Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Math Workbox: Estimation

I'm creating a series of 3x5" math task cards. I print them on cardstock and organize them in a recipe holder to rotate through our Math Workbox.

Today, I begin with cards on Estimation, using Bruce Goldstone's awesome books, Great Estimations and Greater Estimations. (Please see my book reviews and read an email from the author.)

I made 3 task cards that I will rotate through a Math Box along with Goldstone's books. In one activity, for example, the Math Box will include a baggie of 1/2 cup of popcorn. My student will count out 10 kernels, then 100 kernels, and use that information to estimate the total number of kernels, modeled after the visuals in Goldstone's books. Another task card includes a link to the author's website where students may estimate using the "Estimatron."


The cards are available in pdf format as a free download. Grab your own and print them on cardstock. Please enjoy the activity and leave me a comment to let me know what you think!

P.S. I'm sorry the tea towel (right) is wrinkled. I don't take time to iron. I take time to create math activities! ;)


I invite you to link to a Workbox post on math. Please link to posts that emphasize Living Books, games, and hands-on activities as opposed to worksheets and drills.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Math Boxes

Today I begin a new series of posts on Math Boxes. The lessons will highlight Living Books, games, and hands-on activities that would be great for any school setting, but are especially good for Workboxes.

When I post, I will often invite others to link to Workbox posts on math. I encourage bloggers to link to posts that emphasize children's books/Living Books, games, and hands-on activities as opposed to worksheets and drills.

Let the fun begin!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Kid-Scheduled Workboxes

As I mentioned, I never thought I'd try workboxes. And *try* is still a key word here. I'm going to try them.

Why workboxes?

*I am organizationally challenged. I hope this will encourage me (and my children) to keep things in their place and have things ready for each new school day. No excuses.

*With several workbox tweaks (described below), I want to foster my children's independence.

*My preschooler. At four, he desperately wants to "do school." He has a couple boxes in which I'll stash some hands-on activities and books.

*I have a LOT of school materials around here; I'm hoping this encourages me to use some that I've forgotten about.

Here's my plan...

I want my son to continue to schedule his day. I love the way this gives him a sense of responsibility. It's also beneficial for our parent-teacher-child-student relationship. *I* am not telling him what to do. The schedule--which he created--is telling him what to do. Don't get me wrong. I have no problem telling my children what to do (or I wouldn't have had FIVE); however, I do think that one of the challenges in homeschooling is the ever increasing amount of directives coming from adult to child. For homeschoolers it's not just parent-child directives, but also teacher-student.

I prepared* the schedule cards for this year as follows. (*I prefer to have the child create the cards, but in this instance I needed to figure things out as I worked. Tweaking, always tweaking.)

When my son wakes up in the morning, the chart will look like the one to the left. The orange/yellow cards indicate landmarks that I schedule: breakfast, lunch, rest time, outside play time, my exercise time, etc.


His first job in the morning will be to schedule his day using blue subject cards. Each card has a number in the lower right corner indicating approximately how many minutes of school time need to be reserved. I will set out the cards needed that day; each card will have a corresponding workbox, already filled and ready to go.

Blue cards include subjects:
  • science 
  • math calendar
  • reader/history (Sonlight Core 3)
  • journal
  • art
  • math 
  • writing workshop
  • violin
  • foreign language
  • Bible (Sonlight Core 3)
  • read aloud/history (Sonlight Core 3)
  • history (Sonlight Core 3)
  • cursive writing
  • "extra" (catch-all box)
And a few daily jobs:
  • pick up house
  • pick up room
(Remember, the subjects aren't all done every day. I will give him the cards he needs each day.)

Each subject card has a labeled box. (Or at least the ones that use school materials do. Things like "violin" are just part of the schedule and not boxed. I don't have violin-sized boxes! ;)

A few boxes are double labeled like the one at left; we will do art and science on an alternate schedule. A few boxes have an additional sticker. The MOMMY sticker.  This sticker indicates how many minutes Mommy needs to help. For a few subjects, it's the entire time. For most, it's a smaller length of time, designed to introduce a subject (teacher/student), followed by some time to do some independent practice work (student).

