Math At Play Blog Carnival #7 – Onomatopoeia

May 15, 2009

Welcome to the 7th edition of Math Teachers at Play.

I thought I’d stir a little language into our math carnival this time with a few Onomatopoeias – a big word I thought was pretty fun in grade school.  (I did have to look up how to spell it, though)

Onomatopoeias are words that sound like their meaning.  Just think, ‘Batman fighting a villian’ words:  Bam, Pop, Blast!

And I was inspired a bit by Pat Ballew’s obvious fascination with math words in his article: Left Angles and Language Reversals posted at Pat’sBlog.  “Ahh, the hazards of Geometry. What it is depends on WHERE you are.”

Snip and Learn


Photo by LollyKnit

Denise presents Quilt: What Can You Do with This? posted at Let’s play math!, saying, “How could you use this image as a springboard to doing math? What questions would you ask? What concepts would you try to get across? What would you follow it with? Please comment!”

Devorah writes about Math and Crafts on SquidKnits when her children scramble through some math in designing play costumes and using graph paper for sweater patterns.

Mumble and Solve


Jason Dyer presents Plat Diviseur (Fractions on a plate) posted at The Number Warrior. He says, “Simple questions about a French plate lead to a complex lesson.”

Solve the latest Monday Math Madness by Daniel at BlinkDagger and win a prize.

Clap for Ideas


Zac give tips on How to Understand Math Formulas posted at SquareCircleZ.

Maria gives some tips on teaching long division to kids with Dyslexia, posted at Homeschool Math Blog.

My kids have been enjoying the free version of Timez Attack, a fun, arcade-styled game to review multiplication facts.

Buzzing Brain


My bees in a hive I built myself 🙂

Vlorbik on Math Ed presents Buy Conditionally posted at Community College Calculus

John Cook presents Connecting Fibonacci and geometric sequences — The Endeavour posted at The Endeavour.

Sam Shah presents My Exponential Function Unit posted at Continuous Everywhere but Differentiable Nowhere.  He asks his kids if they would rather have a million dollars every day in the month, or $1 the first day, $2 the second, $4 the third, etc.  Read his article to find the answer.

SK19 starts a series explaining square roots on SK19Math.

Crack the books


Photo by kennymatic

Meaghan Montrose presents Effective Learning Strategies and Study Skills Part 3 posted at TutorFi.

Alvaro Fernandez presents 10% Students may have working memory problems: Why does it matter? posted at SharpBrains, saying, “In screening of over 3000 school-aged students, 1 in 10 was identified as having working memory difficulties. Why does this matter?”

I hope you enjoyed this edition of the Math at Play Blog Carnival!  Click here to check out past editions and submit new articles for future ones.

Keep playing math!

Posted under Blog Carnivals, Math Curriculum

Online Reading, Writing, Science Curriculum Free May 4th – 8th!

April 23, 2009


Looking for some online literacy and science curriculums?

Learning A-Z is having a free trial week in honor of Teacher Appreciation Day.  If you’re investigating literacy resources, this is a good time to check them out.

They offer the following:

  • Free all week long:  A collection of online books kids can choose, listen to, read along, or read on their own for $60/yr.  (Raz-Kids won Learning Magazine 2009 Teacher’s Choice Award for the Family)
  • Free on May 4th:  Reading A-Z: Everything you need to teach reading including phonics, leveled readers, lessons, worksheets, etc. for $85/yr.
  • Free on May 5th:  Science A-Z: A K-6 science curriculum with lessons, experiments, worksheets, etc. for $60/yr.
  • Free on May 6th:  Writing A-Z: Writing resources including research packets, mini-books, story cards, writing prompts, lessons, etc. for $30/yr.
  • Free on May 7th:  Vocabulary A-Z: After building your word list, a lesson generator will give you a week’s worth of lessons, activities, games, and a graphic organizer.  $30/yr.
  • Free on May 8th:  Reading-Tutors:  If you need tutor lesson plans, this site offers 450 complete tutoring packets with lesson plans, games, activities, etc. for $60/yr.

