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Visual Math!

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — Tags: , , — dailynews @ 9:04 am




Math Teaching Needs to be More Visual: New Brain Research Says

Per the recently released research paper, “SEEING AS UNDERSTANDING: The Importance of Visual Mathematics for our Brain and Learning,” the use of visual mathematics and the development of finger discrimination in students is vital for brain development and future mathematics success.  To download this paper, click here. The paper is authored by leading Stanford University mathematics researcher Dr. Jo Boaler and brain researcher Dr. Lang Chen.

“Our brains use visual pathways when we are learning math – our brains actually “see” a representation of fingers when we solve problems, whether or not we are actually using our fingers at the time, so training people on ways to perceive and represent their own fingers results in higher math achievement,” said co-author Dr. Jo Boaler, professor of mathematics education at Stanford Graduate School of Education and the co-founder of youcubed, a Stanford University center that provides research-based resources for teaching and learning mathematics. “Schools do not know about this important brain research and many schools even ban students from using fingers in classrooms.”

Because the research shows that everyone uses visual pathways when they work on mathematics, parents and teachers need to develop the visual areas of children’s brains. They can do this by:

  • Using visuals, manipulatives and motion in mathematics teaching and parenting
  • Providing opportunities for students to use drawing, visualizing or working with models in mathematics
  • Teaching algebra visually through pattern study and generalization
  • Asking students, at regular intervals, how they see mathematical ideas
  • Asking students to represent mathematical ideas in a multitude of ways, such as through pictures, models, graphs, even doodles or cartoons

“Visual mathematics helps students at any level formulate ideas and develop understanding,” said Dr. Boaler. “In fact, the quality of six-year-olds’ perception and representation of fingers has been found to be a better predictor of future mathematics success than performance on tests of cognition.”

In addition to dispelling common beliefs about how children and adults learn math, the paper provides resources for parents and teachers to help students strengthen visual pathways in their brains and achieve at higher levels in mathematics. These resources can be found here.

Interesting…..I think homeschoolers have always encouraged visual math!


About Dr. Jo Boaler

Dr. Jo Boaler is a professor of mathematics education at Stanford University and the co-founder of youcubed. She is also the author of the first MOOC on mathematics teaching and learning and the recipient of many awards, including the 2014 NCSM Equity Award. Dr. Boaler’s former roles have included being the Marie Curie Professor of Mathematics Education for Europe, a mathematics teacher in London comprehensive schools, and a researcher at King’s College, London University.

About Dr. Lang Chen

Dr. Lang Chen is a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Stanford University. His research focuses on the development of knowledge representations, currently in math and language, in the brain.


Journal Your Way to Lasting Memories this Summer!


Journal Your Way to Lasting Memories this Summer!

This is just one of the GREAT articles in’s Summer Fun virtual magazine!

Includes #1 and #57 from’s Great Summer Resource: 101 Things To Do This Summer list!


Looking for something new to do this summer?  Journaling about all of your summer activities might be just the thing for you and your children.  Not only does keeping a journal provide you and your children with something productive, constructive, and FUN to do this summer, it also provides a tangible, lasting way to remember your time together.

I have 3 children still being homeschooled, and they all journal, including my son.  Even those who don’t normally enjoy writing very much, like my son, can enjoy jotting down a short description of each day’s activity, knowing that it will be a keepsake for years to come.  I have encouraged my children in this way, to see their journals as precious things that they will enjoy revisiting at some point down the road, when they are older.

Your kids can start their journals with a list of things they hope to do over summer vacation (#1 on the 101 Things To Do This Summer list).   Parents can sit down and brainstorm with their children about new things they would like to learn about, places they might want to visit, recipes they might want to try, etc.  You can find a list of hobbies HERE .   I printed a copy of this list off for each of my children and asked them to try and find at least a couple of new things to learn about or try.

Summer doesn’t have to be the same old routine every year.  These days there are virtually unlimited resources with which to learn new things or attain ideas for things to do and places to go.  Most cities have many free summer activities (# 57 in the 101 Things To Do This Summer list) that we can participate in with our children or that our children can participate in on their own.

