Monday, August 31, 2009

Piggy Bank Math Game

We're still working with money here, and while sitting at the table the other day I was struck with a fantastic idea for a math game. I retired to the school room with my trusty scrapping program and whipped up the game in no time flat. The boys and I then played it for school and had a blast. I like just how quickly they saw the importance of skip counting, how they were able to count coins quickly, and how simplistic the game is. The idea was that I wanted them to learn to count coins, and I needed a reason why. So, I made up varying slips of paper with the values ranging from .05 - .95. We were working with 5's and no 1's. You see, while I will have them work on the "nitty gritty" eventually, right now I'm not focusing in on the 1's. That probably sounds weird, but here in Australia we have no one cent coins. We must round up or down. So for now, I want the boys to focus in on the whole numbers, and as they become accustomed to it we'll work on rounding.

We took our value cards and I explained to the boys that we were going to pretend to be shop keepers. Everyone who came into our store paid with a $1 coin. I told them our job was to figure out how much change we had to give back to them. Each time they get it right they keep the money in their bowl/plate/box. If we were playing for winners the one with the most would win (we don't often focus on that though). I also pulled out a calculator and showed them how we enter money values in by using the decimal point. I figure for now using the calculator is fine, as they get more confidence we'll remove the calculator. Besides, a little calculator work is good practice too!

Once they used the calculator to find the answers, they sorted through our big pile of change on the table (mostly toy money) until they came up with the value they needed. I'll be honest and say that it was slower at first. While they knew the coins and they understood what they were, they didn't completely get how to count them. They were willing to grab up the 5's and the 10's to get what they needed, so I had to encourage them to branch out and use the 50's and the 20's. I explained that if they were going to take 2 10 cent pieces why not take 1 20 cent coin instead. Repetition and patience pays off here.

Both boys felt quite cool getting to use the calculator. Ignore the fact that Jayden looks devastated here. He was concentrating very hard so that he could do it completely by himself without me saying anything. He had the habit of forgetting to push the decimal point, or confusing the 5 and 2. However, he did very well when he concentrated on what he was doing, and I was impressed by how quickly he was able to count the bigger coins out for himself without prodding.

We actually played this game quite a bit last week, and will continue to play it as we focus on money. As they become more confident I'll add higher valued cards into the mix and work at giving change from $3 or $5, etc. In the mean time they are doing really well with it. It's always twice as rewarding when the game you make is one they love.

If you'd like to download your own set of Piggy Bank Cards you can do so here. It's a 10 page pdf so it may take a moment or two to load. Currently, value cards only go as high as $3.95, more to come eventually. Updated 10/14: You can find other printables to go with this game here.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I Eat My Peas..

I eat my peas with honey;
I've done it all my life.
It makes the peas taste funny,
but it keeps them on my knife.

Dad use to quote the little poem each time Mom served up peas, and since my kids are addicted to peas I've found myself quoting it each time I serve them up. My kids roll their eyes and say, "That's so gross Mom, you don't really eat your peas with honey, do you?" No, I don't, because like them I'm thinking "eww." Instead I point out that Poppy use to say it all the time, and since he's not here to say it, then I will. Passing on the tradition, you know. The kids weren't completely impressed, but I told them it's okay because when they have their own kids, they can torture them by quoting it too. Funny thing is, I don't actually quote the one about the rocket in my pocket, but I think about that one too..

F.F.W.W.: Ancient Egypt Cont.

We're still working on Ancient Egypt. Our plans were for two weeks, but we may end up overlapping just a pinch as we had a few unexpected interruptions last week, but we'll see what we accomplish this week. Oursurprise book from last week turned out to be quite the hit, which is more then I can say for The Golden Goblet. It's too much for Jayden, and Morgan, while polite enough to listen was a tiny bit lost too. I'm debating keeping on with it with Morgan, or waiting another year or two before trying again. In the mean time we have plenty of other fun things lined up for the week, and a couple of projects from last week they didn't quite finish up that they'll need to work on as well.