Each box includes all materials needed to complete the task. In the "read aloud" (Core 3) box at right, for example, the box contains the book as well as the iTouch containing the CD with the poems read aloud.

When he finishes a subject, he empties the box into a large "I'm done" box and turns over the related blue card.

No moving discs or worrying about velcro. And he still will set his own schedule. The biggest benefit to me is that I am accountable for having his entire school day ready to go the night before. As I told a friend, it's your basic "lay out your clothes the night before" routine. Just for school.

I never was good about laying my clothes out the night before. Hope I can do this. Although we're on Sonlight Core 3, week 9, and have been doing it all summer, we "officially" start school on September 7th. I'll report on my workbox progress then.

Two of my focus boxes on this blog will be preschool math and living math books/related activities. Check back!

See also: Kids, Homeschool, and Schedules

Math Book Winner

I used random.org to pick a winner of the Living Math Book giveaway. The winner is #22, Brandi! Congratulations and thanks to all who entered.

Workboxes for the Organizationally Challenged

If you're a homeschooler, you've noticed the buzz about "workboxes."  Dead set against doing them (because I couldn't imagine EVER being organized enough to pull it off), I still seemed to keep migrating back to blogs showing photos of the system. Working. Effectively. Even with hopeless organizationally challenge folks like me.

So I'm trying it.

I'll explain my system soon. It's quite different from the velcro tag concept that others are using. I figured out that was too much work last night around 11pm. AFTER I'd already hand-cut and covered 24 number buttons with contact paper. I sat there staring at strips of velcro, wondering how I'd get them to stay on. I went to my email and found that my membership in a workbox forum has been approved. Upon visiting the site, the first post I read: "My velcro won't stay on!!!"

I bailed the velcro ship.

In upcoming weeks, my readers will probably be most interested in two of my workboxes:
  • Preschool Math
  • K-5 Math--with children's books, games, activities
More to come. Soon. After I find my way out from under all this velcro.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Math App Saturday (#7 Lemonade Tycoon)

Saturday series on using educational apps for iTouch/iPhone/iPad continues with a buying/selling game.

Lemonade Tycoon
Buy supplies, consider the weather, sell lemonade. This is one of my kids' favorite apps. One son played it constantly in our hotel room while on an adoption trip to China.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Make Your Own Math Printouts (Dynamic Paper, NCTM)

This is so cool!

If you visit NCTM's Illuminations, you'll find Dynamic Paper. Description from the site:
Need a pentagonal pyramid that's six inches tall? Or a number line that goes from ‑18 to 32 by 5's? Or a set of pattern blocks where all shapes have one-inch sides? You can create all those things and more with the Dynamic Paper tool. Place the images you want, then export it as a PDF activity sheet for your students or as a JPEG image for use in other applications or on the web.
 Basically, you can make a myriad of handouts: nets, graph paper, number lines, number grids, tessellations, shapes, and spinners. All your invention, by using their tools. Very, very cool. Check it out!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pre/Post Columbus: Play Dough Maps

We're doing a little review on some of the explorers before we begin talking about European settlement in North America. Today, LilDude made maps with play dough to show what Europeans knew about the world, pre & post Columbus' voyages.

Here's pre-Columbus:


Post-Columbus:
*note the Nina, Pinta & Santa Maria

After he labeled continents and oceans, the big kids came to admire his work. Anakin (14) rearranged all the labels while LilDude hid his eyes. All labels were rapidly returned to the correct places.



I don't know where we originally got it, but my kids have all learned the continents with this song. (Tune sounds like "I'm a Little Teapot" at the beginning. Maybe I made the rest up?):

There are 7 continents in the world.
North America, South America,
Europe, Asia, Africa.
Don't forget Australia.
Don't forget Antarctica.
Seven continents in the world,
that is what they are.
North America, South America,
Europe, Asia, Africa.
Don't forget Australia.
Don't forget Antarctica.

