About the Program

Hands-on Approach to Learning Math

Structural Arithmetic is a comprehensive program for teaching the foundations of mathematics and number sense. The approach is based on reasoning and insight into mathematical relationships, not on rote learning and counting. Pupils experiment with colorful wooden blocks that fit into boxes and grooves. These concrete materials make the abstract foundational concepts of mathematics accessible for all students.

Children are able to correct their own errors. They readily see that the 5-block plus the 6-block is too long to fit in the 10-box, and thereby recognize that the solution is in the direction of selecting a smaller block to discover for themselves that five plus five makes ten. Rather than be distracted and possibly embarrassed by being told they are wrong, they can keep their attention on the problem at hand.

The Stern Math curriculum is laid out in a careful developmental progression with concepts building upon one another. The organization of the math program is clear and logically developed through a step by step plan of experimentation, practice, and review that leads pupils from simple number concepts to a mastery of computation and problem solving.

A Teacher's Guide at each level describes the purpose and materials for each exercise. Illustrations depict the experiments and games to be performed by the pupils. View a sample page from one of our Teacher’s Guides (PDF).

Progress monitoring is included to gauge the acquisition of each new concept. Children emerge from this program with competence and confidence in their mathematical ability and with a love of math. View a sample of our progress monitoring tasks.

Supports the Common Core Standards

The new common core standards put more of an emphasis than before on language, abstract reasoning and problem solving. The common core expects that, if students have truly internalized a concept, they should be able to express and interpret a mathematical concept across a variety of models and representations. Stern Structural Arithmetic provides the concrete representations to develop understanding not only of the mathematical concepts, but also provides the foundation for understanding the pictorial and abstract representations we now expect of our students.

Resource for ELLs and Struggling Students

The Structural Arithmetic program has been extremely successful when used to help students with learning difficulties, children with language processing difficulties and children whose first language is not English. This is because the dependence on verbal understanding of abstract concepts is kept to a minimum and most of the learning is done through direct tactile and visual experience. The teacher is provided with a wealth of different lessons and games from which he or she can choose according to the individual needs of the children.

Interactive Home Schooling Method

The Structural Arithmetic Program offers materials effective for parents of home-schooled children precisely because it supports their children in the quest to become autonomous learners. For the same reasons that Stern Math is an effective formative stand-alone system for the classroom it effectively can do the same thing at home. The games provide a fun and efficient way for children to become excellent students of math with a strong sense of themselves as problem solvers.

A Supplement to an Existing Mathematics Curriculum

Although designed to be taught sequentially, the program is easily adapted to supplemental use. The teacher can always turn to Structural Arithmetic to help students understand the underlying principles. Often children who are having trouble understanding a number concept in the abstract are able to comprehend and master it when they are able to interact with carefully orchestrated concrete materials. Through experimentation with these manipulatives, they are presented with models that give meaning to the abstract ideas.  These models develop into mental images that can be accessed and relied upon by the child independent of the materials.

Structural Arithmetic presents games to be used as educational recreation, a change of pace from normal classroom routine. Teachers' Guides provide easy to understand directions with illustrations that allow the teacher to grasp the underlying principles and help the children comprehend them.