Yes, Math Can Be Fun!

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”

Math. It’s  one of those subjects that can be just as challenging to teach as it is to comprehend. Which is why we love using math manipulatives! Students learn better when they’re actively engaged, and manipulatives in your home or classroom make it easy for kids to get excited. Below are our favorite ways to use math manipulatives in our home, and they are all kid approved! 🙂

 

#1. Fraction Bars

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Use these pieces to reinforce understanding of equivalent fractions. It’s great to have an item that kids can use to visually help them learn fractions!

 

#2. Fraction Circles

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The common “pie” fraction circles have always been a hit in our house!

 

#3. Linking Cubes

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The creative possibilities are endless with these cubes. Designed to be virtually unbreakable, these blocks will easily meet the rigors of the classroom.

 

#4. Albert’s Insomnia  

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The more you play the more like Albert you will become! WARNING: DON’T GET ADDICTED OR YOU WILL LOSE SLEEP! This easy to learn math card game is fun and challenging. Beginning with the number ‘1’ as the first answer, you’ll be using addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division to combine the randomly displayed four cards into the next number in the sequence, so using the operations, the only answer for the next player is “2”. Sometimes you’ll fl y through the sequence with ease. Other times you’ll literally sit and stew over the cards hoping to expose a combination that produces the needed number. We love this game! It encourages creative and critical thinking. It’s an absolute favorite around here!! 🙂

 

#5. Bear Counters 

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Our kids love these! Perfect for beginning math.

 

#6. Wiz Dice

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Teach place value. “Give each student a handful of dice and have them roll. Then have them randomly arrange the numbers they rolled on their desk. Have them write down which number is in the hundreds place, tens place, ones place and so on. It’s a simple activity, but it’s lots of fun.” —Karen Crawford, second grade, Houston, Texas

 

#7. Learning Placemats 

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Whether you’re at the dinner table, or on the go, these dry erase charts are a must! The backs of them are blank, so you can fill in the answers for plenty of multiplication practice!

 

#8. Geoboards 

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Can be used for creating geometric shapes, showing fractions of a shape, etc.

 

#9. Tangrams 

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Help children explore shape, size, symmetry and more!

 

#10. Color Counters

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Great counting discs for all kinds of math problems!! 

 

 

What about you? Do you have a favorite math manipulative or game you like to use? If so, leave us a comment below! 🙂

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Charlotte Mason’s Approach to Beginning Reading

Teaching a child to read can be an overwhelming task, because so much of education depends on reading. However, the better a child can read, the easier his schooling will be. Children will pick up reading quite naturally if raised in a language-rich environment where books are treasured and read aloud. Many people who grow up in such an environment cannot recall exactly how they learned to read, but they learned quickly!

So relax and take a look at Charlotte Mason’s gentle and natural approach to teaching your child to read.

  1. Make a game of putting together the words in word families.
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“Exercises treated as a game, which yet to teach the powers of letters, will be better to begin with than actual sentences. Take up two of his letters and make the syllable ‘at’: tell him it is the word we use when we say ‘at home,’ ‘at school,’ etc. ” (Vol. 1 p. 202)

 

2. Use actual words and let the child say and make each one with its initial consonant added.

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“First, let the child say what the word becomes with each initial consonant; then let him add the right consonant to ‘at,’ in order to make hat, pat, cat, etc. Let the syllables all be actual words which he knows. Set the words in a row, and let him read them off.” (Vol. 1, p. 202)

 

#3. Continue the process with other short-vowel three-letter words.

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“Do this with the short vowel sounds in each combination with each of the consonants, and the child will learn to read off dozens of words of three letters, and will master the short-vowel sounds with initial and final consonants without effort. Before long he will do the lesson for himself. ‘How many words can you make with “en” and another letter, with “od” and another letter?’ etc.” (Vol. 1 p. 202).

 

#4. Do not hurry your child.

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(Vol. 1, p. 202)

 

#5. After he has mastered short-vowel three-letter words, teach the silent-e that makes a long vowel in the word in the same way.