[tags]reading, writing, phonics, science, homeschool, printables, worksheets, lessons, learning, teachers, websites, review, free [tags]

Posted under Language Art Websites, Reading Curriculum, Science Curriculum, Writing Curriculum

Fritz and Chesster Game Review – My Kids Love Learning Chess!

April 21, 2009


My husband enjoys a chess puzzle every morning, which is the only reason the game appeals to my kids: Dad likes it so there must be something there. Then we found the Fritz and Chesster game for the PC. It uses a great story line and fun games to teach all the concepts of chess.

Gone are the days of Mom saying, “Uh, I don’t think the knight can go there,” and “Where do I set the bishops at again?”

In the day of XBox’s, DS’s, etc., how do you get kids interested in playing chess? And why would you anyway?

Because chess can:

  • Help on test scores.
  • Teach kids problem solving.
  • Thinking of all the possible moves in your head helps a lot with abstract reasoning.
  • Ups memory, language, and math skills.
  • Encourages creative thinking.
  • It’s fun, and gives the mind a workout at the same time!
  • You can do it together!

    Why Fritz and Chesster?

    It’s fun and teaches all the moves in chess: pawn moves, castling rules, promotion, mate, stalemate, everything! And then the second program, Fritz and Chesster 2, goes on to teach even more tactics and strategies.

    How it Teaches Chess with Stories and Games:

    It starts with a storyline about young Fritz who is left in charge of the kingdom while his mom and dad, the King and Queen, are away. Here’s a picture of the crew with King Black, the hardest king to defeat.


    Here’s a fun game using Sumo wrestlers facing off against each other. They teach how a king moves and the idea of ‘opposition’ as you try to force the other wrestler off the game mat. They are too fat to be right next to each other, so the rules are that they stay at least one square apart 🙂


    And how about bouncing a ball diagnally across a game board to smash toilet bowls? Yes, the potty humor is funny to kids, and meanwhile, they are learning how the bishop moves diagonally.


    What better way to learn how a rook moves in straight lines than trying to escape these spiders in the rook maze and earn a high score.


    And this horse has to jump over the fences, but in the “L”-shaped movement that a knight makes. What a great mind puzzle for kids!


    Once you learn all the rules, you get to practice by playing against opponents of various difficulties.

    At around $20, it’s cheaper than any chess lesson by an expert and with the ability to enter multiple names, all your kids can play.

    What about yourself? If you never took the time to understand how chess really works, give yourself a fun mental workout and learn it together with your child. Isn’t that half the fun of homeschooling? Learning together!

    (You can help support HomeschoolBytes by purchasing Learn to Play Chess with Fritz and Chesster from this link and/or doing any Amazon shopping from there also – Thanks!)

    I’d like to review a few more of my favorite learning software programs. Do you have any favorites? Or requests to review? Let me know in the comment section 🙂

    Posted under Homeschool Software, Math Curriculum

    Steps that Multiply – “Math Teachers at Play” Blog Carnival #4

    April 3, 2009

    I’m happy to host the 4th edition of the “Math Teachers at Play” Blog Carnival!

    Learning math starts with baby steps and as our skills multiply, we need less and less help to take bigger and bigger steps.  So, here are some great articles organized by steps. 🙂

    Baby Steps

    (We need lots of help understanding math to make any progress)


    Wendy Piersall presents Spring Math Worksheets: Counting Money posted at Animal Jr..

    And just in time for Easter and all its candy, Shauna presents candy math posted at Treasure Seekers.  She says, “While homeschooling my older daughter for kindergarten, I used some Halloween candy to help teach basic math concepts. (At this time of year, you may have extra Easter candy on hand!) The ideas can easily be adapted and expanded on depending on the student’s level.”

    Denise presents How DO We Learn Math? posted at Let’s Play Math!.  She says, “To teach effectively, I need to understand how students learn. I can think of at least 3 ways that I have learned math — what about you? How do you and your children learn?”