If you have the resources to attend venues or activities that have a fee or admission cost, you have almost more options than one family can fit into a summer.   Even if you seldom leave the house, you and your children can find many new things to do and try.   HERE is a website that has lists of games and activities to try at home.

After you make these memories with your children, encourage them to write in their summer journals as much as they can remember about the outing or activity.  If they have a way to take and print pictures, they can have a visual reminder as well.  Let this be something fun that doesn’t necessarily have to be spell-checked and corrected.  They will be less likely to enjoy it and may not even want to chronicle their summer vacations if we make it too much like school.  The important thing is that the memories are being recorded for future enjoyment.

Ideas for types of journals and ways to decorate them are only limited by you and your children’s imaginations.  I have a nice leather journal purchased from our local store.  My children have everything from spiral notebooks to small hard-backed journals from the dollar store.  You can even use a scrapbook or a ring-binder notebook with loose-leaf paper.   Another idea for a journal is a ring-binder photo book with plastic slots for pictures.  Each slot can hold an index card describing each activity, recipe or outing, or it can hold a photo of the activity.

Kids can leave their journals undecorated if they prefer, or if your children are particularly crafty, they can be decorated with markers, crayons, glitter, buttons, stickers, or craft paint.   Some of the most fun I had as a child was decorating my possessions or projects, whether it was my folders from school or just a doodle notebook at home.  The more enthusiastic we are about this summer project, the more our children will catch the spirit and want to join in.

If they leave a page at the front blank when they first start their journals, they can go back at the end of summer and add a table of contents if they wish.  Then they can number their pages and easily find certain memories when they want.   Alternately, they can add an index at the end of their journals with corresponding page numbers.  Neither of these ideas is hard to do, and even younger children can be guided into adding one if they want.

Boredom is one of things that we always try to avoid around our house.  If the kids cannot come up with something fun and/or constructive that they want to do, we find something for them to do.  Encourage your children to branch out and seek new and fun things to do.

Be willing to buy or round up raw materials for them to work with, whatever the project may be.  Help them to look up information, recipes, rules for new games, sports, or fun books to read.  Set aside whatever time you can to take them to the activities or places around your town that have interesting, new things to do or look at.

Remember before each summer activity to tell your children to observe and remember as much as they can in order to journal about it when they get home.  They can even take their journals with them if feasible, or they can be left in the vehicle to write in on the way home.   Take photos for them, or if they are old enough, remind them to chronicle the outing with pictures themselves.

Journaling is a summer activity that provides a lifetime of memories.  It is something that can be done each summer while they are still at home.  My children already treasure their journals, and I’m sure yours will too!


Debbie Newman:

I am a 15 year homeschooling veteran with four children, two of whom are still in school.  My hobbies include blogging, gardening, herbs, and reading.  We live on a mini-homestead in the country, and have chickens, ducks, geese, and two very spoiled herding dogs.  You can find me on facebook or my blog


Summer Fun – Explore a Castle of Light

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

castle lite

Summer Fun – Explore A Castle of Light

Just one of the fantastic articles in’s newest virtual magazine – Summer Fun

Includes #39 on’s 101 Things To Do This Summer list!



For as long as we’ve had children, (over 18 years now), and certainly before we homeschooled, we visited museums, national parks and historic landmarks as part of our summer vacation. This year, we plan to visit St. Augustine. St. Augustine, the oldest city in the United States is rich in history. We want to see the old fort with its cannons and catapults and we want to see the St. Augustine Lighthouse.

You may not live near St. Augustine, but odds are, there is a lighthouse within your driving distance. says there are 680 remaining lighthouses in the United States. The oldest being The Sandy Hook Lighthouse in New Jersey that was built in 1764.

I visited a lighthouse with a group of friends when I was a teenager.

I remember the winding stairs that led to the top. Lighthouses are castles of light. They are sturdy fortresses that are built to last. They house the brave light that protects sailors at sea.

Why not set out on an adventure to explore a castle of light this summer? Here are a few websites to help you find one near you:

Before you go, why not read a story about a lighthouse keeper, or his child, or his dog?