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“When this sort of exercies becomes so easy that it is no longer interesting, let the long sounds of the vowels be learned in the same way: use the same syllables as before with a final e; thus ‘at’ becomes ‘ate’, and we get late, pate, rate, etc.  (Vol. 1, pp. 202, 203).

 

#6. Continue the process with consonant combinations, like “ng” and “th.”

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“Then the same sort of thing with final ‘ng’-‘ing,’ ‘ang,’ ‘ong,’ ‘ung’;  as in ring, fang, long, sung, etc.  There will be endless combinations which will suggest themselves” (Vol. 1, p 203).

 

#7. These word games are not reading, but they will lay the foundation for future reading lessons.

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“This is not reading, but it is preparing the ground for reading; words will be no longer unfamiliar, perplexing objects, when the child meets with them in a line of print” (Vol. 1, p. 203).

 

#8. Encourage your child to pronounce correctly any word that he learns.

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“Require him to pronounce the words he makes with such finish and distinctness that he can himself hear and count the sounds in a given word” (Vol. 1, p. 203).

 

#9. Encourage him to shut his eyes and spell the word he has made, thus preparing him for future spelling lessons.

 

 

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“Accustom him from the start to shut his eyes and spell the word he has made. This is important. Reading is not spelling, nor is it necessary to spell in order to read well; but the good speller is the child whose eye is quick enough to take in the letters which compose it, in the act of reading off a word; and this is a habit to be acquired from the first: accustom him to see the letters in the word, and he will do so without effort.”

 

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Old Trees, New Life- Camping Activity

When a tree falls, its life is over. But the tree can still give life to others. The dead tree becomes its own ecosystem, where plants, insects, and microorganisms thrive-from the mosses, ferns, and fungi that make the rotting tree their home to a whole host of bugs and bacteria that eat the tree and break it down into soil for new plants! Next time you see a dead log, take a close look and record your observations in your Field Journal. You just might be amazed by what you see.

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What You Do

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#1. Find a rotting log: Look for a tree that has fallen and that has wood breaking apart in pieces. It may be slightly damp.

 

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#2. Describe what the log looks like. What is growing on it? Can you see any mushrooms, ferns, mosses, or lichens? Are there baby trees or any other plants sprouting out of the wood?

 

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#3. Do you see any insects? What are they doing? Look for tiny piles of sawdust at the base of the log. This is evidence that insects have drilled into the wood, starting the decomposition process. The holes left behind create highways for fungi and bacteria to come in and break down the wood even further.

 

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#4.  Tap the log with your fingers. Is it hollow? Wet? Bone-dry? What does it smell like?

 

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#5. Put on your gloves and gently and carefully lift the log a few inches to see if you can take a peek underneath. What do you see? Are there insects underneath? What are they doing? What do they look like? When you’re done, put the log back.

 

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#6.  Use your magnifying glass to peek at the log itself. Do you see insects breaking it down? What do they look like under the magnifying glass? What about the plants growing on the tree? What do the mushrooms look like up close?

 

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#7. Draw and describe what you’ve seen in your field journal. Try to identify plants, animals, and insects by looking at your field guide or Nature Anatomy book! 

 

There is so much to learn! Head outdoors and explore! 🙂

 

 

An Indiana Summer-Part 2

Last week we shared a few of our favorite places to go during the summer. This week we’re sharing our favorite events! All of the following events haven’t happened yet, so there is still plenty of time to plan! 🙂

 

#1. Hendricks County Fair

 

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The fair is a highlight of our July! From the animal showings to the tractor pulls and yummy food-it’s such a fun week! The Hendrick’s County Fair runs from July 16-22 this year! 🙂

 

 

#2. Festival of the Lakes

 

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From carnival rides to boat rides and games… the Festival of the lakes offers a wide variety of family fun. It runs from July 19-23 this year!

 

 

#3. Frankfort Hot Dog Festival

 

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Downtown square. Frankly the BEST HOT DOGS in the WORLD! Great American Dog Competition, exciting sporting events the entire family will love, Disc Dog Competition, Lots or arts and vendors. FREE entertainment both days. Runs July 28-29.

