## Thursday, September 30, 2010

### Place Value Structures, Class #4

Few things are more thrilling that seeing a child with an "ah ha" moment. Times that by several children and you've made my day!

Today was our last class on place value structures using material from Bridges. For the last three weeks we've been considering place value in base five, looking at units (1), strips (5), mats (25), and stripmats (125). Today I asked students to imagine what the pieces might look like if we were working in base four. They began by building the pieces with tile. They debated over whether the mat should have 16 pieces or 24 pieces. (I think that a few jumped from the logic that if base 5 had 25 pieces, then base 4 should have 24 pieces.) We looked at the base five chart we'd made. Students recalled that with base five, each place value was x5, so decided that with base four, each would be x4 with a total of 16 for a mat. No easy task.

They cut a unit, strip and mat from graph paper. I then asked them to cut out a strip mat. When they couldn't agree on the area, I asked them to build mats with tile. Ah-ha! Then they remembered how to follow the place value pattern and had no trouble building a stripmat of 64.

Since the base five building didn't come easy, I wondered how the next question (and one of my big goals for the whole class!) would go...  "Close your eyes. Picture base ten. What would a unit look like? A strip? A mat?" The quietest child in the class couldn't hold back..."100!" They all immediately told me that base ten would have a unit of 1, a strip of 10, and a mat of 100!!!  I gave them base ten pieces and asked them to create a strip mat. With shining eyes and wide grins they asked me for TEN MATS and told me that a strip mat would have 1000 units. They built a strip mat and then proceeded to tell me what the next piece would look like and that it would have 10,000 units. "And then 100,000 and then 1,000,000...!!!!!!!!!!!!!" They helped me to complete a venn diagram comparing base five and base ten.

We read Sir Cumference and All the King's Tens and talked about place value in base ten. I also read The 329th Friend and asked them to build 329 (and a few additional numbers) with the base ten pieces.

It isn't unusual for teachers to ask, "Why do we teach other bases to children?" It's elementary, my dear! When we teach other bases, we give children an opportunity to develop conceptual understanding of place value. That deep understanding transfers to work in "our base," base ten. The lightbulbs in my classroom were going off so fast today that the electric meter must have been smokin'! Base ten place value means something new and exciting.

It's elementary. :)

You've been a wonderful class! Can't wait to see you again!

## Tuesday, September 28, 2010

### What Motivates People?

Watch this...and consider what it means to education...

## Monday, September 27, 2010

### Sleeping Queens Game (Gift Idea #2)

My 8yo son received an inexpensive card game, Sleeping Queens, for his birthday. He'd play it every day if we would. (His 4yo brother is also able to play with adult supervision.)

The object of the game is to collect queen cards or points. Various character cards--king, knight, dragon, sleeping potion, wand, jester--cause a variety of actions. Although the game feels like pure entertainment, it includes a mathematical component; you can discard (a good thing!) three or more number cards that make an addition equation. For example, if you have cards numbered 2, 3, and 5, you can discard them if you notice that 2+3=5.

As a fascinating side note, the game was invented by a 6yo girl who lay awake one night, dreaming up the rules for the game.

The box says for ages 8 and up, 2-5 players, about 20 minutes/game.

LilDude says he highly recommends it! It would make a great math workbox.

## Friday, September 24, 2010

### Praying Mantis Has a BIG Appetite

We caught a praying mantis today. First, I caught two flies alive. Then, he ate them.

Later, we gave it a spider, two Japanese beetles and an ant. The praying mantis ate one beetle and the spider caught the other one. Then the mantis ate the spider. We just put a baby cricket in and now it's eating it. It has a big appetite.

Next? A full grown elephant? A python?

By 'LilDude, age 8
Guest Writer

## Thursday, September 23, 2010

### 100 Day Countdown to 2011 (#2, more math ideas!)

If you'd like to join us in our 100 Day Countdown to 2011, here are several fun activities designed for different ages:

1. We made 100 paper links and will take one down each day. Every 10th link is black. My 8yo stapled the links after I figured out he could do it independently with a mini stapler. I worked on the chain as well, asking my 4yo to hand me the correct color of paper, following the pattern. (Blue/orange/blue/orange until we'd get to the 10th link.) I used 12" construction paper and cut 1" strips. Had I been more thoughtful, I would have asked my 8yo to figure out how many pieces of each color paper we'd need to get enough links of each color.

