Living Math: Dominoes

My budding learners are loving using Math Lessons for a Living Education book. They enthusiastically complete the worksheets and are ready to move on to the next story. But I’m not ready for them to. I notice that while they complete the sheets correctly they have yet to grasp the concept of true number recognition. How to solve?


Yep…dominoes is a wonderfully simple game to introduce number recognition. And they LOVED it! Just match the correct number of dots with the actual numeral. Sounds simple but for a 3 and 5 year old can be quite challenging. This made a short 15 minute math lesson draw out to an hour of wonderful playtime. This is what I like to see!

Want more of a domino challenge for an older child?

Domino Math Mats (love this!)

Domino Math Worksheets

Domino Math

How was your week in math?

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Entrepreneurial Lemonade

What is a 5 year old boy to do on a hot summer afternoon after returning from the park and discovering the cooler jug of lemonade sitting on the porch?

Why make a lemonade stand, of course!

But it’s tough to find customers when your house is in the country. After watching him chase down the lawnmower man trying to entice him to buy a drink, I decided to throw him a bone. I went in and found some dresser change.

“May I please have some lemonade?”

“Sure, mom…orange lemonade or banana lemonade?”

Apparently if lemonade is yellow it can be banana lemonade even if there is no banana in it!

“Banana please.”

Here is what 25 cents gets me…

Guess inflation is going up!

His sisters took my lead and each bought a glass too…some with quarters some with pennies.

This boy is quite entrepreneurial considering he won’t do chores for money. But he has been learning math and counting and he has been watching his older brother and sister with their pursuits of earning and spending money. I think he wants some of that!

His take home pay…

53 cents…or, as he argued with his sister, $39! Well, tomato, tomahto…I’m just pleased he’s taking initiative!

And, because I couldn’t resist, a little girl drinking lemonade appropriately attired in a citrus dress handmade by grandma, passed down twice! Nothing could be sweeter to pair with a little sour!

Joining in the conversation…

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

New Math, Reform Math…and How Homeschool Moms Measure Up

As I was visiting Parenting Magazine for a completely different reason other then math, a blog post caught my eye. Well…okay, I must admit, the blog picture caught my eye as an obsessed homeschooling mamma. I saw these fantastic flashcards and wanted them! Then I read the article that went with them and my mind started churning.

photo courtesy of Parenting Magazine

New Math. It made me think of the Tom Lehrer song, which had my husband and me rolling on the floor as we listened while shaking our heads, tears streaming down our faces. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that funny. But it was pretty funny!

Is this the same New Math he was singing about? What is New Math? Or Reform Math? Or Inquiry Math? According to the teachers interviewed by Parenting Magazine it is

…a catchall phrase for a group of new methodologies that aim to teach students how to reason their way through a problem instead of simply regurgitating a set of facts and formulas to get the answer…

Sounds a lot like living math. Sounds a lot like homeschooling math. Usually I find homeschooling curriculum trying to find different ways of teaching concepts that a public school teaches. But in this instance it seems we’re on the same page which, I admit, raises my hair a bit.

When I was first looking into math programs for Gabe this new way of learning was exactly what I wanted for him. In fact, when I was introduced to Math U See this is exactly what I liked about the program. It was so different then how I learned. I wanted that for Gabe. I wanted him to never ask the question, “And how am I going to really use this in real life?” So we bought the program and he has done wonderfully with it. Of course, his amazing math abilities stem much more from who God created him to be naturally and less to do with the actual program. This I didn’t come to see until Lily started down the same path. I quickly realized she was blessed in mathemetical abilities about as much as her mother, that is to say not at all! So I was going to have to actually teach her this material. And the only way I knew how to teach was the way I had been taught…the old math..finger counting, carrying the one, borrowing, tens columns, and plain old memorization.

But this week I was reminded that it really doesn’t matter which program you are using or not using or plan to use. It matters that your children understand with the least amount of tears. This week I spent two one-on-one sessions with each of my children and was so glad we homeschool.

Did you ever have one of those lessons where the teacher was asking you to do something that didn’t make any sense and actually distracted you from doing the work the way you’d normally do it? And you know the lesson is to teach you why something is done the way it is but it ends up being more distracting then helpful? That is Gabe’s lesson this week. I admit, I don’t watch the lessons with him. He is mathematically inclined and does just fine watching the teaching DVD then doing the lesson on his own. But today I heard whines of why he just couldn’t get this long division problem and after a half hour of him struggling and only getting four problems done, two of them wrong, I stepped in. He tried to explain to me what the DVD was explaining to him. I had NO CLUE what he was talking about!