  • Make King Tut masks & fill out notebooking page (if we can solve our printing problems)
  • Finish up their Nile River replicas
  • Make Door/Wall plaques in hieroglyphics
  • Make a sledge (they'll use their noses to push it)
  • Make their own clay pyramids (we may or may not make our own bricks to go with it)
  • Play Senate
  • Make an Egyptian Kilt
  • Wrap each other up as Mummies (we'll use muslin)
  • Make our own Amulet
  • Make a Pharaoh crown
  • Discuss Moses & Joseph
  • variety of Father's Day "projects"
We also have a few notebooking pages to fill out on these subjects, and places for them to tape or glue photos of what they've done onto the papers. However, our printer went kaputt and is currently in the shop. We have to wait until Monday to see if they have a spare we can use until ours is fixed. The boys are also having fun using our ProClick to make their own Egyptian notebooks.
What about you? What do you have planned for your Fun Filled Weekly Workboxes? Blog about it and then come back and link up! Don't have a blog and want to play along? Just leave us a comment to let us know what fun thinks you've planned for your workboxes this week.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Chewy Molasses Cookies

We've been experimenting with a variety of new foods around here, and one of them happens to be coconut sugar. We've actually tried it on a number of things, and at long last found a local supplier for it. That's a big deal to us, because in the past we've had to order it from a variety of sources. Coconut sugar isn't made from coconuts, but rather from the nectar of the coconut palm flower. The description from the website is that 'the sugar has a toffee flavor." That's truly a very accurate description too! Now, here's the catch, it's not sugar, and while you can replace it scoop for scoop for sugar you'll find the texture of the coconut sugar a tad different. For instance, it's a very dry granule, and the "granules" are much more defined then a grain of sugar. It doesn't effect how well it works to sweeten the food though. We do not use it in everything, as we still like our Stevia, but we have a few tried and true recipes that we use coconut sugar for and really enjoy. One such recipe is the boys morning Monkey Face Oatmeal. Yup, that's really what it's been dubbed! One of the reasons I was so eager to try coconut sugar was for the sake of cookies. The one thing I've yet to find a GOOD recipe for was molasses and chocolate chip cookies. Which means, when my bag of coconut sugar came I started working on a molasses cookie recipe. It took a batch or two, because not only were we experimenting with the coconut sugar, but we had to make them dairy free due to Jayden's newly discovered lactose issue. While this recipe calls for margarine, what we use is a nut butter of sorts. It's called Nuttelex and it uses oils from nuts and seeds. Anyway, here's what we finally came up with:

Chewy Molasses Cookies

Place 1/2 c of dairy free margarine (or butter, we have made them with butter before) and 1/2 c coconut oil (we use a virgin organic) in a mixing bowl and cream together until light and fluffy and well blended. Add 1 1/2 c of coconut sugar to the bowl and mix again until light, fluffy, and well combined. You'll need to scrape the bowl down as it goes, but it won't take long. It will be brown and grainy, but well mixed and fluffy just as if you'd used sugar.

Add 2 eggs (we use free range) and 1/2 c molasses (you can get this in Australia, but if you can't find it treacle will work) mix well. It should look like the picture above when well mixed.

Mix together 4 c flour (we use organic unbleached, sometimes with extra bran sometimes without..), 2 1/4 t. baking powder (we use aluminum free), 1 1/2 t cinnamon, 1/2 t salt, 2 1/4 t ginger, & 1 1/2 t mixed spices (or cloves, but we use mixed spices because I never seem to have cloves, you can also omit this without altering the flavor too much..) mix well and add to the cookie batter. I like to mix it up by hand at first so the flour doesn't "poof" all over the kitchen, then I give it a quick mix with my mixer to be sure it's well incorporated.