When you choose the lighthouse you want to visit, pack a blanket and picnic lunch to enjoy while you’re there. Also, bring along a notebook, pen and colored pencils so you can write your own story about the lighthouse. What would your day and night be like if you were the lighthouse keeper? How would you feel if you were the captain of a ship lost at sea and then you saw the light? Draw a picture of the lighthouse. Write a poem about it.When you get home or later on that week, make your own working lighthouse

I hope you are inspired to learn more about lighthouses, and I hope you will get to explore a castle of light this summer.


Mechelle Ritchie Foster is a homeschool mom from Florida. She has been married to her husband, Grant for 23 wonderful years and has been blessed with two children: daughter, Morgan (18) and son, Zach (12). Her hobbies include: writing, photography, singing, going to the movies and not cooking. She uses her kitchen as a science lab. You can follow her at her blog, Life As I See It, at Follow her at twitter- Follow her on Facebook-


Have you seen our new e-blast?

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — Tags: , — dailynews @ 1:03 pm


Homeschooling & Loving It!

Advice from our very own Rebecca Kochenderfer!

Four sections will be included in each e-blast.  They include:

Dear Rebecca

Organization Station

Curriculum Corner

Tick Tock Time Management


And fun learning is forever learning!





AOP – 10 Pinterest Accounts Homeschool Parents Should Follow

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

aop jpeg 200 x 150

This is a guest blog post from Alpha Omega Publications.


10 Pinterest Accounts Homeschool Parents Should Follow

A creative online hub with resources for any hobby, Pinterest is the perfect place to find delicious recipes, educational activities, and encouragement for your homeschool family. Discover 10 accounts you should follow today!

Alpha Omega Publications Homeschool

Find homeschool tips, inspiration, and humor alongside fun, educational freebies from a leading Christian homeschooling curriculum publisher.

Jenny Flake, Picky Palate

Meet a mom with a passion for creating and writing her own recipes designed to satisfy eaters with the pickiest palates.

100 Places to Visit Before You Die

This collection of gorgeous photography accompanied by inspirational quotes and travel tips is sure to kick start planning for your next family vacation.

Homeschool Encouragement

Get access to a variety of educational resources that help moms and children fall in love with the art of homeschooling.

Penguin Random House

Discover your next favorite author, tips for raising readers, and fun gift ideas among boards put together by the world’s largest English language trade publisher.

The Educators’ Spin on It

Created by a pair of teachers, authors, and moms, Kim and Amanda offer boards that range from kid-friendly crafts and subject-specific activities to family travel tips and parenting ideas.


Inspire the builder in your home with “build it yourself” ideas, stackable storage units, brick-themed foods, and more.

Amy Brown Science

Find resources for getting your youngster excited about science from biology and chemistry teacher Amy Brown.

Every Word Counts

Managed by a “self-confessed word nerd, grammar geek, avid typo spotter, and language lover,” Ever Word Counts is the perfect place for readers and writers to kick back, relax, and enjoy witty wordplay alongside other cool stuff for word nerds.

Join this online homeschooling community for access to fun seasonal crafts, family vacation ideas, and homeschooling resources.


Alpha Omega Publications is a leading provider of PreK-12 Christian curriculum, educational resources, and services to homeschool families worldwide. AOP follows its mission every day by creating and providing quality Christian educational materials to thousands of students through curriculum, educational books and games, support services, family entertainment, and an accredited online academy. To learn more, visit or call 800-622-3070.

Summer Reading Inspires Summer Learning and Fun

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

summer reading

This article includes at least 5 suggestions from’s 101 Great Summer Resource: Things To Do This Summer list. Can you guess what they are?

The article is also featured in our Summer Fun magazine!


Summer reading isn’t just a form of fun and learning—it can inspire kids of all ages to explore new ideas, new adventures, and new worlds no matter where they’re spending their summer. Whether the goal is to read one book a week, or as many books as possible, summer reading is a free activity that can spur kids to try all kinds of new things.