As we constructed our paper chain, we counted by tens. After we had the paper piled on the floor, I asked the boys how long they thought our chain would be when we stretched it out. You can see it below, tacked across a wall...

2. Each boy has a hundreds chart. My 8yo is counting down from 100, my 4yo is counting up from one. Each day, they cross off one number.

3. We posted a hundreds pocket chart so we could add a penny each day, making conversions (to nickels, dimes, quarters, etc) as we go. I'm basically following Joyful Learner's suggestion.

4. My 8yo writes five number sentences each day for the day we're on. He can use any operations, making the sentences as long or as short as he likes as long as the total equals the day. So, for example, for day 100 (counting down), he wrote:

Note: The student math journal page (as shown in #4) is from the Math Learning Center. Undoubtedly, some of these ideas are similar to things I've done with MLC materials, but I cannot give credit because I'm not sure where some of the ideas floating around in my head came from. Anyone else have that problem???

## Wednesday, September 22, 2010

### 100 Day Countdown to 2011

The tradition of "100 Days of School" is a little difficult for us to pull off. We do school ALL. THE. TIME. Sure, we have days off--"it's a gorgeous day so we're playing outside" or "it's snowing so we're on vacation"--but when public school started here, we were already on week #9 of schoolish stuff. So it's hard to come up with "100 Days of School" to count. (I actually think the concept of "100 Days of School" could really confuse my youngest since our stop/start days are so vague.)

Instead, we are doing "100 Days to the New Year." Today, I begin by asking my ds:

1. How many days do you think it is until 2011? (estimate...I may have him show me on a number line how many days--how far--he thinks it is)
2. How could you figure out how many days until 2011?
3. Figure out how many days.

We'll be doing some activities with 100 over the coming months. It'd be great if others want to join us.* You can start by having your kiddos do the activities above. You can google "Countdown 2011" and find sites like this one that are counting down in days, hours, minutes, seconds.

*If you are doing "100 Days of School" it wouldn't be hard to join us since most 100 school days will come soon after the New Year.

P.S. I'm thinking about making the 2011 Children's Calendar a surprise gift for the 100th day! ;)

## Tuesday, September 21, 2010

### The Children's Mathematics Calendar 2011 (Gift Idea #1)

In anticipation of the upcoming holidays (yes, sigh, I did see Christmas decor displayed at the store already!), I'll be posting gift ideas...math games and activities that feel like way too much fun to contain real learning! (Heh heh...what the kiddos don't know won't hurt 'em...and might just educate 'em!)

I've had my eye on the first one for several months: The Children's Mathematics Calendar 2011. The creator, Theoni Pappas, is also the author of several well-known math books for children, including titles such as The Adventures of Penrose the Mathematical Cat, Fractals, Googols, and Other Mathematical Tales, Math Talk: Mathematical Ideas in Poems for Two Voices...all titles that I own and use in my math/literature class.

The math calendar contains a new problem each day. Although I haven't seen the 2011 calendar, I own an older one and enjoy the format. According to the Amazon product description, "This calendar includes stories that make math ideas come to life, problems with new twists, and ways to share math exercises with parents and friends. Much more than just a reminder of the date (though it does that too), this calendar stimulates curiosity and imagination and helps children develop a positive attitude about mathematics."

If you are looking for more difficult mathematics, check The Mathematics Calendar 2011, also by Pappas. (I read that the children's version is suitable for grades 3-8.)

I will be compiling a list of gift ideas on my Math Gifts and Games page, linked from the menu on the top of the homepage.

