Thursday, April 1, 2010

Shutting Down

I am closing this blog.  I just don't have enough time or interest to run more than one blog.  I will occasionally be blogging about educational things on my family blog, if you would like to join me at Freedom Lovers' Academy.  Thank you!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sir Cumerence and the Dragon of Pi

The winner is #3- The Schneiders.

Since March 14th is Pi Day, I thought that our last giveaway would be for Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi by Cindy Neuschwander.

The Sir Cumference series is one that we love.  This is a series about one of King Arthur's knights, Sir Cumference.  In the first book, Sir Cumference and the First Round Table, Sir Cumference helps King Arthur find the right shape for his table.  In this book, Sir Cumference turns into a dragon, and his son, Radius, searches for a magic number known as pi to turn him back into a knight.

If you would like to win this book, please leave a comment.  To ensure this book is delivered on time for Pi Day, this giveaway will end on March 9th.  Thank you all for participating in my math giveaway!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch

The winner is #4, Lynn.

I am sorry that I am so far behind on posting.  I have been sick.

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch is one of my favorite books.  This book is about a young boy who is forced to become an indentured servant.  He lives in Salem, during the eighteenth century.  He was a mathematical genius who overcame great odds to continue his education after becoming a servant.  His work, "The American Practical Navigator" is still in use.

While this book is not a traditional math book, or even about math, it does show how math is useful in the real world.  I highly recommend this book on these merits, alone.  But, in addition, it is a great story.  It was the winner of the 1956 Newberry medal.  Obviously, it is not a new book, but I have found that old books have much to recommend them.

If you would like to win this book, please leave a comment.  This giveaway will end on March 8th.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Times Tales

The winner is #5- Kristin.

Times Tales is one of my favorite math helps.  Outside of my 9 year old teaching the 6 year old his multiplication tables, this is one of the most effective ways I have found of teaching my children their multiplication tables.

I have to admit that I have become a "wait and see" kind of parent where the tables are concerned.  My two younger children have slowly learned their tables as they pressed forward into other math.  For instance, my middle son only cemented his grasp of the multiplication table after he had already finished long division.  Having to do all that 'backward' multiplication really got the tables into his head.  However, he enjoyed the Times Tales.  It helped get him off to a fast start.  If your child does not have the option of time, or you just really want them to have those tables memorized before you move on, this is the book for you.

This book gives children a gentle way of memorizing the multiplication tables.  It does not include the 1s, 2s, 5s, or 10s.  It only includes a few of the 3s and 4s.  Basically, it covers the hard problems to memorize.  It is a different way of doing business.  And, when it comes to any subject, but especially math, I am all about finding different ways to help their brains grasp things.

The idea behind this book is that there is a story and symbol that goes with each problem.  As the child begins to remember the story, the multiplication problems become cemented in their brains.  Most children like to have books read to them over and over again.  This is a great way to get those multiplication tables going without having to resort to flash cards.  While I enjoyed flash cards, so far none of my children have had a particular liking for them.  Oh well.

Up for grabs today...  One copy of Times Tales!  Please leave a comment with an easy way to get in touch with you (email is great!).

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Living Math Giveaway

The winner is #4 Teacher of One.

This is a very interesting math curriculum.  It is based on math history.  Now, if you've read A Thomas Jefferson Education, you'll know that there is a contingent of people that believe that math should only be taught in context.  In fact, some people even believe that math should be taught by reading through The Principia : Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy as a method of teaching math.  I think there is some merit to the true mathematician reading Principia, but do not see the merit for most school children.  I think it would be overwhelming.

On the other hand, anything that is worth learning is worth learning in context.  Math is no different.  The difficulty has always lain in finding context for math while teaching it.  That is where Living Math comes in.  This is a fun curriculum that includes reading a lot of books (something that I'm obviously interested in), learning about math in historical context, and generally learning more about math than most math teachers know.

Today, I am giving away one unit of this wonderful program.  You pick which unit and level you want, and I'll order it for you.  Just leave a comment with your email address.  This giveaway will end March 3rd- World Math Day!  Be sure to visit the other math giveaways while you're here.

For those trying to find the units (they're under lesson plans), take a look at these two links: Cycle 1 and Cycle 2.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

How Much is a Million Giveaway

The winner for this is #14, Kristin.

I found this charming book while I was wandering about the bookstore last night. This book gives various examples of one million, one billion, and one trillion. It talks about how long it would take to count that high, how many pages tiny stars would fill, how high children standing on each other would reach, and how large a fish bowl would be needed for that many goldfish.

