Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ever Wonder How the SAT and ACT Differ?

I am frequently asked how the content of the SAT and ACT differ. This morning I was forwarded this link. Hope the information contained on the blog will help those who may have questions.

Warning! There is an amazing amount of helpful information on the blog. You may find yourself immersed in gleaning wisdom :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Math in Our Lunch

We've encountered math in our lunch! Amazing how the best math lessons seem to happen spontaneously. How, you ask? Here are some examples (with some added extras for the adventurous):
  • Cut deli-sliced cheese and meat into equal parts. Discuss halves, quarters, thirds. Write the fractions (to extend to the symbolic representation).
  • Cut a sandwich in two equal pieces. Discuss equal and half. Write the fraction. Older children could cut sandwich into fourths. Discuss equal fractions and introduce adding fractions with like denominators.
  • Cut rectangle slices off the end of a rectangular prism of cheese. Find other rectangular prisms in the kitchen (boxes of crackers, cereal, tea bags, etc.).
  • Identify additional solid figures (cubes, cones, spheres, and cylinders). Compare to geometric shapes: circle, rectangle, square, triangle, and oval.
  • Cut each rectangle slices of cheese into two squares and placed on a circular cracker. Find other squares and circles around the house. Look for right angles. Discuss straight and curved lines. Estimate the circumference of the cracker. Write the number to represent the estimate. Measure circumference of the cracker with a string and then measure the string with a ruler. Write the actual length and find the difference between the estimate and the actual.
  • Measured the height, length, and width of the faces of the cheese block. Older children could calculate the volume.
  • Discussed right angles, sides, angles, faces, length, width, height, circumference, diameter, and radius.
These an other kitchen math adventures are available in my Flip Three Pancakes with One Spatula book.

Helpful resources: (concept explanations) (book lists for related math topics) (math in the grocery store)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Aldi Deal Turned Amazing Math Lesson

Haven't blogged since late June...evaluation season, summer, husband home, morning sickness, pre-writing research, let's just say, blogging sadly took a back seat.

Had to take a break from my day's schedule of writing and grading to pass along the wonder and enjoyment of a learning adventure which took place in our home today. It all started with a milk-induced trip to the local Aldi supermarket. Further down the milk aisle, a fabulous deal on sixteen inch pizzas caught my eye. I loaded four into my cart.

Arriving home, children welcomed me. MILK! We unloaded, and of course the twenty-inch pizza boxes caught their eyes. Never (except for at Nanny's house on Sunday when she feeds fifteen to twenty people) had they seen so many pizza boxes. We quickly discovered the large boxes would not fit in the freezer (our first math problem). We took the pizzas out of the box and the next thing I knew shouts of joy and creativity pierced my ears. They wanted the boxes for "their restaurant".

After saving the cardboard boxes from a trip to the recycle bin, the four girls, ages four to twelve, began to brainstorm what diameter pizza would fit in the box. This was done by invading my buffet of circular platters. Each platter, after estimating its size, made its way into the box confirming the hypothesis of whether or not it would fit. Large pizza size- solved! "Oh, wait we need medium and smalls!" I heard. "We have to figure out the size of the small pizzas and see how many will fit in one box." Within an hour, a variety of small, medium, and large crusts lay on the kitchen table.

Next: the toppings. The four girls began helping one another cut geometric shapes from our scrap box of construction paper: circle pepperoni, oval sausage, triangle mushrooms, and rectangle cheese. An hour and thirty minutes later, pizzas were complete. Time to make menus.

When given the time and access to resources, great learning takes place. Oh, yes, there was mess- hundreds of shredded pieces of construction paper on the carpet. I decided to do some writing in the next room (within earshot, of course)so I would torture myself by watching the paper shredding process. Somehow, two and one-half hours later (yes, I was in and out of the room, but chose not to stress) the learning that took place outweighed the confetti party on my carpet.

The girls have now invited the neighbor over to play pizza delivery with menus and prices, so the learning continues. And I did nothing (except make the platters, paper and glue available) to make it happen. I could not have planned it any better.

Sorry there are no pictures...perhaps I will add them later when the pizzas are not being played with, I mean learned with!

