Montessori Elementary Homeschool Blog - with documentation of our infant Montessori, toddler Montessori, and primary Montessori experiences; as well as preparation for the upcoming adolescent Montessori homeschool years.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Adolescent Algebra - and More

UPDATE 2019: This review is for the original Algebra for the Adolescent. Mike Waski has now published a second version, in two volumes (one for lower and one for older adolescents) and has separated out the Geometry to its own album entirely. Please visit The Math Institute to learn about all the resources for adolescent math studies!

The algebra album has new lessons and even more photos than before, from all that I hear. And the first two chapters of the Geometry album? Yep. Spectacular!

Original Post:

At long last, there is an "album" for the adolescent age - at least for mathematics - and OH does it COVER mathematics!
Signed Numbers, Graphing, Lines, Inverse Operations, Inequalities, Exponents, Combining Like Terms, Factoring, Absolute Value, Binomial Theorem, Quadratics, Transformations, Sequences, Functions, Exponential and Logarithmic Functions, Polynomials, Trigonometry, Complex Numbers, Further Work (Matrices, Vectors, Conic Sections), Calculus - ALL get their own chapters!

Then Geometry (a whole section on Euclid) and Arithmetic (one page description of what to do) each get an appendix. 

It is perfect! I love it! I can't wait to delve into it with my son (well, yes, I can, because I don't want him to grow up TOO fast; but I am also SO satisfied we have the perfect resource for the middle school and possibly early high school years).

It arrived via UPS yesterday. Yes, I paid $16 and change for shipping. I didn't feel like contacting them to have them send it media mail. I probably could have driven and picked it up for less, but it saved time. (Edit: 8/20/2019 - Shipping prices are different now with the new website, see links below)

It comes printed on front/back, 3-hole punched, ready for a binder....

Or 2 binders. I didn't want that many pages in one thick binder. So I split it, noting the chapter headings contained in each. It comes with two printed cover pages (presumably a "cover" and a "title" page, so I split those to the binders).

Fully Illustrated!!!

If you are familiar with Montessori math (NAMTA presumes you have training when you purchase this album), you will be able to follow along very quickly; the introduction chapter provides a good outline for how to work through the material with the children - not in linear fashion. There is also a flow chart in the appendix which shows initial presentation (everyone gets one way or another), suggested follow-up presentations (not everyone "needs" - some things the child needs to demonstrate understanding one way or another; some things are entirely optional) and the ultimate key experiences (all children should get to those ones).

If you are new to Montessori math, the wordy introduction might be overwhelming but will be VERY helpful.

The materials list is decent, although it lists chapter number rather than presentation needed for (but, ahem, that is more information than the Keys of the Universe albums provide - only listing the material and not even the chapter or specific album page it is used for. Yes that organization is in progress! ). 

GUESS WHAT!? Those expensive wooden squares and cubes we elementary Montessori homeschoolers keep balking at the price for a few small elementary presentations!? And think we might just going to skip? Yeah. They're in here! I am so happy - it means more work with them, more use of a somewhat expensive material - and more fuel for my adamant stance that we don't need "more" materials - we just need to go DEEPER with what we have.
(for the record, I did try to think of cheaper alternatives; in the end, I went with the wooden set from IFIT - I am 100% pleased and I know I can re-sell them if/when the time comes)

Indeed, there are very few new materials, comparatively speaking; most of which can be hand-made, with instructions included; or find relatively easy alternates. 

Other elementary materials include (I'm not promising I am covering it all here - there could be more as I'm just browsing quickly down the list): 
  • Geometry sticks
  • fraction circles
  • bead bars, squares, cubes
  • wooden cubing material (noted above)
  • Powers of 2 and 3 (AMI only includes the power of 2 at elementary; but the power of 3 is available)
  • Second and Third Pythagorean Insets
  • Binomial Cube (my friend! the link here is about the trinomial, but the concepts apply)
  • Checkerboard
  • Pegboard
  • Fourth and Fifth Power Material (not included in AMI KotU albums - other albums may use these???)
  • Special Triangle Box (the box of 12 blue right-angle triangles)
  • Yellow Material (area and volume)
  • Large and Small Solids

  • no page numbers noted in the table of contents. ANNOYING. 
  • needs tabs to find the chapters (because of no page numbers) - easy enough fix. 

This album covers a LOT of ground at just over 800 pages. I could imagine using this material for the equivalent of 7th, 8th AND 9th grades, with possibly some of it being a foundation for additional high school studies - it gets into trigonometry, etc. We may very likely do this album for middle school, then see about placement testing or other testing into/out of high school math courses (or seeing how Life of Fred fits into the whole thing when the time comes - I cannot yet say if there are enough credit-hours here for which courses on a high school transcript - I need more time with it, comparing directly with actual trig coursebooks, for example).
EDIT: after attending his workshop, there are portions here that are solidly high school. This album set goes all the way through. 

