatives a lot like counters, marbles, soft-ball plays and small objects etc. So Sumayya has resumed MEP Year 1 this week and we finished the first 6 lessons. The lessons teach the concept of odd/even numbers, comparison (more/less), patterns and opposites. There were lots of fun activities in the guidelines.


Below Sumayya is trying to copy the pattern and tried to identify the odd/even numbers in number ladder by drawing a little horizontal sticks next to each number two-by-two. Alhamdulillah she understood the concept of odd/even number better that way and we practised counting by two’s like 2, 4, 6, 8. She is good at one more/one less activity we do at math circle time. I ask her orally questions: “What is one more than 14?”  she replies “15”, “what is one less than 23?” she replies “22”. Now, I am going to ask her 2 more/2 less questions at circle time and she solves these problems mentally (in her head without using her fingers or pen and paper etc).

I tried to use MEP Reception with Safiyya and she finds some bits a bit boring/easy and some bits a bit challenging. (The book in itself is easy but I made it challenging with extra bits of activities for her so she found it too hard then and quite happy with her math sticker workbook)


Math Manipulatives


In order to accommodate Safiyya’s learning style, I have decided to use more math manipulatives during our math sessions. Math manipulatives are things like beads, sticks, legos, building blocks, marbles, matching/sequencing/flashcards. In a nutshell, they are both visual and touch-and-feel items that are used to grasp math concepts. These are ideal for children who are kinaesthetic learners. I have taught numbers/colors/shapes/repeating patterns etc using math manipulatives to both of my daughters. But Sumayya was ok with math worksheets, workbooks and me explaining concepts and occasionally doing math manipulative activity. Safiyya, on the other hand, requires more actively engaging activities, SubhanAllah so different :)

Currently they both have workbooks from  Autumn Childrens Books. In addition we are doing addition time tables with popsicle sticks. I remember sometime ago Sumayya was able to add and substract numbers 0-20. Then we were not practising substraction/addition as much. She is confident with addition problems using numbers 0-10 and she can add them up mentally or starts using fingers whenever she is stuck in her head. Currently we are doing one more/two more/three more/four more addition timetables using all the numbers 0-20.  If the added sum is more than 10 I invite her to use popsicle sticks and she can add any number using them. Then she records all that she did in her math notebook

Continue reading