I used to review curriculum, now I create it

Math Lessons for a Living Education Review

When I first heard of Math Lessons for a Living Education, I was intrigued, in a very reserved manner. You see, I have tried a LOT of different math programs. I have learned (the hard way) that math can make or break your homeschool! I was hesitant to try something new because I had worked so hard to get us to the place we were at in math. I spent quite a bit of time researching the books, reading up on them, taking a look at the samples, and basically building up my courage to give it a shot. And here I am, a month after receiving the books. This is a relatively new math that is making the rounds and not one that has gotten a lot of press so I am here today to tell you that this review is going to be DEEP. I have a thousand and one (okay, not really, maybe I need to take a bit more math) pictures to show you and we are going to be looking in on pretty much every aspect that this math has to offer. I hope that if you are like me, in the throes of decision-making, you will find this review comprehensive enough to help you decide if this math is going to work for your family. Plus, stay tuned for an exclusive coupon code!

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Math Lessons for a Living Education Review: What is it?

In a nutshell, this is an elementary, Christian math curriculum for homeschoolers. There are 6 books in the series so far and it is designed in levels rather than grades (so that your kids can work through it at their own pace). It is Charlotte Mason inspired, meaning it uses stories, copywork, oral and written narration, hands-on manipulatives, teaching the heart BEFORE the mind, with a mastery and relational approach. It focuses on character building and teaching the whole child, not just the mind through rote repetition and drill assignments. If you are in the market for an elementary math curriculum that is Christian, keep reading!

Math Lessons for a Living Education Review

Math Lessons for a Living Education Review: What Sets it Apart?

The key features of this math program are really unique, I have never seen them in any other curriculum I have reviewed before.

1. It teaches through stories: Stories allow your child to build connections between a concept and real life. They make math applicable and meaningful to your child which means that they are far more likely to remember the lessons in the long term. They build relationship between you and your child through cuddly story reading time.

Math Lessons for a Living Education Review

2. It is not just from a Christian worldview, but instead it weaves God into the stories: Most Christian curriculum that I have come across tends to be written in a way that doesn’t contradict Christianity (which is good) but it doesn’t really take it the step further. Math Lessons for a Living Education (MLFLE) focuses on character building and the wonder of our creator through the stories.

Math Lessons for a Living Education Review

3. There is no teacher’s guide, but rather a math written for both of you: In the very beginning of the math book, there is a schedule with the days, the assignment, a place to assign a date and grade and a checkbox for when you have completed it. Other than this, there is no formal teacher’s guide. This is because the math textbook is written to both you and the child. Throughout the lessons there are teacher’s notes to help give you insight or explain an activity. However, the story and questions are designed to be done together with your child (for the younger grades) so that you are learning right alongside with them! The higher level books are written less to the teacher and more to the child so that they can do it more independently. This is great because it saves money and helps continue to facilitate the Charlotte Mason approach to math, modelling learning with your child rather than teaching to them.

Math Lessons for a Living Education Review

4. It is affordable: This is most affordable math curriculum I have come across. Because there is no teacher’s guide or test book or answer key (there are answers in the back of the books), there is only one book to purchase per child. The books start at just $25.89 (digital version) and are only $27.37 for the print! NOT only that, but you can get an additional discount off any item from Master Books with my exclusive coupon code: REBECCASFRIEND plus you get free shipping (in the US) on all orders over $75! Not only that, but Master Books has a 100% faith grower guarantee. They are so certain that your faith will grow through using their curriculum that they guarantee it!

Math Lessons for a Living Education Review

5. It is hands-on and fun: This is a high priority for me. Math that is dry and boring and repetitious is a recipe for disaster in this house. But MLFLE is far from that! The stories are engaging and interesting, following the lives of two young children in their own homeschool experience. The stories include interesting bits of non-fiction information that teach your child about the world around them, God, nature, etc. NOT just about math. This is the secret weapon of MLFLE because it is this broad story approach that helps children find context in the math lesson. It gives them something they know, they have seen, they understand, to tie that math concept in to. It is also very hands on. Pretty early on in the book you will be making a place value village and it is awesome because it costs you nothing and it is a powerful learning tool! Learn more about the place value village in this video.