I am giving away one copy of this book. This giveaway ends 2-28-2010. Leave a comment to enter.

Don't forget to enter the other giveaways in honor of World Maths Day!

What's Your Angle, Pythagoras

The winner is number 3- Elisa!

All of my children have enjoyed this book.  It tells the story of Pythagoras as he discovers his famous theorem.  This is a great introduction to geometry.  If a child knows the story behind a formula, he is much more likely to understand it, giving him a better grasp of the formula and the theorem.

I am giving away one copy of What's Your Angle, Pythagoras? A Math Adventure.  If you would like to win, please leave a comment.  This giveaway will end 2-27-2010

Don't forget to enter the other giveaways in honor of World Maths Day!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Gifts for Math Geeks Giveaway

The winner is #8 (I only counted Elisa once!), Traci Smith!  Thank you for entering.

Because math is not just a subject, but a way of life, I thought I would give away a t-shirt.  Go check out Gifts for a Geek and tell me what your favorite math geek t-shirt is.  One lucky person will win the t-shirt of their choice.

Don't forget to enter the other giveaways in honor of World Maths Day!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Dr. Wright's Kitchen Table Math Giveaway

The winner is #5, Kathryn.  I'll be sending you an email.

I just got this book in the mail today.  What an excellent little book!  This book teaches you how to teach your children math.  With this book, you should not need any other math curriculum (before the age of 9).  This book is a basic math book.  It covers: quantities, adding and subtracting, multiplying, dividing, fractions, equations, geometry, reasoning, measurements, time, probability and graphing, money, manipulatives, and even has a chapter of games and activities.

I truly believe that every parent, who is able to do basic math, does not need a curriculum to teach their children math.  However, you might need a little direction or help.  Or, maybe your child is in school, but needs help with math.  Maybe you like your curriculum, but you need to supplement it.  This book is great for that.

Even if you don't win it, I encourage you to check it out.  The age guidelines say it is for ages 2-8, but I would say you should have this when you have a baby, and it could be useful well into the tween years.

If you would like to win this book, please leave a comment.  The giveaway will end on the 25th.

Don't forget to enter the other giveaways in honor of World Maths Day!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Life of Fred

Winner!  We have a winner!  #1 Dana of School for Us.  I'll be sending you an email, Dana.  Thanks to everyone who entered!

Today's giveaway is a copy of your choice of Life of Fred: Fractions or Decimals & Percents.  My family loves these books.  For anyone who has a reader, this is a great supplement to their math lessons.  My 'non-reader' (who still loves to read, it's just not his strong suit) loves Life of Fred.  It's just a different way of doing things.

Life of Fred forces students to think outside the box.  This makes it more likely that they will retain the math concepts long after they learn them.

If you would like to win one of these books, please leave me a comment.

Don't forget to enter the other giveaways in honor of World Maths Day!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Librarian Who Measured the Earth

Winner............  # 3- Anonymous.  (Oh, how I love anonymous. ;)  I will contact you by email.

Today, I am giving away The Librarian Who Measured the Earth.

The Librarian Who Measured the Earth is one of my favorite books. When I told my middle son that I was going to be giving it away, he was heartbroken, until he realized we have three of them.

This is a book about Eratosthenes. Eratosthenes was a librarian who wanted to find out how big the earth was. The book tells about old libraries, and old math. It Talks about history, math, and geography, all at the same time. The illustrations are colorful, and cover the pages.
All knowledge builds on existing knowledge. But it takes the curiosity and inspiration of a man like Eratosthenes to figure out how to use that knowledge to answer old questions and create new ones that will alter civilization and our view of the world for years to come.- from the Afterword
This book will introduce your children to the great mathematician, Eratosthenes.  Perhaps, it will encourage their curiosity about mathematics.

To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment, along with your email address.  The giveaway will end on February 23rd, when the winner will be announced.

Don't forget to enter the other giveaways in honor of World Maths Day!

Monday, February 15, 2010

World Math/s Day Giveaway

March 3rd, 2010 is World Maths Day.  (Did you know that in other English speaking countries, they say maths, instead of math?)  At any rate, there is a great contest going on at  This contest is open to all students between the ages of 5 and 18, whether they be homeschooled, public schooled, private schooled...

