Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Tuttle Twins

The Tuttle Twins is a new series of books to help children learn about complex political and economic concepts.

There are currently five books in the series targeted at children ages 6-13. Each 50 page book focuses on a government policy or concept that has real life consequences for all citizens.

The Tuttle Twins and the Creature from Jekyll Island
The Tuttle Twins Learn about the Law
The Tuttle Twins and the Miraculous Pencil
The Tuttle Twins and the Food Truck Fiasco
The Tuttle Twins and the Road to Surfdom

For example, the Food Truck Fiasco explores protectionist laws designed to prevent competition when the owner of a restaurant convinces the city to pass laws that make it difficult for food truck vendors to continue to compete. Eminent Domain, Free Market, and concepts of liberty are among those introduced.

Because these books are targeted at young children, they are brief. The story line does an excellent job of introducing complex topics but doesn't go into a lot of detail. At the end of the books are real life examples of the topics described in the books for parents and kids to explore.

An unrelated follow on series that continues to explore similar complex topics is Richard Maybury Uncle Eric Books. The Uncle Eric books are better for children a little older. (Ages 12-18)

* I did not receive any compensation for this recommendation. I'm just a homeschooling mom who has found many products that I like. If you're interested in the products I recommend on this blog I want to make it easy for you to find them. 
 ** I am an Amazon associate and receive a small portion of the sales on orders made after clicking in from this site, which I promptly spend on homeschooling books and supplies for my children.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Importance of Skip-Counting

Skip-counting is a fundamental math skill which is often not covered by math curriculums.


What is skip-counting? Quite simply, skip-counting is counting by multiples of a number. The following list shows skip-counting by the numbers 2 through 9. In each example, the list could continue on indefinitely.


2: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20
3: 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30
4: 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, 36, 40
5: 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50
6: 6, 12, 18, 24, 30, 36, 42, 48, 54, 60
7: 7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42, 49, 56, 63, 70
8: 8, 16, 24, 32, 40, 48, 56, 64, 72, 80
9: 9, 18, 27, 36, 45, 54, 63, 72, 81, 90

If kids begin elementary math with a strong foundation in number sense, which involves skip-counting, it enables them to rapidly absorb higher level math concepts. It is not unreasonable to cover math that is typically taught in grades 3-6 in less than a year. This is because there are lots of math concepts with roots in skip-counting. It takes the majority of math time in grades 3-6 to cover these concepts. Once kids understand and can rapidly skip-count, they can fly through these numerous math concepts.

Not only does skip-counting have benefit because it enables children to rapidly progress through math curriculum. Skip-counting has value on its own. I often use skip-counting when knitting and crafting. Instead of counting stitches by 1's, counting by 3's or 4's is much more efficient. Many people use skip-counting during their work day. A store owner uses skip-counting to take inventory of products. It comes in handy when playing games and in estimating. Since skip-counting is so valuable and can be fun to learn, it shouldn't be skipped.

 

Math Concepts Based on Skip-Counting 


Multiplication
Division
Lowest Common Factor
Greatest Common Factor
Adding and Subtracting Fractions
Reducing Fractions
Factoring
Prime and Composite Numbers
Recognizing Number Patterns and Sequences

Multiplication and Division

Numerous math concepts are based on skip-counting. Multiplication, for example, is directly related to skip-counting. The numbers in the list above are the answers to the multiplication tables.

4: 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32, 36, 40

Skip-counting by 4's, referring to the above list, 4x1=4, 4x2=8, 4x3=12, 4x4=16 and so on. The answers are the same as the list of skip-counting numbers. Therefore, if kids learn to skip-count, they have already memorized the answers to the multiplication tables, before being asked to multiply. In other words, if children understand what skip-counting is and how to do it, multiplication becomes second nature.

The concept works equally well with division. Again, referring to 4's as an example: 4÷4=1, 8÷4=2, 12÷4=3, 16÷4=4. In this case, they have memorized the problems, but can count up to the correct answer.

