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October 8, 2014

Math Tips from All Walks

Math Tips from All Walks




This is an article from’s newest e-magazine. The magazine is chocked full of great information-perfect for teaching preschool math–calculus.


Math is an intimidating subject for me. So for this article I decided to seek out the advice of those around me who have more experience and I am sharing it with you! And while I think that this information will be helpful, I would encourage you to do some research for yourself as well. If you have concerns about a certain subject it can be really helpful to talk about it and learn from others.

Veteran Math Teacher

This advice comes from a 25 year veteran of teaching math in the public schools. I asked for general tips when preparing to teach math. Her advice was–

Make sure you teach concepts from concrete to abstract. For example you can find out why you might need to use a certain concept and then decide how to figure it out.   Or you may want to use manipulatives to learn a concept before you learn how to write it out on paper.

I like what it says in the Life of Fred book –

“every piece of mathematics first happens in Fred’s everyday life, he needs it, then we do it.”

Find various ways to write a problem

3 x 7 can be:







Have the student describe how they would solve the problem. This can be   especially helpful if there is a struggle to solve a problem because the act of     describing the actions taken can bring clarity.

Teach in depth. Don’t just touch on something or only teach the number of lessons in your book. Teach to the point where the concept is understood.       And continue to review.

Suggested Resources and Curriculum

- Singapore Math

- Number Sense Routines by Jessica Shumway

- Math Curse by Jon Scieszka (this is a novel)

You can see one of her students’ favorite games on my blog at

Veteran Homeschooler

This advice comes from a fellow homeschool teacher who has students ranging from pre-school to 10th grade.

“Math is so every day… you need to see where you are using math and get your kids geared towards it”

  • Especially in the younger years, play tons of games!  Make math fun! Make math meaningful. Especially leading up to 2nd grade, it’s vital to play lots of games and utilize manipulatives in learning.
  • An emphasis on learning place values is an important aspect of early Math.
  • If you have older children, have them play one math or one English game each day with a younger sibling. It’s beneficial to both of them!

Suggested Resources and Curriculum

- Math-U-See

- Hands-On Math by Creative Teaching Press (these are available for multiple grades)

- Math Grades 1-3: The Best of The Mailbox Magazine-Book 2


- Dino Math Tracks

- Funtastic Frogs

Previously Homeschooled Student

These tips are from a friend of mine who was homeschooled from K-12. These are the two things that stood out to her:

  1. Hide the answer key! This is funny in a way, but is also a good reminder to make sure we are teaching to the point of our children gaining understanding, not just filling out worksheets. This may take more attentiveness on our part but is well worth it.
  2. Manipulatives! Yet again another vote for hands-on math and manipulatives. In an otherwise text-book ridden math curriculum, the lessons on money were taught to my friend using real money. She felt that she was able to grasp the concepts fully because of the chance to learn in a hands-on manner.

Grade School Teacher

This was a fun and enlightening conversation. I visited with a friend of mine who teaches 2nd grade. She described to me a method of introducing new concepts with a game. She doesn’t call it “math”, she just allows the children to play the game and enjoy it. Later she discusses the topic in the math lesson and she can watch the connections being made. Of ten her students will ask her, “Isn’t this the ___ game?” to which she replies to the class, “What do you think? Is this the game we played?” Then they can discuss how it is similar or not.

She kindly agreed to share one of the games that she uses, you can see it on my blog at

You can also visit my Math Games Pinterest page for more ideas. Most are for the lower elementary grades, but I’ll be adding more soon!

Writing this article has really made a difference in my approach to teaching math this year. I am actually more excited about math than any of the other subjects. I feel like I have finally found a balance between using strictly rote memorization and being worried that I am being so casual that my children won’t make the right connections. I hope these tips are inspirational to you as well! You can follow me at where I will be sharing games, resources and fun activities we are using in our homeschool this year!





October 7, 2014

Integrating Math Into Other Subjects

integrating math


This is an article from’s newest e-magazine. The magazine is chocked full of great information-perfect for teaching preschool math–calculus.


