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October 21, 2014

5 Mistakes When Teaching Math


The 5 Most Crucial Mistakes When Teaching Math

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

There are five crucial mistakes that teachers (and parents) make over and over and over again, when teaching math. These mistakes place huge barriers in front of their kids and their kids’ efforts in learning math.And if these mistakes are not eliminated first, parents will have:* kids who are always dreading their math lessons

* kids who may develop a deep anxiety when it comes to math

* kids whose confidence in themselves takes a battering because of poor math results

If you’re making any of the mistakes below, think about getting rid of them NOW. Then you and your kids have a much better chance of succeeding.

Mistake #1: The long drawn-out explanation

Don’t fall into the common trap of thinking the longer the explanation, the better it is.

In fact, the reverse is true.

Keep explanations **short** and to the point.

3-4 minutes for younger kids, 5-8 minutes for older kids. Then get them to immediately practice what they have just learned.

Mistake #2: Complicated explanations and showing too many diverse methods

Not only should you be keeping it short, you’ve also got to keep your explanations **simple**.

You are of course already aware that often there are multiple ways of approaching a math problem, all are which are “valid”.

However, math is much easier to teach when you know which methods kids understand best, and know which methods you must avoid. Do a little research on your end, as necessary. Whatever you do, don’t complicate things.

Mistake #3: Not understanding that kids need to be rock-solid in their basics and foundations.

Discovery learning has its place. But when it comes to Math, it needs to be AFTER the kids are rock-solid in their basics and foundations.

Mistake #4: Thinking rote learning times tables is bad, bad, bad.

Strange as this may seem to any intelligent person, there is a very strong feeling amongst many educators believing all rote learning is wrong. Why so wrong? Because, they say, it crushes the child’s creative spirit.

What???!!! Are these people nuts?

It is imperative students rote learn their times tables so they can recall the facts instantly. Not in three seconds, not in five seconds. INSTANTLY.

And not just times tables, but all of the basic recall facts too.

Mistake #5: Getting frustrated when kids don’t understand things the first time. Or even the second time, or the third…

Have I been guilty of this mistake? Yes. Could I make the same mistake in the future? Of course, I’m human. But I know I’m a lot better now at controlling my frustration than I ever used to be.

But it isn’t easy.

As difficult as it is, it’s essential your kids don’t sense you being frustrated with them because they didn’t get it the first time.

And I mean sensing ANY frustration whatsoever.

Because if they do then in future they will hesitate to come to you with problems because they’re worried about how you’ll react.

Problems about math.

And problems about things much more important than math.

So these are the mistakes most commonly made. Same as they were ten years ago. And probably the same as they will be ten years from now.

And now that you know them, it’s important to reflect and work on ways to avoid them.

I’m sure you can do it. Believe me, it’ll be worth it.


Patrick Murray
CTC Math teacher and founder

October 20, 2014

How to Conquer Math Anxiety


Suggestions on How to Conquer Math Anxiety

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

I hate math!!! Have you ever heard your kids say that? I’ve found it written on the bottom of their math assignments. It’s certainly not fun to do math if it causes anxiety for you. I understand that anxiety.

When I was a kid I hated math too. I just could not get those digits to stick in my brain no matter how hard I tried. It was as if my brain had reverse velcro to numbers! My parents would try to help me with my math homework and my mind would go completely blank as I tried to pull up the answers. They could not understand why I just wasn’t getting it.

The problem with math anxiety is that the harder someone presses the student to “get it” the more anxious they become and the less they will be able to “get it”. It becomes a vicious cycle. So how do you break this cycle with your kids?

  • Step back and take several deep breaths. Do your best to remain patient with them. Most kids really do want to understand.
  • Evaluate whether they have a strong foundation to build on. If a child doesn’t have a good grasp on the basic math facts, all other math concepts are going to be that much harder for them.
  • Find a way to make it fun. This may seem like an impossibility at this point. However there are online math games which may prove a life saver. has some great ones.
  • Try a different teaching approach. It’s possible that your child’s learning style doesn’t match up to the way you are teaching math. Maybe try teaching using songs. There are great math songs to be found on CD and on the internet. You can also try an online interactive approach such as
  • Help them build up confidence in their math skills. By taking the pressure away and allowing them to establish a firm foundation in the fundamentals, they will gradually become more confident.
  • Realize that not every kid is going to be a math whiz. Some people just don’t have a head for numbers. That doesn’t mean that they don’t need to learn the basics, but it does mean that they should be cut some extra slack. Encourage them in the areas where they do excel.