Greatest Common Factor and Lowest Common Multiple

Greatest common factor (GCF), Lowest common multiple (LCM) and factoring are concepts taught in conjunction with fractions. Likewise with multiplication and division, having a good handle on skip-counting eases understanding of these concepts.

For example, the greatest common factor of the numbers 12 and 16 is 4. Why? Because both 12 and 16 are part of skip-counting by 4's. They are also both part of skip-counting by 2's, but the "greatest" word in the question requires the greater of the possible numbers. This answer of 4 can be visually seen by scanning the above list of skip-counting numbers and finding the biggest number that contains both 12 and 16 in its list.

Lowest common multiple is related to the greatest common factor in a similar way that division is related to multiplication. For example, 21 is the lowest common multiple of 3 and 7 because when referring to the list of numbers above, 21 is the lowest number in both the list for 3's and 7's.

When to Begin Skip-Counting?

If a math curriculum does cover skip-counting, the lessons usually begin around 2nd or 3rd grade. In general, this makes sense because kids should have a good handle on counting the numbers up to 100, counting backwards, and have a basic understanding of addition and subtraction. Although counting to 100 should really be second nature before beginning skip-counting, the other concepts could be mastered in conjunction with skip-counting. So for many kids, 2nd or 3rd grade works just fine, but kids as young as 4 or 5 years old can begin to master skip-counting.

Skip-counting by the numbers 2 and 5 usually comes first, because they are the easiest. Next it's best to work the way through the numbers concentrating on one until it is mastered as kids can become confused by advancing too quickly.

What's Next?

Once the child can skip-count well with all the numbers, or with any one number, the concepts of multiplication and division can be introduced. By placing effort on skip-counting, and making it fun, the pain parents often feel when teaching multiplication can be greatly reduced.

When my oldest daughter was about 4 years old a neighbor and friend of mine asked me, "Do you know how important skip-counting is in learning to multiply?" No was my answer that day, but I quickly learned how right she was. I followed her advice and used this method with all three of my own children who each learn very differently. Despite their differences, they all had fun learning to skip-count and rapidly learned follow-on math concepts. If you have a young child who has not begun learning math, are struggling to teach multiplication, factors, or fractions, or have an older child that could use some review, I highly advocate for a little skip-counting practice.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Best International Historical Fiction

By reading my daughter and I have studied many historical topics. Although we often read historical fiction in connection with our history studies, it happens to be a favorite genre of both my daughter and myself. These books are great reads for upper elementary and middle school students, and are excellent for sparking interest in historical topics.



Snow Treasure tells the story of school children in the north who save the town's treasure from Nazi's during World War II occupation.



The Well of Sacrifice
Red Sand Blue Sky (Girls First!)

The Endless Steppe: Growing Up in Siberia
During World War II a family is set to Siberia. This is the story of how they adjust to this harsh land during hostile times.

Viking Adventure
The Vikings discovered America long before Columbus. In this story, a young Viking boy leaves home seeking adventure. Trained for a life of exploration, he is part of a voyage to Vineland.

The Apprentice

The Children of the New Forest
During the time the British kicked out the king, a family of soldier's children are orphaned and go into hiding. Their lives change dramatically as they learn to hunt, cook and care for themselves.

Trapped by the Ice!: Shackleton's Amazing Antarctic Adventure - Shackleton, an explorer, lead an expedition to the South Pole. During his journey the crew suffered many hardships but were able to overcome due to the outstanding leadership of Shackleton.



* I did not receive any compensation for this recommendation. I'm just a homeschooling mom who has found many products that I like. If you're interested in the products I recommend on this blog I want to make it easy for you to find them. 
** I am an Amazon associate and receive a small portion of the sales on orders made after clicking in from this site, which I promptly spend on homeschooling books and supplies for my children.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Microscope


We are trying something new with science. With our microscope the kids are inspired to explore bugs, pond water, fish scales, hair, foods and more. The first time we got it out my son couldn't wait to look at his hair. Following the book The Ultimate Guide to Your Microscope by Shar Levine is helping us learn the basics of how to use the mircoscope and create different types of slides by doing actual activities.

