Monday, October 31, 2011

Math Monday Blog Hop #30

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Graph Your Halloween Candy!

Quick repost from last year. Don't forget to graph! 

Jedi Master say...

"A good Jedi must always graph his Halloween candy before eating it. May the force be with you!!"

 Fastest graph, EVER! ;)

Jedi Masters need chocolate, too. Think the Jedi would notice if a piece of his graph disappeared? ;)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

My Life in Numbers II...Real Life Problem Solving

Earlier this week, I posted about a fabulous idea Courtney shared at A Middle School Survival Guide having students make Math Journal or Notebook covers telling math ideas about themselves. I've found that these covers become a fabulous jumping-off point for PROBLEM SOLVING.

After students finish their covers, have them generate several problems on 3x5" notecards that use the information they created. For example, on my cover, I posted the following:

I went ahead and wrote my problem on the cover itself, but would have students write on cards. My question, "How many hours do I sleep each night? Each week?" could then be posed to other students. In the classroom, I could put my cover under the document camera and ask students to answer the question posed on my card(s). They could then share a variety of strategies for solving the problem. In a homeschool setting, children could write problems for siblings or parents to solve. Problems could be written at a wide variety of levels, making them grade and age appropriate.

At the Northwest Math Conference I went to a workshop entitled, "Taking the Numb Out of Numbers" by Don Fraser (Ontario, Canada). He began by telling the group of 30 of us, "Did you know that in a group of 23 or 24 there is a 50% chance that at least two people in the group will have the same birthday?" He then gave us a graph showing us the probability of sharing the same birthday in groups of varying sizes. In a group our size--30 people--the likelihood was 70%. We graphed the days/months for birthdays in the room. Interestingly enough, none of us shared the same birthday...we were in the 30%. After looking at the data, Don asked us to come up with problem solving questions--real life questions--based on the information we'd collected. It was amazing to see how many questions we could generate, at all different levels of mathematical knowledge and proficiency.

Don encouraged us to begin each day by reading a "story" and having kids make up a question/word problem. Going back to the math notebook covers, imagine the possibilities if you put ONE child's notebook cover up each day and asked kids to generate questions from the "stories" found there. The problem solving possibilities are endless!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Capacity Scarecrows

When I saw Mathwire's lesson plan, Measurement Man, using "scarecrows to visually represent the relationship between gallon, quart, pint, cup" I knew what we were going to do today!

I set out several containers and asked my student to predict/estimate how many of each would fit into others, just by looking. He recorded ideas in his notebook.

He put the containers in order by capacity. I asked him to figure out how many:

  • cups in a pint?
  • pints in a quart?
  • quarts in a half gallon?
  • half gallons in a gallon?
He measured water, recording his results. I then asked him to look at his data to figure out:
  • cups in a quart?
  • quarts in a half gallon?
We then proceeded to make Measurement Man. As we worked, he told me how many of each measurement were equivalent to others.

Another student worked at a 5yo level and choose to make a monster face on his man.

Thank you, MATHWIRE, for another awesome lesson!

P.S. When we were showing these to Daddy and older siblings tonight, my student was quizzed again about various equivalencies. Funny thing? Dad and sibs had to check the scarecrows to see if he was right. :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Math Journals & Notebooks

This is one of the times I feel very grateful to have connections to both the public school and homeschool community. Excitement bubbles in the homeschool world over lapbooks (we do an "on-steroids" version called Portfolders), closely followed by notebooks, where students demonstrate learning through student-made folders, foldables and creative notebook pages. Some homeschoolers focus specifically on math. Recently, I've seen a lot of fabulous information on teacher blogs about using journals/notebooks in the context of math. Since we are using math notebooks this year,  I'm enjoying...

1. Designing our journal covers
I love this idea. This teacher had her students design journal covers using "Math About Me." Students used numbers, pictures, word problems, etc. to represent themselves mathematically. In an upcoming post, I'll share ours...along with some fun extensions.