I highly recommend picking up this resource when your elementary child is around age 10 - so you can have time to get organized with it ---- the author suggests that some of the work could begin in elementary with a ready-child; and the AMI albums (including KotU) have work that COULD bridge into adolescence. So you'll want some time to get a feel for it and find what path your child will need.

From a Facebook post in 2015:

A tidbit for anyone who owns the Montessori Algebra for the Adolescent album/book by Michael Waski ----
pg 221 has a typo he wants corrected: it should say "multiplication over addition" in the next to last line.

And get this - the algebra tiles that are used a LOT? They can be made out of foam-sheets (not foam board - that would be too thick - just the foam sheets that can easily be cut by hand! Awesome stuff. (the algebra tiles include the "green/gray counters" and "skittles" noted in the album)

Links for it (non-affiliate):
The Math Institute (also has some of the materials available for sale)
Table of Contents (will be updated soon)
Samples (will be updated)

I am writing this review on a snow/ice day with lots and lots and lots to do around our home - so I know I've not covered everything I'd've liked to cover. Please ask any and all questions and I'll respond with what is pertinent to what people want to know :)

Caveat: I cannot answer how this album aligns with following any elementary albums besides the AMI ones, because I have only seen tiny portions of non-AMI upper elementary albums.

6/15/2019: Updating to reflect a longer-term link for purchase and to note: GEOMETRY is now available as well!


  1. Ohh, thank you for a glimpse of what is to come! This sounds fascinating. I am looking forward to hearing more as you all start off on this journey.

  2. Thank you! Thank you! I'm excited that there is SOMETHING for Montessori middle school years! I keep thinking I'm going to run out of Montessori stuff at some point and then just have to pick up a regular curriculum because no one has created the Montessori version yet! Yipppeeeeee!

    1. On the KotU Discussion community, I had started an adolescent discussion group, that partially went off-group to private e-mail. I will pick it up again soon. The point to saying that is that we do have a rough sketch for the middle school and high school years - and together as homeschoolers we can start fleshing out how to work out those years.

      I think most of us won't move to a formal curriculum (at least for middle school), focusing on specific "real" resources for a variety of studies. I think those who go through elementary Montessori homeschooling will have an easier task of adolescence than it first seems. Think in "big picture" (cosmic ed, great lessons) and fill in the details based on individual interests and aptitudes.

      I am both happy and sad that it is all coming soon. Too soon. 2 more years here..... :(

  3. Jessica, do you know where to get the algebra tiles which are mentioned in this book? Or do you know how I can make them?
    I have purchased this too and I love it. Thanks

    1. The algebra tiles are (get this!?) foam sheets - from the craft store. I will be making ours soon and will have a post up about them. Another lady who attended had an idea for the x-variable that I also want to try out: elastic (to show it is any length - we don't know what x is) ;)

  4. Hello, I am trying to find the the book you mentionned in your article (Montessori Algebra for the Adolescents), but no success..Could you please suggest where to buy it? Thank . you so much in advance
    With kindest regards,

    1. Montessori Algebra for the Adolescent is available on NAMTA. Their links change routinely, so I won't link it directly. You should be able to find in their online store. This resource is a goldmine!

    2. Actually, he has just introduced the geometry album as well (it will be available in fall).

  5. Hi, Jessica. This is no longer in print; he's coming out with new editions, but they are prohibitively expensive and not yet available. Is there any way I can pay you for a used copy of this plus shipping? I'm desperate to get my hands on one ASAP and can't find one available anywhere.

    1. I am so sorry! I only just now saw this comment.

      My copy is not available for re-sale as I am still using it for tutoring other students. I have ordered the new books though and am anxiously awaiting their arrival - between printing issues and now this pandemic, everything keeps getting pushed back.

      However, every Monday evening for the foreseeable future, Mike Waski is offering free math Monday webinars. These are great resources!

    2. Hi Jessica! I found this blog post from google image search. I work as the graphic and web designer for Great Work, Inc. I wanted to let you know Michael & The Math Institute have a new website where his newly designed and formatted books, materials and more can be purchased from. The new website is

  6. Michael Waski & The Math Institute have a new website where his newly designed and formatted books, materials and more can be purchased from. The new website is

    1. Thank you! I will get the links updated!

    2. no, thank YOU Jessica :) much appreciated

  7. Hi Jessica! I bought the Montessori Algebra for the Adolescent album that you have, the printed and hole punched version, before he put out actual books. It sounds like you are saying that I do not need to buy his Geometry book because the content is covered in this Algebra album. Is that correct?