SumBlox: The Building Blocks of Math Learning


The world of homeschool math learning has been reshaped and reimagined through SumBlox. I found out firsthand.

I was wandering through the exhibit hall at the THSC Arlington Convention, when I saw a booth surrounded by children. Not entirely sure what all the fuss was about, I walked over and found a table covered in wooden blocks and surrounded by homeschool children engrossed in play. I could see they were stacking the blocks in various ways, making a game out of their learning.

The gentleman guiding their play paused to give me a few minutes of his time and explain the concept of his creation: SumBlox.

What are SumBlox?

SumBlox are a labor of love created by Texas native David Skaggs.

Skaggs was tutoring children at a local elementary school, looking for ways to engage the students and help them grasp fundamental math concepts. He designed a set of wooden number blocks, with the size of each block correlating to its number.

For instance, when stacked on top of each other, two number 1 blocks are the same height as a number 2 block. And two number 2 blocks stacked equals a number 4 block.

The ingenuity of SumBlox lies in the versatility of the blocks. SumBlox can be used by a wide range of students to teach a variety of math concepts as part of homeschool math learning.

Younger students learn number recognition, ordinal positioning, and simple addition and subtraction. More advanced students can begin to use the blocks to solidify concepts such as factoring, multiplication and division, and fractions.

SumBlox can be used as a standalone product, utilizing 43 hardwood number blocks and an activity card. Additional lesson plans can be incorporated to teach addition/subtraction, multiplication/division, fractions, and adding fractions.

Our SumBlox Story

Our youngest three children are boys ages three, six and eight. The day our SumBlox arrived in the mail, I let the boys open the box and just explore the blocks on their own.

They immediately begin stacking the blocks and building small structures. After some free time play, I showed them that the sizes of the blocks were unique. They thought I was doing a magic trick!

My boys were so surprised to see that when I stacked the 4 and 6 blocks they were the same height as:

  • Two 5 blocks AND
  • a 1 and 9 block combo AND
  • a 2 and 8 combo AND
  • a 3 and 7 combo.

Once my two older boys understood the concept, we began to play games and introduce the activity card.

We had speed competitions finding two sets of numbers that were equal in height to build a bridge (Bridge Race). Even my three year old could help build a “Tower in Order” while learning number recognition and order.

The SumBlox Big Takeaway

One of the things I appreciate about SumBlox is how easy it is to integrate with our current math curriculum.

During our math time, I can pull out the “number blocks” and have a hands-on activity to help solidify the concept I am trying to teach.

I am also able to explain more advanced concepts to my children at a younger age because they can visualize what I am explaining.

It is easy for even an eight year old to see that three stacked 1 blocks equals a 3 block. If I take one of the 1 blocks away, I have two out of three left, or two-thirds.

Even cleanup time is a learning activity as the boys scramble to find matches of ten to fit the blocks back into the box. This has certainly helped me maximize homeschool math learning time!

Overall, SumBlox has become a permanent fixture of our youngsters’ math lessons. These are tools that I will be able to use until my youngest boy is in late elementary.

And because SumBlox are made of high-quality hardwood, they can become heirlooms that I pass along to my children’s children.

I have been homeschooling for over 20 years and I agree with my colleague from the Arlington Convention that SumBlox is one of my favorite homeschooling finds!

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