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First Grade Math With Confidence Review

I am not typically one to jump on a new curriculum, especially if future years are still being written. First Grade Math With Confidence (FGMWC) is an exception for me. We loved Kate Snow’s other book called Addition Facts That Stick so much that I wanted to see if her math curriculum would be similar.

This review will walk you through what it’s like to use this for first grade, what you’ll need, and why I think this sets a solid foundation for number creating a strong number sense.

I love that Math With Confidence is scripted, full of games, VERY inexpensive, and that Kate teaches similar to Singapore math actually.

We later ended up using Kindergarten Math With Confidence With my 3rd child. You can read that that review here!

If you want to add more math games to your homeschool, here’s a BIG list of math games that practice addition and subtraction. We’ve used a lot, often on days we just don’t do our regular curriculum. It really balances out the worksheets with a little bit more fun!

First Grade Math With Confidence Homeschool Curriculum

Math curriculum we are using for my other kids

We will also be using Kindergarten Math With Confidence with my younger son, while my oldest is using Singapore Primary 2022 for 2nd grade.

Since my daughter had started Singapore 1A before switching to Math With Confidence, here’s my comparison of the two.

I also want to point out that this review is non sponsored and I paid for all curriculum on my own.

More homeschool posts to explore

Who is Kate Snow and why is she qualified to write math curriculum?

Kate Snow is a high school math teacher turned homeschool mom. She has a math degree from Harvard and an elementary teaching certificate. She’s the author of The Math Facts That Stick series, including Addition Facts That Stick.

You’ll find Kate a contributor over at The Well Trained Mind and on her own blog Kate’s Homeschool Math.

I had done Addition Facts That Stick with my oldest which is how I discovered Kate Snow was writing a math curriculum. We LOVED it, and I credit that book to learning how to figure out an answer, not just “memorizing”. See my full review of that 6 week course here.

Kate Snow on the back of her book First Grade Math With Confidence

Where should you start if you switch from another math curriculum?

First thing to do if you switch to Math With Confidence is look at the Table of Contents. See what you’ve already covered, and if there’s anything you haven’t yet.

Below is First Grade Table of Contents on top, and the Kindergarten Table of Contents on the Bottom so you can see what’s in each book.

Kindergarten and First Grade Math With Confidence Table of Contents

Kate says MWC is on grade level with most public school curriculums and is a “middle of the road” program in difficulty. Here’s how she recommends picking a level.

If you’re switching mid year of 1st grade like we did, she recommends starting on unit 5 of First Grade Math With Confidence, which covers numbers to 20.

My daughter had covered that in Singapore 1A and was bored. Not just with the worksheets but also with the activities that were too easy. So we moved on till we found what was challenging her.

Once we got to unit 8, (addition to 20) things got more challenging for her. This was about 2/3 the way through the curriculum, which makes sense since we’d almost finished half a year of Singapore.

I’m still glad I got the whole book though. It was cheap and I was able to go back and see how things were presented here and if we needed to skip, we did.

What does 1 day of First Grade Math With Confidence include?

A lesson has 3 parts.

  1. Review.

This is usually 5 minutes of some oral type review. We skip this if it’s easy stuff I know my daughter knows just to shorten things a bit. Otherwise, it’s nice built in review! You’ll see things like quick skip counting, coin review, months of the year, etc.

2. Hands on teaching with visuals/games.

This is scripted, with what you’re supposed to say in bold. It includes games and hands on activities. For example, when we learned about bar graphs, we made one. I didn’t have sticky notes as suggested so we cut up paper.

Girls and Boys names on pieces of paper forming a bar graph for 1st grade math.

Here’s an example of one of the many games you’ll see. We had to turn cards over from the deck and say the answer. If the answer was on the board, you put a piece on the tic-tac-toe board.

Subtraction games for First Grade Math With Confidence

3. Worksheet

Each day of math comes with a 1 page (front and back) worksheet. Front page is new material, back page is review. It should be pretty independent after the lesson and give you an idea of how well they understand the material.

This page was rolling the dice and coloring a block on the bar graph to see which number would fill up first.

Bar graph from first grade math with confidence.

Don’t judge the curriculum by the workbook only

This is not a workbook based math curriculum. If it was, there’s just not enough there.

At first glance, if you thumb through 1st grade Math With Confidence workbook…you’ll think this is WAY too easy. And it would be too easy for my comfort level if that’s all this was!

But there’s a lot more to this than the front and back worksheet that takes 5 minutes.

Of course, if your kid knows the material already, then yes it will be too easy even with the games and activities could bore them. That’s what we found with my daughter.

But when you hit the spot where things are new, it’s great. Below are a couple pages you’ll find in the First Grade book.

Lesson 31.2 of First Grade Math With Confidence: Subtracting a one digit number from a 2 digit number
First Grade Math With Confidence Subtraction.

Do you need to buy the Instructor’s Guide?

Yes, for sure! It’s the heart of this program! Note, it’s in black and white while the student book is in color!

You can see there’s a lot to it, at least double the size of the student book below for both Kindergarten Math With Confidence and First Grade Math With Confidence!

kindergarten and first grade math with confidence books

I open this every day we do math. There’s a warm up section (review), an activity for teaching the lesson, plus it contains what you’ll say and how to explain things.

The Instructor’s guide also has all the extra sheets in the back like place value charts, part part whole mat, and extra game board sheets you can copy.

I was considering buying the digital version for cheaper (don’t do it, it’s already cheap to buy the printed). My 1st grade instructor’s guide is like 500 pages! It’s so big I couldn’t print and bind for any cheaper.

What grade will Math With Confidence Go To?

Kate has said that she plans to go up to grade 6! SO excited about that! 2nd grade Math With Confidence comes out June 2022, and one a year after that.