Hopefully, these suggestions will get your kids on the way to conquering that math anxiety and having new found confidence in their math skills. I know these are things I wish my parents had known when they were trying to help me.


Author: Dee Trope

Homeschooling Mom and representative for



October 17, 2014

Get Into the Right Brain with Math!


Get Into the Right Brain with Math!

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


For most people the word “math” conjures up visions of boring numbers suspended in a black and white world of paper, calculators and symbols. Although this analytical left side of the brain definitely plays the leading and most important role in processing numbers, the creative right side can also have a major role in understanding math concepts as well as being a great learning tool for memorization. For many children, merging the two hemispheres can be the key to success.

Since most children spend much of their day utilizing their creative imagination as they explore and learn about their surroundings, it is an easy jump to incorporate this creative side of color and imagery to help memorize and understand math as well.

What is great about right-brain math learning is there are so many ways to easily integrate this hemisphere of the brain. Teaching children fractions merely by using numbers and symbols often leaves the teacher and student in a frustrated state of non-success. However, putting the same children in front of a chocolate chip cookie recipe and helping them understand fractions as they pour ingredients into measuring cups brings the same fractions alive and gives them relevance to their everyday understanding. This right brain learning can even extend beyond the actual experience as they can imagine different scenarios of what they are learning.

This creative, hands-on, kinesthetic type of learning can be incorporated with just about every type of math concept. If your students are struggling with understanding perimeter, give them a measuring tape, a pad of paper, and have them measure the distance around your entire house. I’ll bet they will never forget the meaning of perimeter ever again! For the students that struggle with the concept of division, put a pile of beans in front of them and have them divide it up into various equal parts.

Right-brain math learning can also be a very successful memorization tool of abstract numbers, such as learning the times tables. One very effective way to do this is through mnemonics, which are memory aids that in essence “trick” the brain into remembering. For learning the times tables, the abstract numbers can be turned into characters in a vivid story that comes to life. As the students replay the imaginative scenario within their minds, the hidden multiplication problem and answer are then easily recalled because they have been embedded within the story. The most amazing thing about this method of memorization is that the students don’t even have to be aware they are learning their times tables! The right brain has recorded these vivid stories through the children’s imaginations, thereby allowing them to memorize otherwise abstract numbers.

So, the next time your children are stumped on math, pull them to the right—the right brain side of learning. You can help them understand a difficult concept or memorize some abstract information by acting it out, drawing it, measuring it, counting it, or just imagining a story about it. They will feel confident and more successful, and so will you!


Bio: Jennie von Eggers is the creator of Times Tales, a visual mnemonic program that helps children learn their upper times tables using fun, short stories. She created this program as a result of her own boys struggling to memorize their upper times tables during their homeschool years. Her boys are now away at college, but Times Tales is still helping thousands of students both in the classroom and in homes learn their times tables the creative, right brain way! Times Tales has been awarded Top 50 Homeschool Curriculum Picks three years in a row. For more information visit


October 16, 2014

Math – How to Make an Abacus

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — Tags: , — dailynews @ 4:00 am


How to Make a Simple Homemade Abacus is just one of the informative and fun math articles in’s newest e-magazine.

The magazine is over 120 pages in length and offers great advice and how-tos for teaching homeschool math.

Go ahead–check it out!  :)

October 15, 2014

Jumping Into Math



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

A traditional Mathematics curriculum containing worksheets, flashcards and manipulatives has a place in your teaching toolbox. However, some children are able to further excel when provided variety through physical play. Teaching and reinforcing math skills using a jump rope may be the tool for your student to succeed. Using a jump rope for math games provides gross motor skills practice for the body while challenging the brain to multi-task and solve problems.