Math is the least liked subject for many homeschool parents and children. It can be scary, boring and frustrating. But math doesn’t have to be any of these things. Research has shown that children learn best and better understand what they are learning about when they can make connections with previous learning or with different areas of learning. I have experimented with this over the last few years and have found it to be 100% true. Integrating math into our other subjects and making it part of our everyday life has really helped make it fun and engaging for my children. Put an end to the dreaded question, “when will I ever use this,” by showing them real world applications. It takes some thinking outside the box, but it can be done!

Here are some ideas to help you get started with integrating math into other subjects (you may notice that some of these cross over into several subjects):


  • Write a report or complete a journal page on mathematicians (grab a FREE journal page at the end of this post).
  • Learn about the history of clocks. Purchase some inexpensive clocks and take them apart and put them back together. Then practice telling time using the clocks.
  • Learn how various cultures told time throughout history and write a report.
  • Calculate the number of years between various events.
  • Learn about the history of the scale and experiment with different types of scales.
  • Learn about the history of currency.


  • Write the distance between the sun and each planet using exponential form.
  • Explore the half-life of certain radioactive elements or the size of bacteria and viruses using negative exponents.
  • Explore scientific facts, such as the boiling and freezing point of liquids, the melting and freezing point of solids and the temperature of planets.
  • Use algebra to calculate how much force a given magnet would pull on another magnet.
  • Build a weight bearing bridge using various household items. Create a design and reduce it to scale, prepare cost analysis and then build and test the bridge.
  • Analyze rainfall over a time period for a specific area and create a chart or graph.
  • Use math to prove various laws of physics.
  • Measure and collect scientific data and use graphs, charts, lists, tables etc. to organize the data.
  • Compare the speed of several animals on a bar graph.
  • Track the weather or temperature and create a bar graph. Here is a FREE weather graphing worksheet.


  • Create a geometric greeting card using shapes that are congruent, similar, and equivalent.
  • Examine works of art that incorporate geometric shapes.
  • Create tessellations.
  • Play with tangrams.
  • Create a piece of artwork using perspective and proportion.


  • Learn about the French scientists and mathematicians that were placed on plaques in the Eiffel Tower more than 100 years ago.
  • Plan a trip by land, sea or air. Map a starting point and destination, decide on appropriate transportation and determine a reasonable speed. Next calculate the distance that will be traveled and the time the trip will take. Also identity landmarks along the way and write post cards about the places visited.
  • Calculate the distance between various cities, states or countries.
  • Learn to read grid coordinates and find places on a map through the use of latitude and longitude.
  • Use a map scale to determine the distances between two points on a map to learn about the connection between scale and actual distance.
  • Use Lego bricks or blocks to create replicas of famous buildings, monuments, or structures. While building discuss mathematical concepts such as perimeter, area, and volume

Social Studies:

  • Draw bar graphs comparing populations, per capita income, population density, etc. of various countries.
  • Figure out the percentages of cultures that speak English.
  • Learn about the different types of currency in other countries.
  • Go through a newspaper and black out all of the numeral or number words on a page. Read the article without the numerals or number words and discuss why they are so important.
  • Learn about the role trade and value play in economics.

Language Arts:

  • Write a report or complete a journal page on mathematicians (grab a FREE journal page below).
  • Provide written explanations for solutions to math problems.
  • Read a variety of books off a list then figure out the percentage of the books that were liked, disliked, etc. Create a chart or graph to show the results.
  • Read stories that include counting, math facts, etc.
  • Create a math journal. Provide topics to write on like: write an explanation of a recently-learned concept, as if you were explaining it to a younger sibling or friend, write as many examples of a ratio that you can think of in five minutes or write a paragraph explaining a selected graph.
  • Write a haiku poem for geometric solids (Haiku, and its three line, five syllable, seven syllable, five syllable format is quite appropriate for a math activity!).


  • Learn how these music terms rhythm, time, tone, tune, pitch, frequency, and amplitude go hand in hand with math.
  • Create and experiment with a monochord.