2. Basic Journal Pages
I'm using blacklines from the Bridges Math Journal as pages. The bulk of the pages are centimeter grid paper which makes it helpful when we're doing math problems, drawing graphs, making diagrams, etc. The back of the journal includes visuals in a blank math glossary (designed for students to fill in) which matches the Word Resource Cards that we use. I'm going to have my student refer to the visual glossary and the Word Resource Cards whenever we add vocabulary to the journal.

3. We'll use flaps, foldables and other interactive models.
In our Portfolders, we use a lot of flips and flaps to demonstrate learning in fun, interactive ways. Dinah Zike is the Queen of Foldables and has many great resources, including Big Book of Math and Notebook Foldables. Some of these are displayed at Simply2ndResources.

So what exactly are math journals/notebooks for? We'll be using them to...
  • Write our own definitions of math vocabulary used in our daily lessons.
  • Demonstrate our understanding of math using pictures, numbers, diagrams, etc... 
  • Refer back to math concepts that we explored earlier in the year. We'll continue to add to our knowledge by revising and adding to what we've already written.
  • Provide ample opportunity to write in the context of math.
  • Explore problem solving in creative ways, often using children's books.
  • Look at math in many settings: daily life, historical, games & more
These are other places I'll be visiting!

Runde's Room

Jimmie on Math Notebooking

Math Journals Boost Real Learning

I'll be back soon with examples from our notebooks! Would you like to share yours?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Math Monday Blog Hop #29

So much to share! Upcoming posts include math journals & notebooks, more math tools from the "one buck" store, gift ideas for the holiday season and more. Also, remember to enter the giveaway for a copy of Square Cat. Just a week remains!

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Make-It-Yourself-Math...Counting Rope

At the Northwest Math conference I felt very privileged to sit in on several Kim Sutton workshops. If you've seen her, you know how amazing she is. If you haven't, I highly recommend checking into her work at Creative Mathematics.

In one of her workshops, she briefly held up a "Counting Rope." I thought it a very nifty math manipulative and received permission from Kim to make a video showing how to make your own. This is an incredible visual model for demonstrating addition, subtraction, counting and more!

If you like the video, I encourage you to comment here or on YouTube, showing your appreciation to Kim for allowing me to pass on this information. And look for Kim's book, Do The Math (scroll down on this page), for activities using the counting rope. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Make Your Own Pattern Pull!

Barbara Novelli, one of the wonderful speakers I saw this weekend at the Northwest Math Conference, briefly showed us what she called a "pattern holder." Basically, it was a sleeve made of stiff paper (think posterboard) that she pulled pattern strips through. The pattern strips were permanent, each created to show a particular pattern. I'm sure she had a lot of them; I would think that each strip could be used in one sitting with one group of kids before being set aside until the next year.

I'm far too lazy to create that many unique strips. So I decided to modify a bit. Like Barbara, I created the long sleeve from posterboard so that I could pull strips through, slowly revealing each picture as children make predictions about the picture(s) to follow. But rather than making a lot of permanent pattern strips, I made a pattern holder. I cut up one heavyweight presentation sheet protector and made a transparent pocket on the front of a strip of posterboard. The pocket is designed to hold little cards.

I then went to my local dollar store and picked up one package of wall borders. I cut them up so that I had a multitude of pictures that could be arranged and rearranged to form patterns. This way, I can insert them into the transparent pocket to form anything from simple ABAB patterns to more complex ABCABC or ABBABB patterns, etc. Additional patterns could be made from photos of children (boy-girl-boy-girl or long hair, short hair) or by cutting 3x5" notecards in half and adding stickers or stamps.

I made a short video to demonstrate. Hope you enjoy. I'd love to hear your comments. ;) And do check out past entries exploring patterns. Especially this one that uses the book Pattern Bugs and includes a bunch of hands-on pattern activities.

And with this post, love2learn2day celebrates the 500th Google Friend follower!! THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE! :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Math Monday Blog Hop #28

I just spent a fascinating couple of days at the Northwest Mathematics Conference. I have so many fabulous new ideas to try out...and share!!! Can't wait to post more this week!