Longer days mean more time to read, or to be read to, even after busy days filled with family outings, camps, swimming, classes, picnics, barbecues and any other kind of summer activity you choose. My summer goal growing up was to read every book I could borrow from the children’s section of the local library. That wouldn’t be possible today! But the huge selection now of both fiction and nonfiction for kids means any reader can find SOMETHING they like. With libraries across the country offering summer reading incentives like free museum passes and pizza, kids can rise to the challenge and celebrate their reading accomplishments, whether they read their books in bound versions or on an e-reading device.

Here are two weeks of ways to make summer reading fresh, fun and inspiring at home, on vacation, or anywhere!

1. Dive into a favorite series of novels and read them ALL.

2. Read an adventure book and see a summer blockbuster movie based on the story.

3. Read a book or magazine about science, and visit a science museum or try hands-on experiments at home (You can find thousands of hands-on activities at

4. Read a book about where you’re traveling on vacation, or where you’d like to travel someday.

5. Pretend you can go back in time, and read a history book about a time in the past you wish you could visit.

6. Pretend you can go forward in time, and read a science fiction book about a time in the future you wish you could visit.

7. Read a cookbook and whip up a new recipe—you can even set up a book-themed summer bake sale or picnic.

8. Read a book of songs and learn to sing some of them.

9. Read a book of poems and learn to recite some of them.

10. Read a book about an animal species, then visit that kind of animal at a zoo, aquarium, wildlife center, farm or even a pet store.

11. Read a book to your own pet or your neighbor’s pet!

12. Read a book about a new sport and take a swing at it.

13. Read a book of jokes or riddles and try them out on your family and friends.

14. Write your own book!


Deborah Lee Rose is the internationally published, award-winning author of 14 children’s books, including Jimmy the Joey, Someone’s Sleepy (also a downloadable song by Tom Chapin), Ocean Babies and All the Seasons of the Year. Visit her at She is also writer/editor for the national STEM activity website  Her favorite summer book growing up was E.B. White’s classic Charlotte’s Web, because the story takes place in the summer and is about a spider who is a writer.


Homeschool Art at the Beach-or Anywhere!


Homeschool Art at the Beach-or Anywhere!

Includes # 98 from’s Great Summer Resource : 101 Things To Do This Summer list – Learn how to draw!  Yes, you can learn!  Not all great artists are born. Here are 100 free art lessons–

This is just one of the fabulous articles from’s virtual magazine – Summer Fun


beach 1


When we went to the beach house, we sat at the coffee table and looked out at the view. The brilliant teal blue water and the colorful beach umbrellas. Yes, we really had made it to the beach. And on that afternoon, Nana showed us how to capture the brilliant colors in pastels.

(Maybe you are headed to the mountains or on a camping trip? You can paint a Walk in the Woods.)

Beach Umbrellas chalk Pastel art tutorial

Getting started with chalk pastels: If you have not enjoyed chalk pastels before you can purchase one set to try with the whole family. A basic starter set is available for less than $10 at your local arts and crafts store.

Colors Needed: Start by gathering your colors. Teals and blues for the ocean, browns and tans for the sand. Also a light blue for the sky. Have your baby wipes handy (we used some newspapers to cover the table since this wasn’t our own home).


Art Tutorial Steps:

1. Using a dark blue, draw your ocean line. The water looks darker and is deeper the further away from shore you go. So make this first line nice and dark. We decided later that we should have moved the line up a bit more to give more room for the umbrellas and happenings on the beach.

2. After your first dark line, finish your ocean with your beautiful teals.

3. Make the shore a bit of a curve, anyway you’d like. Fist in your colors a bit but not much. Remember to keep that dark line visible. (To ‘fist in’ make a fist with your hand and use the soft part of your hand near your pinkie to blend. Fisting blends the colors and softens the lines. Nana teaches all about fisting in her video art tutorial on how to draw a tornado).

4. Next use your browns and sand colors to fill in your beach. Turn your pastel stick on its side and lightly fill in the sand. Fist it in a bit, blending the colors. There’s not much variation on the color of sand but you want it to look natural.

5. And, finally, use your lightest blue to color your sky – lightly, with your pastel stick on its side. Make sure your hand is clean and dry before you fist in your sky. You don’t want too many of your sand colors blending with the sky.