  • Examine the binary number system. Look at the relationship between base 2 numbers and how computer circuitry was developed.

Physical Education/Health:

  • Compute the percentage of wins and losses of a favorite sports team.
  • Draw graphs to sort data for Olympic games, Super Bowls, batting averages, etc.
  • Discuss the food pyramid. Then compare foods on the pyramid to foods eaten, keep a fat-counting diary, calculate the number of calories from fat eaten in a week, find the daily average of fat and compare fat intake with other family members (create a graph for comparisons).
  • Learn about physics and math while having fun playing pool, baseball, or a game of bowling. Even roller skating incorporates math and physics.
  • Weigh and measure several family members and create a bar graph showing the results.

Everyday Life Application:

  • Learn the importance of financial literacy. View my blog article here to get 2 free worksheets (budget worksheet and financial record worksheet).
  • Learn how to calculate sales tax, discounts, etc, on consumer goods.
  • Weigh fruits and vegetables and calculate what the total cost will be.
  • Learn about home loans and how to calculate sales price, interest, commission percentages and more.
  • Play store, shop or business. Practice counting money, writing invoices/estimates and more.
  • Bake some tasty treats or cook a meal and learn about fractions, doubling recipes, calculating weights, etc.


  • Take a trip to the playground to understand algebra. For example calculate how fast a person will travel down a slide by using their weight and height of the slide.
  • Examine artwork at an art museum and look for geometric shapes, perspective, etc.
  • Calculate the age of artifacts at a history museum.
  • Take a fieldtrip to the Federal Reserve or a bank.
  • Take a stroll in the city and discuss how math is used to construct a building.
  • Calculate how many miles a car gets on a tank of gas.
  • Visit a garden in a park and discuss symmetry or how much mulch it takes cover the garden area.
  • Interview people in various careers to find out how they use mathematics in their career. They can also be asked to keep a mathematics diary to record everything mathematical they encounter in a day at their job.

If you have child that loves Lego bricks click here to read a post about how to use Lego bricks as a math manipulative.

There are hundreds of more way to integrate math into other subjects but hopefully this list will be the spring board you need to get started.

Download your FREE Mathematician Journal Page.

Kathy quit her full time job in July 2011 to become a stay at home/homeschool mom to her two children. Besides being a full time mother she is also a devoted wife, blogger and social media manager for A+ TutorSoft Math. She lives in Georgia just north of the hustling and bustling city of Atlanta. When she is not tending to children she enjoys blogging, scrapbooking, hiking, geocaching, arts/crafts, traveling and watching movies. Read more about her homeschool journey on her blog,



October 6, 2014

Math Fact Smarts


This is an article from’s newest e-magazine–the magazine is chocked full of great information–perfect for teaching preschool math–calculus.


While I have one child who memorized all of his math facts at age five, none of the others have taken to them as easily. There are many different types of kids and just as many different ways to tackle those facts.

First, though, you may wonder if it’s worth the effort in the computer age to drill and memorize math facts. What you need to understand is that math facts are the phonics of the language of mathematics. Just like knowing the alphabet doesn’t make a fluent reader, you’ll never have a fluent mathematician if your child never learns how those numbers go together. Phonics is the tool that takes those letters and makes them mean something. Fluency is achieved through exposure and practice and is an essential step in reading comprehension. Math fact fluency is the first step in your child’s ability to understand the language of math. Fractions and equations lose meaning without this building block in place.

Math facts are introduced with objects and concrete examples of what is happening when we add, subtract, multiply and divide, and chocolate chips are great tools for such lessons, but the goal is for the answers to become automatic, to achieve fluency.

If your child has logic smarts and thinks math is a lot of fun, learning math facts should be pretty easy and even enjoyable, but there are lots of other kinds of kids. Children shouldn’t feel that they don’t “speak” math. They all have the smarts they need to become fluent, successful mathematicians. Here are some ideas to help them learn the basic language of math.