6. It is not a huge time investment: When I hear “parent involvement” it makes me a bit hesitant. This is because I have seen some curriculums that could require half a day in that alone. They are heavy project-based and have a huge time investment that is just not practical for me with 5 young children. However, MLFLE is not a drill and review program that has page after page of assignments each day. There are 36 lessons with a story at the beginning (and sometimes middle) of each one, along with 1-2 pages of work for the day. It is a light workload that is based off of a mastery approach but does so through teaching the whole child rather than just drilling the mind. During our review period, the older kids did their math independently (grade 3 and 4-currently doing level 2 and 3) and it took them about 15 minutes. I am finding it an excellent way to go back a bit and re-inforce concepts that may have been missed or lost along the way. My younger son and I do his lessons together. He has been so behind in math that we started with level 1 (he is turning 7). Because it is quite easy for him, we are doing an entire lesson (1 week worth) each day. This takes us more like 30 minutes. The time spent on it will depend on whether there is a project to work on or how long you take to do the story or activity so this will vary from child to child.

Math Lessons for a Living Education Review

7. It is based on levels rather than grades: Because it is a mastery approach, it is not based on grades that could potentially allow children to go to their “grade” and not base the lessons off of what they need to cover or learn. There is a placement test on the website HERE (just select your level and you’ll see a PDF downloadable placement test underneath the description) that will help you identify where to start your child. My kids are all fairly good at math, however because they are working with Math U See, there were a lot of things they hadn’t learned yet and because of that, I had to start at very early levels to make sure there were no gaps moving forward.

Math Lessons for a Living Education Review

8. It teaches the WHY before the HOW: Most math programs teach the how behind math. They are very good at explaining to your child how to do a math problem. The problem with this is that I personally remember doing math for years sometimes, knowing I had to do a set progression of steps and getting my answers correct BUT not ever understanding why I had to do it that way or what it meant. This is how kids get left behind. They can go years without truly understanding place value for example (ahem, my daughter) and then you one day realize it and have to go way back to try to cover what they have missed. In MLFLE you don’t have this problem because they teach the why behind the math concept before they even begin to approach the how. They do this through stories and pictures and hands on activities that make sure that the child fully understands the big picture before they move on. The lessons all have an element of narration in them (written and/or oral) where the student needs to write or explain to you not just what a rectangle is (for example) but WHY.

Math Lessons for a Living Education Review

For example, a problem we worked on in level 1 is that we learned what a rectangle is. Rather than just showing the shape and drawing the shape, we learned that it is made with 2 short sides and two long sides, and 4 right angles. In later lessons when we were reviewing, it would ask them not only to draw a rectangle, but to tell their teacher how they knew that was a rectangle, why was it a rectangle? This same element of review and narration throughout the lessons along with the parent involvement mean that your child really can’t get left behind. Any concepts that they are not truly grasping would be clearly caught if they couldn’t narrate to you why they got that answer in their lesson review section.

Math Lessons for a Living Education Review

Math Lessons for a Living Education Review: Where to Get it!

If these features are getting you excited about math and you are wondering how to get your hands on it or where to learn more, I have a few links for you to check out! If you have more questions, I highly recommend you check out the author’s FAQ page where she addresses some of the more common questions people have asked about the program and goes into a lot more detail HERE. If you are ready to purchase, don’t forget to use the coupon code for an additional discount: REBECCASFRIEND. You can CLICK HERE or on the image below to head over to the shop page.

Math Lessons for a Living Education Review

Got questions? I’ve got answers! Comment below!


  1. I borrowed one of these books from a friend last week and have been blown away by it. This is a great math curriculum, especially if you’re looking for something in between Life of Fred and traditional approaches.

    • My daughter just completed k5, she can count by 1’s to 100, 5’s, and 10’s. Knows nickels and dimes. Fractions by half. Simple addition and subtraction but heavily reliant upon manipulatives and fingers. Time by hour and half hour. Level one seems like it would be to easy but level 2 looks advance….all the youtube videos on the curriculum show the beginning of the book…can you tell how the book progresses and how truly level 1 is 1st grade??

      • Ashley, my suggestion would be to go to Masterbooks website and print out the level 1 and level 2 placement tests. They’re two pages and not hard. If your daughter only misses one thing from each section, she’s ready to move on toe level 2. If she misses more than that (and the website gives greater description than I’m giving you on preciesly how to grade it) then she would place in that level. So it doesn’t go by if she passes that test she’s in the next level, if she passes it, she would be IN that level. I know, it’s confusing hearing it but when you see the placement test you’ll get it. I had one son place in level 3 for third grade and another place in level 2 and he was only in first grade. So this summer I’ll buy level 3 and level 4 for them. I’ve found it to be really fun and I have enjoyed reading the stories to them.

