Archive for the ‘Living Math’ Category

Sunshine boy(4) was struggling with his pencil today. He kept changing his mind about what direction some of the numbers went in. He wanted to list his numbers from 1-10 but that darned pencil was giving him trouble.


We threw away the pencil…into the pencil box…


whipped out the GREEN pipe cleaners!

I took out a green writing board I had purchased years ago from one of the homeschool “schools” ..maybe Our Lady of Victory… This board has lines for writing that allow the chalk to create 2″ high letters.

With the pipecleaners in hand, we shaped each number from 1-9 cutting where necessary. (a nail clipper is the best tool for that sticky job) We made them on the green board so that we could match the top, medial and bottom lines. (using a fingernail to bend the pipecleaner in the appropriate places) We then lined up our finished projects on the board and traced them one at a time with our fingers and then did the Handwriting Without Tears method of “Wet, Dry, Try”

“You will write the first model of the letter using a very small piece of chalk. Use the same language you used when building the letters on the mat as you show your child how the letter is formed on the slate. Your child will then “wet” over it with the small sponge, then trace over it again with a wet index finger. You then have your child “dry” the letter with a small piece of paper towel by tracing over it in the same stroke order that you wrote. Then the child “tries” to write the letter independently. “

(BTW Handwriting Without Tears has some other great hints and tricks for learning letters and numbers on the same page)

We “played” at that for awhile then whipped out…

the poker chips!

Sunshine boy lined up the numbers across the table leaving ample room between each one. We then placed the appropriate number of poker chips under each number pairing them in twos with the odd numbers being left alone in the leftmost position without a “partner”. He calls this the even-odd game.

Then he stacked up the groups of chips and placed the pipecleaner number atop each stack that represented that amount. We then lined up the stacks like stairs and the numbers took turns walking up and down the stack counting forwards and backwards till they all had their turns…(complete with sound effects of course)… and giggled when there were ZERO stairs to climb!

I loooove the way he smiles after this kind of “play”. Learning without frustration leaves him with such peace and a really wonderful smile that would make your heart melt.

I plan on making a home made batch of play dough next week so we can rope more letters and numbers into shape. When I get the courage up that is. Learning is a messy business! ;o)

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Playing with Math

I often use the Miquon Math program to supplement what we are learning.   I came across this blog that gives some hints and tips for using it more easily.  This blog also has some other links and hints for playing with other math concepts.  I think I will be spending some time here today… HTH!

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Life here at the never ending story is wonderfully full and loud, if not hard to explain.  My dh once asked me what I did all day.  I just looked at him and realized that I had been holding my breath. 
I said…"I don’t know!" 
He said, "Why don’t you try to write it down?" 
to which I replied ..
"Honey, if I did that, I wouldn’t be able to get the rest of whatever it is that I do done!"  So once in a great while I do try to write and this is what I came up with for today….

  • First and foremost… we begin our day with morning prayer and with everyone’s attention completely focussed on their wonderful mother  ( I can dream, can’t I?  After all the day looks so much better at its conclusion when their sweet heads are resting on their pillows and the house shudders in real quiet) …oops sorry -end of dream sequence-… we try to hit at least one "shared" subject (one that they all do together)


  • Geography  Book of Marvels read about Yucatan Peninsula and had large motor boy (8) point out everything we learned so far on the world map
  • American History  From Sea to Shining Sea  read St Brendan’s Voyage to 6yo dd and 8yo ds and made rabbit trail about Whales..older kids reviewed what we have learned so far this year (started in January and reviewing the first 7 chapters)
  • Bible History/ Poetry   Robert Hugh Benson Old Testament Rhymes divided up the 25 pages to be memorized by 5 dc (13,13,11,8,6) at our homeschool group’s poetry day…one month to prepare!  Great review of Salvation History for the young’uns ;o)
  • Math   Math U See everyone did at least 3 pages in his/her level except one ds awaiting new book so he "played math" with the 4yo
  • Catechism Stories  Catechism in Examples (3 Theological Virtues 4 Cardinal Virtues) read during dinner…when I have their full attention and relative quiet
  • Religion  Women in the Bible (Image of God 6) Esther, Suzannah, Hannah, Mary read aloud and discussed
  • Notebooking   Made copies of Women in the Bible booklets (Dinah Zike OT supplement)to be filled tomorrow
  • Mary Notebook  Add this pic to the little one’s Mary Notebook
  • Math in the Kitchen...make this Scone Recipe adding in leftover mini chips and use 1/3 of a cup to measure with and btw..double the recipe ;o)
  • Spelling   Spelling time
  • Phonics Study Dog
  • Fine Art National Gallery of Art Video Christmas Story in art (30 min) and Adoration of the Magi (7min) Read more here…available to homeschoolers all you pay is return postage!
  • Copywork  Each child chose their own work…and is amazed at how much we are amassing at this point!
  • Dictation …didn’t happen.  I couldn’t round up all the usual suspects towards the end of "school time"  The day was too bright and beautiful…this is real life folks ;o)  Dictation will be second thing tomorrow.
  • Manners/Prayers  Read How to Behave and Why before bed and say night prayers and rosary