    Elissa presents Red Light Green Light: 9 Tips to Organizing Your Classroom posted at Miss Cal.Q.L8

    Here is a fun set of lessons teaching the ways to add to 10: Magic Number Lesson Ideas

    Childhood Steps

    (A little math help is appreciate, but we’re ready to step out a bit on our own)


     Bogusia Gierus presents Subtractions and Decomposing Numbers | Nucleus Learning posted at Nucleus Learning.

    Brent Yorgey presents Chessboard counting posted at The Math Less Traveled. See also the solutions here.

    Here’s a fun article about Math Salons, a great idea for get-togethers based around a math lesson.  What a fun idea to make math more interesting and fun:  Sue VanHattum presents Math Salons and Base Eight posted at Math Mama Writes….  She says, “This is about my math salon, and a children’s story I wrote.”

    Adventuring Steps

    (We’re off on our own, but may fall in a few puddles along the way)


    Praveen presents What’s the Chance That the Patient Has the Disease? posted at Math and Logic Play.

    If you have a child multiplying 2-digit + numbers, you’ll have to take a look at the video in this article showing how to do calculate by drawing a few lines on paper.  Fascinating!:  Marco DSouza presents Become a human calculator posted at Technology at work and play. Understanding the concepts of Trachtenberg and Vedic mathematics to solve complex math in your mind!

    Here is an interesting discussion on the philosophy of real world math:  Michael Croucher presents Martial Mathematics posted at Walking Randomly.

    Check out Maria’s video lessons – if you have some visual learners:  Maria Miller presents Division of fractions conceptually posted at Homeschool Math Blog.

    Running Steps

    (We take all we’ve learned and leap over the math hurdles we encounter.)


    Dave Marain presents Another Quadratic Function SAT Problem posted at MathNotations.  An example of the type of quadratic function (parabola) question that is currently being tested on the SATs with answers, solution and discussion.

    Pat Ballew presents Testing Understanding of Slope posted at Pat’sBlog. What a difference a subtle shift in a graph can make…

    If you are looking for an interesting field to apply math skills:  TeacherC presents Investigating Social Inequity in the Mathematics Classroom posted at An (aspiring) Educator’s Blog. The mathematics classroom is a place where students can explore inequity and social justice issues that affect their communities and the world.

    Test your math skills on these ancient Algebra problems:  Jon Ingram presents Ten 16th century word problems posted at Lessons taught; Lessons learnt. Ten algebra word problems, taken from The Whetstone of Witte, the first book on algebra ever published in English, slightly over 450 years ago.

    John D. Cook presents Springs, resistors, and harmonic means posted at The Endeavour.

    Edmund Harriss presents Surfaces 1: The ooze of the past posted at Maxwell’s Demon.

    Dave Marain presents Those “Function” Questions on the SATs – Practice, Tips posted at MathNotations. This post looks at a different kind of function question of the type that could appear on the SATs. Issues of coping with function notation and convoluted wording are addressed. The problem also deals with number theory topics appropriate for middle schoolers.

    I hope you’ve enjoyed these articles!  Feel free to post a blurb about the carnival on your blog.  Enjoy! 

    Posted under Blog Carnivals, Math Curriculum, Math Websites

    Memorize the Preamble to the Constitution.

    March 25, 2009


    We do a bit of memorizing here and there.  In the past we’ve mostly done scripture verses, poems the kids pick out, and the infamous times tables.

    Just last week, though, I thought it might be fun to look at some other famous bits of writing.  I tried to think of what I had memorized in school, and scraps of the Preamble to the Constitution came to mind – a bit jumbled, but most of the parts intact. 🙂  And then my husband started singing it and told me where he’d learned the song from:

    Did you know that Schoolhouse Rock did a little short film on the Preamble?  It’s cute and fun, and the kids pick it up pretty quickly after listening to it a few times.

    (Just make sure to add “of the United States” after “We the people” at the beginning if you want the accurate Preamble.)

