Ray's Arithmetic

Ray's Arithmetic is a complete K-12 Math Curriculum in PDF format created by Joseph Ray during the Industrial Revolution. Joseph Ray was a collegue of William Holmes McGuffey. That name should ring a bell if you are familiar with the McGuffey Readers. Well, as McGuffey is to literature, Ray is to arithmetic.

In fact, Ray's Arithmetic is a part of the complete Eclectic Education Series published by Dollar Homeschool. The complete selection of books contained in the EES, include the McGuffey's Readers, as well as books on every subject; Reading, Grammar, Science, Math, History, and more. As a member of the Crew, I received just the Ray's Arithmetic for review.

The Ray's series, a little overwhelming at first, includes a total of 38 books. These include the 12 core Textbooks, plus Answer Key's, Teachers Editions, and several "intriguing books of mathematical pursuits for the aspiring student," such as Surveying and Navigation, Astronomy, Book Keeping, and Physics.

Price: $59

A Peek at the Contents from elementary to advanced math:
  • Ray's Primary Arithmetic, 95 pages.
  • Ray's Intellectual Arithmetic, 141 pages.
  • Ray's New Elementary Arithmetic, 192 pages.
  • Ray's New Practical Arithmetic, 337 pages.
  • Ray's New Higher Arithmetic, 409 pages.
  • Ray's New Elementary Algebra, 241 pages.
  • Ray's New Higher Algebra. 407 pages.
  • Ray's Treatise on Geometry and Trigonometry. 421 pages.
  • Ray's Analytic Geometry. 608 pages.

See a complete list of the books available to see all 38 books included.

From what I have read, Ray's is a very practical math program. It focuses on how math can be used in day to day life making it seem more valuable to the student. It also encourages the student to think on their own, thus increasing their interest and understanding of the material.

Our Experience:

Can you see why I was overwhelmed at first? That's 2,851 pages of arithmetic! And that is not all. That is only 9 of the 38 books on this CD!

Thankfully, there is a Manual of Methods that walks you through how to use this program. In fact several of the activities that I began with came directly from this manual. The manual even explains how to teach in a one-room school house setting which makes this perfect for home school.

And I must say that the methods intrigued me. For example, all math is oral and hands on the first year. According to the manual, a book should not be used "because no book contains, and no book can be made to contain, the kind of instruction necessary the first year."

This was reassuring to me because I have been struggling with what math book I should begin with for my soon to be 5 year old. Now I know not to use one at all. Which means I am going to have to print the manual and the primary book that I will use to teach him from, as explained by the manual,
"The instruction should be entirely oral, and should deal altogether at first with concrete numbers. The little child can not grasp abstract ideas. It is true you can teach him to repeat, "2 and 2 are 4;" . . . But, without the proper preliminary work, these words can not possibly convey any clear meaning to his mind."

The first method taught is the object method which teaches children to think, catches their interest from the very beginning, and carries them to the point that they are "ready to grasp the abstract, through careful preliminary drill on the concrete."

So, to implement this with Malachi, who is 4 years 11 months, I began the teaching of arithmetic with objects - blocks, balls, marbles, army guys, buttons, etc. The more varied the objects the better to prevent work from becoming monotonous, according to the manual. And, I can tell you that Malachi loves his "army guy math."

Each number from one to ten is taught by illustrating each number by corresponding groups of objects. So that he can instantly give the number of any group of objects from one to ten, without counting. To do this, I made piles of army guys only going as high as he could name them without counting.

To begin this concept with my 3 year old, I simply placed dot stickers on an index card and had her place pom poms on each dot and then said the number and had her repeat the number.

We will repeat this activity weekly, using a variety of objects until she masters this concept. Since the concepts are mastery based, you don't move on until you have mastered the material, no matter if it takes one, two or three years to master it. In fact, the first two years of training are considered the most important.

I can definitely see how this is true. My oldest, having begun his formative years in public school was sadly very behind by the time we began home schooling him in the 4th grade because he never mastered the basics.

I also reviewed the Primary and Intellectual Arithemetic with my 9 and 11 year olds. They were able to move through the first sections very easily and we did the lessons orally. I made it fun for them and at times they raced to tell me,
Fourteen and 16 and 7 and 5 and 9 and 8 and 9 and 6 and 4 are how many?

It was a challenge to add these up mentally and race for the answer. We also took turns giving the answer to give each other a chance to work the problems out.

Then we moved to the mulitplication section and worked through the section on word problems, answering questions like,
The sum of two numbers is 23; the smaller is 11: what is five times the larger?

I love that it is a multiplication problem that makes you think!

Your child is also exposed to math terms such as bushels, pecks, shillings and more, which made this math seem so quaint.
A miller bought 10 bushels of wheat, at 1 dollar a bushel, from which he made 2 barrels of flour that were sold at 7 dollars each: how much more did he get for the flour than he paid for the wheat?

One thing that endeared me to this program is that the word problems used in Ray's help children to see math in the world around them and even learn information from other areas of education, such as history.

It is also designed to create independent learners.
"The Ray's Arithmetic was originally created to be used by frontier Americans, Americans that often lived in areas where available teachers were few, often far away, or even completely unavailable. For this reason the books are designed to allow children, once they can read, to educate themselves to a very great extent."

We then moved on to the division section as I am working on mastering division and long division in these 2 boys. I printed the division chart for them to study and find patterns in the chart. Then they worked word problems like this:
Five times the sum of two numbers is equal to 60; if 7 is one of them, what is the other?

With the exception of the charts, all of the math up to this point is given in sentence form like this. Here is a screen shot from Ray's Elementary Arithmetic:
When you get further along in division, this program definitely dates itself. For example, long division problems are written upside down.

This is not your traditional modern day text book and while I have not fully grasped the whole program, I am thrilled to have the complete set of Ray's Arithmetic in our home school library. I think the value is great considering that if we should ever fall on hard times, we will have a complete arithmetic program available for our use.

Be sure to see my crew mates reviews of Ray's Arithmetic. Some crew members also reviewed the complete Eclectic Education Series.

I received this product for free for the purpose of this review and no further compensation was received. I offer my honest opinion. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.