Now of course you need to know, I slept in late, I had to round up the kids from the yard twice (once because the mailman wanted to throw a few balls to my son…gotta love our mailman LOL), changed the toddler’s diaper no less than 5 times and dressed her about 11 times, and at the high point of the action, my ds(4) wanted to know what grave (grade) he was in …making sure my sense of humor was still alive and well.  ;o)

And of course there are many many books read by all during the day.  The older ones read to the younger ones and they also have some book in their hand for themselves during their free time…and all the books are definitely school-worthy. 

There is so much learning that goes on that naturally fits in with the day….natural connections  …Like science…we didn’t get to it (technically) but we did.  At bedtime there was rain and thunder and lightning.   My 2yo dd thought that someone was outside taking a picture, so this went into a completely natural conversation about thunder and lightning and its benefits.  Bath time is full of phonics sound games and childhood songs and poems and children’s religious songs.  During the school day there is an ebb and flow of activity….lulls between subjects  are always filled with "extras"  The children are always picking up books and going to pre-approved sites on the net that exercise logical thinking skills and creative learning.  Even an interesting fine art picture can lead to an interesting discussion about the use of color or a flurry of activity to learn more about the artist’s life or his other paintings…If I listed them all, it would take me all night! 

And at the end of the day, the yard got cleaned up, the little ones were bathed,  and most of the dishes were done, the diapers are soaking, underneath the math manipulatives the floor is clean  and I just drank a great cup of chamomile tea….and my life is one run-on sentence.

PHEW!  I am tired.  The good kind.

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Hands-on work today:

Astronomy Science! ….featuring Mercury!
Using this as our spine…lesson 3
We read this
We used this p 64-65
and we notebooked using these Astronomy pages
We added the first few pages of this that have great Astronomy pages for our notebooks!  Adding a Solar System detective page for Mercury (p 19)

using Download clip_art_mercury.doc

(images imported to a Word document) we cut out and put in a zip-loc sandwich baggie and decorated the margins  and frames of our notebook pages
….the littlies narrated to me…bigguns just jotted their own work down.  The little ones love to narrate to me and use the clip art to illustrate what they just told me.  To them, it is the equivalent of using stickers…just a touch messier….we use a lid with a little school glue in it and a q-tip.  I keep repeating…"just a dot"…"just a dot!"

We start our day with :

Saint of the Day
Character Building Story
Baltimore Catechism Questions …later during the week we illustrate the lesson using stick figure drawings much like those found in Christoper’s Talks to Catholic Children(which worked beautifully last year) or the oop Chalk Talks that were later added to the Faith and Life Religion books…much like what our beloved Helen does!

For the 6 and 7yo…
Concentration on Math today:

  • Played with Math 1 Tackle Box(I assembled a few years ago)..played with odd and even and the teens and tens boards..just for fun!
  • Played with numbers on this abacus…(We made the home made version a few years ago and they are still holding up…everyone has their own colors with pony beads, popsicle sticks and skewers and small binder clips)

100 Ez Lessons (7 yo ds made a pic about the funny story he read at the end of the lesson…great for reading comprehension and an answer to "and what did you just read" questions.
and made a "book" from CHC’s Little Stories for Little Folks
and Spelling time

The older ones:
did copy work
read about knights and castles
and more castles
and they are making plans for a creative notebooking project using this. 
Read Aloud: The Sword of Clontarf

and worked in their Developmental Math books and played Timez Attack
(my #2dd with digital and visual digit span issues is working her way through TouchMath and listening to the Concentration and Thinking Cd’s as she does her artwork.)