In honor of World Maths Day, and because I love books about math, I am having a big long giveaway of math books on this website.  The giveaway starts tomorrow, with The Librarian Who Measured the Earth, and will continue with such things as Life of FredDr Wright's Kitchen Table Math, a little Sir Cumference,  and What's Your Angle, Pythagoras? A Math Adventure.  These are just some of the giveaways scheduled.  I may throw in a math shirt, just for fun.  Please, tell your friends about the giveaway.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Eric Herman

My children have developed a deep and abiding love for all things Eric Herman.  We were introduced to Eric Herman by a family, whose young daughter did the animation in "The Elephant Song."

My kids' favorite song is "My Lucky Day."

They are also particularly fond of "Blackbeard, Bluebeard & Redbeard"

and "Ants in Your Pants." Hopefully, your family can find something to enjoy, as well.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Planet Earth Part 2

These are the worksheets for pages 18-23.  Enjoy.

Planet Earth Crossword 2
Planet Earth Crossword 2 Answer Key
Planet Earth Quiz 2
Planet Earth Quiz 2 Answer Key

I decided to go with Google Documents, because Scribd was messing up the image of the crosswords.  These should be viewable/printable by everyone.  If you have any problems, please let me know.
For the first part, please visit part 1.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Clementine Review

by Sara Pennypacker

Clementine is a funny little girl who is new to third grade. She loves art and has a unique perspective on life – one adults don’t always understand. Clementine is smart and has good intentions, she just has a tendency to accidentally get in trouble. She is having a very bad week. She is having a hard time with hair, her birthday party goes miserably, she has to go to the principal’s office – again – and even her mom is mad at her. To help distract her, her dad requests her help with the war he has waged against the pigeons that mess up the steps to their apartment building. For once Clementine’s ingenuity helps a situation instead of hindering, and reader’s get a special delight discovering all of Clementine’s fun way of life.

Clementine is a great book for elementary school children. Even those reluctant fourth grade boys love it. It is fast paced and written in an easy, fun style for kids to read. Adults will enjoy it as a fresh new take on the Ramona Quimby style books. This book is absolutely a funny, great read. You will fall in love with Clementine!

guest post by Sally at Manor Books

Monday, January 25, 2010

February holidays

Ground Hog's Day, Lincoln's Birthday, President's Day, Washington's Birthday, Valentine's Day, Rosa Park's Birthday, the halfway point of winter, National Weather Persons' Day (of particular not in our family, since hubby is a weather man), Massachusetts' Birthday, Ronal Reagan's Birthday, Thomas Edison's birthday, Charles Darwin's birthday, Bicycle Safety Day, the Chinese New Year, Oregon's birthday, Arizona's birthday, Galileo Galilei's birthday, Mardi Gras, Random Acts of Kindness Day, Nicolaus Copernicus' birthday, and John Glenn orbiting the Earth anniversary, are all in February!

If you can't find something to do from that list, there's more.

Celebrating holidays, anniversaries, and birthdays is a great way to learn about things.  A few of the things we will be hitting in February: Ground Hogs, Rosa Parks, President's Day, winter, weather, Massachusetts, Thomas Edison, Charles Darwin, the Chinese New Year, Oregon, Arizona, Galileo, Copernicus, and John Glenn.  I can't wait to share some of the activities we have planned.

In the meantime, what are some of your favorite holidays to celebrate?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Finger Knitting

YouTube Saturday.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Picturing America: President George Washington is the general rhythm we have fallen into:  We briefly talk about the painting, and the painter.  We talk about what was going on in the world at the time of the painting.  We very briefly discuss the style of the painting (I am not an artist or knowledgeable about art, so I have to go with what I read in the handbook).  Then, we read a book about the event, or person, featured in the painting.  Depending on what art project we have scheduled for that day, we will do art throughout the class, so that the pieces have time to dry between layers.

This week, we studied two paintings: Washington Crossing the Delaware and George Washington (Landsdowne Portrait), 1796.
George Washington (Lansdowne Portrait), 1796:  There are so many ways you can go when studying George Washington.  Our goal was not to study George Washington in general, rather to study him as a general, as pertained to the crossing of the Delaware.  However, I do have some resources for you:
George Washington by Cheryl Harness is a wonderful book, with wonderful pictures.  If you visit Amazon, you can see a few of the illustrations in the book.

This link has an interactive copy of the Lansdowne Portrait.  You can give your students access to it, if you desire.

This link has a lot of other links.  It would be a great place to start a search for information on George Washington.