They don't forget the continents! ;)

While LilDude was working on continents, GG (4) was working on his letters. He is very proud of this play dough "A."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Book Review: Patterns in Peru

LilDude (8) received Patterns in Peru for his birthday. It was a perfect fit in so many ways.

We'd recently done a series of lessons on patterns in math. We had a lot of fun reading Pattern Bugs, searching for patterns in the book, and making our own patterns. Patterns in Peru became the perfect follow-up.

In the story, two children, Matt and Bibi, accompany their parents to Peru to "study an ancient woven tunic that is connected to the mysterious Lost City of Quwi." Through a series of mishaps, the children end up lost and must follow the patterns on the tunic in order to find the ancient city. They discuss what they know about patterns, explore a variety, and eventually make a T-chart to record a final growing pattern. For us, it was a great review of what we'd recently been learning about patterns.

The book's setting clinched it for us. In Sonlight Core 3, we've been studying Ancient Incans. (See our Core 3 activities.) In one illustration the children have to cross a rope bridge. Immediately, LilDude says, "That's like the bridge in Secret of the Andes!" (a Core 3 read aloud) The curriculum integration could not have been more perfect.

Thanks, Cindy Neuschwander, for another fabulous math tale!

Other books in the Matt and Bibi series include Mummy Math: An Adventure in Geometry and Pastry School in Paris: An Adventure in Capacity. We love Mummy Math and Patterns in Peru. Upon receiving Patterns in Peru, my son asked if there were any more Matt/Bibi books. When he learned about Pastry School in Paris, he asked for it for Christmas! ;)

P.S. This is linked up at Joyful Learner. Awesome math posts over there to check out. ;)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Not Back to School Blog Hop: A Day-in-the-Life

The "Not Back to School Blog Hop" topic for this week: A Day-in-the-Life. I'm not sure if we have typical days around here. ;) How 'bout "Days of Our Lives?"

Not Back to School Blog Hop

[Deep voice.] And these are the Days of Our Lives... [Yes, I was once a Days of Our Lives addict. When I was young. And childless. Now that my life IS a soap opera, I don't need to watch one.]

A typical summer day begins...

*The big kids try to sleep in. The little kids and the dog wake them as they run up and down the hall, screaming with glee.

*Or, on a "food preservation" day, I wake everyone early to go pick produce before it gets hot. (Not that it's been hot here this summer!) Our family picked around 180 pounds of blueberries in July and put 150 pounds in the freezer. We're now moving on to beans. Twenty, 2 quart bags, in the freezer so far. Corn starts in a week or so. The kids LOVE to help! (And I have a bridge to sell you...)

Once the big kids go back to school...

Lizzi leaves with Dad by 7am for high school. Anakin departs by 8:30am. Usually the little boys and I head to the couch for some read aloud time. Then LilDude (8) plans his day using his homeschool schedule pocket chart. He enjoys planning his own schedule. (Don't we all?) His plan indicates when he'll be working independently or with me so I can do other tasks when he's scheduled to work alone.

This year he'll be learning with:
  • Bridges math** (from The Math Learning Center) along with LOTS of Living Math books.
  • Sonlight Core 3 history (with many hands-on activities...) 
  • Writing Workshop--I'm originally a high school/middle school English/language arts teacher. Serious. How the whole "elementary school math specialist" thing came about is one big mystery. So I'm reverting to my roots and doing some writing workshop style lessons with him.
  • Art--We'll return to Roger Kukes' Drawing in the Classroom.
  • Science--Determined to use the bazillion materials I have on the shelf, I think we'll start with some AIMS books.
  • Music--Violin lessons continue. 
  • P.E.--I try to incorporate mandatory time outside. :) Outside play time is so crucial to child development. 
  • Foreign Language--I'm conflicted. I taught the older kids Spanish. But GG came to us fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese. Despite our efforts to retain it, he's lost it already. I don't know whether to try to focus on that, teach Spanish, or work on the language from LilDude's birth country, Korea. 