## Monday, September 20, 2010

### Who Sank the Boat?

Yesterday, my 4yo ds received a book at church; this was his reward for reading for 10 hours this summer. (Well, I actually did the reading. That could be a whole 'nother blog entry. Do you know how many hours my older son read on his own compared to how many hours I read to his younger brother? Shameful, I tell you! About 2.5:1 ratio!)

The book, Who Sank the Boat?, is one that I've wanted to buy.

Summary: The reader is invited to guess who causes the boat to sink when five animals of varying sizes decide to go for a row.

Spoiler Alert (as if you can't see this coming!): four huge animals (cow, donkey, sheep, pig) get in, but it's the final passenger, the mouse, that causes the boat to sink.

We did some math and science activities based on the story.

First, collect a variety of objects from around the house. Set out two objects at a time and ask child to predict which is heavier. For some comparisons, I use large, light objects (fluffy pillow) vs. small, heavy objects (rock). Place one object in each of the child's hands and ask him which one is heavier. If you have a balance scale, you can do a little informal work there as well.

We did some float/sink lessons. (pdfs available--I used the picture drawing one for the 4yo, the writing one for my 8yo) The site also links a BBC interactive video where kids get to predict whether various items will sink or float.

Although this lesson is primarily for my 4yo, my 8yo enjoyed participating in the sink/float scientific inquiry. Challenge question...find an object around the house that will trick mom...one that I think will float when it will actually sink or vice versa. (My son did it with Playmobile animals.)

Check out more Math Monday links at Joyful Learner or click on the Math Box below to find more math activities suitable for Workboxes.

## Sunday, September 19, 2010

### What is a "living math" dropout?

To: Jimmie and homeschoolers who are interested in Charlotte Mason "living math,"

I read an interesting blog entry over at Jimmie's Collage entitled "Living Math Dropout." I've thoroughly enjoyed some of Jimmie's past math entries (check out this one on positive and negative numbers) so her revelation surprised me.

But then I started thinking...  What is really meant by "living math?" And what does it mean to teach that way? (BTW, I used to think the Charlotte Mason term was "living math," but I've since learned that Mason never used the term in reference to math...she only used the term "living books." The phrase "living math" has actually been copyrighted by a business owner. I'm using it here only because it was the title on the original blog entry.)

According to Ambleside Online, in a Charlotte Mason math education...
"...the ability to reason is emphasized over "working sums", so emphasis is placed on story problems and working with numbers that are within the child's comprehension, therefore, a manipulative-based instruction is desirable."
Hey!  I do that!!!

But, but...I use a curriculum. In the homeschool "living math" (Charlotte Mason) movement, it seems like good math teaching is often defined by the lack of curriculum. Yes, real books. Yes, real games. Yes, "real life" situtations. But no curriculum. Which, I suppose, makes me a "living math dropout." Or does it?

Most homeschooling parents were taught math with textbooks. Algorithms. Drill and kill. Memorization. It made a lot of us math phobic. (See Math an American Phobia--great read!--by Marilyn Burns. I can certainly relate.)

But here's the thing...while there are many curricula that still teach the "old way" (the way we were taught...I guess that makes us old?? ;) ) there are some that teach completely different, doing just as Mason advocated, emphasizing reasoning, problem solving and manipulative based instruction.

I first learned that there was an alternative when I landed a teaching job in a third grade classroom. As a new third grade teacher I was "tutored" through the math curriculum with a district math specialist who came into my room each week and walked me through the upcoming week's math lessons. We used manipulatives, exploring multiple ways to solve problems. I can't begin to tell you how many times she said, "Can you show me another way to solve that problem??"  This was TERRIFYING for me in the beginning! There is more than ONE way to solve a problem???

You've got to be KIDDING ME?!?!?!!!!!

The emphasis was no longer on memorizing algorithms or drill and kill, but on mathematical thinking and problem solving (and not the problem solving that sounds like "when a train leaves Chicago at 55 mph" either!) I learned to use math strategies, read real math books, and use real activities to explore mathematical concepts.  Real, "living" math...in the context of a published curriculum!