Here's the catch on using dairy free nut butter/margarine. The cookies often don't cook throughly, but the bottoms of them will burn anyway! It was a maddening lesson to learn, but I quickly found a solution (after burning a panful of strawberry scones!). Put a cooling rack on your cookie tray, and put a piece of aluminum foil over that. There's no need to grease the foil or worry about it sticking. I simply scoop up tablespoons of cookie dough, roll them, flatten slightly in my hands and place on the cooling rack. I do not roll my molasses cookies in extra sugar, mostly because I'd rather be a bit more conservative with my coconut sugar, but we also find them sweet enough just as they are. Bake for 8-10 minutes. From there you can remove the entire piece of foil to another cooling rack or you can pull the cookies off and place them on a cooling rack. We've done it both ways before..

Sometimes they crackle on the top and sometimes they don't, if yours don't crackle don't panic! I'm pretty sure you'll still have to stand guard with a spatula to fend off the hungry ones from eating them up before the poor cookies even have a chance to cool! Once cooled, I store them in a tin for the few meager days they last (okay, I admit it-- Hours that they last).

Notes: Because coconut oil can melt (if you have the good stuff) at the drop of a hat you may find the need to refrigerate your dough between baking, or perhaps even before rolling. I tend to stick my bowl of cookie batter in the fridge while I have a pan load baking. This keeps the dough from getting too soft, which would be essential in the summer baking months.

Want a full copy of the recipe on a handy little recipe card? You can download it here. You'll need to print, cut, and laminate. Enjoy.


I will never forget Monday nights as a kid, because we always crowded around to watch our weekly fix of Macgyver. I mean, that's probably pretty insane that I can even remember which day of the week it was on, in fact I'm pretty sure it was moved to Tuesdays & then to Fridays at some point in it's 7 seasons. Seriously, I was highly addicted to Macgyver! I use to think if I married Macgyver I'd just have to keep things like duct tape, ball point pens, & paperclips on hand, cause surely he'd get us out of any situation we had. There was no way anything could go wrong, right? After all this is the guy who once smuggled someone out of a house with a bit of cleanser, dish soap, and a gas stove.

Think about it, remember the great mouse issue (espidodes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, & 6) I had to suffer through while my loving husband was on the mainland (and yes he knows about my absurd Macgyver fetish!)? If Macgyver had been here, he'd have probably built a trap out of duct tape, a ball point pen, and a hairpin. Except, of course, I don't have hairpins, so hopefully one of those new fangled plastic coated paperclips would have done the trick. The point remains though, if there's trouble Macgyver can get you out of it.

In fact, as I recall, there was the year Mom was trying to encourage us all to keep journals. She asked during a Macgyver commercial break if we'd made any entries that day. When the answer was a resounding, "No." We were all chased off to make our entries. I recall writing down the exact concoction that Mac used that night to get him out of his latest escapade, and while I don't remember exactly what the concoction meant I know it involved lots of rice..

So, when Kmart had the ENTIRE BOXED SET of Macgyver episodes on sale last week, I was jumping up and down and squealing like a nerd in the dinning room, much to the great delight of my children, and the extreme concern of my husband. I pointed it out and stated that for the first time in my life I was stating there was something television related that we had to have. Yeah, that was before I caught the price ($195 AUD), talk about being totally deflated!

I'm not giving up though, there's just a few things my boys must be exposed to, and I'm not at all embarrassed to admit that Macgyver is pretty high on the list. He's totally their kinda fellow too, which is way cool 'cause we can be Macgyver fans together, until they realize it's probably not cool to like the same kinda shows their Mom does.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

My Funny Helper

Last week we were all doing our chores when we noticed Jayden was missing. That's not completely unusual during chore time, but we set out to find him. Lawrence discovered him in the laundry room trying to empty out our new gigantic washing machine. He was, at one point, hanging on for dear life while hanging upside down in the washer and I couldn't resist trying to get a few photos. That giant pile of laundry down on the floor next to the hamper he's standing on.. that all came out of our giant washer. It was a very sweet and thoughtful gesture, even if he was trying to avoid cleaning his room..