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Advice for Alexander (...who used to be rich last Sunday!)

In the context of Bridges in Mathematics, we've been reading Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday. This humorous picture book provides ample opportunity to explore the addition and subtraction of money through the life of Alexander and his brothers.

We added money...
The text specifies the coins that Alexander's brothers, Anthony and Nicholas, have. So, for example, we figured out how much Anthony has with "two dollars and three quarters and one dime and seven nickels and eighteen pennies." We first used mental math and then checked with both numbers and money value pieces.

We compared money...
After figuring out how much each brother had, we compared to see who had the most.

We subtracted money...
We followed along, subtracting, as Alexander receives a dollar from his grandparents and gradually loses it in a series of poor financial choices.

Finally, we did some writing...and gave Alexander a little advice. (This letter will make the most sense if you read it in the context of the book.) Here's my son's letter:

Dear Alexander,

Don't buy three pieces of gum. Your friend is not going to buy used gum. Don't try and hold your breath til three hundred. Also, you should have landed on your feet when you jumped off of the stoop. And you should not hide a purple marble from your mom because my mom said moms have special magic. Renting a snake for one hour is not really worth it. Don't say bad words to your brothers. Don't hold money while you flush the toilet and try not to walk on your hands with a nickel. And don't eat a chocolate bar that's left sitting around. Don't give Nick four pennies. He probably just stole them. Don't kick Nick's butt. Don't buy a bear with one eye and a half-melted candle and a deck of cards that you can't really do anything with. Don't try and make a tooth fall out.

Pick up the book and write to Alexander with your own advice. We'd love to see what you include! :)

Throughout both the reading of the story and the writing of the letter, my son laughed and laughed. It's a great book for elementary-age students!

Disclosure: If you purchase this product through my Amazon link, all commissions go toward foster care through Grace and Hope at no additional cost to you. I do not keep any money myself; I am hoping to be able to sponsor an additional child in foster care through commissions on this site. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Swish...a Very Cool Math Game

My husband says that Swish has "coolness factor." He's not easily impressed, so take that into consideration. :)

Swish is a new, transparent card game by ThinkFun. Basically, you layer cards so that "balls" go into "hoops" of the same color. In order to make cards fit together, you have to mentally flip/reflect or turn/rotate. When you call "Swish" you put the cards together to test your theory; if they fit, you keep the cards and earn that many points. If they don't fit, you have to return them and lose that number of cards/points already in your hand.

But there's more...

It's not necessarily that hard to find a Swish with two cards. But you can layer MULTIPLE cards to produce a Swish. Try finding 3, 4 or more cards that go together to form a Swish. The more cards you stack, the more points you get.

If you've ever played SET (a favorite math game for looking at patterns), this reminds me of it in some ways. The cards are dealt onto the playing surface and everyone tries to find a SWISH at once. Last night, we played with two adults, a 9yo, and a 5yo. I was shocked that the 5yo was able to play; he could find SWISHes with two cards. At the same time, my husband and I competed to find SWISHes with three cards or more. I'd no sooner than think I had a SWISH and my 5yo would take a card off the playing surface to complete his own 2-card SWISH.

It's a great group game and would make a terrific Math Station in school (what a great way to explore geometric transformations!!!) and a great Math Workbox at home. Oh...[chuckle]...and it would probably work for a fun family game as well. At least we think so.

Are you starting a holiday gift list? Swish would be a great addition!

Disclosure: I received a free Swish game in exchange for a frank and unbiased review. Thank you to ThinkFun for the opportunity! I was not paid for this review, nor was I required to write a positive review.  If you purchase this product through my Amazon link, all commissions go toward foster care through Grace and Hope at no additional cost to you. I do not keep any money myself; I am hoping to be able to sponsor an additional child in foster care through commissions on this site.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Math Monday Blog Hop #27

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Giveaway: Square Cat (Children's Book)

Here's a square deal...that might just made you purrrrrr...

Elizabeth Schoonmaker, author of Square Cat, graciously sent us an autographed copy of her book for a giveaway. (You can read my review here and a lesson we did with the book here.)


