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Looking for adventure, homeschool encouragement, and advice? You'll find it all in the new April 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

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TOS April 2012

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We (the whole family) just love reading The Homeschool Minute 

While we always love and value what the ladies have to say on the various topics, we just LOVE what Familyman Todd Wilson has to say about "keeping it real". He's always very refreshing and keeps us in stitches. Please pass along the thanks to him!
Homeschooling for 11 years and loving it. 

--The Szymanski Family 





I'm bawling this morning. I know lack of sleep is part of it. But this Homeschool Minute is great. I have to confess to you that I nearly didn't open it. The last time the Homeschool Minute addressed this issue, it made me feel inadequate and then just angry. I know I should have written to you then . . . .This issue is phenomenal. Thank you for addressing struggling readers in such an understanding way.

--Debra Brinkman, Yoder, CO




This was JUST what I needed today. I'm sitting here crying over the first and last articles . . . I'm not sure I got past the tears in my eyes for the ones in between. (Okay, I just looked back, and they were advertisements I'd already had a chance to see the video of before, etc.).  

Just had to touch base with you and say thank you. They usually don't tug at my heart quite this much, but these have somehow struck a chord with me today. I appreciate your  

sending them.


Thank you so much. How timely! . . . You all work so hard year round to make our world such a better place! Thank you!! :))

--Beth Lilly, Bristol, PA



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Amusing Mathematics


Integrating Concrete Math Into Everyday Life

The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine


April 11, 2012

Tips for Teaching Times Tables & Everyday Math


Deborah's  Picture


One of the benefits of homeschooling is that we can teach for mastery. In other words, we can take as long as we need for the child to understand a concept before moving on. Also, if we have a child who is a math whiz, she can go ahead as she is able; we don't have to hold her back.


We have had children in both of these categories. This is why I have an eclectic approach when it comes to math resources, based on each child's ability and learning style. Some are decidedly block learners, able to master only one concept at a time, and cannot do the spiral learning of programs such as Saxon. Therefore, we have used Developmental Math and/or Teaching Textbooks for success in the middle school years.


Some flourish with the spiral learning of bringing in new concepts as well as reinforcing old ones at the same time, so Saxon Math has worked great for those learners.


For hands-on learners, Math-U-See is a great program that I've used for the elementary years, depending on the child. Besides these programs, here is my eclectic list of resources I've used over the years for math:

  • Pre-K and Kindergarten: Christ-Centered Curriculum (only if ready for workbooks-some are not ready at pre-K). Also use manipulatives, blocks, beans, etc.; A Beka kindergarten math.
  • Fourth-Sixth Grades: Saxon Math 5/4 OR Horizons Math 4/5. Fifth grade: Saxon 6/5 or Teaching Textbooks 5th grade. Sixth grade: Saxon 7/6 or Teaching Textbooks 6th grade. See below for placement tests.
  • Seventh-Ninth Grades: Saxon 8/7, Saxon Algebra ½ (with D.I.V.E. CDs), OR Developmental Math, Decimals, fractions, etc. (for block learners), or Teaching Textbooks, 7th grade, Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra (with computer CDs).
  • Tenth-12th Grades: Saxon Algebra 1 and 2, plus D.I.V.E. CDs (sometimes only half a book each year or only half the problems, depending on how long each lesson takes) OR Teaching Textbooks Algebra 1 or 2 and CDs, and/or Consumer Math and/or Teaching Textbooks Geometry.

Saxon Placement Tests:

 Found here


Teaching Textbooks Placement Tests:

 Found here


God is an orderly God, and numbers and order are important to Him. Math is not just a necessity for life, but also a means of better understanding God's creation and character. Do you need wisdom for math curriculum? Pray and ask for God's insight into how your child is learning and what would be the best program for him. God promises to give wisdom to those who ask (and keep asking)!


"He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite." Psalm 147:4, 5



TOS Senior Editor 



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Advertisement Corner 


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A love of reading is one thing; learning to study books and dissect

their finer points is another. Not all parents feel equipped to teach a classic such as Charlotte's Web or Fahrenheit 451 (that one for slightly older children) or Treasure Island. Can you tear apart setting, structure, characters-protagonists and antagonists and supporting characters-and apply literary analysis to boot? Can you discuss literary devices such as allusion, foreshadowing, and symbolism? It's not as easy to do.


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month he leads us on a comprehensive study of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. In April, Adam guides parents and/or students through all of the items mentioned above-and plenty more. Adam provides story charts, discussion points, and much more; in fact, with Adam's approach, verbal discussion is the preferred choice, so you'll enjoy engaging with your students. With Adam to guide you, Treasure Island becomes all the more enjoyable and learning-filled.


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The Learn Math Fast System uses a different approach to efficiently teach 1st-8th grade math. For the past 2 years homeschoolers across the country have been using this innovative new system and the results are staggering! Watch this video to see how can help you.



Diana Waring

Read Diana Waring HERE soon!


Diana Waring, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine columnist and history teacher will soon be writing for The Homeschool MinuteDiana is author of Beyond Survival, Reaping the Harvest and the History Revealed curriculum published by AiG. She discovered years ago that "the key to education is relationship." Beginning in the early 80s, Diana homeschooled her children through high school--providing real-life opportunities to learn how kids best learn. Mentored by educators whose focus was to honor Him who created all learners, and with an international background (born in Germany, a university degree in French, a lifelong student of world history), Diana has been enthusiastically received by audiences on four continents.