      • I am wanting to use this for my son who is going to be in 1st grade. He is great at math and this is my first year homeschooling. I looked at all the sample pages for MLFLE Level 1 and the placement test and they were wayyy too easy for him. However, one thing he does not understand yet (but he would learn quickly if taught) is place value (hundreds, tens, ones). On the Level 2 placement test he understood and answered correctly everything except for the questions on place value (he can count and write to 100 but doesn’t understand the place value). Should I go ahead and purchase Level 2? Will they go over place value in Level 2 as well?

  2. I have not heard of this one before – it looks interesting!
    The most affordable math curriculum I have come across is Math Mammoth. A friend of mine is using it, and the whole program for grades 1-8 (I think) can be purchased as pdfs on CD or downloads for under $200 – great for multiple children! She’s got four kids, so that is less than $50 each for all levels.
    We’re quite happy with our Math-U-See here though!

  3. I LOVE this Math curriculum! My son has learning disabilities and is flourishing with it. It makes sense to him and how his brain processes.

  4. Where would you start with a 7th grader doing PreAlgebra? Right now we are using a combination of things… our basic curriculum is Easy Peasy All in One Homeschool and she uses that for most of her subjects. EP incorporates many other programs into theirs…for example in Math for the problems you go to Mathtopia or another website. Spanish uses Babbel, Language Arts uses many many websites for reading and language arts. For History I switched to Texas History as she had not had that yet. We use an online typing program to teach typing. We only started homeschooling on Monday so this is all a work in progress. We are tweaking levels and curriculum as we go.

  5. Do you think Math Lessons for a Living Education could be a good supplement to Math U See? I was considering order MUS Alpha and Math Lessons for a Living Education Level 1 for my 7 year old. Did you completely drop MUS?

    • I too was wondering if you can use this curriculum as a supplement to Math U See and also if you still use Math U See. I recently got all set to use Math U See after trying to decide between that and Math Lessons for a Living Education. After reading your review, I’m really wondering if we should have gone with Math Lessons for a Living Education. Do you use it to supplement Math U See or have you switched over completely?

    • We hit a road block in MUS Alpha and turned to Math Lessons For a Living Education (Level 1) for help… we ended up replacing MUS with it entirely, as it is quite thorough. We have been extremely satisfied with how engaging it is. Don’t let the cute stories and pictures full you, as it is definitely a complete and comprehensive math program!

    • I would not use it as a supplement because this curriculum doesn’t require supplementing. I’ve tried MUS before and it was hard, boring, and did not work for us. MY son was memorizing that two colored blocks equaled a different color block, I forget what the colors are now, but after almost a year of math that’s what he was getting out of it? I was so frustrated. He kept thinking 2+3 was 23. Using those blocks he had no clue that they were all separate little blocks, because they were all different colors. Maybe it was my fault for not explaining it correctly, thought I explained it a ton, so I thought. We moved around to a few different things and came to this and this has been perfect. He now thrives in math. I’d say, if you want to keep doing MUS, you probably won’t need a supplement. Unless you do, because it’s not that thorough or your child needs more help in an area, and in that case I’d just switch completely to Masterbooks. No use paying twice.

  6. We have been using Life of Fred, and need to change to…something. I have most of MUS, but am intrigued by MLFLE. It sounds very similar to Fredm with the stories, but maybe more practice? What made you move to MLFLE away from mathUSee?



  7. How does this program compare to others in regards to practice/review? I was not comfortable with the lack of review in the one LOF book I looked at, but I am finding SAXON to be overwhelming with multiple children. Thanks!

    • I realize this is a bit old but I wanted to say that is has review but not like saxon and definitely more than life of Fred. Master books has a sample that is quite good so you can see for yourself how much there is!

  8. My daughter is profoundly dyslexic and had gone through a year and a half of public school without really picking up good math skills. I had initially purchased RighStart Math because it had gotten so many good reviews, especially for dyslexic children, but it just didn’t work for my daughter. She hated it and was constantly confused. I was so frustrated after spending all that money and I felt like I couldn’t invest a lot of money into another expensive math curriculum. I discovered this curriculum and since it wasn’t expensive decided to give it a try.

    We love it! The concepts that have eluded her for so long really click with how MLFLE teaches math. She looks forward to math every day and has already finished half the first book even though we started in December.

    This truly is an amazing math program!

    • I would also love to know how these stories involve god, we don’t use religion in our curriculum at all, but these make math seem so fun and realistic.

  9. Hi there! I bought this curriculum on your recommendation with your code but they only gave me 5% discount at the checkout. I didn’t realize it until I looked at this post that you are advertising a 10% off coupon. Did that expire? I just bought it last week. So far, so good!

