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|The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine|
April 10, 2013
Make Math a Fun Part of Everyday Life
Hey there! This is Hannah Wuehler! My mom's parents are coming this week and seeing as I don't mind writing as much as I do cleaning house, I am writing while she cleans. :) Good deal, huh? Let's see, making math fun . . . SKITTLES! What kid doesn't like M&M's, Skittles, and chocolate chips? (Or raisins if you want to be a tad bit healthier.) If you have a little person who doesn't like the idea of math, nothing works better than having him add and subtract bright objects that he gets to eat! If your little guy is too big for simple math, have him multiply or even divide those M&M's before he can eat them. If you have a child who is learning fractions, do some baking with him; this was my favorite thing to do with my mom. Baking will help your child in double checking their work, following directions, adding fractions, teamwork, and also spending quality time with mom or an older sibling. Though it will take longer to get the baking done (I realized just how much time my mom spent with me when I started helping my little siblings work on fractions while baking), it will be worth it later--trust me.
For your older kids, going shopping is one big math problem. Have them find the cheapest price for eggs; figure out if the cereal is 15% off, how much does it cost? Does that make it cheaper than the off-brand cereal? Skip the math book next time you go shopping and have them help you find the cheapest price per ounce on yogurt. Not only will they be learning math in ways that they will actually use later in life, but they will feel good that they helped mom with the shopping today!
One last thing, life isn't always fun. Sometimes, you will need to explain to your older children that they just need to buck up and do hard things. All this coming from someone who hated math--I think your kid will be okay. Now, I am off to make dinner and watch siblings while my mom picks up my brother from piano lessons.
Note from mom (Deborah Wuehler): "See how keeping them home where they belong pays off? Don't give up!"
Hannah Wuehler is a 17-year-old homeschool high school graduate with 7 siblings. She recently received her certification in Equine Massage Therapy and is looking forward to what God has planned next.
Thinking back, I don't remember when math wasn't part of my everyday life, and most of the time, it was fun. How did Mom do it?
Cooking and working with recipes comes to mind first. It seemed we were always doubling something or halving something else (which was fun until you need half of one-third of something!). Whenever someone got the urge to rearrange furniture in her bedroom, Mom would start by drawing a plan of the room. Someone would measure all of the furniture that had to be planned for, and a lesson in drawing to scale would commence.
Mom wasn't the only one who found ways to work math fun into everyday life. Dad planted two rather large gardens every year. There was always figuring to be done--how many plants would fit if they had to be placed a certain distance apart, or how many bushels of tomatoes could we expect if one plant yielded a certain amount. Even my grandfather helped us enjoy math. He was known to share a few dollar bills with his granddaughters when they visited. The household rule was that one-third of what he gave to us had to be saved for later. Funny how he always gave us amounts that were divisible by three!
Needing math in everyday life never stops. Grocery stores are full of mathematical problems waiting to be solved. Almost any kind of home improvement or repair requires math. And we can't forget the math of income tax! (Okay, maybe that last one isn't so much fun!)
Have you noticed how many ways SchoolhouseTeachers.com has to make math fun? Teresa Evans adds a daily dash of fun with reading and math games in our Schoolhouse Daily Everyday Games. Dr. Peter Price brings weekly video lessons and printable worksheets to Elementary Math to take the boredom and frustration out of math. Lindsay Perro brings bright and engaging Middle School Math lessons such as this month's Awesome April Angles. Daily Math brings you printable worksheets to use as a quick review of common concepts with your 5th-8th grade students. You'll even find math combined with art in our Everyday Easels unit studies. And don't miss lots of family math fun when Ditch the Desk helps you transform your kitchen into "My Family's Café."
Also, current SchoolhouseTeachers.com members can have access to one LIVE Online Math Video Course (your choice of Algebra, Pre-Algebra, or Pre-Pre-Algebra) retail value of $99.99. This is a complete video course (online) in which emphasis is placed on why math works, not just how to do problems. Sign up and you will receive an e-mail from LIVE Online Math. Please allow up to 2 weeks.
You can see a complete breakdown of everything SchoolhouseTeachers.com has to offer on our new Site Directory page. Watch for new math curriculum for older students coming this fall! Point. Click. Teach.
Bonnie Rose Hudson
P.S. Beginning May 1, new SchoolhouseTeachers.com monthly memberships are increasing to $12.95 per month.*
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Take a fun and interesting look at The Story of Energy and Its Exciting Future with a free E-Book unit study. Students will explore energy production and consumption in the U.S. Simply email HopeLudeke@gmail.com for your FREE copy and also to learn how to get potential discounts/savings on your energy bills.
I imagine that you are wondering how on earth we're each going to respond to this topic. I must admit, I, too, am eager to read Todd's, Deborah's, Hal and Melanie's articles, because making math FUN is one of those-"Really? That's even possible?"-kind of topics.
Now, I don't claim to be a math whiz, nor a math teacher whiz. But, I've got experiences just waiting to be told . . . ways of finding fun right when math became a crushing burden.
First of all, are you familiar with M&M's? You know the chocolate covered candy that supposedly melts in your mouth, not in your hands? Well, it's a little known secret that M&M actually stands for "Math Manipulative!" Of course, the company doesn't call it that, but wily homeschoolers have learned through the years that using math manipulatives-especially ones you can eat-make this subject much more interesting and even delectable. Disclaimer: M&M's are better for subtraction . . . and division. Less is more, if you know what I mean.