**Math Classes--LilDude will join me in a homeschool math class one morning/week. On these days, GG (age 4) will do preschool play with his friend and another mom while I teach. This year we'll begin with a class on Place Value Structures, using base 5 to explore what we know about place value. Each class will begin with a living book and continue with lessons using hands-on manipulatives, games, and some interactive calendar activities. [Class blog entries begin in Sept!]

On the rare days that I work outside the home, my students go to Nana where she gifts them with a lifetime of elementary school teaching experience. Her creative ideas are endless!

When LilDude's school schedule ends, it's time for lots and lots of play. Well, actually, his schedule is filled with play time. But that's what our homeschool life is all about!

[Deep voice.] And so concludes the Days of Our Lives...

So what does a day in your life look like? Join the blog hop! ;)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fall Curriculum Clean Out: Living Math Book Giveaway

Photobucket

My Living Math bookshelf could use a little lightening. Here's one for a giveaway:


Pigs in the Corner, hardcover, ex-library in good condition.

Leave a comment with the title of your FAVORITE LIVING MATH BOOK. If you're not sure what a "living math book" is, you'll find some ideas here. I'll choose a winner at random on Sunday the 29th. Please leave a way to reach you or I'll need to pick an alternate winner. Sorry, but only U.S. shipping. Thanks for visiting! :) And thanks to Joyful Learner for alerting me to the Curriculum Clean-Out!

***It's Sunday, August 29, and the Giveaway is now closed. Thanks for entering. Winner is #22, Brandi! 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Math App Saturday (#6 Clock Skills)

Saturday series on using educational apps for iTouch/iPhone/iPad continues with a game for clock skills practice. Free app.

Clockmaster
"Clockmaster is a game to help children make the connection between hours and minutes and to help them become fluent in both reading and setting time on digital and analog clocks."

Giveaway Scout

I'm using Giveaway Scout to promote any future giveaways. From the site:

Giveaway Scout is a giveaway search engine. Our users subscribe to receive updates on the latest giveaways on the web.

Friday, August 20, 2010

New Children's Class for September

For those who are local, I will be offering a new class in September, appropriate for ages 8-10 (approximately). We will be studying "Place Value Structures." The curriculum and course description are taken from Bridges in Mathematics.

Course Description: Most [8-10 year old] students "have already become familiar with the numbers, models, and words used in our base ten number system. As a result, students are often able to mask their lack of comprehension by using the correct labels without understanding their meaning. For instance, a student may know that the number 143 is read as "one hundred forty-three" without necessarily comprehending that in our base ten system, 143 means 1 group of one hundred, 4 groups of ten, and 3 ones.

By using [base 5], we level the playing field so that students with varying levels of place value understanding can learn together. Covering the same place value concepts in the familiar language of base ten would not challenge or engage a highly capable child in the way a different counting system does. In this new arena, all students can deepen their conceptual and procedural knowledge of number systems." (from Bridges in Mathematics)

We will also do some calendar grid workouts that set the foundation for multiplication using array models.

Class sessions use hands-on manipulatives, visual models, and games.

When:
September 9,16, 23, 30.
9-11 am

Where:
If you are local and have interest in participating, please drop me an email for more information. :)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Math App Saturday (#5, Puzzles & Problem Solving, Part 2)

Saturday series on using educational apps for iTouch/iPhone/iPad continues with Part 2 on games related to puzzles and problem solving. Most are particularly good for spatial awareness and encourage players to look for patterns, a key "ingredient" to building mathematical thinking skills. At posting, all the games are FREE...


reMovem
Pop bubbles to try to link as many bubbles of the same color as possible.


