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Monday, December 16th, 2013
I made some Christmas skip counting mazes for my daughter and printed them out for her math notebook. At the moment she is only work on the 2s, 3s and 5s, but I made other mazes as well since your kids might be ready for more advanced math.
Download the Free Christmas Skip Counting Mazes:
If you find them useful, I’d love to hear from you over at my Homeschool Den Facebook Page!
You might be interested in these related posts:
- Christmas Math Games (Christmas Cross Off and the Great Grid Game) — to be used with the Christmas Number Cards above.
Find the best educational toys for your little one here.
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Handwriting: An Introduction
Thursday, December 12th, 2013
Tis the season to be flexible! Some days we get quite a bit done, other days… not so much. I try to keep myself calm about that. Yesterday, for example, all our friends had a snow day. Often time we do school anyway, but the appeal of sledding and playing outside with friends won over!
Today, we were back to the normal homeschool schedule. Here are some of the things happening in our homeschool:
Math: Right now the kids’ absolute favorite part of our day is Math Circles (riddles, brain teasers and math challenges). The kids absolutely BEG for more! I’m loving that enthusiasm! Here are a couple of examples from this past week:
- Bob has only nickles and quarters. If he has 36 coins that total $3.40, how many of the coins are quarters?
- A mother tells her children, “All zebras have stripes.” Bella, Rachel and Ben draw their own conclusions from their mothers statement. Ben says, “If an animal has stripes, it has to be a zebra.” Rachel says, “If an animal has stripes, it can be a zebra.” Bella says, “If an animal does not have stripes, it is definitely not a zebra.” Who drew the correct conclusions and why?
- Find two numbers with a product of 56 and a sum of 15.
- If you want to print out some other math brain teasers you can go to this recent post.
I mentioned before how much the kids are loving Mathematical Circle Diaries. Still two thumbs up for that book!!
The kids are also working on problems in their regular math books as well. They generally spend about 10-25 minutes on that each day.
Meanwhile, ED has been really enjoying the Christmas math card games. DD has been playing the same games to practice her multiplication facts. Again, it’s such a bonus when the kids beg for more math time! Here, ED and I were playing the Place Value Game (Turn a card over, decide where it should go, place it down and try to build the largest number. Cards can’t be moved once they’re placed on the board.)
You can download various Christmas Number Cards and Game Ideas over at this post.
Language Arts: For a couple of weeks we were working on spelling and grammar. We still have a few more sentences to complete on the Comma Rules Practice sheets I made last week. (Note to self: finish that!) We also finished our biography project (more about that in another post).
But this week, we’ve gone back to doing our writing workshop. Our mini-lesson this week was on the 5 parts of writing. One day the kids had to come up with a “Grabber” beginning that hooked the reader right away. Another day, they had to think about how to end a story… and leave the reader thinking, feeling or laughing.
LD jumped right in to writing this week… not a complaint or a groan. :) This is a big step forward even from the beginning of the year. The writing workshop model works SO well for us now!! (If you want to read more about that you can read my series: Creating a Writing Workshop.)
You can download this page to print off if you’d like: 5 Parts of Writing
Reading: We finished Ella Enchanted a couple days ago– and we all loved, loved, loved the book! I would definitely recommend that for agest 5-10!
History/Geography: This semester we’ve been studying India. Last week we spent quite a bit of time learning how Arab traders helped spread Islam not only across North Africa and into West Africa, but also eastward into India. We reviewed some of the information we learned about Islam last year (see our free Islam Worksheets from last year). We spent some time comparing Hinduim (see our free worksheets) and Islam.
We went on to talk about the Moghul Empire and spent quite a bit of time on the fifth emperor, Shah Jahan. We read a number of books about the Taj Mahal and learned that it was built to honor Shah Jahan’s third wife who died in childbirth.