Math and pizza related library resources:
Pizza Counting, Christina Dobson
Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza, Philmon Sturges
Let's Make Pizza, Mary Hill
The Coin Counting Book, Rozanne Lanczak Williams
Give Me Half, Stuart Murphy
Dimes, Mary Hill
Dollars, Mary Hill
Piece=Part=Portion, Scott Gifford

Want more ideas about how to teach math through everyday learning experiences, especially food preparation. Check out my book Flip Three Pancakes with One Spatula.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cow Anatomy and Moooore

Wading through hills of research for my latest writing project, I came across this AWESOME site. Though I needed the pages referencing cow anatomy, I soon found myself exploring page after page of fascinating animal-related information. We will be hopping back over to this site when we start our study of land animals in the fall.

So, whether you find yourself learning about cow anatomy with your children or grazing through a study of habitats, information awaits your arrival at the site.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Summer Reading List

Summer peaks around the corner. For some people packing for vacation is first and foremost on the mind. For others, summer camps and mission trips demand last minute trips to variety stores to purchase last minute necessities. In the midst of preparing for what summer will bring to our families, some of us are also visiting local libraries and used book sales to gather summer reading materials. For those who have asked about summer reading possibilities, I write this blog. The titles have been compiled over the years and are printed in Appendix D of my book You HAVE to Read This One: Raising a Contagious Reader.

"Parents choose reading materials for their children based upon several factors:
• a student’s reading ability and maturity,
• family’s values and worldview, and
• whether a book is to be read aloud or read independently.

All these factors, or a combination of these factors, will determine what titles are appropriate for your children. My list was complied for parents with upper elementary (grades 4-5) and middle school (grades 6-8) students.

The spectrum of age and maturity of students in grades four through eight is great. As a guide, I have marked titles considered more difficult—by vocabulary or content— with (M). Parents may decide to wait until grades 7-8 to introduce these books. Selections marked (2-4) may be considered acceptable read-aloud titles for grades 2-4. As always, if in doubt, read the book first."