    And introducing the Preamble turned into a great discussion with my 9-year-old.  By the time we talked about justice, welfare, a perfect union, liberty, and a fair bit of early American history, we had a great ‘session’ of ‘school’.  What is life about?  Why were those ideas important enough to fight for?  How are those ideas present, or not, in our lives, our homes, today?  It was great fun!  Those are the conversations with my children that I consider priceless.  

    And I just started by looking for a bit of something to memorize and stretch the brain.  Isn’t homeschooling great?

    Do you do much memorizing in your families?  If so, what types of things do you memorize, and do you have a method that you could share with us?

    Posted under History Curriculum, Memorizing Facts

    Is Chemistry Confusing You? Try Chem4Kids.

    March 13, 2009

    test_tubes_sWould you like to see a picture of crystalline iron found only in meteorites?  Check out these real word examples of elements on Chem4Kids website – a site dedicated to helping teach chemistry concepts to kids.

    Here is some of what Chem4Kids has:

    Enjoy browsing their site!

    As always, though, I think science for kids is best experienced first hand with experiments.  Do you have any good ‘kitchen table’ chemistry ideas?

    Posted under Science Curriculum, Science Websites

    Junk Mail, Collages, and Fun Art Class Projects.

    March 12, 2009


    “Doll Faces Flower”  by Brooke

    Here’s and ‘oldie but goodie’ idea next time you’re looking for a hands-on art activity: 

    Collages!  Remember how much fun we had doing those in elementary school?  Ok, we didn’t have glue sticks back then, and I remember eating the glue paste (it smelled so good!), but it’s still a great activity.  It’s fun, cheap, easy, and best of all, minimal mess.

    1. Gather up old magazines, newspapers, catalogs, preferably for things your kids are interested in like the American Girl Catalog for my daughter.
    2. Pass out paper, scissors, and a extra glue sticks.
    3. Let them cut and glue to their hearts content.
    4. You can suggest ‘Themes’ like the flower my daughter made from doll heads, making a car by finding and cutting out all the parts from different vehicles, making people, fantasy characters, even new Pokemon characters by cutting and glue various parts together.
    5. It’s also some great pattern opportunities including biggest to smallest, sorting, venn diagrams, etc.


    What are some of your favorite ‘easy’ hands-on and art activities?  I can always use more, especially when the kids are cooped up inside by the weather!

    Posted under Art Curriculum, Homeschool Crafts

    A Homeschool Mom’s Great Math Blog – Let’s Play Math

    February 25, 2009


    Denise is a homeschool mom who knows math inside and out and has put together tons of great articles, ideas, and links in her blog with the great name:  Let’s Play Math!

    Here are some of what I enjoyed on her blog:

    Thank you for all the ideas!

    Posted under Math Curriculum, Math Websites

    Looking for Answers to Your Homeschooling Nature Questions?

    February 25, 2009

    Isn’t this a great picture of an ‘E-fant’?  (my 3-year-old’s favorite animal)  Learning about animals is a favorite part of early education and teaches children science, reading, comprehension, and lots more.

    Check out Exploring Nature, a great natural science website with:

    Much of the site is free, but there is also a nominal $25/yr to access some of their member only resources.  Enjoy!

    Posted under Science Curriculum, Science Websites

    Is Math Too Hard to Learn or Teach? Try Living Math!

    February 24, 2009


    Do you think you are bad at math? Does you child think he or she is?

    Math seems to come up often in complaints about early education.

    So, if you’re looking for a new approach, you might want to try Living Math which consists of:

    • Early exposure to math as it is used in real life, instead of contrived worksheets.
    • Not requiring mastery of math on a set time table
    • Liberal use of math literature and history to make math come alive and feel more real.
    • A goal to encourage a child’s natural love of learning (even while learning math 🙂

    Julie Brennan, a homeschool mom of four, offers lots of Living Math resources on her website:


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    Posted under Math Curriculum, Math Websites