6. Oh goody! Now it’s time to draw the umbrellas. Pick any color you like. Ours were royal blue, green and orange.

Just free hand your beach umbrellas. You can tell from our pictures about how big they should be. Draw some darker lines to show where they fold. You can use the same color for the stand.

7. Now it’s time to add the details of your beach. You can make chairs under your umbrellas by making small rectangles. Use black to make the heads of the people sitting in your chairs. Just a semi-circle. Everything is very dark up under the shade of the umbrella – in contrast to the bright sunlight on the beach.

8. Nana then showed us how to add the cool shade under the umbrellas. Take your darkest brown and just color right under and along side the beach chairs. Cool your beach folks off.

Nana tucked a new set of umbrellas in the corner of her picture.  And an orange umbrella! You may want a few sea oats too. Turn your pastel stick on its side and lightly tap.  Makes lovely sea oats.


Define your surf a bit with your white. Maybe make a bit of foam. You might decide to add the black fins of the gliding porpoises like my daughter did. And the splash of one porpoise being playful.

Be sure to pick a color and sign your name. Now you have your vacation spot saved in a pastel picture.



A note on chalk pastels: Pastels are an easy, forgiving medium. Fun for children and adults alike! Details on the pastels and paper we use, how and where to purchase, and links to all of Nana’s other pastel lessons (100 free lessons now) are all contained in the post Pastels plus links to tutorials plus the video The Very Few Must Have Supplies for Chalk Pastel Art.  Nana also teaches acrylic lessons.

The practical aspects of a mess: Pastels are blessedly messy. We always have baby wipes close by to wipe hands. We wear something we don’t mind getting stained or don a smock.

Be sure to subscribe to our Hodgepodge YouTube channel for free video art tutorials!



Homeschooling for over a dozen years now, Tricia faces a daily dose of chaos with five children from preschool to high school. She and her mother, Lucia Hames, are co-authors of art curriculum for all ages and a series of cookbooks at Hodgepodge. She and her husband, Steve, are also owners of The Curriculum Choice and Habits for a Happy Home.

Keep Summer Fun with MyEduCrate

Filed under: Daily News,Educational Adventures — Tags: — dailynews @ 7:45 am

Keep Summer Fun with MyEduCrate

    This newsletter is brought to you by MyEduCrate

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“Wow! My son and I were completely blown away by MyEduCrate’s, The Path to EnLIGHTenment. We received the box in the mail and became very excited about what was inside. I had told him something was coming and I wasn’t even sure what it was. This really builds the suspense. He loves science and is quite the inquisitive one, so I figured he’d love it. We read the cool letter that introduced what each activity was going to be and then started taking everything out of the box. He picked up the book, thumbed through it, then saw the Human Powered Light Bulb. We decided to start with that one. We read the directions on the back and began walking around the house while dragging our feet. Then it happened, Wah-La! It worked! This brought up a great conversation about static electricity and he made the connection with balloons and hair. He then grabbed the book and started reading.”Check out what Chasing Supermom has to say.Your path to…



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Make Freezer Bag Ice Cream!


Make Freezer Bag Ice Cream!


This article is also featured in our Summer Fun magazine!

When summer rolls around our favorite treats almost always involve ice cream. We don’t always have ice cream on hand and since we live in a rural area we don’t have an ice cream man who comes by to see us.  One of our favorite things to do is make this easy and tasty Freezer Bag Ice Cream.  Not only can we customize our own flavors easily, but we can burn off some extra energy shaking these bags of ice cream until they freeze.  This is a great way to reward kids for a great job cleaning or a day of hard work and a fun way to work together in the kitchen.

To make your own you’ll need a few things you likely already have on hand.  For more fun you can pick up some mini candy bars, sprinkles, fresh fruit or syrups to create a personalized flavor in each bag.



1 Quart Freezer Bags for each flavor

1 Gallon Freezer Bags for each flavor

2 Cups Crushed Ice per flavor

½ Cup Rock Salt per flavor

1 Cup Whole Milk or Half & Half

¼ Cup Sugar

¼ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Mix “Ins” as Desired

Small Hand Towel to hold bag in while mixing if it gets too cold for your little ones’ hands

Let your kids decide what flavor ice cream they want to make and add 1-2 tablespoons syrup to create a different flavor, or stick with classic tasty vanilla.  Mix in candies, fruit and sprinkles are best added after ice cream is made.