Secondly, who says that kids have to sit down when they memorize their multiplication tables? I know, I know, sitting quietly at your desk is the educational norm. However, when you have a kid who is a mover and a shaker, one who fidgets and twitches and is constantly in motion, try letting him practice multiplication facts while doing jumping jacks (as my son, Michael did), hopping up and down stairs (as many moms have told me they did), or finding some other way to bounce, dance, trot, or spin! It's amazing how much kids can learn when they are allowed to do it in the way they learn best.
Then, there is the "sing your math tables" approach. Years ago, we found the Skip Count Kid songs to help our children learn multiplication. They're a little corny, but corny can be fun!
Last, but not least, don't ignore the fun that erupts when kids get to compete against mom or dad-especially when ice cream is involved! My daughter found math computation to be difficult and uninteresting. Though she grasped math concepts easily, and was quite adept at using a calculator, I thought it was important that she become more comfortable with rapid mental calculations. So, to lift it out of the tedium and to add a bit of zest, I told her that when she could do a certain set of computations more quickly than I could, she would be treated to ice cream. The task took only three days! And, believe me, it was as much fun as playing any game you can name.
So, adding fun is not as difficult as you might think. Food, movement, songs, and games make learning a delightful experience, even with a subject like math!
Remember, stay relational.
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Raising Real Men
Hal & Melanie Young
One of our sons loved math so much that he was intrigued to find out about sports statistics. He picked a team and began keeping a notebook for the stats of that football team and his favorite players. That led to his interest in football, and before we knew it, he'd gotten his brothers sold on football, too. They spent the next several weeks earning the money they needed to sign up with the Homeschool Football League and they've been playing for years now. The cool thing is that it can work the other way, too.
Find real world applications for math. Boys are especially motivated by knowing what they are doing makes a difference in the real world. A boy who doesn't give a rip about similar triangles might be intrigued to find out that was how Eratosthenes figured out the circumference of the earth, back when most folks didn't even realize it was a sphere. Even simple things like finding the area of a rectangle seem much more worthwhile when you explain how to find how much paint you'll need for a room by figuring out the area of each wall and then subtracting each door and window.
Watch for opportunities to teach why they're doing math. Just now, while I was writing this, one of our children was whining, "Why do I have to do this old math, anyway?" Well, great, now I feel like a hypocrite telling you how to teach your children a love of math and failing with mine. So I decided to put this away for a bit and asked him what the lesson was about. He said, "Multiplying two and three digit decimal numbers."
Hmmm . . . I thought about how frustrated he's been lately at not being really old enough to be as involved in the family business as his brothers are. I said, "Cool. Did you know that's how Daddy figured out if we could afford to accept that new speaking invitation the other day? He took the number of miles we'd have to drive, divided by the miles per gallon we get, then multiplied times the current price of gas. Let's try it ourselves!" Soon we were bent over paper, calculating it out. I showed him how mistaking the decimal point would have made Dad make the wrong decision. Now, he's working happily--understanding the why made all the difference--and I'm back to writing.
Really, we've all got to remember to put their lessons in the context of real life instead of just saying, "Hush and get back to work." They'll work a lot better when we do. It sure worked here. :)
Yours in the battle,
Hal & Melanie
Our book, Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys, has tons more about how to not just get your sons to do school, but how to help all of you enjoy it more. It was the Christian Small Publishers Book of the Year in 2011, too! Click here to find out more at our site.
Coming in April 2013 . . .
Preparation, and Peace
Featuring Kendra Fletcher
If you need a boost of encouragement and some fresh ideas for gaining peace in your homeschool this coming school year, then join Kendra as she shares from her home where eight children reside.
Kendra Fletcher is the homeschooling mother of eight, ages 20 down to 4. She has never homeschooled without the presence of preschoolers, and loves to encourage other moms beginning their homeschool journeys with little ones underfoot. She is the preschool columnist for The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine and the author of a popular E-book about creating a Circle Time for your homeschool. Her homeschooling website and blog can be found at www.preschoolersandpeace.com, and her personal author blog can be found at www.kendrafletcher.com.
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Also in the latest issue of
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. . .
by Dean Butler
For the month of April, 2013
Classical Acts and Facts History Cards from Classical Conversations
It is with distinct pleasure that I share my experience with Classical Conversations; however, to call it a curriculum would not capture the essence of what Classical Conversations (CC) is about. To use their own description, CC is a mission, a model, and a method. The mission is to know God and make Him known. As a model, CC combines classical education and a Christian worldview. As a method, CC creates communities that support parents in implementing curriculum in their own homes, i.e. parents supporting other parents. Therefore, the curriculum I discuss is intended to be used within a CC community in order to reap the benefits of the curriculum and the program to their fullest. CC has program and curriculum offerings for children aged pre-kindergarten to high school. Communities also work together to provide childcare for younger siblings.
(. . .)
Classical Acts and Facts History Cards: all four sets: Ancient, Medieval, New World, and Modern World ($22 per set). These cards are gorgeous! There are 172 total cards. The plan is to focus on seven historical event cards each of 23 weeks. The remaining 11 cards list the U.S. presidents. The front of the card contains a beautiful picture of artwork or a photograph to help connect the event to be remembered with the image. Also on the front is the title of the card/event, a date reference, and one of seven symbols to represent an historical age. The back of the card contains the title and date again with some detailed information about the historical event. Children memorize all 161 events during every year's cycle. There are also a timeline running vertically up the left margin with an indication of where the card's event fits in history, a small world map, and a number in the upper right corner to help keep the cards in order. All the kids I have seen are delighted with these cards. I keep the seven cards we are studying each week out on a large presentation board. The others store nicely in a 5" by 8" plastic card file box.
Read the rest of the thorough review here.
Email Heather with your name, mailing address, and phone number for contact purposes, with the subject line, "Classical Conversations" for a chance to win* the full set of history cards for your homeschool!