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fresh Sprouts

Remember those strawberry plants I mentioned? They are still growing, and we've got a few blossoms on one of the plants now! The plants are enjoying the spring weather we've been having too and growing like crazy. We're all on the lookout now for a little green berry to show up, and after that I might have to guard my plants around the clock or I might wake to find that a strawberry loving boy ate it in the middle of the night! We seem to be on a constant look-out for more as we're hoping for a large crop of strawberry from our meager plants. I'm really loving the information in Kitchen Harvest, all though I have to be honest and say the boys are aghast that I'm about to dump Moo Poo (yeah, that's really the name, kinda catchy don'tcha think?) on the strawberry plants.

The boys are hoping the smaller blossom becomes a bit bigger too, I suspect they are thinking about the size of the berry compared to the flower..

Our Capsicums have also sprouted at long last! We started out with one lone sprout and within two days we had a half dozen more! We're pretty excited about this because it takes these fellows a long time to grow, we're hoping this year we'll get a few more fruits off the plants then last year, you know like at least one edible one. Last year it was winter before we finally had any fruit, and by then it was just too cold for them to grow..

Our soapwart is taking off too. I'm really excited about this one as we received the plant (no complaints) so late last season that we never had a chance to see it blossom or make any soap from it. There's at least another half dozen of those little green sprouts in my very large container, and the longer shoots that were looking a bit "done for" have new life on the ends of them again too. I'm looking forward to making shampoo and soap from this plant this summer!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Blog Award

Susan over at Home Grown Kids has given us a fun blog award. It was a very sweet thing to find on such a dreary rainy day! Plus, let's be honest, it's always fun to find that someone loves your blog enough to give you an award for it. A great big Thank You to Susan for such a fun award!

Now, I think I'm suppose to share what my favorite blogs are, and that I may follow. I have to be 100% honest and say I've never signed up as a follower of anyones blog before, all though I do have a small handful I read quite regularly when time permits. My computer time has been limited drastically lately due to some wicked weather we're experiencing (like knee high rain that falls in huge bucketfuls at a time!) which are really causing some major migraines for me. However, below are a couple blogs I'm sure you'll enjoy visiting:

  • Dean's Academy -- you can read about some amazing family adventures over there. In fact, if I ever move away from the sea I might move to their neck of the woods!
  • My Blessings From Above -- always something fun and creative going on over there! I absolutely love reading about some of the funny things Michelle's little ones say, and I'll never be able to think of blueberries without relating it to dinosaur cake!
  • SchultzPartyOfFour -- this is a blog I stumbled upon one day, and I giggled so much over some of the funny antics of their little ones that I still pop in regularly.
  • The Magnifying Glass -- has some amazing nature information on it. I find the blog inspirational and encouraging towards our own visits with nature.
  • Discoveries -- is a blog by another Australian family, and it's so much fun to read about other's adventures who aren't too horribly far away.. In fact when we get to the mainland I might have to stop in for an art appreciation lesson or two!
So there you have it, some fun blogs you can go check out! I have a few more I read occasionally too, but I'll have to share about them later, as well as a few places Aussie Pumpkin Patch has been featured again, but that's going to have to wait for another time!

Bubble Painting

I think bubble painting landing in the workboxes 2 weeks in a row, but we did finally get to it! Not exactly when planned, but hey that's okay right? I wanted to share the pictures with you and some tips we learned from this experience.. One, kids, bubbles, and painting all in one sentence is like heaven on earth to them. Keeping this project for a day that's nice outside would be very wise! For us, we had a remarkably warm day that the kids were in shorts and I decided it was a perfect opportunity to finally get those bubbles used! I used a small amount of bubble mixed with only 3 drops of each food coloring (red might have needed more..), but if I did this project again I'd make those cups at LEAST half full. See, I was being stingy with bubbles, cause I can't run to the store and pick up a huge bottle for 98 cents. No, I have to pay 4 bucks for just a tiny bottle of these suds! I know, I know, it's time to make my own.. We make our own play-do why not bubbles??

