Problem Solving with Primarily Math

Primarily Math from Prufrock Press is a great book for practicing problem solving  with elementary kids

(This post contains affiliate links and links to my business website, Shining Dawn Books.  I was given a free copy of Primarily Math in exchange for an honest review.)

Why Problem Solving?

If you’ve read Loving Living Math or many of my living math posts here on Our Journey Westward, you know that I find most traditional math curricula to lack in problem solving.  Real problem solving.  You know, the kind that works brains and stretches thinking.

Kids need practice with problem solving because – well, real life is full of problems to solve.

The good news, you don’t necessarily have to give up your current textbook math curriculum.  Just be sure to add fun problem solving opportunities a couple times a week – even with younger elementary students.  I have a great book to share with you for 2nd-4th gradersPrimarily Math: A Problem Solving Approach.

Primarily Math is a great book for 2nd-4th problem solving activities

Problem Solving Strategies

Primarily Math covers 5 problem solving strategies – using manipulatives (or acting out), draw a picture or diagram, extend a repeating pattern, make a table or list, and choose relative information.  Each strategy is taught and practiced approximately ten times.  The book ends with 55 problems that expect your child to choose the correct strategy to solve the problem.  In other words, there’s plenty of teaching and practice to cement these strategies!

What I Really Like

  • Each problem utilizes simple language – nothing that tries to trick young children.
  • Several activities are provided to practice the five types of problem solving strategies.
  • The lessons are quick and easy.
  • Using hands-on manipulatives to build understanding doesn’t take planning and preparation.

Hands-On Math for primary students

My littlest guy is only in the 1st grade.  Because he’s been doing logic and problem solving since PK, I’ve been using several of these Primarily Math activities with him already.  He loves them!

Loving Living Math - A How-To Guide for Parents  I’m so impressed, Primarily Math is being added as a Loving Living Math suggested resource!


  1. Are you aware that Prufrock Press is aligning to Common Core Standards, essentially dumbing down their curriculum?

  2. Although I am against a federally dictated curriculum, this particular book is quite good and does a great job of introducing problem solving strategies to young students.

  3. Many homeschool curriculum providers are feeling compelled to make the changes based on the ACT and SAT tests changing. This version is probably an excellent resource, but it will be different in the near future; I contacted PP to ask about changes. In states without textbook approval it will be less of an issue, but we have some east coast friends that have a;ready been told their classical education plan will be challenged for 2014-15 school year. I have included a couple links. All homeschoolers will be affected on the long term; it will help to stay informed. Thanks for allowing me to comment. ~Susie

  4. Lacy Compton says:

    Hi sekt21,

    I’m Lacy Compton, the senior editor at Prufrock and Cindy’s contact here. You can rest assured that we are not changing ANY of our materials’ content to align with the CCSS. All we are doing is providing charts that show how our already-developed curriculum could meet the standards in the CCSS. This comes as a result of many school districts (unfortunately) noting that they could not purchase our materials unless we provided a list of the standards met by each book. If you look at the charts we’ve prepared, you’ll see that many of our books actually meet grade level standards in the CCSS higher than the grade levels we list for the books (thus proving that we provide very challenging material for learners far above their grade-level peers).

    The same goes for any new material we develop–it will continue to be at the high levels of challenge we strive for in all of our products. We are absolutely not “dumbing down” anything, and I think you will continue to see how hard we work to make our curriculum extremely challenging and fitting for gifted students in all of our future products (including those that note that they meet the CCSS standards).

    And, thank you, Cindy, for the very thorough and kind review of our book–we appreciate every review!



  5. I think @sekt21 unfairly misrepresents Prufrock Press’ efforts.

    When we align our materials to the Common Core State Standards, we ask content experts to review our materials and record the instances where our materials “align” with the standards. As we explain on our website, our alignment pinpoints “exactly which standards line up with the products you own and those you’re considering purchasing.”

    That is it. No “dumbing down” and no modification of our content or high standards–we are simply providing assistance to our customers who wish to use our materials to design lessons using the standards.

    Joel McIntosh, Publisher
    Prufrock Press

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