Until Diana Waring joins us, veteran homeschool parents will be filling in for her. This week's article is by Amanda Jones. Amanda is a homeschooling mother of four blessings and devoted wife to Anthony. The family serves as missionaries in the United States and abroad through their web ministry and various facilitating projects. Amanda writes weekly on matters of faith and Christian growth at both and Her greatest joy is serving the Lord and loving her family with all her heart!


Amanda Jones
Amanda Jones

Tips for Teaching Times Tables & Everyday Math  

By Amanda Jones


I am not that mathematically inclined. There, I said it! Yet I felt drawn to share on this topic because I am certain I'm not alone and perhaps the methods God has shown me in working with my children can help you as well.


One of the things I think most parents have learned is when it comes to times tables, skip counting is where it starts. When we were first homeschooling, we obtained a CD from Math-U-See with skip counting songs. We would play, listen to, and sing these songs depending on which number we were learning to count by that week. We also created flashcards, often using seasonal shaped cutouts (like construction paper leaves in the fall) and would practice putting them in order.


When it came time to move past skip counting and see how all these numbers worked together to form multiplication problems, I was reminded of a concept from the Bible: repetition. When God wants us to remember something, he repeats himself. It is like that with many things in life: Repetition helps us remember, and learning times tables is no exception.


For rote memorization, we have developed a chart simply by using a piece of notebook paper with lines drawn vertically to make columns. Down one side of the paper, we number one through 12, twice. At the top of the paper in each column, we write the number we are working on multiplying. We tend to focus on one number at a time until some fluency is developed with that table. Each day, as part of their math work, my children will complete one or two columns. This helps them recognize, for instance, that two times two is four, two times three is six . . . and so on.


As skip counting is being mastered and multiplication practice is in full swing, we can use daily life to reinforce these skills. Everyday math shows children how applicable multiplication concepts are. For instance, "How many crackers do we need if five people are having snack and we want everyone to have three?" Or you can challenge them to see numbers in everything, such as, "There are four cars waiting at the light in front of us; how many wheels is that?"


Exploring the world of multiplication and everyday math is actually quite easy! If I can do it, you can too!

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The Familyman
Todd Wilson
Todd Wilson

Todd Wilson, Familyman Ministries  


You already know that I'm not a math guy. Normally, I play devil's advocate and tell you your child doesn't need most of it anyway. BUT when the topic is "Times Tables and Everyday Math," I've got to play hardball.


Truth is: Even as a non-math guy, I use "times-ing" (also known as multiplication) all the time. And everyday math? I use it most every day! So your kids and mine need to know how to do these things (don't get me started on wasting time on quadratic equations).


There is no silver bullet, however. You just have to slog through it . . . every day . . . flashcards . . . month after month . . . year after year, until they've got it. Some get it quickly; some take almost forever. But you've got to keep slogging. Don't give up or get anxious or frustrated. Just slog.


And, my wife said to suggest Timez Attack, a fun computer game that you can download for FREE. Your boys (especially) will no longer fight you about having to practice with this cool and effective game:


And be real,



P.S. I'll be in Memphis, Tennessee, this weekend at the Great Homeschool Convention. Be the first to my booth with a downtown restaurant suggestion (a coupon is even better) and get an audio CD of your choice . . . FREE.




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What comes to mind when you see a bee? Do you consider them to be merely a flying stinger or do you see them as pollinators of crops, elaborate dancers, and doctors?


Yes, bees can serve as their own doctors and take care of themselves if it is too hot or if a fungus attacks the hive. Discover what researchers have discovered about bees as healers. Read the article "Honey Bees Serve as Own Doctor" to learn more.


Contest Corner 

For the month of April, 2012  


Twisted Fish Card Game


Twisted Fish is a fun card game. The cover says that it guarantees "outrageous fun every game!" It is truly a high-adventure game that your family will enjoy. Designed for ages 6 and up, this game is best played with three to six players. Inside the box are the Twisted Fish cards, the rules sheet, and a surprise toy. All you need is a small table for the deck of cards.


Twisted Fish is similar to the original "go fish" game. Each player begins with a few cards. The goal is to get a "full basket," which is a complete set of cards of the same Twisted Fish character in each of the colors (red, green, blue, yellow, and purple). Each player asks another player for a specific color and character. For example, player A might have a purple clownfish and asks player B for a yellow clownfish. If player B doesn't have it, then player A draws a card from the Fish Pond.


That's the easy way to play! Twisted Fish also has Zinger cards. They have great names, like "No Fishing" and "The Dead Scuba Diver." You can use them at any time. They have different purposes. Sometimes you can use the Zinger to see a card in another player's hand. If you don't play the Zinger and you still have it in your hand when a player has played all of his cards, then it is a negative 25 points. Ouch! At the end of the game, the players count up the points that they have from the full baskets and deduct the cards that remain in their hands. This is when the older children in your family can use their logic skills. Some characters are worth five points each, and others are worth 10 points each. Hopefully, the older children will learn that there is a number advantage to trying for a full basket of a 10-point fish. (...)



Win this resource for your family!



Email Deb ( with your name, mailing address, and phone number, for contact purposes, with the subject line "Twisted Fish" for a chance to win* this great resource!


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