When I first began homeschooling ten years ago, one of my first concerns was math. As I mentioned, I've certainly experienced moments of math phobia in my past, so I didn't want to make the wrong choice in picking a curriculum. We tried several. But nothing reached the level of engagement that I'd had with my third graders. So I searched. And found a very worthy curriculum. I do intersperse other games and living books just because I love to find and use them, but not because a great, non-textbook, "living" curriculum isn't available.

I'm not sure I know what homeschoolers mean when they say they exclusively do "living math." (And, again, I'm talking about the Charlotte Mason concept in reference to Jimmie's blog post, not the trademarked term.) I think it would be very hard to ONLY use real books, games, and experiences...making everything up yourself. Very hard. I admire those who appear to do it well.

Truly yours,

Perhaps another "living math" dropout. Who uses "living" curriculum!

I may be kidding myself. But I really think Charlotte Mason would approve! :)

## Friday, September 17, 2010

### One Lovely Blog Award

I just received my first blog award from Renee at Little Homeschool on the Prairie. Thank you, Renee, for the thoughtfulness and encouragement!

Rules for accepting the award:

1. Accept the award. Post it on your blog with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.

2. Pay it forward to 15 other bloggers that you have newly discovered.

3. Contact those blog owners and let them know they've been chosen.

OR

The fun rules for recipients:

1. Put the One Lovely Blog award logo on your blog and/or in a new post.

2. In a new post, share 3 things you think are lovely

3. Pass the award on to 3 fellow bloggers.

5. Let the nominees know they have received the award by commenting on their blogs.

6. Share the love and link to the person whom you received the award.

There are two sets of rules for this award. So choose the one you like and go for it!

Here's mine:

Three lovely things:
1. Homeschooling my children.
2. Watching my children flourish after graduating (at various ages/grades) from homeschooling.
3. Reading blogs from exceptionally creative homeschoolers!

I would like to award the following bloggers:
(Yeah, it's more than 3, but who's counting...)

Joyful Learner--for being incredibly creative and purposeful with her preschool daughter! I love her weekly math postings!

Around the World in 40 Weeks--because I drool every time I read about the cooking she does for her country studies and I love the idea of studying a country a week.

All Things Beautiful--for sharing so many fun, hands-on projects.

Jimmie's Collage--yeah, she's already well-known. But, man, do I love to read her stuff! She's the homeschool blogger I'd most like to meet...and a trip to China wouldn't be bad either! ;)

Stop by and visit these blogs. You'll be happy you did!

### Weekly Wrap-Up, Sept. 17

So far, I'm LOVIN' the child scheduled workboxes. My biggest worry was how long it would take me to prepare the night before. I was tired last night and almost didn't get the boxes ready; instead, I decided to time myself. LESS THAN 10 MINUTES! While workboxes aren't for everyone (I didn't need them with my older dc), they are great for some children...my current homeschooling child in particular!

A few highlights from the week...

Sonlight Core 3 - Intro to American History
We started in June with the Core, so we're actually on Week 10.

*Bible-- it works well to have the Sing the Word CD on my iTouch and in the workbox. (Love, love the CD!) DS can read through the daily scripture and then listen to the song in one swoop.

*History-- we don't use the Sonlight timeline materials. I had a friend (with a box factory) make me a custom piece of cardboard. When folded, it's 24" x 12". When open, its length is 120". It allows kids to see and understand history and where things happened in relation to one another. I strongly prefer this over a book where the child must flip back and forth between pages without really being able to see the amount of time between events. This week my ds added Jamestown and Plymouth to the timeline and was surprised to discover how recent it occurred as compared to Ancient Egypt.

We watched the Sign of the Beaver movie and made a venn diagram comparing the book and the movie. The book is strongly preferred! DS found the audio tapes of Sign of the Beaver at the library and is listening to the book again. For fun!

After reading about how people advertised (sometimes falsely or with little real knowledge) about the "New World" in an effort to get colonists to come, ds made a brochure of his own.