Dots Free
Electronic version of the traditional paper/pencil "dots" game.

Unblock Me
Similar to the game, Rush Hour, the object is to find a way to slide a designated block out of a puzzle. The free version contains hundreds of puzzles.


Last week: "Puzzles & Problem Solving, part 1"

P.S. I'm in the midst of math workshop season, hence the slowdown in posts. I'll be back in full-swing, come September. I look forward to share more teaching ideas then! Join me! :)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Math App Saturday (#4, Puzzles & Problem Solving, part 1)

Saturday series on using educational apps for iTouch/iPhone/iPad continues with several traditional puzzle/problem solving strategy games. Most are particularly good for spatial awareness and encourage players to look for patterns, a key "ingredient" to building mathematical thinking skills. At posting, all the games are FREE...


Touch4
Electronic version of the classic "Connect 4" game.


Peg Jump
Electronic version of the classic wooden board and peg puzzle game.
 
Tournament Reversi

Super easy to learn but challenging to master. (If this is easy for you, please don't tell me!) Object is to capture the most game tokens by the end of the game. I mentioned this in a post on the board game, Othello, as it's an electronic version.


Return next Saturday for "Puzzles & Problem Solving, part 2."

Friday, August 6, 2010

Email from Author Bruce Goldstone (Great Estimations)

This week I wrote about Bruce Goldstone's books, Great Estimations and Greater Estimations. I received a very nice email from him. With his permission, I'm sharing some excerpts. I think his readers would enjoy knowing more about the author. From Bruce:

"I really had a great time putting together the Great Estimation books. People always look surprised when I tell them that they are my most personal books, because they tend to equate math with cold, hard computation, like memorizing the multiplication tables or dividing fractions. But for me, numbers have always been just as entertaining and creative as letters and words. I've been lucky to find a way to share my perspective with others.

And thanks for finding a connection between my work and Marilyn Burns. She's certainly been an inspiration to me (and thousands of others!).

I'm working on a website redesign which should be ready in a month or so. The Estimatron will still be there, but I should be able to update it a bit more easily.

My next book was just released—it's about the 100th Day of School celebrations that have become so popular. It's the first book for which I took the photos myself (for the estimations books, I did all of the photo set-up, but hired a photographer to take the actual pics.)

As for the setting up, yes, it definitely helps to be patient. I bring my bags of stuff into the studio with a general plan, but sometimes things go off in strange directions. For example, the spiders and flies in Greater Estimations. I had one plan in mind, but was not at all happy with it, so I tried another, and that didn't "fly" either. Finally, I came up with the flies-in-a-web pattern that made it into the book. I think my theater background comes into play when I'm setting up photos—there's definitely a good deal of improv involved in getting the right shot."
Thanks, Bruce, for such a fascinating email...and for such great books! :)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Blog Hop '10

Welcome to my blog!!! (And thank you to Pensieve for hosting this year's blog hop!)

I am a wife, mother of five (ages 4-20, in public, private and homeschool!), and a curriculum consultant. I adore reading, writing, teaching and learning about math. When all those things don’t otherwise occupy me, I also enjoy jogging, gardening and listening to classical music.

Oh,...and I enjoy BLOGGING!!!!

I love to share teaching and learning ideas about math, especially for the K-6 set. Hope you can join me here! ;)

P.S. Check back each Saturday for a series on FREE, FUN! educational apps for the iPhone/iTouch/iPad.  (They aren't my apps, btw! I just find 'em and post 'em!) :)

Book Review: Great Estimations (teaching estimation)


I am in love.

With a book.

Two, actually.

(It really did get to be a bit ridiculous...  Yesterday in my math/lit class, when I introduced a new book I frequently began with, "I LOVE this book!" They finally laughed. Cause they knew it was true!)