• Adams, Richard, Watership Down (M)
• Alcott, Louisa May, Little Men (M)
• Alcott, Louisa May, Little Women (M)
• Allman, Barbara, Musical Genius
• Andersen, Hans Christian, Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales
• Armstrong, William, Sounder
• Atwater, Richard and Florence, Mr. Popper’s Penguins
• Bagnold, Enid, National Velvet
• Barrie, J. M., Peter Pan
• Baum, L. Frank, The Wizard of Oz
• Beatty, Patricia, Turn Homeward Hannalee
• Beechick, Ruth, Adam and His Kin
• Blackmore, R. D., Lorna Doone
• Brink, Carol Ryrie, Caddie Woodlawn
• Bulla, Clyde Robert, A Lion to Guard Us
• Burnett, Frances Hodgson, Little Lord Fauntleroy
• Carroll, Lewis, Alice in Wonderland
• Collodi, Carlo, Pinocchio
• Crane, Stephen, The Red Badge of Courage (M)
• Coerr, Eleanor, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes
• Crockett, Davy, The Life of David Crockett (M)
• D’Angeli, Marguerite, The Door in the Wall
• Dalgliesh, Alice, The Courage of Sarah Noble (2-4)
• Defoe, Daniel, The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe
• DeJong, Meindert, The Wheel on the School (M)
• Dickens, Charles, A Christmas Carol (M)
• Dickens, Charles, A Tale of Two Cities (M)
• Dickens, Charles, Great Expectations (M)
• Dickens, Charles, Oliver Twist (M)
• du Bois, William Pene, The Twenty-One Balloons (M)
• Edmonds, Walter D., The Matchlock Gun (2-4)
• Equiano, Olaudah, The Kidnapped Prince
• Finley, Martha, Elise Densmore
• Fleischman, Sid, By the Great Horn Spoon!
• Fleischman, Sid, The Whipping Boy
• Forbes, Esther, Johnny Tremain (M)
• Fritz, Jean, The Cabin Faced West (2-4)
• George, Jean Craighead, Julie of the Wolves
• George, Jean Craighead, My Side of the Mountain
• Gipson, Fred, Old Yeller
• Gray, Elizabeth Janet, Adam of the Road
• Green, Roger Lancelyn, Tales of Ancient Egypt (M)
• Green, Roger Lancelyn, The Adventures of Robin Hood
• Green, Roger Lancelyn, The Tale of Troy
• Hawthorne, Nathaniel, The Scarlet Letter (M)
• Henty, G.A., Beric the Briton
• Henty, G. A., Cat of Bubastes
• Henty, G. A., For the Temple
• Henty, G. A., Young Carthaginian
• Homer, The Odyssey
• Homer, The Illiad
• Hugo, Victor, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (M)
• Hunt, Irene, Across Five Aprils (M)
• Hunt, Irene, Up the Road Slowly (M)
• Keith, Harold, Rifles for Watie
• Kelly, Eric P., The Trumpeter of Krakow (M)
• Kipling, Rudyard, Captains Courageous
• Kipling, Rudyard, Just So Stories
• Kipling, Rudyard, The Jungle Book
• Langford, Alan, Tales of the Greek Heroes (M)
• Lee, Harper, To Kill a Mockingbird (M)
• Latham, Jean Lee, Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
• Lawson, Robert, Rabbit Hill
• L’Engle, Madeleine, A Wrinkle in Time
• Lenski, Lois, The Strawberry Girl (2-4)
• Lewis, C.S., The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
• Lindgren, Astrid, Pippi Longstocking
• Lofting, Hugh, Doctor Dolittle Stories
• London, Jack, The Call of the Wild
• London, Jack, White Fang
• Macdonald, George, The Princess and the Goblin
• McGraw, Eloise Jarvis, Mara, Daughter of the Nile
• McGraw, Eloise Jarvis, The Golden Goblet
• Montgomery, Lucy Maud, Anne of Green Gables
• Morey, Walt, Gentle Ben
• Norton, Mary, The Borrowers (2-4)
• O’Dell, Scott, Island of the Blue Dolphins
• O’Dell, Scott, The Hawk that Dare Not Hunt by Day (M)
• Porter, Eleanor, Pollyanna (2-4)
• Rawlings, Marjorie Kinnan, The Yearling (M)
• Rawls, Wilson, Where the Red Fern Grows
• Richter, Conrad, The Light in the Forest
• Sewell, Anna, Black Beauty
• Sharp, Margery, The Rescuers
• Sheldon, George, The Cricket in Times Square
• Speare, Elizabeth George, Calico Captive
• Speare, Elizabeth George, The Bronze Bow
• Speare, Elizabeth George, The Sign of the Beaver
• Speare, Elizabeth George, The Witch of Blackbird Pond (M)
• Spyri, Johanna, Heidi
• Stevenson, Robert Louis, A Child’s Garden of Verses
• Stevenson, Robert Louis, Treasure Island
• Swift, Jonathan, Gulliver's Travels
• Taylor, Mildred, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (M)
• ten Boom, Corrie, The Hiding Place (M)
• Tolkien, J.R.R, The Hobbit
• Tolkien, J.R.R., Fellowship of the Rings
• Twain, Mark, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (M)
• Twain, Mark, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (M)
• Vern, Jules, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (M)
• Vern, Jules, Around the World in Eighty Days
• Vern, Jules, Journey to the Center of the Earth (M)
• Wells, H. G., Time Machine (M)
• White, E. B., Charlotte’s Web (2-4)
• White, E. B., Stuart Little
• Wiggin, Kate Douglas, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
• Williamson, Joanne, Hittite Warrior
• Wyss, Jonathan David, Swiss Family Robinson
• Yates, Elizabeth, Amos Fortune Free Man

May this reading list is a springboard to many summer adventures!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Read Around the World

Travel the world and never leave your living room. Though there are distinct advantages to learning about the Colosseum while walking its cobblestone path ways or climbing to the top on worn stone steps, many of us will never have an opportunity to do so. That's where books span the ravine of being there to taking us there.

Books set in cultures and countries afar, allow us to walk across the Grand Canal, explore the Sahara, swim the English Channel, or climb the Rocky Mountains. In doing so, books broaden horizons, teaching geography and immersing us in culture as we read.

Travel the United States with:
In My Mother's House by Ann Nolan Clark
M is for Majestic: A National Parks Alphabet by David Domeniconi
The Great St. Lawrence Seaway by Gail Gibbons
Minn of the Mississippi by Holling C. Holling
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Latham
Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski (chapter book)
Lentil by Robert McCloskey
Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey
N is for Our Nation's Capital by Roland Smith
The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge by Hildegarde H. Swift
A New Coat for Anna by Harriet Ziefert

Traveled the World with:
A Ride on Mother's Back: A Day of Baby Carrying Around the World by Emery and Durga Bernhard
The Apple and the Arrow by Mary and Conrad Bluff
Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark (chapter book)
The Wheel on the School by Meindert deJong (chapter book)
A Life Like Mine published by DK Publishing
Children Just Like Me by Anabel Kindersley
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
A Pair of Red Clogs by Masako Matsuno
Bread, Bread, Bread by Ann Morris
House and Homes by Ann Morris
How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman
The Glorious Flight by Alice and Martin Provensen
P is for Passport by Devin Scillian
The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack and Kurt Wiese