*Writing/Art/Science-- Our sunflower project has really blossomed! After doing three observations (by eye, magnifying glass, microscope), we learned that sunflowers were new to the "Old World." He wrote a paragraph to the "Old World" people, describing a sunflower. I was especially impressed with this simile about a sunflower seed... "It tastes like a burnt rice cracker." I doubt if that's ever been said before!

*Poetry-- After listening to the Pied Piper poem, I encourage ds to read several Pied Piper books. It helped him to more fully comprehend the poem which was a little incomplete as presented in the CD.

*Extra-- I introduced ds to a card game, Into the Forest. He asks to play it daily. Over and over and over.

*Math--We finished up Bridges Unit 1 and began Unit 2 and Base 5. Lately, we've been working hard on learning (and practicing!) strategies for addition and subtraction facts.

Preschool--
We did a lot of preschool math workboxes. Youngest ds has been sick, so we haven't gotten a lot more done. (Photo is from an idea taken from Confessions of a Homeschooler.)

It's been a busy week! Check out some other weekly wrap-ups at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

## Thursday, September 16, 2010

### Place Value Structures, Class #2

We're continuing our exploration of Base 5, along with several other mathematical concepts. We covered a lot today...
While waiting for students to arrive, we enjoyed the book Easy Math Puzzles by David Adler. This is a fun book that I've used with several classes. Each puzzle is short but takes a significant amount of thought.

We opened the regular session with Moja Means One; Swahili Counting Book by Muriel Feelings. I chose this book after reading this idea connecting it to base 5:

"People have been counting on their hands for centuries. In some languages, the word "hand" means "five." If you ask a farmer how many goats he had and the farmer answered, "hand," how many goats would that be? (Five.) Suppose you have not yet thought to use two hands but just use one hand for counting. You can use toothpicks for this, and put down one I, then another 11, and another III, and one more IIII, until you have five IIIII. Now, how do you represent six if you can't count on your other hand? (Maybe you could just use the same hand over again, or cross the picks.). Lead children to discover the following:
6 is 5 and one more
7 is 5 and 2 more
8 is 5 and 3 more
9 is 5 and 4 more
10 is two 5s"
We discussed ways that larger numbers could be represented if hand = five. How could we represent 25? 50? I asked them to consider how this idea related to the exploration we did last week with our place value mats and cubes.

We continued with a very brief review of the Base 5/place value mat/cube counting. I asked them to give me a "thumbs-up" as long as I counted correctly and a "thumbs-down" if I made a mistake. They were all quick to catch my errors!

We used lessons from Bridges (Math Learning Center) looking at collections of Base 5 pieces. How many strips and units does it take to make a given number? Then we traded our strips for more and more pieces until we used only units.

We defined "minimal collection" and built more examples of base 5 collections. We recorded our work and looked for patterns.

After learning to build minimal collections, we played "Up to the Mat and Back," racing to build and dismantle (add/subtract) Base 5 collections.

Along with all the Base 5 work we looked at odd/even numbers and played a subtraction/probability game, concluding with an enjoyable reading of Math Curse by Jon Scieszka (which does have some base work in it!)

Busy day! Thanks for all your hard work!

### Neuro Reorg, Learning & Childhood Movements

Yesterday I posted about neurological "glitches." If you are interested in exploring more on the subject, consider Googling "neuro reorg" or looking at information from...

Neurodevelopment Through Movements

Barbara Pheloung, Australia
Move to Learn

I've seen both DVDs. They are similar to one another and similar to the program of neuro reorg we did. Highly recommend checking them out...especially if your child is really struggling with learning OR one of the symptoms mentioned in the previous post.

The movements that children make early in life (creeping and crawling) have a LOT to do with their ability to learn in the future. In just one example, read about how handwriting development is connected to crawling.

If anyone is interested in learning more on the topic, please comment and let me know. I could go on and on and on... :)

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation and make no referral fee from these DVDs.