One thing I didn’t know was that in the 1830s, a British governor decided to destroy the Taj Mahal in order to sell the expensive marble in England so rich people could decorate their houses. Fortunately for history, few people in England were interested in buying the marble.
The kids enjoyed trying to draw the Taj Mahal. DD went on to draw several other famous buildings.
We went on to learn about British colonialism and the growth of the British Empire. On Friday we learned a bit about apartheid in South Africa and about Nelson Mandela. This week, we’ve learned more about British colonialism in India and how the British relied on India for raw materials such as cotton.
We started learning about Gandhi and read about his March to the Sea in 1930. Gandhi wanted to protest the British tax on salt and led people on a long march to the sea to make their own salt. The kids thought it was pretty clever to use sea water to make salt. We took the opportunity to “make sea water” and explore how when the water evaporated, the salt crystals were left behind.
(The kids made snowflakes, drawings and various other drawings with the salt water!)
Picture of Gandhi’s March to the Sea, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Meanwhile, the kids have been memorizing some of the geography of Asia — including the location of Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and so forth.
German: The kids have been working on their Bobo Siebenschlafen stories and have had to study for a couple of quizzes (Their next quiz is tomorrow.) While we don’t “test” a lot in our homeschool, I do think it’s important for them to learn basic study skills.
Piano: Lots of Jingle Bells and Silent Night at our house these days!!
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Monday, December 9th, 2013
There are lots and lots of different cards games you can play during math time. I made a set of six little cards (0-15) for my daughters this December. They look like this:
Ages 2-4: If you have a toddler or preschooler you can print out two sets of numbers, cut out one set and have your kids match the numbers on the other (uncut) sheet. You can also use these numbers to go around a game board (Here’s a game board I made for the kids that you can download for free). You can pull out festive erasers, flip over a card and have you kids count that same amount. As long as you’re having fun, you child will have fun too!
Math War (Ages 5-10): There are also a number of games you can play with cards like these with older kids. Place all the cards face down in two stacks (one pile for each player). Each player turns a card over. You can play math war…
either by adding two numbers and seeing who has the larger number:
or by multiplying two numbers and seeing who wins the battle with the larger number:
If you have a preschooler, you can also play math war. Simply lay out one card per player and have the child determine which number is greater.
Ages 4-8: You and the kids can play a place value game — to see which player comes up with the largest number (there are two cards in the packet):
Another game for kids learning to add is Make 10 (or 7 or 18…)
Age 2-4: If you have a toddler or a preschooler you can also print out two sets of number cards, cut them up, lay them all out spread out face down on the floor and play memory finding two 3s or two 8s.
Math Spinner Game: The final game is similar to Math War above. Have each player add (or multiply) two numbers [for a younger child just choose one number]. Spin the spinner and see who won!
You can download this free set of Christmas math cards and the games above by clicking on the link or the picture below:
Free Christmas Number Cards and Math Games (13 pages total)
If you found this helpful, I would love to hear from you over at my Homeschool Den Facebook Page. Hearing from readers is what makes sharing worthwhile!
You might also be interested in these posts:
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Sesame Street Lessons: Learning Tips and Tricks
Wednesday, November 27th, 2013
Yesterday, I mentioned that we’ve added a new portion to our math day. For much of the fall, the kids were simply doing math problems from their math book and they were complaining that math was B*O*R*I*N*G. What? Oh NO!! It was true, though, with everything else going on they were doing straight-forward stuff; you know fraction problems like this…
or long division… or a good meaty problem like 5789 x 673… but honestly I could understand the kids’ complaints. There’s so much more to math than the plain old arithmetic from their books! We really needed to make sure that math was relevant, engaging, challenging and even a bit fun!
As you probably know, the American students rank 25th in math among the 49 industrialized nations that were involved in the study. Here’s a question from the 4th grade test:
From: The Nation’s Report Card
This kind of question definitely goes beyond straight arithmetic, right?!!