  • In small bowl mix together milk, sugar and vanilla
  • Place ice and rock salt into gallon freezer bag
  • Pour milk mixture into quart freezer bag and seal bag
  • Place quart freezer bag into gallon freezer bag with salt/ice mixture
  • Seal gallon bag and shake for 5-6 minutes or until it begins to harden.
  • Serve straight from bag


Not only will kids enjoy making their very own ice cream flavors, they will have fun shaking the bags to see who can make theirs first.  This freezer bag ice cream is a fun activity for hot days, and a great way to get the kids’ creative juices flowing.

Make your own favorite flavors and create fun new flavor combinations to share with the family.


Katie Hale is a homeschooling mother of one, freelance writer and blogger at You Brew My Tea who enjoys the simple things in life and finds joy in the world around her as the ultimate classroom.

4 Fun Ways to Use Photographs to Teach Your Child the ABCs

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


4 Fun Ways to Use Photographs to Teach Your Child the ABCs

This is a guest blog post from Bob Books.


Is your child learning the ABCs? A growing body of research indicates that when kids view learning as something enjoyable, rather than a tedious obligation, they’ll be more alert, more engaged and better able to retain new information.

So what can you personally do to help your child associate learning with fun?

Bob Books has asked educator and professor of Art, Marvin Bartel, Ed.D, his thoughts on how kids can feel engaged and personal about learning the ABC:

As an art educator I would like to see kids have a chance to practice their own creativity, I would probably flip the concept and let kids find the things, people, memories, etc. and draw pictures for the book. The kid could make the book. Kids need to learn ABCs but they also need to learn that they can draw whatever they want to. Those that draw their own ideas without being shown how to draw things will learn to observe for themselves and become more confident in their own abilities to learn as well as develop drawing confidence. 

As for taking pictures, kids learn more when they learn to aim the camera, frame the composition, and so on. I would let them do it. They would remember the ABCs better if they took the pictures and learned experientially.” – Marvin Bartel, Ed.D, Emeritus Professor of Art – Goshen College

While there are many ways to spice up learning, one way to do this at home is to use familiar objects or photographs as teaching tools, and with the Bob Books ABC Book App, you can create a personalized alphabet book using just your phone or tablet and bit of imagination.

Ready to try it out for yourself? Here are a few fun ideas for turning your own photographs into ABC books that will bring lessons alive for your child.

1. Take photos of familiar objects around the home

It’s often easier and more amusing for kids to practice their ABCs when they’re already familiar with the things pictured, so you could compile photos of familiar toys or other household objects your child uses and interacts with on a daily basis.

For instance, “D” could be a photo of their favorite doll or dinosaur toy and “R” could be a picture of the refrigerator stocked with a few of their favorite snacks.

2. Create a little family tree

Creating an alphabet book using photographs of family members, friends and relatives is a fun way to help your child learn their ABCs, and it can also help them remember the names of all their aunts and uncles, nephews, nieces, and grandparents.

If you haven’t got relatives whose names start with letters like Q or X, and most of us don’t, giving each person a creative little tagline can make it easier. For instance “C is for Cool Aunt Mary” and “X is for your eXtremely fun nephew Tim,” and so on.

3. Compile some of your fondest memories

If you want to put your photos of happy family outings or even amusing everyday occurrences to good use, an ABC book is one way to make sure they don’t end up catching dust.

For instance, “N” could be for “Naptime” and would be accompanied by a photo of your child sleeping, or “V” could be for “Vegetables” and you could include a baby photo of your child enjoying a bowl of peas and carrots.

4. Use photos of familiar places

Using photographs of places your child has been to or visits regularly can also be fun, and you can add a little description of what can be done in each place. For instance, “P” could be for the park where they go to play after naptime, “B” could be for the bedroom where they sleep each night, and “Z” might be for the zoo they visited with their grandmother.

Of course you may need to get a bit creative to find familiar locations for each letter of the alphabet, but the end result will be an entertaining little chronicle of your child’s early life.

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