Music smarts: Write songs to practice facts, or find rhymes online or in books and put them to a melody.

Art smarts: Write a math fact equation on a piece of paper. Use lots of color and change the numbers into characters or pictures. Hang them up or make a book of them.

Body smarts: Instead of writing the answers, jump the answers (ie. jump six times for the answer six). They can clap, flap wings, wiggle, raise shoulders, touch toes, turn around, do jumping jacks, etc. to show the number of the answer.

Word smarts: Write or read stories that feature math facts. For instance, “I ate six chocolate bars four times and was sick for twenty-four hours.” “I found six blue rubber bands in the street and then found four red ones and put one around each of my ten toes.”

People smarts: Recruit family and friends to remind your child of the facts and to do impromptu practice and oral quizzes.

Maybe your child would just like a motivation. I learned my multiplication facts in one day in third grade because the teacher promised an ice cream sandwich to the first in the class to do it. I still find ice cream to be a good motivator!

Lee Giles is a homeschool mother of six. She and her husband have served the Lord overseas for more than a decade. She is the creator of the Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool which provides 180 days of engaging assignments in all subjects and for all levels from preschool through high school. Her commitment to free, high quality education has enabled thousands of families to homeschool, many of whom otherwise thought it was impossible.



October 3, 2014

Math – Starting with Pre-School


Have you seen’s newest e-magazine?  It’s a math edition–chocked full of great ideas for teaching pre-school math – calculus.  The first article – Top 5 Preschool Math Apps.


Fun–and fun learning is forever learning!


October 2, 2014

New Happenings at



New Happenings at

What is the subject you struggle with most in your homeschooling? If your answer is math, you’re not alone. That’s why our newest e-magazine is devoted to homeschool math—from pre-school through calculus.’s Math e-magazine is packed full of GREAT articles, including:

  • Math Fact Smarts
  • Integrating Math Into Other Subjects
  • A Charlotte Mason Approach to Math: Living Math
  • How to Make a Simple Homemade Abacus
  • Using Candy to Make Math Fun
  • Homeschool Math Curriculum Reviews
  • Educaching
  • Math: Draw it, Arrange It, Fold It and Learn It!
  • Algebra – What We’re Using This Year
  • And MANY more!

Have you missed our previous editions?

Also of interest–we’re asking our readers to vote on their favorite homeschool curriculum, products and websites. Want to weigh in? Just click on the graphic below. We’d sure like your opinions.

Stay tuned for the results—we’ll publish them in October.


So much is happening at! Thank you for being a part of it!


October 1, 2014

Storytelling with Buncee

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — Tags: , , — dailynews @ 7:38 am


Storytelling with Buncee

Storytelling is as old as time itself. From cave paintings, to papyrus scrolls, all the way to Apple’s tablets – humans have told tales for as long as we can remember. Now, instead of scratching a rock against a boulder for hours to make a simple drawing, we can just drag and drop elements onto a digital canvas to create any kind of multimedia tale on!

As the importance of communication grows in our 21st century world, it’s important to create constructive and effective digital messaging. Here at buncee, our mission is to help anyone communicate creatively by providing creation tools that are fun and easy to use.

With buncee, you can:

  • express your stories in infinite ways. Use videos, photos, drawings, stickers, animations or any combination of these elements to bring your story to life.
  • share your creations like never before. Save some trees and send out your story via email, social media, or embed codes for websites and blogs.
  • create no matter your age or technical ability. Since buncee is web-based, anyone in any age range can easily create without the need to download software and learn difficult programs.

These are just two examples of fabulous digital stories kids have created on

My Day at the Beach:

Buncee Storytelling Blog 1

Apple Brothers:

Buncee Storytelling 2

What was once revered as an age old art is now, too often, viewed solely as a bedtime ritual for toddlers. Storytelling, however, is a form of communication that everyone should embrace. We all have a story that needs telling!

For educators, storytelling:

  • creates a live and emotional connection between the students and the instructor.
  • builds a sense of community as students bond over the shared experience and act out the tales.
  • engages students’ imagination and inspires them to create stories of their own.