What math manipulatives should I buy for Math With Confidence?

Kate has most everything in the back of the book you’ll need that you *could* print out, cut out, and use. She’s included things like 10 frames, paper tangrams, ones and tens place value chart, etc.

However, I think there’s a few things worth buying that you’ll use for all your kids in almost any math curriculum.

Math 10 frames, a deck of cards, and math linking cubes.

Math link cubes. These are what we have, and there’s 100 total pieces, 10 of each color. This will come in handy when learning numbers to 20. I use these almost every lesson. You could use beans as counters too, but I like the colors for visual. For 7+2 I can easily put 7 greens together with 2 yellows, and it’s easy to see.

Plastic tangrams for creating pictures and getting “shape” sense. Not a big deal if you don’t have these, but my kids like to play with these just for fun to make animals and things. Plus they are in a few lessons throughout the book.

A 10 frame that you’ll use for the visual part of many lessons. She has one in the back, so you can laminate that or put it in a page protector too.

Is Math With Confidence considered common core?

No, it isn’t.

But you will be exploring multiple ways to solve a problem at the 1st grade level.

For example, kids will be asked to solve 8+7 by thinking what 7+7 is, and then 1 more. They’ll also learn to make 10’s in their head, so that they see 8+7 is the same as 10+5.

What’s Next After Finishing Math With Confidence

Once you finish, you can fill out the awesome certificate in the back for your child to celebrate their accomplishment!

Congratulations page in the back of Math With Confidence for completing the course.

My worry is that if my girl finishes a level way before the next comes out, she could eventually not have the level she needs published in time to move on.

In that case I’d have to play math games with her, supplement, or switch her back to Singapore Primary possibly. I’ll update this post as we figure that out!

There’s a kindergarten level too, which I’ll be using with my boy when he starts! I’ve seen these go on sale for 40% off multiple times on Amazon, so keep checking.

You don’t need to buy Addition Facts That Stick or Subtraction Facts That Stick if you use Math With Confidence

A common question I see in Kate’s Facebook Group is if it would still be helpful to buy Addition Facts That Stick (or Subtraction Facts That Stick) if you are already using First Grade Math With Confidence.

Short answer, no. Most all of the games in those 6 and 8 week stand alone courses are in the year long first grade curriculum.

I only have them because my oldest isn’t using this curriculum and I like those for review or when we need a break from using Singapore Primary.

Would I recommend this as a first grade math curriculum for homeschoolers?

I would 100%! I am looking forward to seeing future years come out and reviewing those as well.

It is awesome to see a math curriculum out there that kids are having fun with and parents feel able to teach. One that’s not bogged down with huge amounts of workbook problems and has enough hands on math to stay practical.

Hope you feel a little bit more comfortable with the layout and feel of Math With Confidence. I’d love to know what you are using now in the comments or what you are looking for in a math curriculum! Choosing can be so hard!

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Sunday 19th of June 2022

Have you checked out Apologia Math? It's very similar to MWC but the publication schedule is further along. The Author Kathryn Gomes has a lot of great math ideas on Apologia's YouTube channel. My daughter just finished the same grade as yours. We started with Singapore but I felt like developmentally things were above her head. Kate Snow and Math facts that stick were a lifesaver!


Monday 20th of June 2022

I haven't, but I've heard of it. Glad to know you enjoyed MWC too. I've ordered the next level for my daughter, level 2. It's hard for me to decide to either keep going with it or get both kids on Singapore Primary 2022, since my oldest is too old for MWC.


Tuesday 1st of March 2022

I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your blog. I just stumbled upon it last night but am so thankful! I have been spending way too much time on homeschool Facebook groups and homeschool blogs and homeschool reviews to figure out how to move forward as what I was doing with my kindergartner wasn’t working anymore. I have been beyond overwhelmed with the choices. But when I started reading your reviews on using stuff and you mentioned the stuff that was important to you, I felt like I have found my homeschool kindred spirit! I think the problem for me with so many other blogs is they are YEARS ahead of me. So they list their long list of lesson plans and their full morning basket routine stuffed with all the arts and riches so I feel like I have failed and or I want to throw the towel in cause I never feel consistent enough and I have 3 kids 5 and under so we’re interrupted constantly and have short attention spans! But you’re only two years ahead of me and kept it super basic and simple (your kindergarten schedule is a lot like ours which I can actually do!) so it gives me the courage that I can start here and that’s totally enough. Your curriculum reviews include stuff I have considered a lot so that’s helpful. And the fact that you mentioned that you value play in the young years, time for spontaneous learning, not busy work but not being totally trusting enough to be an unschooler, needing open and go curriculum (I’m too tired to plan ahead or make decisions about what to do and when!)- all Of this makes me trust your reviews because it’s exactly where I’m at and what I value! So thank you for sharing because it’s truly grounding me and pacing some steps for me when I was too overwhelmed with possibilities :) -Katie


Wednesday 2nd of March 2022

Thank you for all your sweet words! I know the pressure you feel when your oldest is finally in school and everyone else "goes to school." You are gifting your child more time to play, to be with siblings, to sleep in, to go on adventures with you. I guess over the years (my oldest is only 8) I've seen my littler ones pick up so much after kindergarten, and more quickly! So whatever you are fearful of not introducing...can literally be learned later and probably retained better. My 3rd will be in kinder at home this fall and I'm keeping it simple. We will do Kindergarten Math With Confidence and begin the book Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Then play, read books, and go play :-) Hope you have a great year! With your kids ages, I'd go follow Busy Toddler on IG for play ideas, and also Sarah McKenzie. She's a homeschool mom with college kids now...and has GREAT read aloud recommendations and a podcast. She's a huge encouragement to me and helps you feel like you can do this! She keeps things so simple.