Monday, June 30, 2008

New Math Games Review

Ok, I promised you a review of the math games I bought to use this summer and I'm finally going to get around to it.


Today we got Pegs in the Park in the mail.  Hmm.  I paid $9.50 for it at Rainbow Resource and I guess it was worth it. 


They review it like this:  This board game requires no reading skills and is recommended for children that want to have fun with counting. It comes with 44 colorful, friendly cards with pictures themed in a park. Each card has a (+) or (-) number. Pick up a card with 7 happy kites, and you move forward seven spaces. Draw a card with 5 angry ants, and you have to go back 5 spaces. First one to get to the ice-cream truck wins! Pegs in the Park teaches counting, forward and backward skills, and eye-hand coordination. *Jon

I just sat down with Daisy, Pepper and Banana Boy to play.  I would say it is Candyland with counting.  It does teach counting, forward and backward and eye-hand coordination.  All true.


Here were a few things about it I found frustrating, making it not a perfect game:  The spaces on the board are tinier than the base of the playing piece.  It was hard to count the tiny spaces and hard to see exactly on which space your peg was.bbYou get more spaces to count this way (ie: you won't finish the game too quickly), but I don't see it being easy for anyone under 5--just who I would be targeting for counting practice.  Those of us who played today are all stellar counters and know how to move from space to space in a board game.


The holes in the board are just a tad hard to get the piece into.  I would have liked a thicker board with a longer peg on the bottom.


It is just as frustrating as Candyland.  Go forward 5. Go forward 8.  Go back 6.  Lose a turn.  You only have one space to go!  OH, NO, go back 10!  (at least it doesn't send you all the way back to start!)  Daisy picked all the bad cards and spent most of the game within the first 15 spaces of her board, mostly going backwards.


I think I will play it with Pepper and Banana Boy, but change the game from picking one card and counting, to picking two cards and adding or subtracting the total.


Roll 'n Add -- Got this in my Rainbow order today, too.  This game, I love!  Simple, yet brilliant.  A fast play.  You get a sturdy cardboard tic-tac-toe board and twenty thick plastic markers numbered 1-20, plus two 10-sided dice.  Think Hollywood Squares meets addition.


Roll the two dice, add the total, pick out the matching marker (there is only one of each number, but one side is purple, the other orange, so you flip it to your color)  Place it on the tic-tac-toe board.  Now take turns and try to get three of your colored pieces in a row to make tic-tac-toe.  If that number has already been used, you can move the piece to another spot, if it's yours or flip it if it is your opponent's.  It practices addition facts to 20 using the numbers 1-10, something you don't get in most math games which use 6-sided dice (you know, the highest total you can get is 6+6=12).


There is also a version of the game where you take out all the odd-numbered discs and shake one die to find the doubles (shake an 8, play a 16; shake a 1, play a 2)


Here's something exciting!  They also make Roll 'n Multiply!  (It costs twice as much, but it must come with many more discs)  It's going on my next wish list!


Another game I got is Munch Math and I love this one, too!  This website gives you an excellent overview and screen shot of the game board, so I won't go into great detail here.  But even Banana Boy has played this with us and has done all right.  He can easily do the addition and subtraction and with help, can figure out the multiplication.  Pepper can do the mult. on her own (she's 7) and if I remind her which number is the dividend and which is the whatever-the-other-one is called (divisor, maybe?), and she thinks in terms of cookies, she can do the division. 


My favorite part of Munch Math, is that you have to try out all 4 operations to decide where to play.  Say you shake a 5 and a 4.  You can add and get nine, subtract and get one, multiply and get 20 and divide--well, that doesn't work.  So if you have a 9 and a 1 on your food, you have to decide which to cover.  Will it be easier to shake another 9 or another one?  Pepper quickly figured out that the only way to get zero is to shake doubles (two of the same number, like 5 - 5) and subtract.  So even though you could use 5 + 5 for your 10, you don't shake doubles that often so you should cover your zero right away.


We also bought Number Hunt.  The best part about this game is that it is organic and fair trade.  Honestly, there are 6 different ways to play and practice different skills, but the directions are very vague and don't always seem to work out in actual play.  We had to make up some of our own rules in confusing situations.  We do still play it.  It's not useless.  Our favorite version is Compare It, where you shake the die and compare that number to the number of the space on which you are sitting.  If the die is higher, you move forward that many.  If the space is higher, you move back the number on the die.  The die is wooden, large and very nice.  The markers are small, flat and cardboard--I like nice tall pieces I can easily hold.  I always wanted to be the horse in Monopoly!