Not bad for a mucky Monday.  Would like to do more, but we have to leave the rest for tomorrow.  Mondays are not my personal fav’s because we are still strung out from visiting over the weekend.  We will often have a lighter schedule on those days. 

We have company coming today and I got the living room and the dining room cleaned because I held out a plater of chocolate chip cookies before them…then told them to accomplish a certain amount of exercise and chores for each one (these cookies were made cutting back the sweetener and substituting some of it it with maple syrup  and using whole grain flour so we didn’t totally trash our diets 😉  I first offered them an organic carrot while I told them the "rules".  I "made" them do jumping jacks and told them to pick up 10 things…and then they did enough to purchase one cookie.  For the next cookie, it was more jumping jacks and 20 items…etc.  It helps to make the cookies small ;o)

So we are trying to "do school", clean the house, and cook for company coming for dinner….phew!

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I was reading the boards at 4 Real today and came across the question of Math Journaling posed by Dawn of by Sun and Candlelight….once again it was a post that I was already working on, so I polished it up a bit and I will share my answer here.  I hope it is of some use to you and that you will share your thoughts and ideas on it too!!

Math_journal_2We have gotten Math Journals from Eta Cuisenaire  for the kids so they would actually USE them…I tried graph paper and 1/2 lined with a space for drawing…but mostly they just fell apart. Anyone could probably do this very well, but I needed something bound so….when I purchased these  they were always stacked with the school stuff and it was something ‘official’ in their eyes…worked like a charm. 

What did we use these for?
We would use them for any and all kinds of math explorations! 
We used a lot of LIVING MATH books and Marilyn Burns books.  There are more ideas here.

They would often record math explorations out of those books or use them as a springboard into real life.

….like graphing how many snap-cubes (or match box cars) long is the baby and each family member and graphing the results

….using Venn diagrams to compare the samples of those who like vanilla those that like chocolate and those who like both or neither kind of ice cream…(BTW ice cream is a great motivator…haha)

Once my ds measured the perimeter of our house and graphed his results on graph paper and made a proposal for how much bigger his room could be taking into account the local building codes…if it sounds complicated, it isn’t.   ~especially when it was something that grasped his immagination and he decided to run with it…journal in tow. 

His younger brother decided to measure out with a long measureing tape how long his favorite whale was based on our house size and included that into his drawing…"way cool!" says mom!

Then….share the results with dad when he gets home…encourage dad to have deep discussions as to how information can change based upon different elements changing…etc…ask "I wonder what would happen if…" questions!

Get the idea?…it is this and much more…it is for having FUN!  Find what they are interested in and go with it and make it more of a Math Adventure…Have them record new math terms, different kinds of charts and graphs,  problem-solving tips, and math jokes too!

This is a clever way of getting them to think deeper about what is in front of them.

Another thought that I am working on is for my math-minded son, young Edison (10).   I am going to have him write his own math adventure that can be elaborated upon in his journal and then have him work on the problems with his brothers and sisters in theirs…a case of one child enlightening another on a new case..a new adventure that just begs to be solved…stay tuned for the results!!

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Living Math.

Hands- on math is always a big hit here!  Maria Montessori once said in the Absorbent Mind:

"We give opportunities for exploration and discovery
which “open fields full of interest.”
“To explore, one needs to be filled with intellectual interests,
and these it is our business to give.”

We have been using Living math this year and loving it!  It is so helpful for the children to know where math started and what people actually DO with it!  We set the stage by having a basket of books on our shelf that always has living math books in it for the kids to explore! Armed with their exploration journal they write down what interests them wether it is something from a book or some real-life math discovery…like measuring baby sister and various family members with snap cubes and drawing a graph to record the results…not bad-eh?

Ck out the living math books and programs at Julie’s site:
Living Math

Here is something unique I wanted to share with you!
Visual Geometry Dictionary
Geometry Stories

Here is an explanation of
Montessori Math

More Montessori Math

Montessori Lessons

Montessori  Albums

and you can make your own math manipulatives here:
jmj Publishing math

practice math skills here:
Our Montessori online games
on line math activities

"This system in which a child is constantly moving objects with his hands and actively exercising his senses, also takes into account a child’s special aptitude for mathematics. When they leave the materials, the children very easily reach the point where they wish to write out the operation. They thus carry out an abstract mental operation and acquire a kind of natural and spontaneous inclination for mental calculations." Maria Montessori – The Discovery of the Child, ch.19. Further Development in Arithmetic.


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