## Wednesday, September 15, 2010

One of the shortcomings of the traditional school setting? Kids may be forced to read, write, or do math before their brains are ready for it. With the ever-increasing emphasis on standardized testing, this has become even more of a problem than it once was. Several weeks ago, I was working in a rather large (okay, HUGE) public school setting and a curriculum specialist said, "Today's kids are taught at a [curriculum/content] level about one year ahead of where their parents were at the same age. In order to catch up with the rest of the world, we need to move ahead ANOTHER year." [So today's kids should be learning content that is a full two years ahead of the age their parents learned the same content.]

No pressure.

It's just that education dollars depend on achieving those goals.

I digress...

Because I've actually been thinking about a child much closer to home. Or, IN my home. My own ds.

He arrived home from China at the age of 3, fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese. Now, just a year-and-a-half later, he is fluent in English. I've been continually amazed at his ability to learn.

But I'm also a little confused. I don't quite know how to assess his developmental level. His fine motor skills have been amazing since the day we met; he can color very precisely and cut like an average kindergarten. His large motor skills have done a 360. When he arrived home, he couldn't run without falling. He sorta ran with half his body. Within a few months (with continual running and LOTS of falling), this had completely changed. He now runs and runs and runs; you'd never know there was any problem. (Side note: he didn't have any special need that affected the ability to run...I'm guessing that he didn't have large motor skills because he didn't have space to develop them. I don't think he ran in big open spaces.)

But we have gaps. Printing is one. He can make a few letters, but for letters that take multiple steps (like making a small "b" where you have to draw a straight line and then go up over the line and make a circle that's connected) he just cannot do it. If I take his hand and make the motion over and over and over, he cannot replicate it when I remove my hand.

Frankly, I wouldn't care at all except he wants to do it. He is constantly asking to do school and as part of school, he wants to write.

So, as Providence would have it, a friend emailed me today, asking for a copy of an article I recently sent out. I read it and ****BING, BING**** all my "duh, yeah, that sounds familiar" alarms went off. Here's an excerpt:

Teaching Our Children to Read, Write, and Spell
by Susan R. Johnson MD, FAAP, 5/7/2007

Part I— The Proprioceptive System

There is a widely-held belief that if we just start teaching children to write, read, and spell in preschool, they will become better writers, readers, and spellers by the time they reach the first and second grades. This is, however, not true. The truth is that children only should be taught to write, read, and spell when their neurological pathways for writing, reading, and spelling have fully formed. There are many neuropsychologists, developmental specialists, occupational therapists and teachers who are concerned that our current trend in this country of pushing “academics” in preschool and kindergarden will result in even greater increases in the number of children, particularly boys, diagnosed with attentional problems and visual processing types of learning disabilities.

In order for children to be able to sit still, pay attention, and remember abstract shapes, like letters and numbers, they first need to have developed their proprioceptive system. In my clinical practice I see children who are being asked to sit still at a desk who can’t yet “feel” where they are in space. They have to keep their muscles and body moving all the time or sit on their feet or wrap their feet around the legs of their chair in order for their mind to locate the position of their body. They also have difficulty balancing on one foot while their eyes are closed. Their drawing of a person is more like that of a younger child, being stick-like in form and lacking hands and feet. These children are often given the label of Attention Deficit Disorder because they appear fidgety in their movements, have difficulty paying attention, and have poorly developed fine-motor skills.

I doubt that this will surprise anyone, but I didn't learn anything about this type of stuff in college. In education. I've learned loads about it as a parent. Necessity,...the MOTHER of invention...

And, to go along with this thought train, we have many, many children (and adults, for that matter!) running around with incomplete neuro pathways. Or neurological "glitches." The glitches cause all kinds of symptoms, ranging from ADHD looking behaviors to reading problems to difficulties with math to eye tracking issues...  A huge list can be found here. (I've also quoted it at the bottom of the page. I have permission.) While that link is directed toward adoptive families, there are many, many reasons that a child (or adult) may have a neuro glitch.

Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do about "glitches." Unfortunately, the majority of educators (myself included until I self-educated) are not trained in what to do about them. I'll post more about the "what to do" later...

But, back to my son...

Developmentally, he simply isn't ready for some learning experiences that other kids his age are ready for. I think the day will come; however, if he gets more frustrated because he wants to do some things and can't, I will probably need to become more deliberate in the opportunities I give him to strengthen certain areas of his brain.