I also opted to use watercolor/sketching paper. We had fine/smooth in the house and that seemed to do the trick. Mind you, I could only locate one bubble wand which was a bummer because with two kids I knew I'd need more. Somewhere around this place is a Thomas bubble wand and another freakishly large one like that, but could we find them?

We were suppose to use a box to put the paper in, this would help control where the bubbles went, but the weather was nice so we put our papers flat on the driveway. Notice how the cup is being tipped a bit?? That's cause I didn't make up enough "paint". I really should have made more up, and most certainly will next time. Yes, that's straws we're using. We like blowing bubbles with straws (if you've never painted that way you should give it a go!) and because I didn't have enough bubble wands I pulled out straws for this project as well.

Then I let the kids have at it doing it however they wanted. I sat there soaking up as much sun as I could keeping one eye open because I was on Bull Ant duty. Mind you, I'm not sure I was very attentive to it because I couldn't find my sunnies and I didn't bother to grab a hat, but man was that sun nice. Our new neighbors probably know we're official freaks now, but that's okay I don't mind..

Morgan preferred the wand and got quite close to his paper to actually blow a bubble (being close to the beach we always have a slight breeze.) He was also really picky about mixing his colors "just so" in order to have lots of color on his page. Due to his technique you could see lots of true colored bubble shapes on the paper, I loved that.

Jayden's technique was very different. His idea was to coat as much of the paper with blue as possible, preferably with big blotches of it here and there. Did you notice he's also wearing his blue t-shirt and a blue apron? I'm pretty certain he opted for blue shorts until he settled for the red ones I found.. He's hoping to one day be completely blue, and between you and me, I'm praying he means clothing wise and NOT skin and hair wise..

Jayden's finished results. It was iridescent when we held it up in the sun, which was very cool! I'm seeing doing something like this with his finished project, but who knows. I might just frame it like it is too.

I love those full bubble prints there, aren't they cool? I might do the same thing with his or I might help him make note cards to send out to family, or, or... You never know where it will end up. I really can't wait to try this again and do a piece myself.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Goodbye, for now..

This Saturday our soccer season came to an end. It was a fun filled 5 months for a soccer loving little boy. Morgan fully enjoyed every minute of this season, despite a few bumps, injuries, and some massively tall kids he played against. You know you're the shortest kid out there when the other teams always ask if you really are part of the team of if you're just helping today. Morgan played a vast amount of positions, and still finds goalie as one of his all time favorite spots on the field. He's one of the very few children who will willingly agree, volunteer, jump up and down with glee, and all out beg to play this position. Oddly enough, he also shocked his team with his ability to play this spot, and play it well. The same position he use to play quite often in pee-wee soccer, he still wears the same shin guards too... It's been a lot of fun watching him play and hearing his excitement after each game, win or lose. I've lost a few too many fingernails this season, something that never happened in pee-wee soccer. I may need to come up with a new strategy for those edge of your seat sorta games before the season starts. Morgan was a tiny bit disappointed to have to turn in his jersey at the end of the game, but a lot more disappointed that it meant no more soccer for a while. He's truly enjoyed making new friends and playing to his hearts content.

As a special good-bye and thank you to his coaches and team mates we made up little treat bags/jars. Each coach recieved a jar of gumballs with the following note attached: "Thank you for 'chewsing' to coach soccer this year, I had a 'ball'!" Each of his teammates received a homemade bag (yes we made them ourselves from soccer scrapbooking paper) with a note attached that said, "Thank you for 'chewsing' to play soccer this year, I had a 'ball' getting to know you!" We are truly grateful for such great coaches who didn't care about winning as much as they did about teaching the kids, and for team mates who were such good sports throughout the entire season. So until next season we say good-bye (for now) to soccer.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A bit of fun..

