Doodles!

I don’t know about you but I really can’t understand some things without drawing out pictures. Sometimes the pictures have nothing to do with the subject I’m trying to understand! Recently I found a cool series of books to add my Amazon Wish List and I thought I’d share them with you. Maybe they’ll interest you and/or your kids!

They’re called “Doodle Yourself Smart” and they have one for Math, Geometry, and Physics. For $35 you can get all three of them on Amazon. I haven’t received mine yet, but I’ll let you know if they are awesome when I do. But then, that wouldn’t really do because they may be boring to me but really click with you. Go check them out. For $12, you can’t really go wrong!

“Kitchen Table Math”?

I found a great resource for homeschool math yesterday. It’s called, “Dr. Wright’s Kitchen Table Math”. It’s not curriculum. It’s several books about games and things you can do to promote mathematical thinking. It’s stuff that we, as parents that most likely learned math at school, probably wouldn’t even see as “math”. The site also has a resource list of reading books and games. Using something like this could be used as your math resource if you are privately homeschooling. You don’t need to be doing worksheets and abstract math in elementary school. And since there are no other kids your child’s age at your school, unless you have twins, there is no “behind”.

Math Books

I had never considered myself a “math person” and, about ten years ago, I heard someone talk about how ridiculous that sounded, especially since no one is embarrassed to announce that at a party. No one would walk into a group of people chatting about a novel and say “I’ve never considered myself a ‘word’ person.” Just about everyone would feel just a little inferior if they said that, but no one feels that way about math. It’s as if it’s a special club that few elite are members of. They suggested we stop using that phrase and encourage others to do so as well. It screams our willful ignorance on a topic that touches our lives on a daily basis. She said that we were probably taught about numbers before we were ready to learn them and then convinced by the school system that because of that we should consider ourselves “not good at math” and pursue other subjects. I’ve spent the last ten years trying to rediscover math on my own terms. And I’ve fallen in love with the subject! Maybe not to the extent that an expert in the subject would, but I can follow the logic and understand math that occurs all around us every day, much the same way most of us use words to function in the world.

Right now I’m reading an awesome book called, “Euclid’s Window” by Leonard Mlodinow. It’s about the history of math which, amazingly, involves humans that are trying to explain things. It’s such a great read that I find myself reading it first thing in the morning and for a few minutes before I go to bed!

If you are interested in introducing math to your kids (and yourself in the process), try reading some of the books listed on my Math Resource page instead of starting with abstract math like “This is the number 1.” If you’d like to start working with numbers, I highly recommend “Right Start Math.” Hearing the author explain math that way really helped me overcome my fear by showing me that I wasn’t bad at it, I just wasn’t given the right tools. My sons and I played the games in that pack for years and still have the abacus and scale! You may be amazed at how much you love real world math and that excitement will certainly be passed on to your kids!

Rocketry Organization of California – Lucerne

The Rocketry Organization of California (ROC) hosts a rocket launch event in Lucerne once a month. Spectators are free but you need to be aware of the safety rules. They are flying more than the little ones we make in scouts!

LDRS35 (Large, Dangerous Rocket Ships) is coming up June 8-12! Check out their site for details about the event and how to watch the big ones go up. It sounds like an exciting weekend!

A Math Resource

Yesterday’s Thomas Jefferson Education Presentation in Yucca Valley was a great success and I look forward to bringing more home education speakers out to the desert to share their stories.

During the talk yesterday, I was reminded of an awesome online math resource called Living Math. This website is filled with lists of alternative methods to traditional math instruction, from books to websites.  Go check it out! But prepare to be sucked in, even if you aren’t a “math person”.

Origami

I used to love origami when I was a kid. I had a little book of about ten different things to make and I made them over and over again, armies of birds and frogs!

Today was the last day of the first session of our homeschool group’s “enrichment meetings” and I decided try some origami out with the kids. Personally, I think it went over pretty well!

First we talked a bit about origami. I found this awesome article online about Origami & Math. It has great basic information that got me thinking and some links to books and other sites. We had talked a little about topology earlier in the session and I was thinking origami was topology…I was right! I love the connections I find when learning naturally.

I found a great list of step-by-step instructions on Origami Instructions (clever site name). It has videos as well. These really helped me because sometimes I just can’t see how they went from one picture to the next no matter how hard I try. Another great site I found was Origami Resource Center. I liked the way they organized their instructions, but they don’t have videos. I’m sure if you went to YouTube and searched for the one you wanted to do, someone has made a video of it!

I decided to show them how to make a jumping frog. Action ones are so much more fun! After we made them, we raced them across the table two at a time until we had an ultimate winner. It was pretty exciting. Then we hopped each one across the table and wrote down how many hops it took for each frog. We wrote it all down and found the median and the average number of hops.

It was an hour of fun! I want to sit and make an army of frogs now, but dinner needs to be made for my family.

Read Alouds

Real aloud time is not just for fiction! Young children love stories and if you give them something to do while you read out loud to them, they’re likely to listen all afternoon. Coloring, playing simple games, legos, or blocks are great ways to keep hands busy while ears listen.

One of the books my sons liked when they were little was “Mathematicians are People, too!” There are loads of stories in these books that bring mathematicians and other scientists to life for kids long before they ever can understand the concepts they invented or discovered. Go check them out!

By the way, I’m not making money on clicks or Amazon sales. I’m just sharing things I’ve found great over the past ten years of home educating my kids!

Calendars!

Calendars are awesome! As a private school, you need to mark attendance each day (I know!) and a printable calendar is great for that. I have one from Donna Young that has the whole year on two sheets of paper. I print it at the beginning of our school year and it sits in a bright pink folder on my desk next to my computer along with my course of study. Each morning as I check my email and Facebook excitement, I put an X on the day if it’s a weekday. Legal requirement = complete. Some people print a page like this and write “Absences Marked With an X” at the top. Since our kids are not absent from our houses at any time there are no X’s, but attendance is taken none the less. Both ways are sufficient to be in compliance with the legal requirements.

I also have a student planner from Walmart sitting on my desk. I like it because there is plenty of room to write down the plan both for the month and the week. I don’t plan a lot in advance, but all our appointments, field trips, and events are on the monthly part. As we go through the week, the daily part has notes and checklists about what we did that day. Things like “boy was working on his website most the day”, “dad read to us from his book after dinner”, and “boy started reading ‘Lord of the Rings'” cover those pages. If you have a more set schedule, you can write it out there and check things off as you do them. Planners are great to look back on when you’re trying to remember what went on last week. As unschoolers, the days seem to run together at times and having the written planner really helps me get a handle on who’s been doing what and when. I’m certain someone, some day, will come across my planners and journals and be amazed…I just know it!

Did you know there are cool learning calendars out there as well? These ones are great for inspiring ideas and finding things you didn’t even know existed in a fun and spontaneous way. It’s also a great way for YOU to continue your own life long learning journey and share it with your kids. There are history, science, literature, and art calendars. There’s even one for preschool ideas! You don’t need to buy them every year either. You won’t get to everything every day, so keep them around for inspiration year after year, just ignore the day of the week!

Here’s a list of some of my favorites.

Universal Preschool’s “Preschool Learning Calendar”

Thomas Jefferson Education’s “This Week In History”

Today in Science History

Theorem of the Day

“The Mathematics Calendar” by Theoni Pappas

And a whole wall of calendars you can find at this site, from Word of the Day and Word Origins to Pets and Flowers!
http://www.calendars.com/Literature/cat00136/