I'm going to encourage the kids to get the microscope out at least once per week. How do you use your microscope?


 * I did not receive any compensation for this recommendation. I'm just a homeschooling mom who has found many products that I like. If you're interested in the products I recommend on this blog I want to make it easy for you to find them. 
 ** I am an Amazon associate and receive a small portion of the sales on orders made after clicking in from this site, which I promptly spend on homeschooling books and supplies for my children.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Triominos for Family Fun

The kids love playing Triominos.

This game is a spin on the traditional game of dominoes which involves math and strategy. Players try to be the first to play all of their tiles by matching two or three numbers on the tile to existing numbers on the board. Each time a tile is played the player receives points equal to the numbers on the tile. Bonus points are awarded for a few special circumstances such as when all three numbers are matched to place a tile. Play continues in this fashion until 400 points are scored and a winner is determined.

After completing several games, players begin to develop strategy and notice that the numbers always increase in a clockwise fashion. With this knowledge, players understand which plays can allow or prevent players the ability to complete a hexagon. The more the game is played, the more strategy becomes understood. 




We enjoy this game as its fun and builds thinking skills.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Story of Electronic Speed!

My husband is the brains behind the electronic version of Speed! He is a computer programmer and really likes to write code.

Speed! is a skip-counting card game that helps kids learn multiplication.

Physical Cards
iPad app Lite version - free, Two Speed only
iPad app Full version 
iPhone app.

When the physical version of Speed! went up for sale at Amazon.com in September 2011, he began working on an electronic version. Although he is a computer engineer, he wasn't familiar with X-Code. So he not only needed to create the program, but also needed to understand and learn X-Code, which is the language Apple Apps are written in.

Pretty much all of his weekends and free time between September 2011 and January 2013 were spent on this project. He was on track to have it in the iStore at the end of the summer, before Jemma was diagnosed with Leukemia. After the diagnosis instead of working on Speed! he spent much more time cleaning, caring for our kids and handling all of the insurance paperwork.

In between his new added responsibilities he still found some time to play with the kids and finish the code for Speed! I think he did an awesome job! I knew he could do it, but had no idea it would look so good and play so smooth.

Here is a picture of him the day Speed! was available in the iStore for the first time...... You are Smrt dear! I love you!

 To find Speed! in the App Store switch the category to education and then search on

  • Speed, math
  • Speed, highhill
  • Speed, multiplication
or click the links below.

Physical version
Lite version - free,Two Speed only 
Full version 
iPhone app

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Knitting - Interested Based Education


We constantly shift our daily routines between various degrees of interest based education and loosely structured basic requirements. During our last adventure moving toward interest based education I constantly worked to ensure my children were growing in their knowledge of their areas of interest.

A few years ago my youngest learned to knit around the age of five years old with a peg loom. She went on to both crochet and knit herself hats. After she made a second knit hat identical to her first I was hoping she would be interested in another knitting project which was slightly more difficult.

I was in luck. All I had to do was suggest she search the internet for fancy hats. She giggled as she looked, but then chose a very appropriate hat to increase her knowledge and continue her knitting.


After finding the hat she wanted to make she chose her yarn.

While she was selecting yarn, I worked to write down a pattern for her to follow. We talked about the Fibonacci numbers as they are useful in designing stripes. In addition, we counted the number of rows in her hat and how many rows of each color were to be knitted, which involved lots of addition and subtraction.

This project was perfect because she worked on it several days in a row while sick with a fever, was able to read the directions on her own, and able to see how math is involved in pattern creation. It is always interesting to see where kids go when they are given the freedom to explore.

For more great educational activities check out these blog hops.
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