Additional Resources (some will make your mouth water!)
Eat Your Way Around the World by Jamie Aramini (yummy twists to teaching geography)
Galloping the Globe by Loree Pettit and Dari Mullins (a unit study)
Geography from A to Z: A Picture Glossary by Jack Knowlton (helpful reminders!)
Teaching Ideas website (ideas to get your mind traveling)
Geography Matters website (a plethora of helpful resources)
Online geography games
Netstate website (all about the 50 states, and more!)
Friends Across America (coloring pages for everything America)
Enchanted Learning (all about US Geography)
Enchanted Learning (all about World Geography)
Homeschool Share (lapbooking geography)
Homeschool Share (more lapbooking geography)
Homeschool Share (US geography)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bring Math to Life, Add Life to Math

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. ~William A. Ward

Math is one of those subjects that, for some, brings panic, fear, and anxiety -- angst at the very mention of multiply, sum, percent, or ratio. How do the emotions come to be? My guess is somewhere between the coins in a child's piggy bank and the black and white symbols of a textbook.

We love math when it applies to life and it makes a difference. Not a week goes by that one of my children doesn't climb upon a shelf to retrieve a bank and count the contents. For the older ones, math makes a difference when the stock market dips or real estate stagnates. Life is full of math.

Lately, life has dished us plenty of math. Is the birthday cake big enough to feed the guests at the table? How M&Ms can I pull from the bag before I get a red one? How much did each individual hanger cost in the BONUS pack of 20? How many mission trip support letters could be mailed for $10.25? When math makes a difference, it is understood. When math is understood, it makes a difference. This cycle inspires further learning.

Over sixteen years of homeschooling, we've brought math to life and we've added life to our math. Math for our children is real -- concrete -- part of everyday life. There is no panic, no fear, no anxiety. We live it. We get it.

How can you bring math to life, add life to math? I've included some of our favorite math activities in Flip Three Pancakes with One Spatula. But there is more than math. There's language arts, science, social studies, and art. To bring math to life, it most be woven into living. For example, a child could create clay spheres or they could help mom make meatballs. Then a spherical orange can be cut into equal parts and then squeezed to make orange juice. Reading Each Orange Has Eight Slices by Paul Giganti reinforces fractional concepts. That's flipping three pancakes with one spatula, and that's bringing math to life.

Sites to help bring math to life:

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Math: Instructional Online Videos

Sometimes math gives us fits! All of us! When this happens, we pull out relevant, high-interest objects or find a life experience to which we can apply our learning. Bottom line, we find a multitude of ways to explain or apply math concepts that gives us trouble. Eventually, light bulbs flash indicating we achieved understanding. What great moments!

Need an online math video resource for tough to explain concepts. Check out this link:

Monday, May 3, 2010

Reviewing for the CPT

Swimming in Algebra. Dancing through sentence skills. Celebrating reading skills. A joyful attitude goes miles when studying the same material for what seems like weeks. Why all the test prep?

We've been practicing away for the CPT (Computerized Placement Test), the college placement exam our high school student will take this week. The test results will determine which classes can be taken.

Colleges across the nation use adaptive tests which are computer generated, choosing subsequent questions based on the student's answer to the previous question. Students answer the multiple choice questions as they are given. These tests are untimed (a great option for students who do not perform well on timed tests). Subjects include mathematics, reading, language, and writing.

For more information on Accuplacer and the adaptive testing, visit

Specific information regarding subject matter and test format is posted at

Test taking tips can be found at

Practice tests and sample questions are available at the following sites

Now you know why we're swimming, dancing, and celebrating with a joy-filled attitude. We're trying to enjoy the process of preparing for a test. We'll let you know how it all turns out.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tis' the Season for...Dual Enrollment

Eager to earn high school and college credits simultaneously this fall? Now is the time to research dual enrollment requirements and turn in applications. Many colleges are gearing up for fall registration.