Geometric Shapes Game

You need to provide one jump rope per player. Make a page that shows the image of the shapes and their names. Shape examples are: circle, square, triangle, rectangle, oval, trapezoid, hexagon and parallelogram. This page is to be shown at the beginning of each game and then be removed from view. The goal of the game is to quickly place the jump rope on the ground in the geometric shape that is called out. The child who correctly places their jump rope first is the winner. A game variation involves placing the names of each geometric shape on individual index cards and turning them face up at a distance away from where the children are playing. A geometric shape is called out and the children quickly make it on the ground. Then the children run to the index cards, quickly locate the correct name of the geometric shape and run back to put it in the shape. The first child to complete all the steps is the winner.

Verbal Math Game

You need to provide one jump rope for single players and a double jump rope for three players. The goal of the game is to correctly jump the number of times to an addition, subtraction, multiplication or division equation. With a single player, an equation is called out and the child is to jump the number of jumps to correctly answer without missing. When three children are playing, the first rope turner calls out a number and the second player calls out another number and whether the equation should be added, subtracted, multiplied or divided. The third player solves the equation in their head and proceeds to jump the correct number of jumps without missing. A very challenging game variation involves playing with three players and two double jump ropes. The same game steps are followed for the three player game except the rope turners turn two ropes in the opposite direction (Double Dutch) and the third player jumps the correct answer without missing.

Skip Counting Game

You need to provide one jump rope per player. The child should count and jump rope simultaneously by even or odd numbers, 3’s, 4’s, 5’s, 6’s, 7’s, 8’s, 9’s or 10’s. The goal is to be the first child to correctly skip count to a predetermined number without missing. If a mistake is made, a child must start over again. A game variation involves deciding on a finish line that children must cross while skip counting as in the above game but they jump rope towards the finish line while skip counting, without missing. The first child to cross the finish line while correctly skip counting is the winner.

Greater Than><Less Than Game

Collect a number of jump ropes and fold them into various lengths. Secure the jump ropes with rubber bands or twist-ties. Have your child arrange them from longest to shortest or shortest to longest. A game variation involves timing students to see how fast they can arrange the jump ropes. The student with the quickest time is the winner.

These games provide an alternative way to engage and encourage children to see that math skills are a necessary part of life. Identifying geometric shapes, solving equations, recognizing patterns and measurement skills are required and used on a regular basis. You may find that your own game variations are a better fit or be inspired to create your own jump rope games. Enjoy the exercise and

Happy Jump Roping! is an online educational materials, product and toy store. A family run business founded on the premise that learning should be fun and while having fun you can certainly learn something too! Selections range from a wide variety of arts & crafts, books, building, dolls, active & outdoors, plush, science, puzzles, games and so much more. The website is conveniently divided into more than 50 categories, including sections by age from newborn to 14 years. Choose from educational and fun items from more than 90 manufacturers. Offering: free ground shipping on most orders of $50; a gift with purchase offer; free gift wrapping and a rewards program. Orders are processed accurately, securely packaged and shipped promptly. Coupon codes and sales, shown on the home page and listed in the blog, offer additional savings opportunities. Why not learn, laugh and have fun along the way?

October 14, 2014

Happy Birthday Love Bug

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — dailynews @ 4:00 am


It’s my daughter’s birthday, and I have so many feelings within.  Happiness…pride…and disbelief (how old is she?!).

Today I’d like to tell her  –

Wow You’re Amazing!


Happy Birthday Love Bug”

O.K.–she’s probably too old for Love Bug…or Pumpkin Head….or any of those other endearing nick names I used to call her.  But still….    :)




October 13, 2014

Math Manipulatives

math manip

The Wonderful World of Math Manipulatives is just one of the interesting and exceptional articles in’s newest e-magazine. The magazine is chocked full of great information-perfect for teaching preschool math through to calculus.

Check it out!  It’s fun–and fun learning is forever learning!