Anyway, I love the Bruce Goldstone books on estimating--
Great Estimations and Greater Estimations. They are sorta like the "I Spy" books on steroids. The illustrations are bright, vibrant, colorful and include photos of everything from jellybeans to penguins to ducks. (On his website, Goldstone apologizes for the prolific use of ducks, saying, "Sorry about all the ducks. I bought 96 dozen* of these guys for Greater Estimations, so now I feel like I have to use them.) *My bold...can you imagine 96 dozen plastic ducks????

In Great Estimations, Goldstone teaches the reader to estimate, first by training the eye to see groups of objects (10, 100, 1000.) Later, you see sets of 10, then 100 objects, and are asked to estimate how many of the objects are pictured on an adjacent page. It's really quite clever.  He then demonstrates how to count the items in a small portion of a photo (like 1/100th), using that knowledge to determine the amount on the entire picture.

Greater Estimations begins in the same way, but extends learning by teaching new estimation strategies such as clump counting and box and count. Toward the end of the book, Goldstone suggests ways to estimate length, height, weight, size, and capacity.

My students--both children and adults--enjoy trying their skills on The Estimatron. (Check back for the link--looks like his website is currently under construction.) Located on Goldstone's website, this game allows you to estimate computer-generated groups of shapes up to 100, 500, and 1000.

If you introduce the books or game to your children, reinforce the idea that estimation is about making a good guess. It is not about getting an exact answer. When using the estimatron, even adults sometimes insist that they want to know if they got the "right answer."

In Marilyn Burns' book, Math, Facing An American Phobia (excellent read!), she stresses the importance of both mental math and estimation, two subjects that are rarely taught in "math class." Thankfully, books like Goldstone's can bring a new, fun, awareness to an often neglected topic.

For your entertainment, here's a bit of estimation trivia that one of my (adult) students shared yesterday. She said, "Estimate: how many Starbucks are found in the Seattle City limits?" [Her answer is at the bottom of the post.**]


[For additional lesson ideas, Google "estimation lesson plans." I estimate you'll come up with about 15,000,000 hits!]





**Answer: 432

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Linking Math and Literature Class-update

Great class! So excited about the possibilities for using literature in the context of math. We considered the myriad of reasons (& ways!) to link the two, explored many lessons linking literature & math (not to mention poetry, drama, art...), and evaluated books for their quality/usability. It was rather fascinating to ponder the immense difference in the quality of books. Some are so incredibly dydactic...textual and/or mathematical drivel, really...or, worse, mathematically inaccurate. (Does that realization make me a book snob?) Others...AHHHH, the OTHERS...  They excite, ignite and spur the reader on to higher levels of mathematical thinking and learning.

Sigh.

Post-class high.

Accompanied by lower back pain.

I counted. 251 books were used in this class.

251 books!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My back proves it. ;)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Millions of Math Books to Measure...



I set up the books for my class. Here are photos of *some* (seriously!) of the books. (A master list is here, btw.)

Several people asked me where they all came from. Uh,...my shelves. (About 80%, that is.) How did you end up with so many? Uh,...I'm obsessed!!??!!

I could be obsessed with far worse things, right??? :)



I did run into a problem.



Where do I put the STUDENTS?????






Maybe they can just stand for class??

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Bustin' With Excitement! (Math and Literature Class)

This is the week I've been waiting for all summer! I finally get to teach my new class, "Linking Math and Literature." It's hard to contain the enthusiasm! (Although I'm a little concerned about what it will mean to haul 100-200+ books...pretty much everything on my "Living Books Math List," plus some. Thankfully, my 14yo is going along to help.)

While this class is being offered to classroom teachers, it would also be wonderful for homeschooling teachers. Anyone interested? I'm contemplating setting up an on-line class. Please email me at love 2 teach 2 day @ gmail dot com (remove spaces and put the dot in) if you're interested. I won't spam you, but I'm interested in getting some feedback on class interest. Also, if you can recommend an on-line class venue, I'm all ears...

Thanks, much! Off to haul tubs of books... ;)
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