The key to learning math

Math Vitamin

It Started with A Question

What would it look like to have each student in our school finish a math project feeling like a strong and capable mathematician?


To answer that question, our faculty created Math Vitamin. Based on years of research of different learning styles and curricular entry points, we created a multi-disciplinary approach. Each student enters a math task from an area of strength and then works through areas of challenge. This is the key to Math Vitamin’s success.

School Year Overview 6

What is Math Vitamin?

The approach begins with each student working on a task rather than a teacher delivering a lesson. Students and teachers then debrief, process, and strategize together as a team at the close of every math session. This allows students to do the initial thinking about the steps required to solve a problem. It also allows the teacher to see the entry points each individual student prefers and follow their thinking, enabling them to coach each student individually. Over time, Math Vitamin builds deep and meaningful understanding of each concept on our online math continuum.

Our Online Math Continuum

The teachers at UCDS have created skill-based continua to use to generate curricula and assess student progress. Explore our online math continuum to view skill categories for Pre-K through 3rd grade that align with state and national standards. You’ll also discover videos of teachers and students in action, curricular ideas, materials and manipulatives, and timeline suggestions. These tools are yours to adopt at no cost.

The Math Continuum Stages

Math Vitamin 1

3-5 years old

Activities and skills at this level are designed for children who have acquired strong verbal and non-verbal skills and who are learning from their environment. They’ve begun to recite rote items, count, and recognize colors, shapes, and patterns.
Math Vitamin 3

4-6 years old

Activities and skills at this level are designed for children who start to learn with intent. They learn from others, yet use materials to extend their own learning. They’ve begun to demonstrate an ability to write and draw recognizable character.
Math Vitamin 2

5-7 years old

Children are able to work on new concepts with both intent and perseverance. They’re capable of documenting their work and listening to the varying ideas of others. They’re expanding their number sense and begin to learn formal algorithms.
Resource Hub 3

6-8 years old

Students at this level are able to demonstrate strong basic numeric skills and work independently for an extended period of time. They’re comfortable with the concept of addition and are extending their understanding of geometric dimensionality.
Elementary 5

7-9 years old

Activities and skills at this level are designed for students who are learning subtraction, multiplication, division, and fractions. They use manipulatives with varied levels of complexity to demonstrate their thinking and prove their hypotheses.

How it Works: Different Methods for Different Learners

Math isn’t always a quiet activity—kids need to discuss, listen, look, and move while learning to think mathematically. Because children process and assimilate information at different rates and have unique learning styles, we developed Math Vitamin so each individual can achieve success. Stories are the framework we use to anchor and present Math Vitamin. Students begin by reading a story, then solve the assigned task using the components outlined below. While students choose  an entry point that meets their preferred approach to learning, every student is required to build, draw, and record, regardless of where they start the process.

Math Vitamin components:

Math Vitamin

Some students thrive on demonstrating their thinking visually with items and objects—what we refer to in math as manipulatives. Manipulatives—such as pattern blocks, color tiles, and wooden cubes—serve as an ideal way to better understand process and communicate solutions.

School Year Overview 4

Another entry point for students is to document or represent work artistically. This is a way for students who are artistically inclined to process information found in the story in a way that appeals to their sensibilities.

Resource Hub 3

If abstract thinking is an area of strength, some students prefer to start math work by writing an expression or equation. This entry point is only one part of a student’s Math Vitamin work. Once they create an equation, they’re still required to build, record, and discuss their thinking.