October 10, 2014

Using Candy to Make Math Fun


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

Math is not known for being a child’s favorite subject. It does come easier for some kids, but the majority of kids would rather skip Math as a school subject entirely. Yet, it is important for kids to learn Math and using different fun methods to teach it is a great way to increase their motivation to learn and decrease your stress and frustration as the teacher. Math may never be your child’s favorite subject, but you can find ways to make it a little more fun along the way.

One of my favorite ways to teach math in a fun way is by using candy — M&Ms™ and Skittles™ work best because of the variety of colors.

Teaching kids how to count by 1′s, 5′s, 10′s, 25′s, 50′s and 100′s is made easier when using candy. You can begin this process simply by assigning a particular candy color to each number value. To start off you can use 10 candies to teach them how to count by tens and as they continue to learn you can then use 1 candy to represent the number value 10. This same method can be used to count by any number value. As your children move into addition and subtraction, you can use the candy to teach math the fun way still! Continue using one candy color for each number value while adding and subtracting.

Your children will love playing with the candy and they’ll be learning along the way! The treat that awaits them when they’ve finished their work is a great motivation tool too! I’m sure that you’ll find your kids ready to tackle Math more willingly once you introduce candy as a new teaching tool!

I’ve created some free printables that will help you get started in using candy to make your child’s Math fun! Be sure to stop by Year Round Homeschooling and grab the printable counting cards/addition and subtraction cards to get started today! After you print it out you’ll need one bag of M&Ms™, one bag of Skittles™, a pencil and an eraser!

Be sure to sneak a little bit of the candy for yourself and enjoy the giggles with your children after they’ve completed their Math work for the day!

October 9, 2014

A Charlotte Mason Approach to Math

A Charlotte Mason Approach to Math: Living Math


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


Although Charlotte Mason never used the term living math, she did speak of living books and living learning, so the term living math is certainly in line with the spirit of CM.

Simply put, living math is real math used in daily life to solve actual problems or to play games. It is math that moves beyond worksheets and textbooks into the context of solving relevant problems — how can we double this recipe, how many of these shapes can I stack on the balance scale to keep both sides level, how much money will I have to save each week to be able to buy my brother a birthday gift?

Think about preschool math. It’s all play: counting, stacking, sorting, and balancing are fun activities that develop mathematical reasoning. At around second grade, we homeschool parents ruin the fun by insisting math happen on paper, penciled in orderly rows of abstract symbols (Arabic numerals).

Charlotte Mason warned educators against moving too quickly from the concrete to the abstract when teaching math. Letting children use counters and physical objects to visualize and understand math concepts is critical. Their need for this concrete approach does not abruptly end in second grade but continues any time a new concept is studied. Even algebra can be taught with physical objects to make the rules comprehensible. Living math is about making math real and understandable, not following math rules without any understanding of why they work.

By using math in daily life, especially in games and during playtime, not only will your child avoid the math dread so many of us adults have, but he will also end up proficient in math skills. Math will come alive and become a living discipline.

One of your primary jobs as a homeschool math teacher is to stock your homeschool cabinet with a variety of math manipulatives. You can think of them as educational tools, but don’t call them that. To a child, these are toys, and that’s the attitude you want to foster.

  • dominoes
  • scales, tape measures, and rulers
  • hundreds chart
  • timers, clocks, and stopwatches
  • abacus
  • pattern blocks
  • sorting buttons, counting bears, or beans
  • board games — any games that require moving pieces after a roll or spin, Monopoly, Battleship
  • card games — UNO, SkipBo, War, Rummy
  • math bingo
  • tangrams and other shape blocks or number rods
  • dice

Don’t treat your math toys like fine china, pulling them out only a few days each school year. Make sure little hands can reach the math toys and enjoy them at any time so that you blur the boundaries between academic math and play. As you build up your collection, you might want to create some of your own tools from free, online printables.

The Basics of a Charlotte Mason Approach to Math

You can read exactly what Miss Mason thought about math at Charlotte Mason on Math. Here is an outline of her key points.