For students, storytelling:

  • builds creativity, critical thinking, and technological competency- all essential 21st century skills.
  • encourages children to see the value in producing original online content, rather than being passive consumers of the web.
  • engages students imagination and develops pride in their work.

Every child has their own story to tell, and no two buncees are ever the same:

Lock Lomond & Luss Highland Games:

Buncee Storytelling 3

On Thanksgiving Day:

Buncee Storytelling 4

Given the importance of storytelling, we are excited to see people embracing buncee as a digital tool to express their stories. We are proud to provide a space where creativity reigns supreme and play and learning coincide. Our easy-to-use tool allows people of all ages to share their story; and we are honored to be the place where students can share their stories, passions, family memories, and simply have fun creating original, digital content.

For more storytelling ideas and other buncee projects, check out the examples page:


September 29, 2014

Vote for Top Homeschooling Curriculum


It’s time to vote for your top homeschooling curriculum, products and websites. Let us know which companies  are your “Top Picks”.

We’ll be posting the results in October.

Thank you for your input!

September 26, 2014

Garlic Press & Fall Readiness



Summer is a time when families can relax and enjoy lots of great adventures together. It is also a time when many children forget much of what they learned in the previous school year. To solve this challenge, Jeanine Manfro, veteran teacher, children’s book author, and Mom, wrote four books in the Summer Activities for Fall Readiness series published by Garlic Press.

One of the great thing about these books–they can be used anytime–even now!  They’re not limited to summer.

This series, with a book for GP201 Kindergarten, GP202 First Grade, GP203 Second Grade, and GP204 Third Grade, will alleviate the end of summer blues when kids have forgotten the previous year’s skills and are getting ready to enter a new grade. The books also provide great practice for those in-between breaks during the school year or even practice during the year when kids need a little extra help.

Jeanine is no newcomer to writing activity books for kids. She earned her Bachelor’s degree and teaching credential from the University of Redlands. She then went on to teach elementary school in Rialto, California. With as many as seven different languages spoken in her classroom, Jeanine also earned her certification for teaching English as a second language.

Jeanine enjoyed developing creative and engaging lessons for her students which eventually led to a career in educational publishing. She started as an assistant editor and worked her way up to Editorial Director at Frank Schaffer Publication. There she wrote and edited hundreds of instructional books, posters, bulletin board sets, puzzles, games, and articles for teachers and parents.

This workbook series was developed with Jeanine using the same successful techniques to help children maintain the academic skills they have already acquired and to get a head start on the skills they will learn in the coming year.

Each book is divided into 10 one-week sections. Five of the reading/language arts pages and five math pages are provided for each week. The first half of the book is dedicated to reviewing last year’s skills and the second half provides a sneak-peek at what your child will learn in the coming school year. At the bottom of each page, there is a suggestion for an additional activity that you and your child can complete together to extend the learning even further.

Jeanine has presented at national and regional conferences for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and she has advised other authors with an interest in curriculum development and educational publishing. As a freelance author, Jeanine has written over 30 educational books and teacher guides as well as several children’s stories. In her work, she promotes effective teaching strategies and creative lessons that will inspire a life-long love of learning. Take a look at this series and inspire your kids today!

Like many small education presses, Garlic Press was started by a teacher who had an idea to create and share activities with fellow educators. When the very first book was completed to help struggling substitute teachers and offered to the district’s school superintendent as a professional development tool was turned down, Garlic Press was born.



Since 1974, Garlic Press has been committed to producing quality content for children, young adults, adults, and homeschoolers in math, English, literature, sign language, braille, and substitute teaching. Garlic Press is committed to continuing the traditions of quality that were the foundation of the company. Garlic Press is also committed to sourcing Garlic Press products locally—written, illustrated, designed, and whenever possible printed in the United States.

September 25, 2014

Unplug & Play!


