Thursday, October 24, 2013

Moneywise Kids

This is a great little game I picked up 5 years or so ago.  Sunshine and I have been playing it during Special Time all week and he's really catching on to the premise.  I see his math improving so much in just 3 days!

You begin the game with a $100 bill.  There are tokens face-down in the center.  The object is to collect all 6 tokens, which must be purchased for anywhere from $5-30 each AND have $100 in savings in order to win.  You can either shake the dice and earn money (a 1 is $10, all others are face value) OR choose a token.  There are also 4 "pay a bill" tokens--2 each of SICK or POTHOLE.  If you've purchased either the Medical Care token or Paid Your Taxes token, you won't have to pay the bill.  The only other rule in the game is that whenever able, you must trade your money for the biggest bill you can.  So when you've collected 5 ones, you must trade them for a 5.  Two fives must be traded for a ten.  Etc.  It's great for helping kids learn to make change and learn what each bill is worth, plus the idea of budgeting (to buy your tokens) and saving (the $100 to win at the end).

I already see Sunshine knowing how much change he'll get from a $20 to pay for a $15 token, and understanding that if he has 5 ones and a 5 and a 10, he can trade up for a $20.  He's also checking for himself what bills he'll collect from his roll.  Upon shaking a 4 and a 3, he recounts to tell me that for the roll of 7, he needs a five and 2 ones.

Hurray for simplicity and fun in a board game!  (and no lottery tokens!  Boo to PayDay!)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Native American Field Trip

As a fun culmination to our Native American studies, we took a day and visited the Milwaukee Public Museum.  They have some great American Indian exhibits, including a bison hunt and some neat Northwest Coast items.   Here are the kids with a totem pole and in the doorway of the plank house.

It's not a hands-on museum, but the kids were really motivated by all the things they recognized that we'd read about.  It's also home to a teepee, a life-size adobe home of the southwest and a nice display of the Northeast Woodland Indians, in addition to some we hadn't studied.

It's a great natural history museum with lots of miniature and life-size dioramas. They have a nice Wisconsin mammoth (or mastodon, I forget which) and many displays of artifacts from around the world. We've visited many times after we've studied world cultures, Wisconsin history and Native Americans.  If you're close by, check it out.  We buy a family pass and in two visits, have it paid for.  (They also let Auntie in on our pass the last two times we've been there!)

Northwest Coast Indians

 The kids really enjoyed Kahtahah and it gave a very good overview of one of the peoples of this region.  Everything else I read to them, they already knew about from reading this book.

We found the idea for these cute Totem Poles online.

 My raven and Pepper's whale

Sunshine's beaver and Banana Boy's raccoon.

Southwest Indians

Monday, September 16, 2013

Bison Paintings

 Banana Boy

We got this fun idea from this blog.  I thought they were so cute, and the kids are always begging to do art. 

I did some sample bison and then the kids did theirs.  When they went to put their paintings together, I shared some of my bison with them.  BB's two front bison are his own.  BB decided to add a bison skull and a rock to his, as well.  He was initially very frustrated at his bison drawings, but once we got to the painting and gluing part, he took off.  I love how he cut one in half to make it walking into the scene.

Pepper's bison are all her own.  She hates drawing animals, but I think her little bison turned out really well.  Better than my childish stick calves!  Her lying-down bison is also really well done.

Sunshine's two HUGE bison are his own.  I like his sun and how he remembered to tuck the feet of the back bison behind the head of the front one.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Plains Indians Schedule

The Buffalo Painting can be found here

And the Buffalo Parts activity can be found here.

Peanut Butter Pemmican

More palatable to kids than the suet kind...

"Peanut butter" pemmican

1 part jerky
1 part peanuts or pecans, unroasted
1 part raisins
1 part any seedless dried fruit(s) not preserved with sulfites—apples, peaches, blueberries, etc.
Peanut butter and honey, in a two-to-one ratio
Cayenne pepper, to taste (optional, but contrasts nicely with the sweet fruits and honey.)