  • use manipulatives, then mental math (visualizing the objects), then written numbers
  • use engaging word problems that provide a challenge for the child — not too hard and not too easy
  • do not neglect teaching the underlying math concepts in favor of mere computation skills
  • tell a child if the problem was solved correctly or not; it’s either right or wrong
  • don’t overteach or get between the child and the subject

Moving to a Living Math Approach

I recognized that math wasn’t working for my daughter when she was in fourth grade. The tears, frustration, and cries of “I’m not good at math!” were clear indicators that we had to pivot before the damage was irreversible. I liked the idea of living math in theory, but to actually use the approach seemed risky. So I ventured on a slow transition into a living approach instead of a cold-turkey transformation.

My first step was a small one — one day each week our math lessons consisted solely of games. On the other days, we continued as normal with our math textbook and workbook. I usually chose a game to complement with the topic we were studying in our math book, using the suggestions from Family Math by Jean Kerr Stenmark. Our math game days were happy times when my daughter was motivated to engage with math concepts under the guise of fun.

It was amazing how the same math problems that elicited tears on a workbook page were fun and comprehensible when experienced through walking a huge number line on the living room floor, rolling dice, dealing playing cards, and handling tiny paper squares. I could see that making and playing a game generated excitement that a worksheet never could. And equally as important, the math concepts were sticking when the learning method was tangible.

My daughter’s changed attitude made me bold to go farther towards a living approach. We started playing math games and activities every day, using our math textbook as a rarely used supplement or reference. I invested in the lesson plans from and a whole collection of living math books.

When my transition was complete, our living math approach was three-pronged:

  1. a chronological study of the developments in math history, including biographies of famous mathematicians (from
  2. math experiences — games, activities, puzzles (taken mostly from Family Math by Jean Kerr Stenmark)
  3. arithmetic — drill, practice, skills (from our textbook)

For the math experiences and arithmetic parts, I used our textbook as a guide for topics. But instead of starting with the textbook explanations and workbook exercises, I found games, puzzles, activities, or living books to introduce and practice the concepts in a fun and living way. We enjoyed tangrams, fractions, and charts/graphs in this new living way.

Sometimes we incorporated math journaling into a lesson with the help of graphic organizers, notebooking pages, writing prompts, and math poetry. After experiencing the math concepts in these living ways, then we moved to the workbook as a review or wrap up. By that time, my daughter typically had the confidence and proficiency in the skill to ace the written work.

Living Math Feels Scary at First

These were my main four fears about living math and the answers I discovered for each as I morphed into fully trusting the approach.

1. If I don’t follow a math textbook, I’ll leave out important math concepts.

This is a common fear with homeschooling. Gaps are inevitable whether your child is educated at home or in a traditional setting. Get over it and move on with learning. Actually, there are many online guides that you can use to periodically check that you’re covering it all. One example is the Math Curriculum Focal Points, published by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

2. I’m not strong enough in math myself to guide our learning without a curriculum written by an expert.

That’s all the more reason to make math fun and engaging — both for me and for my daughter. My natural tendency is to avoid math. But by being more proactive in designing our curriculum, I’m becoming more interested in math. That excitement rubs off on my daughter! And again, I can still use my Singapore math texts as a guide for the skills to cover. The HOW to cover them is up to me.

3. I love living books, but how can words teach numbers?

Numbers are one aspect of math. But logical thinking, problem solving, and mathematical reasoning are all parts of math education.

4. If my daughter does a lot of math games but never does any drill or any worksheets, how will she be able to perform on standardized tests in the future?

Taking a living math approach doesn’t mean that she never does any drill and never fills in a workbook page. Those things simply become supplements to the real-life activities instead of being the core.


Jimmie Lanley is the mother of one creative teenage daughter. Living abroad in China necessitated the original choice to homeschool. But now that she is back in Tennessee, Jimmie can’t imagine any other way to educate her teen. Jimmie’s Collage is where she blogs about homeschooling her high schooler. In the early years, Jimmie’s lesson plans were full of hands-on activities and lapbooks. As the years passed, she began using more and more notebooking and became so passionate about the method that she created her second blog, The Notebooking Fairy. That site features free notebooking printables and how-tos plus the affordable eBook guide Notebooking Success. Jimmie is co-owner of iHomeschool Network, a social media company and publisher of digital guides such as The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas.


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!





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