Another one I bought is Addition & Subtraction Game Board Books -- six cardboard games in one folder.  Not worth $16.50, unless you don't own and can't find ANY other math games anywhere.  The games are pretty basic and also sometimes confusing to figure out.  We made up our own rules for some of these, too.  The biggest thing that annoyed ME, was that the game boards, made of laminated tagboard, are folded in half and stored in the folder.  The logical result of this is that they don't lie flat when you play them, making the tiny cardboard, laminated circle markers slide around. Erg!


On a positive note, I bought Lauri's Shape Bingo from Rainbow for $11.95 and what you see is what you get!  It's Lauri quality, fun to play (even if you don't need to learn your shapes!) and good for teaching a variety of shapes if you do need to learn them.  Plus they can simply be used as puzzles!  It's always fun to play Bingo, even if you don't need to learn something!  Daisy, Pepper, Banana Boy and I all enjoyed this.


And lastly, our most super-fun purchase today was a handful of SMENCILS!  It's not a math game, but Banana Boy couldn't WAIT to get out his math book and use his (really stinky!) Chocolate Smencil.    I didn't even tell him to!  I'd think carefully about just which artificial scents you can stomach.  Of course, I'm very sensitive to smells anyway.  I think I'd enjoy the peppermint or the root beer.  There's a great review of these over at Rainbow.


Let me know if you have other math games you are enjoying.  It's so much cheaper to get a good review for free than to buy the game and try it out myself!




Tuesday, June 24, 2008

One Small Sixth Grade Update

Rose Bud got her report card and she had A's, two A+s and an A- in gym--because she didn't know she was supposed to bring her tennis shoes the last day (they had already cleaned out their gym lockers).  So she was marked down for a dress violation.  Oh, well.


She's very happy about her homeroom and house assignment for next year and we are too.  I think her homeroom teacher will be a good fit for her.  And her best friend is in her homeroom, too.


For the summer, she's working through an Algebra book and she's doing Sonlights Language Arts 6--I had purchased it last summer for her before we knew she was going to public school.  She wanted something to keep busy with this summer and she chose those two things off the shelf.  She is also reading about WW I, WW II and the Vietnam War.


She's excited to be earning money this summer: $5/week for doing extra chores and $20/week for watching Sunshine two mornings (believe me, he's worth it!).  Of her $20, she gives away $2, saves half and keeps $8 to spend.  Aeropostale, here she comes!



Saturday, June 21, 2008

Awareness for WHOM?

June is National Potty Training Awareness Month


Like I am not aware.


Can I just say that it is not any easier the fifth time around?  Can I just say that I am sick of being kicked in the stomach while changing a poopy 3 year old who doesn't want to be changed?  Can I just say that he is SO cute wearing his "unders" and running around peeing in the weeds?  Can I just say,


"Listen, Son.  It is National Potty Training Awareness Month and so I would like you to be aware that you are 3, you can pull your pants up and down, you know perfectly well what to do and where to do it and preschool starts in the fall.   So in honor of NPTA Month, I'd like you to be aware that mommy is tired of diapers and you need to do the whole big boy potty thing.  Ok?  For Mommy?  Let's call it your summer homeschooling curriculum.  So, from now on, in the daytime, you are wearing unders.  Pee goes in the potty.  Everyone pees in the potty.  If your unders are wet, you'll have to take them off, put them in the wash and put on dry ones.  Got it?  I'm glad we had this little talk about this important subject.  If you ever want to discuss any of this with Mommy, I'm here for you, ok?  I love you and I'm so proud of you!  Now, go out there and POTTY TRAIN!"


A different picture for those of you who had to read this on BOTH my blogs

Sunshine's Preschool Schedule, Week 1

Remember that this is all very loose.  The girls are doing this with him and they do a little activity for 2 or 3 minutes and then do something else.  The Week 1 schedule is:


Literature: Big Red Barn  (he loved this book)

Nursery Rhyme: Little Boy Blue

Bible Reading: Psalm 1: 1-3

Nature Study: Walk barefoot in the grass (he doesn't like this!)

