Pinning it Down Volume 2: BUILD a Better Math Program

Welcome to our second Pinning it Down Tuesday! Do you find yourself pinning projects to Pinterest, but rarely getting around to doing them? Do you need a bit of encouragement to make some of those projects come to life? Join Sarah and me every Tuesday for the Pinning it Down link-up, where we’re making a Pinterest project happen in our homes every week.

We were thrilled with the response last week to our little link-up. Such fun to travel about and see everyone’s projects. Thanks so much for playing along.

I have to be honest, I was thinking of what this week’s project would be as soon as I clicked publish last Monday night. Pinning It Down has not only lit a fire under me to get some things accomplished, but it has also renewed my interest in perusing pins and finding great ideas. Fortunately I knew exactly what I wanted to do for this week as soon as I saw it — last Tuesday.

Yep, this is a brand new pin for me. I was so floored by the idea I had to implement it as soon as I saw this pin. (Quick! Go read about it here.) This is the BUILD math system based on an idea used by public schools to integrate a variety of activities into classroom math studies. I wrote last week for the Virtual Curriculum Fair about how we do living math here in our homeschool. What I didn’t talk about was how we had fallen into a rut, and I was having a hard time integrating all of the great math resources that we have. I knew as soon as I read about it that BUILD would fix that little problem. So here’s what I did.

First,  I adapted the system to better meet my needs. I knew I wanted to work in some things that were not in the system as described, so I tweaked the acronym.

So for us, BUILD stands for:
Buddy Games — Games that we can play together.
Using Mental Math and Math Journals — Yes! A way to work in those two things that I have been wanting to do, but have been so inconsistent with.
Integrating Literature — All of our math readers go here.
Learning Numbers – Numeracy and becoming familiar with numbers backwards and forwards is so important to math understanding.
Doing Math – This day is for projects where we actually put the math into action.

In addition to this, Olivia will still continue to do a page from Miquon on Monday, Wednesdays and most Thursdays.

Next I sat down with my lesson planning grid and filled in five weeks worth of BUILD activities, pulling from all of my math resources.

Finally I set up the system on our shelves. I knew that we did not have room to use crates as the original blogger did. Instead I grabbed five more of those magazine holders from last week and repurposed them again. Since the BUILD acronym would be pretty meaningless to my kids, I labeled the holders with abbreviations for the days of the weeks using supplies from my scrapbooking stash. I filled the holders with the materials for this week, and we are set to go.

Here’s what’s inside for this week:

B – Cards for games of War. Olivia and I did addition War today. John and I simply played the version where he told me which number was larger. Big hit!
U – I have a card of mental math questions for Olivia taken from this website of math ideas. Olivia will be writing about her favorite month in her math journal. John will make a chart of the numbers from 1-10 with drawn objects for his. The blank paper is for the journaling to add to their notebooks.
IMath in the Bath: (and other fun places, too!) and How Do You Say It Today Jesse Bear We’ll discuss each.
L – A bag and Unifix cubes for John’s activity. He will reach in the bag, pull out cubes of both colors, build two towers counting as he goes, and tell me which one is the biggest. We will likely do this a few times with varying amounts each time. There is another card there for Olivia’s activity. Each letter of her name will be assigned a value, and she will determine how much her name is worth using Unifix cubes. Once the she has cubes for each letter of her name she will group them into tens and ones to count them. Knowing her I imagine we will do names for most members of the family too.
D – There is no D for this week as we will be heading out of town on Friday. Future D ideas include making brownies, M&M graphing, and tracking the temperature over the course of the week and creating graphs from the collected data. I also included a page of Math Fun at Home ideas to do with John. It involves things like sorting and counting silverware while setting the table or talking about how your house is alike and different from your neighbor’s house.

I am so excited and think this little idea will fill a need we have had for quite a while — providing a framework for our living math studies.

Are you ready to play along? Here’s how our link-up works:

1. Choose a project from one of your Pinterest pinboards and make it happen. Blog a little about it. Remember, it doesn’t have to be elaborate- we just want to see what you’ve been up to!

2. Make sure you link back here somewhere in your post so others can find us and play along. Feel free to grab our Pinning it Down graphic if you’d like to add it to your post. Also, don’t forget proper pinning etiquette and try to include a link back the original idea whenever possible. We want to be sure that cool idea credit is given to the proper person.

3. Link up below. Make sure you’re sending us to your actual post, and not to your general blog address. You can add your link all the way through Friday, so if you haven’t gotten a chance to work on any of your pins yet this week, you’re not too late.



  • Heather says:

    This looks like a great way to get in all those extra math resources! I really like the Singapore Math that we use, but I sometimes look over to my bookshelf and see additional things we could be doing. Thanks!

  • Sarah says:

    This is like workboxes for living math! Brilliant idea. I can’t wait to get an update on how this works for you.

  • Jeannine says:

    Amazing ideas and organization. Your children are blessed.

  • Looks great! I will have to think about how I might be able to do that too! We’re adding Miquon to already challenging math curricula (challenging in terms of schedule!).

  • Thanks for hosting this week. You gals have really lit a fire under me!

  • dawn says:

    Oh, I love organizing ideas. Those magazine holders really come in handy, don’t they! I love this idea.

  • Amy says:

    Love this idea and the magazine holders. We are tight on space and that is so much more workable.

  • I’ve been tossing around something like this but love how you organized it to work for your family! Brilliant!

  • Erin says:

    Thank you Pam (and Angela) for hosting, excited to join you.

  • Dani says:

    My difficulty (read: disorganization) at getting all those different resources pulled together is what led me to finally buy a curriculum this year for my 2nd grader. I love this solution!

    (Also, how do you “grab” that link button? I’m afraid I just can’t figure it out! I’ve tried right clicking, plain clicking, cross-my-fingers clicking, and none of it works. Anyone with a Mac want to share the secret? I’m afraid I’m rather a newbie at this! Thanks!)

  • Pam Barnhill says:

    Dani — exactly! I have to be honest, I have tons of resources for other subjects as well. Thinking I might start dropping some of those in the magazine holders too… And the button is not a button, but a graphic. Since we host at two blogs it would be a nightmare to change the code each week. So if you want to get the graphic just right click and save as to your computer. You should be able to load it from there to your blog post as you would a normal photo. Let me know if that doesn’t make sense.

  • PrairieJenn says:

    So glad to have found your blog!!! We use a living math approach too:) Can’t wait to look around!

  • Laurie says:

    You really made that idea work! I love the way you explain how you are implementing it in your home. My boys are older, but I think this will work for them.

  • Gillian says:

    So cool! I love the BUILD idea and am definitely stealing it! Thanks for the link!

  • Angel says:

    I have been eyeing some magazine holders that are sitting unused in my hallway thanks to your posts! 🙂 It’s a great idea — space-saving and portable, too. I’m chewing over how we might adapt it so we can use all the living math books I want to share with the kids but haven’t!

  • Michele says:

    I love the way you guys adapted it to meet your needs. I have just reorganized my BUILD system as well. I have really liked the way it worked and I am glad that others are finding it useful as well.

    Here’s my newest post about our BUILD system

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