Thanks for letting me ramble. I had to clear a neuro pathway! ;)

Signs of Neurological "Glitch" or Dysfunction at three different brain levels:

Pons Dysfunction:

* Skips words or parts of words while reading
* Uses finger to track text across the page
* Gets seriously hurt and makes little to no fuss, such as the baby who teeths without getting fussy
* Constantly hungry, even if he has just eaten an adequate amount of food
* Little or no appetite
* Lack of empathy
* Self-abuse, such as picking at scabs, biting fingernails until they bleed, and other forms of extreme self-stimulation
* Picks on others, including animals
* Bed wetting (beyond what is age appropriate)
* Fight or flight response to inappropriate situations, such as acting as if her life is threatened when a small issue has occurred. (Example: child trips on a toy, gets angry, and blames it on the closest available person)
* Fool-hardy risk-taking, such as leaping off of high structures or diving off of furniture
* Overly affectionate with strangers
* Inappropriate perception of danger
* Night terrors
* Violent rages
* Anxiety
* Clingy
* Controlling
* Manipulative
* Superficially charming
* Creates chaos in her environment
* Difficulty bonding with parents, siblings, and other caregivers
* Avoidance of eye contact
* A profound sense of displacement, isolation, and mistrust, with statements such as, “You don’t love me,” “I shouldn’t be alive,” etc.
* Pigeon-toed
* Hunched shoulders
* Midbrain-level and cortical dysfunction, as neurology is cumulative

Midbrain-level Dysfunction:

* Difficulty tracking text down a page while reading or doing math
* Difficulty with reading comprehension; unable to remember or recall a story
* Depth perception issues, including seeing blurry or double
* Distractibility; every little thing catches her attention
* Hyperactivity; she can’t sit still even for a moment
* Short attention span
* Trouble remembering and following through on tasks. If told to do three tasks in a row, cannot complete all three of them with prompts or reminders.
* Difficulty responding to prompts when engrossed in a task. If doing something he is interested in, one has to be right in his face to get his attention.
* Out-of-sync in social settings. Can’t seem to follow what is discussed or shared.
* Clumsiness
* Feet point outward
* Difficulty maintaining balance
* Muscles that are too loose or too tight, such as the person who is extremely double-jointed and limber.
* Inappropriate spatial boundaries; is in your face or hangs way back
* Says “yes” to every obligation, even when already over-extended
* Impulse control issues. Will do something that she has been repeatedly instructed not to do and, when asked, says, “I didn’t know” or “I forgot.”
* Immense frustration, generally resulting in outbursts
* Reversal of letters and/or numbers
* Rages that are seemingly out-of-nowhere
* Inarticulate, atonal, or slurred speech
* Difficulty accessing words
* Auditory processing issues
* Disrupted or inconsistent sleep patterns
* Heartburn or stomachaches
* Bladder and/or bowel issues, such as constipation and irritable bowel syndrome
* Sensitivity to textures of food or difficulty chewing
* Poor temperature regulation, as in the person who never wants to wear a coat even when in a cold environment
* Sensitivity to textures of clothes or clothing tags
* Verbal and/or physical tics, such as a rapid eye blinking or repitition of the same word or phrase
* Drama queen
* Neurochemical imbalance
* Depression
* Bipolar disorder
* Autism spectrum disorders
* Obsessive compulsive disorder
* Allergies
* Autoimmune disorders

Cortical Dysfunction:

* Difficulty recognizing symbols, such as letters and numbers
* Immature language skills, such as the use of incomplete sentences, incorrect pronouns, or difficulty expressing needs
* Difficulty walking and running
* Poor fine motor skills
* Difficulty sequencing information, especially in abstract situations
* Memory problems

## Tuesday, September 14, 2010

### Schooling in South Korea

Very interesting news article...  Especially if you keep up with all the talk about how U.S. kids do on standardized tests as compared to other nations. Read the entire article. (If you only read the beginning, you miss a lot...)