Puppets: Finger puppets (Daisy drew a face on her pointer finger and Sunshine's and they had a long and intense conversation one day)

Indoor Quiet Game: This Little Piggy

Outdoor Game: Follow the Leader

Fine Motor: Poke playdough with toothpicks (S and Rose Bud made blue playdough as an activity one day)

Musical Instruments: Bells

Arts & Crafts: Playdough

Color: Blue


This schedule is loosely based on Brightly Beaming Babies & Toddlers


And here is why the girls watch him while I do school with the others.... 

Sunshine Unsupervised:

Friday, June 20, 2008

Whoo Hoo! We did something!

We've had the last week of public school, storms and flooding, swimming lessons and I've been sick.  We've been plugging along with Hitty, but now talking too much makes me cough.


Banana Boy and I did a project this morning at 6:15!  We're practicing the days of the week which he kind of knows but not very well.  So I cut 7 different colors of construction paper into strips and we're going to make a paper chain.  Each day of the week has its own color, so we'll be doing the days of the week, patterns and practicing colors.  BB knows his colors, but he is color-blind, so he has to work extra hard at it.  He identifies them with a pretty good degree of accuracy now.

I'll put up a picture of his chain once it gets going.  Today it is rather boring as it has just one green link.  I'm hoping this will be a nice, hands-on activity to help him wrap his little brain around the days of the week.



Thursday, June 12, 2008


I don't think homeschoolers, in general, are known for stellar homeschool gym classes.  Unless you have 17 children, there aren't usually enough kids to play team sports.  Many of us sign our kids up for soccer and t-ball and gymnastics and homeschool physical education programs at local rec centers and the YMCA.  Certainly most of our kids have lots for time for just plain running-around-the-neighborhood free play than public school kids.  There are books out there telling how to do homeschool physical fitness, but personally, I don't want to sit down and read a book to tell me how to get up and be active.


My kids do play outside a LOT.  We have 2.5 acres and the neighbors have nearly 1 acre, so between the 8 kids, they have plenty of space to roam.  Their latest kick has been badminton.  Using a splash ball eliminates the frustrating element of getting the birdie stuck in the racket every time.  We had a big Father's Day tournament here.  The boys and little girls love to ride their bikes around the driveway and with one hill to coast down and one to pump back up, they get fun and exercise.


They are forever playing some imaginative game like Indians or Kid or spy or knights.  With 8 of them, they manage to sort of play kickball.  They love to play tag.


So they're out running around all day.


Pepper, Banana Boy and Sunshine are in swimming lessons right now.  Banana Boy is becoming a t-ball star.  Rose Bud and Daisy are going to hike their flip flops off next week at camp.


Now if we could get mom off the computer.....


Anyway, even if they are stuck inside, they find SOMEthing to do.  Here they are doing their morning "workout."




with the added difficulty of dodging Sunshine





Made more difficult...


It's not perfect, but it works!



Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Peaceful Day

Generally, homeschooling at our house is chaotic. The baby is getting into something. Someone needs wiping. Someone needs help with math. Another one is in tears because the same thing she did yesterday, today is too hard. The baby needs changing. Everybody is hungry. No one has any pencils. I need more coffee and then the phone rings.

Today was not one of those days. For a few blissful minutes, all was peaceful. All was calm. Everyone found something constructive and even educational to do and I found myself just sitting there, sipping coffee and remembering why I do this.

Pepper busy with magnets

Sunshine playing school bus with his truck (he sets the Little People around the room and drives by to pick each one up)

Banana Boy explored symmetry (except for the broom) with the Cuisenaire rods

Daisy worked on math (and didn't WANT her picture taken working on math)

Monday, June 2, 2008

My Baby is So Smart

Because he doesn't talk much, I'm never quite sure what he knows.  I know he is mighty bright.


Anyway, today we got out the Lauri giant shapes and tossed them around on the floor.  They come with a little (actually huge) crepe-rubber color die.  So I shook the die and had Banana Boy hop onto the shape of that color.  Then I shook it for Sunshine and showed him the color.  I asked him, "Can you hop onto the orange shape?"  He scanned around at all 6 shapes, then burst into a grin and hopped onto the orange!  Yay!


All this proves is that he can match colors.  I didn't ask him to find orange without showing him the orange.  Maybe we'll play that way tomorrow.


Incidently, it astounds me how many preschool activities are based on color and knowing/finding colors.  I find myself doing this unthinkingly with Banana Boy and then remembering that it's a challenge for him because he is color-blind. In most cases he can compensate, but he gets blue and purple mixed up often and sometimes green and orange.  He did fine with our game today except for mixing up the blue and purple once.