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.