But the great thing about homeschooling is…

I told him to ignore everything his lesson is trying to teach him and just work the problems. (Didn’t you ever want to tell you teacher this at least once during a math lesson???) When I realized he couldn’t because of the now mass-confusion swimming in his head, we threw out all he knew of long division and went back to the drawing board. For this homeschool mom going back to the drawing board means doing what works for you in real life. I showed him how I did division and I saw everything click for him. “This is easy, mom!” So much for new math!

And the same went for Lily this week. As she is moving on in money counting to mixing dollars with cents, she was introduced to that pesky decimal point. She already has problems understanding place value so how to explain? I did the same as what I did for Gabe…explained using what works best for me. Once she got it, she really got it.

So my point, you ask? Don’t feel bad as a homeschooling momma that you grew up learning touch-point adding and still find yourself doing that in the grocery aisle. Don’t feel bad that you use a calculator for any two-digit long division number. Math ultimately comes down to doing what works at the time you need it, whether in your head or with a calculator. (Isn’t that what the unschoolers keep trying to tell us?) And you may have invested in some new math program that your kid excels in…or hates, but the bottom line will be how do you, as teacher, explain it so that they get it?

Math U See ~ $65

Right Start Math ~ $50-$150

Teaching Textbooks ~ $120

Your kid getting it ~ Priceless!

Living Math for Elementary Students

In the process of ordering upcoming curriculum for the year, Ive been thinking a lot about Luc and how we want to do kindergarten with him this fall.  I knew we were going to be using the free online Progressive Phonics and our Bob books and Leap Frog videos. I just wasn’t sure about math. That is, until I found this book over at Queen’s Homeschooling Supplies.

We’ve done living math in the sense of reading a living math book from the library or our own collection. And the kids love this but it is, obviously, not enough for a full school year’s curriculum. Now, if you took the time to map out enough living math books and set up hands-on activities to go with them I am sure you can have a very fulfilling living math experience. But, since this isn’t my season for adding extra, this is the first, truly, Charlotte Mason style math book with a full scope and sequence for elementary students. It is really for students age 4-7 (hoping they’ll add more to the series) but will be a blessing for us this upcoming fall. I will be able to use it with Luc (5) and Lilah (3 1/2) at the same time. It is so endearing. Click the preview pdf to take a look!

We are doing the Life of Fred: Fractions with Gabe this fall instead of Math U See to see how he does with this style of living math. I think, because he is math oriented, that he will love it. How can you not love Fred? I am hoping that this dipping our toes into the world of living math will be a good thing for us. Here’s hoping!

Guided Project Work

January 31 – February 4

At the beginning of the week I mentioned that during my potty training time with Ivy I would have the two older kids working on guided project work. I was very excited about this concept and the kids were too. We’ve done project work in the past with trying to allow the kids to pick and work on something that they were interested in but have had little success with this style (no matter how promising it seems at Camp Creek!!!). Mainly, it seems, because my kids seem to still want me there to guide them and I, having too many littles, end up not being able to be there in the way they want. Or the littles constantly get into their stuff thereby defeating the purpose of taking their time to complete a project.

I thought our new method would be more constructive. I let them pick out library books they were interested in. Then, unknowingly to them, I read through their books and put together a few mini projects they could use with their books. I incorporated their specific learning styles and what they need work on currently.  That way it would still be interest-led (i.e. no reading books mom made them read) yet still accomplish goals I had for them (i.e. math, reading practice, science, history, copywork, etc.) while freeing up mommy for toddler-devoted training time.

Lily’s Projects (seven years old)

Fancy Nancy's Favorite Fancy Words: From Accessories to Zany

Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy

  • Reading 4 Fancy Nancy books (reading practice), writing new “fancy” words on heart templates with one word to describe their meaning (vocabulary, handwriting practice), paste those heart templates onto cardstock and decorate in a fancy way, paper punch each one and bind it into her very own fancy flashcard vocabulary set (project work, crafting).
  • Read Mission Addition and solve the question at the end of each chapter (math with emphais on adding and value place). I made my own worksheet for her. Maybe if I ever learn how to do that whole pdf thing then I’ll share!
  • Read Junie B. Jones and Some Sneaky Peeky Spying , tell mom an oral narration after each chapter, draw a picture narration, copy down a small portion of narration (that mom dictated) to go with picture narration, bind together in a folder (narration, reading practice with a chapter book, reading comprehension, copywork/penmanship, spelling, punctuation grammar practice).