As part of the end of year soccer practice Coach asked parents to play against the children. The idea was for one parent from each family (at least) to play in the game. I'm not sure who had more fun, the kids or parents, but there was so much laughter on the soccer field Wednesday evening that it drew a few onlookers in to see what the hubbub was all about. Once everyone arrived the team went off to have a pre-game meeting and discuss the rules (not normal soccer rules) while the parents were suppose to have a pre-game meeting and discuss the rules laid out for them. You know, things like you will be penalized if you pick up a child in order to get the ball from them. Adults were also only permitted to score one goal each per half, anything else went to the opposing team. Mind you, I think the parents were busy trying to listen in on the kids pregame meeting, but...

The kids went off to warm-up, the parents were offered a chance to warm up with them, but they decided to do their own thing...

At least they were suppose to be warming up..

And then the game began.. the adults had a harder time then they expected keeping up with a few of the kids, and opted to throw a few extra parents on the field.

The kids survived with one goalie, who received a mini pep talk.

The adults had three goalies and still couldn't stop the ball.

After shaking hands the parents opted to throw the kids on the ground, can you tell they lost? There were many giggles, a few pile-ups, a broken finger nail, hair styles gone amuck, unusual penalties, funny jeers and cheers, and a whole lot of fun had!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

F.F.W.W.: Ancient Egypt

We had these grand plans to do a gold unit study and a pioneer unit study, and we will, but the kids have had this huge fascination with Egypt so I jumped on the chance. Last week we rowed the book The Giraffe That Walked To Paris and we had a lot of fun with it. The idea was to use it as a kick-off for our two week Ancient Egyptian study. The boys are very excited about it and have been for some time as I've been squirreling books away that I've been picking up from the library and other sources. In fact, I had a super cool book planned for them to look through, but my library informed me that despite it being in their catalog they can't find the book, so much so they removed it from their catalog. I'm super bummed by that, but I did pick up another book that they'll enjoy as a read aloud.

This is a small stash of the books we'll be using over the next two weeks. The cd-rom in the front (The Mummy Mystery) and the Pyramids! book in the background are library items. We'll be reading The Golden Goblet as our main read aloud, but we won't be doing a unit study from it. I may pull bits and pieces out of it for copywork or dictation, and the boys will most likely narrate bits of it back to me. Other books we'll be enjoying are: We're Sailing Down The Nile, King Tut, Cleopatra, Life & Times in Ancient Egypt, & Princess Of Egypt (if it ever comes in off my hold list!). Rather then making my own lapbook this go around, I opted to purchase the Egyptian Notebooking Pages Combo put out by The Notebooking Nook. We'll also be reading about a few missionaries including Livingston & Stanley who will also double as explorers.

We'll also be using this very fun Exploring Egypt kit we have. Funny story here (I say that a lot don't I?) Our book store (before it went mean) was selling these in attic sales for 5-9 dollars each (depended on how good the sale was) and I picked one up knowing then that we'd one day study Egypt. I also tend to frequent thrift stores and while in one recently they had a brand new Egypt kit for $1. I was delighted and picked it up because I knew the boys would love to have their own. The pharaoh head is actually compacted sand that they gently brush and scrape away to find a hidden relic! It also comes with a little book that is LOADED with information. Needless to say the next two weeks will be full of crafts, learning, and loads of fun.

So here's our plans for this weeks workboxes:
  • Map & flags of Egypt to color
  • supplies for creating our own Ancient Egypt (complete with nile river!)
  • Discover what hidden relic is in their kit
  • Explorer books to track Livingston & Stanley's routes
  • Supplies for making a King Tut mask (after we read info about him and fill out a notebook page)
  • Write our names in Hieroglyphics
We will also:
  • fill out notebooking pages on Egypt, Nile River, King Tut, Rosetta Stone, Missionaries & Explorers
  • make an egyptian meal (we may just have dried fruits and flat bread, etc.. or we may make a cake..)
  • Add major events & people to our timeline
  • locating Egypt & the Nile on our map (and associating Africa with Egypt)
I'm looking forward to a fun week ahead with the boys. They are very gung-ho about our Egypt study which always encourages me. I think they'll especially enjoy the crafts & Indiana Jones book this week too.
What about you? What do you have planned for your Fun Filled Weekly Workboxes this week? Blog about it and then come back and link up! Don't have a blog and want to play along? Just leave a comment telling us what's in your workboxes this week.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Joey-Joey Math Game