Enter to Win:

Prize (1): one autographed copy of Square Cat
**U.S. shipping only.**

Contest Details:
Begins today and continues through Halloween, October 31st. (Wouldn't it be fun to dress up as a square cat for Halloween??) Contest ends at midnight on the 31st. I will choose a winner at random using

How to enter:
Enter up to three times, using the criteria below. Please make sure that I have a way to contact you...such as janedoe at gmail dot com. If I don't hear back from a real person within 24 hours, I'll draw again.

#1: What problematic situation do you think a square cat might encounter, due to her shape?

#2: Become a follower of my blog. (Or tell me that you already are.)

#3: Blog about the contest and post the link in your comment below.

Good luck!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Square Cat Fun!

I recently mentioned how much I enjoy the new book, Square Cat. This week, before reading the book again, I held up two shapes (below, right) and asked my 5yo to tell me what he knew about them. (Can you tell that I used two pieces from my kindergarten calendar pattern? :) From Bridges in Mathematics, btw.) He named them (circle, square) and talked about their attributes (no sides, round; 4 sides w/ same length, 4 corners, etc.)

We then reread Square Cat. I set out some die cut circles* and squares and asked my boys to pick out shapes to represent each character in the book. (*Note that the characters are "round" in the book and not true circles.) They picked two circles and a square. They then drew their own depiction of the characters. A fun art/math/lit connection!  Linking up to stART!

Disclaimer: If you purchase the book from Amazon, any commissions I make (at no additional cost to you) will be sent to Grace and Hope to provide foster care to orphans in China. I recently received a review copy of the book along with another for a giveaway. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Math Monday Blog Hop #26

Get ready for a GIVEAWAY!!! It's coming!!

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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Versatile Blogger Award

Thank you so much to Heather at mrsrobinsonsclassroomblog,  Janaye at frogsandcupcakes, and Barbara at The Corner On Character for the Versatile Blogger Award! Thanks also to Barbara for the Blog on Fire Award! And to Janaye for the Top Ten Award!

To accept Versatile Blogger Award, I need to:

1. Link back to the bloggers who awarded me. (Done...and thank you! I LOVE your blogs!)
2. Share 7 things about myself.
3. Nominate 15 other blogs.

Wow! Tall order!

So...7 things about me...

1. In the past week, I have canned a little more than 115 jars of tomatoes, tomato sauce and salsa. I am so, so sick of looking at tomatoes. (But grateful!) I also found the top of my desk and the floor of my office. (The tomatoes weren't stored there, but everything else was!)  :)

2. I just finished a summer that included many teacher math workshops...including one to Indiana in the heart of Amish country. I learn so much from working with teachers!

3. Related to #2, my husband has Amish relatives. We visited a great uncle and my kids got a buggy ride.

4. I have 5 children. Last year I discovered why I was so busy all the time. I had one child in each of these levels: preschool, elementary, middle, high school, and college!

5. Related to #4, when I was a kid, I said I wanted to grow up to have 12 children.

6. I've gone from high school English teacher to middle school language arts/social studies to elementary teacher to math trainer. My favorite age to teach is always whatever age I'm currently teaching. (Which seems to change on a daily basis!)

7. If I wasn't a teacher, I'd be a child psychologist specializing in adoption issues.

Check out these fabulous math blogs (in no particular order):

Math Mama Writes...

Dr. Nicki's Guided Math Blog

Bookish Ways in Math and Science


Math is Not a Four Letter Word

Guided Math Study Group

Let's Play Math!

Homeschool blogs (in no particular order):

Almost Unschoolers

Joyful Learner

Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns

The Adventures of Bear

A Mommy's Adventures

Jimmie's Collage

Journey to Excellence

The Learning Hypothesis

Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational (an "after school" blog!)

Someday I'll do a post just on teacher blogs. There are so, so many I love that it's hard to choose just a few! But you can find a lot of fabulous teachers linked at:

Teaching Blog Addict

Okay, that's 17. But who's counting??? :)

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