Junie B. Jones and Some Sneaky Peeky Spying Book & CD Set (A Stepping Stone Book(TM))Mission: Addition


Gabe’s Projects (nine years old)

Mistakes that WorkedAccidents May Happen

  • Read Mistakes That Worked and Accidents May Happen, pick top three favorite inventions from each book (six total), draw a picture narration of invention, include a short narration on who invented it, when invented, and the accident or mistake that caused the invention, copy a famous quote by Mark Twain, bind and make into a folder for show and tell to mom and dad (science, history, copywork, narration/reading comprehension, researching skills, project work, oral speech skills).
  • Read Go Figure and Why Pi?, pick one project and one puzzle from each book, take the Go Figure math quiz, read specifically about pi from each book and do a notebooking page, copy a famous quote by Galileo, bind all work into a folder for show and tell to mom and dad (math with emphasis on story problems, math in the read world, how science and math merge, and introduction to pi and geometry; science; copywork; logic and problem solving skills, oral speech skills).

Go Figure!: A Totally Cool Book About Numbers (Bccb Blue Ribbon Nonfiction Book Award (Awards))Why Pi?

So, how did our week go?

Lily did very well. She really enjoyed all her projects and has been working diligently daily with little help from me other than asking how the occassional word is pronounced and having me help with the dictation for her copywork. I did discover that she needed coaching in narration, or more to the point summarization. She has never had a problem narrating for me and actually quite enjoys it. But this is her first chapter book that she’s methodically read through. So I noticed on her narration that she was having a hard time summarizing her thoughts as this is a much bigger story then she normally reads. So we talked about how a narration is just a summary of what happened so we needed to know what happened at the beginning of the chapter, in the middle of the chapter, and at the end of the chapter. We practiced on one of her Fancy Nancy books and then I think it clicked for her so her narration today was much improved!

Gabe started the week off strong. He loved working independently and that he was working through books that he already loved to read. But the novelty quickly wore off for him. Once he realized that he was actually going to be doing work and that some of his work was going to challenge him (i.e. that he wasn’t going to get it right the first time sort of thing) then he wanted to quit and give up. Even with the puzzles he first picked, not being able to do it in five minutes and perfect frustrated him and he sank to the lowest denomonator and did the puzzles that he’s already done before or were easy to figure out. (A homeschooling mother’s worst nightmare!) We talked a lot about perserverance and how rewarding it will feel to figure it out on his own. He seems dubious and is still coming to me for help instead of trying to do things on his own. I just keep redirecting him and reminding him why mommy is not helping this week. This may be one to talk over with the hubby.

Other unschooling fun ~

  • Continued reading Little House in the Big Woods at lunch time. The kids just love this story and it has come up several times during other discussions such as why we are not buying lettuce right now for lunch sandwiches and grocery store food versus growing your own and preserving.
  • Several independent crafting projects – mainly to make their own toys. We’ve got sock puppets galore and cereal boxes being made into cardboard houses.
  • A lunch discussion today involving living math. Lily wanted to know just why it was that I was always saying (mainly at lunch) that we are having water so that the milk stretches  till I get to the store next (we go through 7+ gallons a week!). So I explained to Lily and Gabe about milk and pricing, which they didn’t think was very much. Then I had them guestimate how much we spent on food in one week and then for one month. (Gabe’s answer about $300 a month or $70 a week, Lily’s answer about $20 a week or $60 for the month.) I told them the real answer (between $500 – $600) and we talked about just why daddy works and what that money is used for. Then we talked again about milk prices and the sale and normal price of milk. We worked on averages to come up with a round figure and then practiced multiplying that by 7 gallons and then that number times 4 weeks (about $80 per month on just milk!) It was a good eye opener for them both. Lily is just now starting to understand the value of money and Gabe has a better grasp due to his lack of winter chore money from gram and pop.

Linking up with…

@ Wierd, Unsocialized Homeschoolers today!