It’s pretty safe to say that thanks to smartphones, laptops and social media, most of us don’t go an hour without being plugged into technology, let alone a whole day. Perhaps the most worrisome part of our dependence on technology is how it’s impacting younger generations’ abilities to engage in effective face-to-face communication. The topic of unplugging has been rampant in the media for a few years now and as a result there have been many books and articles written with ideas for how to take a break from technology.

Unplug & Play! 50 Games That Don’t Need Charging, written by Brad Berger helps families put down the iPhones and reconnect with one another. The book includes a variety of games including word scrambles, memory, matching and spelling, making it the perfect collection of games for any family game night or vacation. The book can even serve as a teaching aid at home, providing a fun and creative way to practice vocabulary and spelling.

The author came up with the idea for his book after years of creating and playing games with his friends and family. While the games were all different, he noticed one thing stayed constant – people weren’t paying attention to their phones or mobile devices. Rather they were talking and laughing with one another.

Things that make Unplug & Play! 50 Games That Don’t Need Charging especially nice:

  • All you need to play are pens and paper to get started.
  • The games are adaptable for your group. Young or old, big or small, everyone can partake in the fun.
  • The games help you get to know friends and family better. You get to choose the categories that interest you most.
  • The book is lightweight and paperback making it easy to pack for vacations, field trips, and carschooling.
  • The games aren’t mindless. To keep up, players must be engaged and pay attention.

Is it time for your family to unplug and play?



September 24, 2014

Open-ended Journal Assessments


Open-ended Journal Assessments – How can they

help your children?

by Renée Heiss

Standardized testing is the most widely used method of assessing a child’s mastery of a particular concept. While those multiple-choice questions test for memory, they do little to test creativity and problem-solving ability. Which skills do you want your children to develop? I much prefer seeing a child creatively working through the solution of a problem, whether that problem involves an academic subject or an ethical dilemma. Open-ended journal assessments provided through guided journal entries offer an interactive method to help your children boost their learning.

The use of a journal as an open-ended assessment has two advantages:

a)      It helps a child to develop verbal skills. When a child writes a response to a journal prompt, he must formulate the idea in his head and transfer that idea into a coherent statement on paper. He must include proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar. And, he practices the disappearing art of penmanship.

b)      It allows parents to respond directly to the children’s answers in their journals, forming a parent/child dialogue of sorts. In doing so, the child learns the parent’s opinion of the journal entry, and can immediately see corrections to incorrect assumptions. You might even add a new question for your child to answer before proceeding to the next journal topic. Additionally, you can learn from your child about potential problems in her life when you read between the lines to find a deeper meaning and interpretation.

There are many ways to encourage open-ended responses. You might ask the child to tell everything she knows about (_______). You might ask her to pull one word from a page she is reading and expand on that word as it relates to the book. You might provide a picture prompt related to your topic. Or perhaps you can ask your child to develop her own open-ended question!

Open-ended questioning shows children that all their answers are valid. Even if you find an incorrect assumption from a journal prompt, you can still provide feedback without having the child feel that her response is wrong. It’s all in the way you word the correction – gently and with educational input rather than with judgment and disrespect.

Open-ended questions eliminate competition from the educational equation. Children won’t be able to compare number grades. Instead, each receives a completion grade and an assessment of in-depth reasoning.

Some people might argue that open-ended questions don’t assess all children in the same way and on the same topics. However, that argument fails the validity test – is it necessary to have all children learn the same thing all the time? Of course not! Each child is an individual and needs to learn at his own speed using his own interests.

So, to answer the question posed by the subject of this blog – are open-ended questions valid or weak? The answer is a resounding valid because they foster creativity, individuality, language skills, and interaction with parents. What will you do to prepare for your next open-ended assessment?


Renée Heiss is the author of the SHINE! series of themed learning modules based on the books published by Entelechy Education, LLC. Each module includes an open-ended journal-prompt assessment based on the theme. She is an award-winning retired educator and author of the books that feature The EnteleTrons, a unique trio of characters who teach STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), character education, and language literacy.

For more information, go to

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