If you can over look my bad photo you might enjoy the new math game we've come up with. While thinking of a few new ways to continue reviewing our addition facts. The idea here is that now that the kids know how to add single digits together to get them moving a wee bit quicker on them. I'm not into "kill & drill", but I do appreciate the need to know the answers to math facts quickly. However, I'm of the mind (good or bad) that they'll get quicker the more they use the facts. With that idea in mind I wanted a way to drill them that wouldn't bore us to tears or cause fits which will, of course, lead to tears. In simple it had to be fun and creative but encourage their speed. I opted to make up a game called Joey-Joey which gives it a nice Australian theme as well.. I took a regular sized Pringles can (because I didn't have a mini) and I cut it down to about the size of a mini can. Then I took a piece of brown scrapbooking paper and wrapped it around the can. To keep it in place, I used a glue stick on the can and a piece of tape on the seam. From there I took a kangaroo pattern from Danielle's Place (because I was short on time and hers was adorably cute!) and printed it out on tan scrapbooking paper. Then I glued the roo onto my can, and put her pocket on the front.

Next I typed up some math facts on slips of paper roughly the size of a fortune cookie slip. I put a picture of a roo on SOME of the math facts (about 12 of 24-30 that I made). I mixed it all up and threw them in the can math fact side down. I called the kids in and we played away..

Then I set the timer for 3 minutes. I told them that they needed to pull a card from the tin and answer the math fact. If they weren't sure we'd help them figure it out. The idea was to have the the most cards by the end of the game. Then I showed them a math fact card with a roo on it, and I told them that it was really a joey (baby roo), and that each time they pulled out a math fact with a joey on it they could say, "Joey-Joey!" Everyone else would have to give them all their cards. I'll be 100% honest with you, my six year old spilled tears over having to hand over his joey, but he recouped pretty quickly.

We play until the timer dings and then we count up the matches. Really and truly it's the quickest three minute game ever! We played several rounds of it on Wednesday because the time flew by so quickly. Right now I've only got doubles, 1's, 2's, 10's, and some 3's facts in the tin. I took the oppertunity to remind Morgan and explain to Jayden that when we add 10 to a number we simply say the number plus teen (ie 3 + teen = 13). We also reviewed the fact that all doubles facts answers can be found by counting by 2's.

We were all smiles by the end of the game, and even though you can't see it he's celebrating in the above picture. He might have lost his little joey at the start of the game, but with 2 seconds to go he plucked another joey from the tin, answered the math fact correctly and left the rest of us high and dry! I'm really loving that this game is quick and simple but effective for review. I'm thinking that I may stick 1-2 family facts in the tin at a time and use them for a weeks review. Those facts may be moved to the math journals for review and we'll put new fact families in our tin. I'd like to start explaining basic multiplication to Morgan, but I think having him a wee bit more grounded in addition first would be wise, and I think this game may do that for us.

A few side notes: You can make a kangaroo, or a turkey, or a bear or anything that truly strikes your fancy. You could just use a small box and find a shape or something to put on your math facts to signify the "winning all the cards". I chose the name and animal based on where we live. The pattern I used is in the Members Only section of Dainelle's place, so if you're not a member you may not be able to view it. However, you could do a basic google search for a pattern of the animal you choose to use. Before covering your can in paper check that the depth is right, mine could use to be a pinch shorter for adults hands to get in and out of quickly and easily! Keep it fun and simple, you can easily drill with math sheets..

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fortune Math tellers??

Morgan has an incredible memory. All though, his memory is much like mine where we remember the oddest and weirdest things from a long time ago, but ask us where we just put the jug of milk and we might pull up a blank. So yesterday while we were eating lunch and discussing what school was left to be done Morgan pipes up and says, "What I really want to know is if you can make me one of those things that says things." Yup, really that's all the info he gave me. In the past I would have been highly irritated and drawn a total blank which would have caused him to become equally irritated. However, God blessed me with a moment of clarity and I patiently (a total miracle) said, "I'd love to help you, but I need more information to go on."