Washington Crossing the Delaware:  I read bits and pieces of Crossing The Delaware: A History In Many Voices by Louise Peacock.  I did not read the entire thing only because we are short on time.  This, too is a great book and I highly recommend it.  

Mount Vernon's Lesson Plans for all things Washington.
This site has lesson plans, as well as background information, and a copy of the painting.
Elementary activity sheets
Includes a coloring sheet

For our artwork, we colored pictures, then decoupaged them to wood.  Basically, I had a hard time finding an activity that would work in the time frame we had.  We also made oceans in bottles.  You could then glue or tape the picture to the bottle.  If we had had more time, I might have done a seascape, you might use the coloring page to do a watercolor, or you might try your hand at making an etching (this painting was very popular as an etching, as was the portrait).  You might also use some of the pictures of George Washington from this site to do this style art project.  (By the way, I have found Art Projects for Kids to be a great resource.)

One of our younger students completely covered his picture, because it was nighttime.

Free Resource: Reader Apps for Your iPod/iPhone and PC

In November, I was pointed toward a wonderful free resource.  We already own two iPod touches, due to the fact that they came free with our computers.  A friend was raving about her Kindle, and really, I didn't want to spend the money on one.  Then, someone mentioned the Kindle App for iPhone.  There are three reader apps that I currently have on my iPod Touch.  They are all three free downloads, and they all three allow me to download books for free.

The Kindle app is for Amazon.  If you go to Amazon's Kindle store, you will find many free books on their Bestsellers list.  I search for any book I want in the Kindle store (especially if it is a classic) before I buy it.  Many times, it is free, or very inexpensive (less than a dollar).

The Stanza app is for many different sources.  These are the free sources they offer: Feedbooks, Random House, Harlequin, Project Gutenberg (a great online resource for books in the public domain), Books from Munseys, and Books from BookGlutton.  Project Gutenberg is one of my favorite online sources for classic children's books.  In the past, we have been hampered by our dislike of reading on a computer screen.  Now, we are able to thoroughly enjoy many of our books for free.

Finally, I have eReader.  This is for Barnes & Noble.  I admit that I have not downloaded any books to this, as of yet.  As a result I cannot fully recommend it.  But, as it is free, it is worth taking a look at.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Usborne Internet Linked Encyclopedia of World Geography

I really like this book. It has amazing pictures, and is an easy read. That means that it interests almost everyone that picks it up. A couple days ago, I was leafing through it, thinking that I would love for my children to use it even more than they already do.

I subscribe to the 'scatter method' of teaching. I scatter books around my house in the hopes that my children will want to read them. Nine times out of ten, they do. This book, as well as the Science Encyclopedia that we have are two favorites. They serve as jumping off points. Many times, my boys want to investigate things further. However, I thought it would be a good idea to make them some quizzes to see how deeply they are reading. Then, I thought I would share them with you. So far, I have a quiz for the first eight pages from the chapter "Planet Earth." I also made a crossword puzzle.

Tell me if this is useful. Any feedback is appreciated. I will try to post another quiz and crossword puzzle each week.

These are hosted on Google Documents.  They should be viewable/printable by everyone.  If you have any trouble, please let me know.

Planet Earth Quiz 1
Planet Earth Quiz 1 Answer Key
Planet Earth Crossword 1
Planet Earth Crossword 1 Answer Key

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Book Review: So Far From the Bamboo Grove

So Far From the Bamboo Grove
by Yoko Kawashima Watkins

This book is grimly realistic; it depicts quite vividly some of the horrors of war. For this reason I would only recommend this book to middle school children or older. If you have any doubts, you can read the book to ascertain whether your child would benefit from reading it.

Yoko is a young Japanese girl living in Korea during World War II. The war has only had a minor impact on her life – her father is away, and sometimes they must visit wounded soldiers in the hospital to show charity. But everything changes very quickly, and Yoko is caught up in a world of violence and desperation. Her family is forced to flee their home in hope of reaching Seoul and traveling to the safety of her grandparents in Japan. Along the way they face injury, sickness, deprivation, conflict and heartache, but Yoko and her family persevere and show great courage and ingenuity.

This book is written as fiction, but it is the true story of the author’s refugee flight. It is an excellent book for pleasure reading – prepare to have your emotions tugged! – or as part of a unit on World War II. Many books for young people are written from an American or European standpoint, so reading a book set in Korea and Japan puts a fresh perspective on the war. It might also help students who view war as distant, bringing home the thought of both sides having victims.

Guest post by: Sally