What you need to do:
1. Research requirements for the colleges and community colleges in your area. Most of this information is online.
2. Find out what college entrance exams are required. Some schools look at SATs and ACTs while others accept CPT results.
3. Find out where and when the CPT is offered.
4. Know what CPT scores are needed to take courses of interest. Students must obtain minimum scores for certain classes, including math and English courses.
5. Call the dual enrollment office and ask about high school transcripts, testing deadlines, CPT refresher courses or online practice materials, course selection, registration, and online accounts (most colleges now require students to have an online account).
6. Talk to students (or their parents) who have attended the college. Ask for professor and course recommendations.

Central Florida Colleges and Universities offering Dual Enrollment

Brevard Community College

Broward College

Daytona State College

Edison State College

Hillsborough Community College

Florida State College

Lake-Sumter Community College

Palm Beach Community College

Pensacola Junior College

Polk State College

Seminole State College

Santa Fe Community College

Tallahassee Community College

Valencia Community College

Friday, February 5, 2010

Taking Math on the Road

I am ecstatic about my newest resource, Taking Math on the Road! It is the first, of what I hope will be many, activity folders in my new Do, Learn, & Remember series. As children create an activity folder, they pull math off flat paper and apply concepts—numeration, graphing, measurement, computation, money, estimation, and more— to life experiences.

This series was conceived as I answered questions from parents: "How do you teach math?" or "Do you have a template for that activity?" The Taking Math on the Road CD contains instructions and templates for the games we play in our home to learn math. The CD can be purchased at my website and inserted in the CD drive of your computer. Print the pages you need and begin a thematic math adventure.

Want to know more? I am posting the introduction to Taking Math on the Road here so you can become more acquainted with the ideas behind the Do, Learn, & Remember series.

"The contents of this activity folder are intentionally written to help you teach your child math concepts. Working through this seven day study, your child will create a folder packed with high-interest activities. Unlike worksheets which teach math on a one-dimensional surface, Do, Learn, & Remember actively involves your child. The games are intended to provide stand-alone math instruction but can be easily adapted or incorporated into existing home studies.

Do, Learn, & Remember encourages mastery through repetition, an essential element for teaching math concepts. The completed folder’s compact, pocket-design keeps supplies and pieces safely inside and invites your child to carry learning through the day, playing and practicing again and again. This study is not a once-and-done-creation.

Do, Learn, & Remember activities offer flexibility. The unit was written for varied developmental stages and educational philosophies. Simply choose appropriate activities from the selections provided. Feel free to shorten, lengthen, substitute, or omit activities to accommodate your child’s learning needs. Web resources (marked with a computer symbol) and book suggestions are included for extended study. It is even possible to use the games and resources without constructing the activity folder.

Each lesson includes practical application experiences and related book titles (a library visit enhances study, but is not required) in an effort to make learning relevant to life. Additional supplemental activities and templates are available on this CD. Create, teach, and learn by the means which best encourage learning in your home.

Taking Math on the Road was tested in our home. If it didn’t work, I didn’t include it. In fact, only activities which earned a “Dad, look what we did!” made their way into this unit. Most of the activities were completed at multiple levels (ages 4-8) and some were selected as review activities for children who needed extra practice. Generally, we all played together. Our activity folder and the memories we made creating it, are treasured. We hope yours will be, too!"

Math concepts taught and reinforced in Taking Math on the Road:
  • Shape and color recognition
  • Counting to 100 by twos, fives, and tens
  • Greater than and less than to 100
  • Ordering numbers 1-100
  • Ordering numbers 100-1000
  • Graphing and tallying
  • Comparison
  • Addition facts and their corresponding subtraction facts (addends 0-6, sums less than 12)
  • Foundational fraction concepts

Content area skills integrated and applied to life skills:

  • Roman roads
  • Road construction
  • Shapes, colors, and meanings of common road signs
  • History and significance of traffic signals
  • Inventors who contributed to automotive history
  • Car manufacturing
  • Auto mechanics
  • Buses
  • Drawing vehicles

Bonus! activities and templates for Place Value Pasta, Add the Wheels, Traffic Sign Criss-Cross, and Roman Road Dessert.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Great Find: Math Blog

Been busy writing the contents of my new math-based activity folder (some people call these lapbooks), Taking Math on the Road. I call my creations activity folders because they are packed with high-interest math activities (revolving around a thematic unit study) safe and sound in a compact, pocket-designed folder. These are not a once-and-done creation wonders, but tools to be used over and over to reinforce math, in the home or on the go.

More about Taking Math on the Road later...

For those who love to keep math full of hands-on fun, check out this blog. You'll love the ideas!