As I started looking around, I read about something called Math Circles and saw collections of Math Circle problems. I was intrigued… just what was that? There’s a tradition in Russia of hosting math contests where students compete to answer various word problems. The contest itself was designed to get students intrigued and excited about mathematics. There’s something similar here in the US called the Math Olympiad.
I started looking into some of books on Amazon and decided this “math circle” approach really might be a good fit for our homeschool. The math riddles I shared just a couple of days ago are examples of the types of questions that get kids thinking. I’ll share the answers to the brain-teasers I asked:
The questions from the other day were… 1) Three matchsticks are laid out like in the picture below. Moving just two matchsticks, make six. 2) 8 matchsticks are laid out to look like a fish swimming to the left. Moving just three matchsticks, make the fish swim to the right:
Did you get the first solution for the first challenge (III)? My husband got it right away! And my 8 year old wondered if the solution was XI… That got my son thinking — and they figured out the answer (they said IV first, but when I told them that was 4 they quickly figured out VI is six).
For the fish puzzle, the picture on the left shows which match sticks to move, the picture on the right shows the final solution:
These are the types of questions you’ll find in Mathematical Circle Diaries. This is one of several books I bought recently and the kids absolutely LOVE the questions and challenges in this book!! It’s quite challenging for both my 8 year old and 10 year old, but they BEG for more math time!!! I love that!
I also searched the internet for some math puzzles and we’ve worked through this set of problems as well. My kids really enjoyed these — and maybe you can challenge your kids to answer these over the Thanksgiving break!! The answers are available if you click on the picture below.
Download and print the Math Riddles Page:
We’ve been using a couple other math books to add a new challenging, fun dimension to our homeschool, but I want to use them with the kids a bit more before talking about them here on the blog.
If you have any great suggestions of math resources that go beyond the traditional math book, I’d love to hear from you over on my Homeschool Den Facebook Page! The kids will be grateful too!!
You may be interested in reading the Harvard Study: Achievement Growth: International and State Trends in Student Growth which explains how math scores are improving in the US and internationally.
You might also be interested in the Nation’s Report Card: 2013 which shows the progress US 4th and 8th graders are making in Math and Reading.
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Monday, November 11th, 2013
I have kids of different ages (5, 8 and 10). We all did this simple machines unit together. It was perfect for my younger two — quite easy for my oldest, but from here we’re going to go on to more complicated topics… inventions and electricity which are more suited to my older two. It works best for our family to do these science and history together even if I have to modify it for the kids.
I’ll explain what’s in the packet:
The first three pages are virtually identical with a tracing page, fill-in-the-blank page and matching page:
We went into quite a bit of detail about the three classes of levers. These are some pages that explain what those three classes are and has them identify the fulcrum, load and effort:
These are pretty simple pages to write notes on the types of machines… and then three pages for the picture sort (see the next set of pictures below):
Simple Machines Sorting Activity:
There are four pages of pictures of various simple machines you might encounter in everyday life that the kids had to sort.
I also put answers (so there are four additional pages)… although some things could be categorized in more than one place. The wheel barrow, for example, could be classified as a lever — or it could be classified as a wheel and axle. If you have younger kids you may not want to use all of these.
In the next section, I jotted down some of the activities I could do with the kids. We wound up doing a lot of them and you’ll find them in other posts about this unit. (I’ll link to those hands-on activities at the end of this post.)
I contemplated deleting the last three or four pages because they were just my notes about simple machines… there’s a long list of examples and some other things I considered doing with the kids. Anyway, I decided in the end to keep those notes in. Maybe you’ll find them helpful, maybe not!!:
My kids and I have had a lot of fun with this unit! You can download the packet I made free by clicking on the following link:
Simple Machines Packet:
If you use this in your homeschool or classroom, I’d love to hear from you over at my Homeschool Den Facebook Page!
Other Hands-On Activities from Our Simple Machines Unit:
Other Science Packets and Materials That Might be of Interest:
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