SEOUL, South Korea -- "If they can do that in South Korea, we can do it right here in the United States of America."

President Barack Obama said that last year. He was talking about school. He was talking about hours. He was talking about how hard South Korean kids work, how long they study, how much time they put in -- more than a month longer per school year than their American counterparts.

Read the entire article by Mitch Albom here.

## Monday, September 13, 2010

### Math Workbox: Preschool Activities

Lots to share from our first days back to school. Here are some highlights from preschool...

This activity from Making Learning Fun was a complete hit with my preschooler! We began by reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear. He then played a "Roll and Color Dice Game." He rolled the dice, counted the dots, located the corresponding numbers on the animal, then colored it to match the animal in the book.

For a 1st day surprise, we did a little M&M sorting and graphing. Each column corresponded with an animal color from Brown Bear, Brown Bear. We counted and compared colors.

My older son, 8, also did it for fun; he did a lot more with numbers. (How many total candies? How many more orange than yellow? Etc.)
This "Clothespin Number Review" from Confessions of a Homeschooler provided more practice with counting as GG matched number of dots with corresponding digits on clothespins. I printed the pdf on cardstock and covered it with contact paper so we could reuse it.

Get more ideas for preschool at Homeschool Creations.

## Saturday, September 11, 2010

### Need Advice on Schoolroom Furniture

Here's the room we use as a schoolroom. It's empty because we installed hardwood floors. I'm not thrilled with the brick wall (early 70s) and ultimately would like to permanently install custom cabinets (cabinets on the bottom, bookshelves on the top) on both sides of the pellet stove. But I need a LOT of bookshelf/cabinet space right now. (I have a huge assortment of books and classroom supplies that up til now have been stored in a mishmash of cabinets and bookshelves.) The room isn't big (about 13 x 17), but I'm thinking about sacrificing the entire 17' right wall (where all the school items are currently posted) and lining the whole length with storage--cabinets on the bottom, with bookshelves on the top.

Does anyone know where to find such a thing? We've looked at Ikea and I don't see anything that matches the picture in my head. (Which may be totally messed up!)

What would you do with this room if you needed a LOT of storage? I really need BOTH open bookshelves and storage doors that close (for art supplies, kits, games, etc.)

P.S. I am taking the photo from the kitchen, so there is no more room at the bottom of the photo...likewise, the left side of the photo is a wall with one window (hence the window glare on the floor)...so what you see is the space I have to work with...

## Friday, September 10, 2010

### Place Value Structures, Class #1

Yesterday I began a series of 4 homeschool classes (2 hours each), focusing on "Place Value Structures." Sadly, I was so excited thinking about the class that I forgot to take photos. So a few posed photos will have to suffice...

As children arrived, they settled in to explore polydrons as they took turns completing a chart of information about themselves. After everyone had a chance to fill in their information, we talked through the chart, both to introduce ourselves and to consider what characteristics in our class came up the most/least often, comparing #s of family members, pets, etc.

We then set off to explore a "Foreign Counting System" using materials from Bridges (produced by The Math Learning Center.) I counted centimeter cubes onto a place value mat and asked students to try to figure out what rule or pattern I was using to count.

As students caught on, I gave them their own manipulatives and mats and they continued to count with me until we had 4 in each column. (Base 5)

Children discussed what they noticed about this counting system as I took notes on a class chart. One child immediately noticed that it was like counting money using pennies, nickels, and quarters.

I handed out base 5 pieces and challenged students to make observations with a partner. We then recorded the information on a class chart. Children worked together to figure out what the next piece in the sequence would look like. We finished up by drawing base 5 arrangements on graph paper.

Extra activity: In the middle of class we looked at a hundreds board and counted by 5s from 46 to 81. This was quite a change from the usual counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s. (Also from Bridges/Number Corner materials.)

Children's Math Books: No class could be complete without a few good books. We read Earth Day-Hooray! (place value) and Once Upon a Dime (money).

I have a delightful class of students. I'm looking forward to seeing you all again next week. (With a camera!) ;)
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