  10. I am looking for something to start my soon to be kindergartner with before switching to Saxon. Do you think usng this would make for an easy transition or no?

  11. I am wanting to order these for my children. They look fantastic!! Do you know where I can order them in Canada? Thanks!

    • I’m wondering the same thing. We have been using Singapore and I’m done with the tears over math everyday.

  12. We love this curriculum. Can you please explain the addition and subbtraction mats? I couldn’t find any direction on them. I feel like they are pretty self explanatory but I wanted to double check with another Momma and mame sure I wasn’t missing something. Thank you!

  13. Hi. I am beginning homeschool and purchased math u see and I feel overwhelmed but I’ve spent nearly 500$ on alpha, beta, gamma and delta. I don’t like it at all. Could I supplement and possibly transition to this? I hate to waste all the money but I feel it’s not a good fit for us. What you described seems to be.

    • You can absolutely switch to this, the only catch is that MUS actually put my kids quite behind because it only taught them one topic. I would take the placement test, my kids are starting at lower levels to build a good foundation.

  14. Hi Rebecca! So based off of your great review we are doing this curriculum! We are loving it. I do have a question though. We are doing level 1 (both my second and first grader… My second grader has special needs, so I wanted to make sure she is getting everything before moving on to level 2), and we just came to the part where we have to make the right brained flash cards. Ummmm!!! This is crazy to me! We finished 4 flash cards in like, 40 mins??? There are TONS of flash cards to do. And we couldn’t move on in the lesson since we only got 4 done!! We are going to have to work on making up stories and drawing these flash cards in every spare minute we have for like, days! Help?!? How did you handle that? Especially with doing two kids at a time. Thanks so much!!

  15. I was going to use Abeka for my 2nd grader (like I did with my now 11 yo 6th grader), however, I decided to try this math curriculum instead. I do like how it is quick for her to do and she will like the hands-on stuff. I’m just wondering, based on the other curricula you have reviewed, does this one seem too easy? I’m used to Abeka, and my now 6th grader currently uses Saxon. I decided to supplement this a little with some add/subtraction drills. Thanks for any input you have.

  16. just wondering if i would need to change a lot since we are canadian? are there large chunks of us currency and imperial measurements in the level 2? thanks

  17. I am interested in knowing if you are still using this math curriculum and if so are you still enjoying it. We use Singapore and supplement with LOF and my daughter does very well with both but has been growing in her dislike of Singapore. It is becoming a battle that I am not sure I want to engage in. Math Lessons for a Living Education looks very enjoyable and I am wondering how you feel about it at this point. Do you feel it is enough?

  18. Hi I have been looking at this curriculum for math for my 1st grader. He finished Saxon math 1 last year for kinder and I was wondering if this math curriculum covers enough for “1st grade”? My husband is not totally on board the homeschool train and I feel very pressured to make sure that my kids ar3 being able to at least stay on track as if they were going to school all while teaching the way I like.

  19. Thanks so much for the review. I’ve been trying to decide on a math program for my kids as a first time homeschooler this coming season and really respect your information and guidance.
    My question: how does this work as a Canadian homeschooler?? I have my heart set on this program but it suddenly hit me, how does this work in regards to measurements, money, etc?! Does it come in a Canadian version or do you supplement or teach extra ‘Canadian’ lessons so the kids understand our different forms of measurements?? Thanks so much. I really appreciate any advice you can give on this.

  20. We absolutely love using Math Lessons for our son! He loves math and every other curriculum was squashing that. He was getting bogged down in the long lessons and repetitive approach.

  21. This is great especially because i was not excelling in math for the simple reason that the world of numbers never made sense in my head. The approach you have taken is very exciting and am sure the kids will surely like it and they will not have to go through what i went through. I also love the fact that it is affordable. I will make a follow up for the sake of my daughter Thank you

  22. Hi, I am from South Africa. I would like to know if the PDF downloads are printable. The books turn out to be quite expensive to order and ship it out to us so it will be way better to buy an ebook/pdf version.
    Only thing is that we will need a book form to do the work in…
    Thanks for a great blog!
    Annalize Kok

    Located in Delhi, Webmarts is a professionally managed digital marketing agency offering a host of demanding services. We offer SEO services, web development, web designing, social media marketing, and more services to clients in different businesses.

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  28. My daughter loves the math curriculum. She now thrives in math. I would say that if you want to continue with this service, you have probably be advance. Unless you or your kid needs help in some area, in which case I would just go to this resource and find interesting cases or reviews here. And in my opinion, Master books has a sample that’s pretty good, so you can see for yourself how much is informative there.

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I used to review curriculum, now I create it!