 

 

#4. Indiana Family Star Party At Camp Cullom

 

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Camp Cullom. Indiana’s largest star party. Astronomy, camping, food, speakers, kid’s sky trekker program, telescopes, and so much more! 🙂 Runs July 28-29!

 

 

#5. Amish Acres Arts and Crafts Festival

 

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Amish Acres. 300+ vendors demonstrate their trade and sell their wares. Family style Thresher’s dinner in the century old barn and guided tours of the historic house and farms! Runs August 3-6.

 

 

If you have a favorite local event, be sure to let us know! We love exploring new places! 🙂

 

 

 

 

An Indiana Summer

One of our favorite things about the summer season is all the fun activities available. From concert series in the park to museums, the options are endless. Here are some of the activities that have been our family’s favorites! 🙂

 

#1. Conner Prairie

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Immerse yourself in a 19th-century village and interact with the people, animals, objects and routines of life in Central Indiana in 1836! After you explore the town check out the Treetop Outpost, Craft Corner, and the Balloon Voyage!  We love that this huge park offers activities for both littles and adults.

 

#2. Town Park Concerts

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Check your town’s website for a list/schedule of concerts. Our local park offers free lawn concerts on the weekends!

 

#3. Farmers Markets

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We LOVE going to farmer’s markets. It’s such a fun way to connect with people, and the food is always amazing. It’s hard to beat fresh Indiana tomatoes!

 

#4. Libraries and Book Stores

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Check your local library or a nearby bookstore. They often have summer reading activities and fun games for kids! It’s a great way to keep littles motivated to read all summer long!

 

#5. Nature Walks

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Print off some simple study guides (guides about insects, trees, etc), and head outdoors to discover a whole new world! Check with your local park to see when their nature days are. They have them often, and are always fun!

 

 

These are just a few of our favorite summer favorites! We’ll be sharing more on our next post! 🙂

What are your favorite summer activities!?

 

 

 

Camping 101

Campcraft- “While camping you are at the mercy of natural forces, and your activities will be dominated by the times of sunrise and sunset, changes in the weather, the lie of the land, the nearest water and supply of fuel. Your comfort will depend on your skills in choosing a suitable site, erecting a shelter, building a fire and establishing a smooth routine. When you leave there should be no trace of your stay.”

There are very few perfect campsites, so when choosing a site you will probably have to compromise to some extent. Obviously your priorities will vary depending on how long you are going to stay there, and how large your camp will be, but it is a good idea to have some general principles in mind during the selection process so that you know what to look out for! 🙂

 

 

When to look for your campsiteIf your campsite is to be an overnight stop on the trail you should start to look for a suitable place at least two to three hours before it gets dark. By that time you will need to have settled in and pitched your tents and your food preparations should be well under way. Be prepared to stop short of your intended destination for that day if you find a spot that looks ideal. You may even want to backtrack a little if you do go on but the terrain ahead fails to offer further viable sites.

what to look for

Try to avoid extreme conditions of any kind. In hot countries you will find it a great advantage to have some natural shade on your campsites. In colder areas your priority is likely to be natural shelter from wind. Always try to find a site that is well drained; this usually means looking for a reasonably high site. Not only will you avoid marshy, damp ground, but you will also not find yourself in a pocket of cold air during the night. If it is windy, you will need space to pitch your tents with doors facing away from the wind.

It will be an advantage if the site has it’s own water supply but you should always check to see where the water comes from. Just because local people drink it, it does not mean that it is safe for you to drink. Unless you have a good evidence to the contrary, you should always regard water as contaminated and treat it accordingly. Don’t be tempted to camp too near a water source, such as a stream, as it may attract clouds of biting insects in the evening, and may be a place where animals come to drink.

camp layout

The layout of your camp will be dictated by the site you have chosen, the climate conditions, the size of the camp and personal preferences. There are, however, some golden rules to follow for the sake of the safety and well-being of the campers! 🙂

Positioning Tents: Try to pitch tents with their back into the prevailing wind. If possible, use either a belt of trees or bushes to form a natural windbreak. If hot weather conditions make shade important then choose a place under some trees, but remember that falling twigs and branches will be likely. Make sure your sleeping area is well away from the cooking area and toilet area, and upwind of them if there is prevailing wind. 😉

Toilets: if there are no permanent toilets on the site,construct a toilet downwind of the tents and away from sleeping and cooking areas, with natural screening or  bivvy bag or groundsheet for privacy. You can dig a hole in the ground with a trowel or knife for solid waste, covering it with soil after use and burning toilet paper.