Powder the jerky in a blender. Add fruit and nuts. Microwave honey and peanut butter to soften them, then blend them into the mixture. (Use less than you think you'll need, just enough to bind everything together. If you get it wrong, it's easier to add more peanut butter and honey than to add more of everything else.) Add cayenne pepper, working it in thoroughly. Store in plastic bags

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Another New School Year, Another Attempt to Document our Homeschool

on a regular basis...

I found myself looking back to the year that I blogged here regularly to remind myself what resources I'd used when we studied American history before.  It made me wish I'd kept up recording our homeschool here.  So here goes another attempt.

For 2013, the four youngers are home.  Sunshine is in 3rd grade (although about 2nd academically), Banana Boy is in 5th, Pepper 7th and Daisy 10th.  Rose Bud will be a senior in public school and applied to her first college yesterday.  :( :)

We are once again beginning American History by studying four regional types of American Indians.

For the forest Indians of the Northeast, our schedule looks like this:

Resources we are using include
Legend Chart


Longhouse Model-- from the Scholastic book Easy Make & Learn Projects: Northeast Indians.  I got a free sample download from this book once, which was the longhouse project.  I can't find the link to it now.

Region Map--two cute ideas  Native Americans 008 and 


Pepper is making a Powerpoint comparing the 4 regions and is reading all the literature.  Banana Boy is reading most of the literature.  Sunshine is listening in and reading some easy readers aloud to me.  His first one is Little Runner of the Longhouse.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Daily Calendar Math with Sunshine

Sunshine, 2nd grade, struggles a bit with math and I've been struggling to find ways to help him understand and retain the math concepts he needs for 2nd grade.  You'd think, as a person with a math teaching background, this would be an easy task for me, but I tend to draw a blank on ideas.

He loves to play games, so we've been playing lots of math games and more math games.

I signed him up for DreamBox, and while I think it's an excellent format that makes ALL the games educationally relevant (unlike many video math games in which kids can too easily spend time playing the "reward" games of no educational merit), the concepts quickly outpaced his math skills and he grew frustrated.

We're still using Singapore Primary Math and I started him out in book 1A this year, which is a good fit for him.  We're moving very slowly through it.

So, thanks to the wonders of Pinterest, I've finally hit upon a great tool for efficiently working on the many skills he needs to keep current.  A daily math "calendar."  It's really more of a Number-of-the-Day, with the number being tied to the calendar.  He doesn't need practice with actual calendar concepts as he is schedule-driven and came to understand those ideas quite young.

So without further ado, here is what we have going:
 This is on our white board in the dining room, where we do school.  I think the skills are fairly self-explanatory.  For the addition and subtraction sentences, I give him the format _+_ = 3 and _-_=3 and he fills in the blanks.  He can choose any numbers that work.  I am reminding him that for the subtraction sentence, the initial number has to be larger than the answer (I know, there are technical terms for those numbers--even as a math teacher, I never learned them.  One is a subtrahend, I think, and the answer is the difference.  Don't really care.)

The second day we added a few things:  the spelling of the number (four), and some dots to illustrate whether the number was odd or even.

 The math tools we're using include Base Ten blocks (my favorite!) for the Tens/Ones work and a Hundreds Chart for the 1More/10 More/100 More work and for the skip counting.   We also pulled in a number line with negative numbers today to find what was 10 less than 4.  He hopped his pen down the number line and recorded the answer, but I didn't include much explanation about the concept.

I'm really excited about this simple way to daily practice a number of basic skills!  I'm thrilled that I thought of it at the beginning of the new year so we can begin in a place that is easy for him to experience success, yet we'll be able to gently progress to quite an advanced level as we work up to 365!  And he thinks it's really fun, so that's an added bonus.  It will be a daily routine, which he thrives on, so it will be easy to maintain.

For now, we're doing it on the white board, but I may print it on a piece of cardstock and laminate it for him to erase and do daily with an overhead marker. This would be an easy way to do it with multiple kids, too, and avoid competition over the whiteboard.

I also found a page for Pepper that I may have her do which includes arrays, prime factorization, rounding and reduction of fractions. I have to modify some of the skills to be relevant before I give it to her.