He thinks a minute and says, "I'm talking about those paper things Poppy knows how to make. You know and they are folded up and you lift up a paper and there's something under it. I saw them in a movie too and the guy didn't like what it said so he ripped it up and threw it away."

I have no idea what movie he's talking about, to be totally honest, but I did know what he meant when he said Poppy made one. Funny thing is I remember Poppy making one when Jayden was like 2. It kept the boys entertained for an incredible amount of time while they tried to figure out how his PAPER puppet was eating that funny fly.

I told Morgan we needed paper, so we retired to the school room (where our art stash is) and I pulled out a sheet of paper and trimmed it down to a square. From there I wanted to make his fortune teller (really hate that name so I'm going to call it a Cootie Catcher) simplistic because I wasn't sure if he'd ever used one. I also wasn't into it telling a fortune, but I knew he wanted words in it.

I got the whole thing folded up and wrote silly thing inside like, "Watch out for spiders." or "You're awesome!" and then some more intelligent things like, "God Loves you." and "You're very special." This entire project took us maybe five minutes and in the end he was quite pleased with himself. I was grateful I'd been able to figure out what he was talking about, because when you can't it really upsets him.

Jayden was a tad put out though because I wrote the color names on it instead of putting blotches of color on. I did, however use simplistic colors with no rule breakers in it. Pink, Black, Green, Red. I used numbers, and wondered if in the end I should have used number words, and here, my friends, is why I'm posting this!

It dawned on me as Morgan was sitting there spelling out colors and reading them off that in a matter of hours he knew those colors and their letters quite quickly. He was also counting out the opening and closing of his little cootie catcher quite quickly. So it dawned on me that while I didn't mean for it to be, I could have easily pulled one of those off as a math lesson, especially if I had put written words for the numbers.

Mind you, it's not working out equations or learning to estimate. It's not mastering decimals or counting money, but in a very quick time the boys mastered a few hand eye skills and even adding and subtracting as they realized they had over or under counted. In fact, I'm pretty sure when that paper machine dies (because it will, most likely at the mouth of the washer because no one ever empties their pockets..) I can see myself making one with a few sneaky math ideas in it..

Not sure what a fortune teller/Cootie Catcher is or how to make one? You can see how to make your own here, or you can print out one from Fall/Halloween Cootie Catcherer, Nick Jr Variety.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Secret Cities & Sweet Memories

We like to go on family walks, and lately the boys have taken to to noticing all sorts of trails that run along the paths we walk on. Paths that lead under and around brambles or into and under the many bushes and trees that grow along the sandy shores of our beaches. It's always fun to see the secret tunnels and cities, but it's even more fun to hear them name the secret places and watch them run in and make their own discoveries. They've all ready requested to spend lots of time down on the beach this summer so they can play in a few that they've claimed as their own.

I'm particularly found of the the openings that reminds me so much of the book The Secret Garden, which the boys also love. I remember reading the book as a child and wishing I could stumble upon a secret garden as well. While it never happened, I remember imagining a secret city of rabbits under a beautiful old tree that grew in the field next to our property.

The tree was gnarled and each branch grew straight out before bending in one direction or another. You could always hear the rabbits running around under the tree, and who knows probably a few other unruly wild creatures as well. Oddly enough it was one of the very few flat pieces of land in Tennessee, and you could just barely see over the fence all the lush green grass growing under the tree. Needless to say I never saw a secret city of rabbits, but it didn't stop me from imagining them.

As for my boys, they aren't dreaming up wild cities of rabbits, but more like the lost city of Hemariah and secret ways out of their said cities before being captured by imaginary enemies. What they do in the cities is a total mystery to me, because as soon as I try to peek in I hear cries of, "MOM! You can't peek!" All though I've heard tales of eggs, shells, and even gold hidden in these amazing cities.