Washing Areas: If you are going to have an area dedicated to washing clothes, keep this area away from cooking and sleeping areas. Site any clothes lines well away from where people will be walking, especially at night.

Where To Site A Fire: If you are going to have a fire, light it well away from the tents, as sparks can fly out and burn holes in the material. Also make sure it is a downwind of the tents, on a flat area well away from trees and bushes.

Kitchen: Site the food preparation area some distance from where you will be sleeping, so that if an animal is attracted by the smells of food during the night, you will not be disturbed. Also, any flies attracted to your cooking will be well away from your sleeping area. If you can, have an extra tent near the cooking area for the storage of food. Do not keep food inside a tent where anyone is sleeping.

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Lastly: Have FUN!!! There is no other activity that we have done that creates so many lasting memories! 🙂

 

 

Empowering Young People to Reach Their Full Potential

Whether you’re homeschooling your children, or are simply looking for extracurricular activities, 4-H is a wonderful option! 4-H prepares young people to be leaders in their community and around the world through hands-on experiences alongside their peers and caring adults. Children can learn about farming, wood-working, archery, photography, art, science, sewing, insect collecting, animals, cooking/canning, and so much more! The possibilities of what they can learn and accomplish are endless.

About 4-H

 4-H began over 100 years ago, and has since grown into the largest youth development program in the nation. Backed by a network of more than 6 million youth, 540,000 adult volunteers, 3,500 professionals, and more than 60 million alumni; 4-H delivers research-based programming around positive youth development. 4-H is delivered through America’s 109 land-grant universities and the Cooperative Extension Service—reaching every corner of our nation. In Indiana, 4-H can be found in all 92 counties as delivered through Purdue Extension. Community clubs, after-school programs, school enrichment, camps/workshops, and special programs are all ways youth across Indiana can be involved with the 4-H program.

Indiana 4-H Mission: 

The Indiana 4-H Youth Development mission is to provide real-life educational opportunities that develop young people who will have a positive impact in their communities and the world.

Indiana 4-H Vision: 

Indiana 4-H Youth Development strives to be the premier, community-based program empowering young people to reach their full potential.

 

Projects

Members have the opportunity to learn more about a subject matter that they choose to study through completing hands on activities. We refer to these as projects. In order to enroll in a project, members must sign up for them at the time of enrolling in 4-H. Each project has a manual that guides the youth through the learning process as well as a set of guidelines that helps them meet the project requirements. We provide adult volunteers and staff who are knowledgeable on that particular subject who will often times provide workshops to allow the youth to learn about that topic in a social environment. Each project has a beginner, intermediate, and advanced level-this allows youth to build on their knowledge each year and continue to challenge their skills. Projects are meant to be worked on over time, providing an educational opportunity for youth outside of the classroom setting. Often times, youth will exhibit and display their project at a local county fair in order to show the community what they have learned.

As you complete your projects use 4-H-620-W “My Record of 4-H Achievement” to keep detailed records of your exhibits. Click here for a Microsoft Word version of the “My Record of 4-H Achievement.”

There is no limit to the number of projects youth can sign up for, however, we suggest starting out with one or two your first year. If you know what project(s) you are looking for, simply find it listed under a specific category listed below.

Join 4-H

Want to get involved? Contact your local County Extension Office to find out what clubs meet in your area. Click here to enroll in 4HOnline as a 4-H club member!

 

 

Here are a few of our favorite 4-H activity products!

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Insect Collecting Kit

 

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Weather Forecasting

 

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Air-stream Machines
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The Woodland Homestead
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Guide to Raising Chickens
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Garden activities