Category Archives: Math

Serving sizes for Math Lesson

Handi-Skill Spotlight: Serving Sizes

I don’t know how things work in your house, but on the rare occasion that I bring home fun cereal, it disappears at the speed of light. Invariably, one (or both) children feel like they didn’t get their fair share.

This past week, Momma wised up and came up with a solution. It’s so easy that I don’t know why I didn’t think of it earlier. Dividing it into serving sizes!

Serving sizes for Math Lesson

As I began to look at the side of the box, I realized – what am I doing?!? “Hey, Rex, come here. How much is a serving size of this cereal?” To which he replied, “About a bowl.” So, we had a lesson on serving sizes. Think of how many skills are used in order to divide up a box of cereal!

  • How to find the serving size using the information on the box (3/4 cup).
  • Look at the number of servings in the box (12).
  • Divide that number by the number in our family (4) to come up with how many servings he got to have (3).
  • Figure out how much cereal he should put in his zip bag by multiplying his servings by the serving size (2 1/4 cup).
  • Find the correct size measuring cup to most easily use for a situation (3/4 cup in our house) and how many scoops are necessary (3). {Of course, if he had realized that there was a 3/4 cup scoop, he could have cut out some of the other stuff – but, I didn’t let that cat out of the bag.}

After he finished the exercise, I called out “Monkey, come here,” and started the process all over again. So, in about 5 – 10 minutes, they worked easily {and naturally} with fractions, multiplication, division, and algebraall to earn some breakfast cereal. {We’ll get to the health side of the issue later.}

Dividing Cereal to Practice Math

If the goals are real, then the motivation is natural, and math doesn’t need to be scary at all. {My friend, Bon, over at Math Four would be so proud of me!} Have you found easy ways to practice math in everyday life? Won’t you share them in the comments {or, just tell me hi – I’d love to hear from you}!

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grocery shopping for learning consumer math - unschooling

Handi-Skill Spotlight: Surviving the Grocery Store

Not sure what a Handi-Skill is? Perhaps a better name for this series would be Real World or Real Life Skills.

As we start out on our unschooling journey, I’ve had my eyes {and mind} open to finding unschool opportunities for those basic skills that I feel are necessary. I would say that Consumer Math is probably one of the most important to learn before going out on their own, and going to the grocery store has to be the most natural real world math experience there can be!

grocery shopping for learning consumer math - unschooling

I know it’s easier to go to the grocery store without the kids. Oh, boy do I know it! But, if they don’t go, they are missing out on a valuable learning opportunity. Or, maybe you always take your kids, and you are looking for ways to occupy their attention so that you can get the real work done. I want to suggest that perhaps they can be a bigger help than you realize – especially if they are school-age.

First, a couple of warnings:

  1. Do not attempt this when your kids are hungry, tired, or sick. You will both leave frustrated.
  2. Do not attempt this when YOU are hungry, tired, or sick.

In Christian Unschooling by Teri J Brown (p32), she shares how she encouraged her children to practice consumer math. She handed them each $10, and they were to buy their lunches for a week – and that they should be healthy. {I kind of forgot that last part – oops!} This could even be used with younger children – perhaps giving them $5 to choose their snacks for the week.

I’ll be honest, the idea of my kids holding up a line at the grocery store makes me VERY uncomfortable. I don’t like it. I want to take the money right out of their hands and do it for them. But… they won’t learn anything that way. So, I decided that this might be worth a try. {Plus, knowing that they really would only have one or two bills to work with on this first try made it a little easier to let go.}

When you teach a child something you take away forever his chance of discovering it for himself. Jean Piaget

This might seem like a simple exercise, but let’s break down all of the thinking skills necessary to make this a successful outing.

Price Comparisons

We had a few instances where they had to decide which package was a better price – which meant dividing it out and determining how much it was per ounce {or per item}. Then, even if it was cheaper for the larger one, you have to determine if it is enough cheaper to warrant getting it. For example, Monkey decided to get Pork & Beans. She could get the larger can for about a penny less per ounce, but that was not enough of a savings to warrant having to open a large can when she only needed a small one.

In the breakfast aisle, there was a particularly unusual case. Due to an extra savings that we were eligible for, the larger box of Pop-tarts was actually cheaper than the clearanced smaller package. Four extra pop-tarts? Score!

Kid learn which is the better buy

Clearance normally indicates a rock bottom price, but you should always check.

Making Tough Choices

Monkey also wanted to get some frozen pizzas. So, we looked at one brand {which is not her favorite} and determined that 5 pizzas {with coupons} would be $4ish, and she divided it out to be 81 cents per pizza. Then we looked at the french bread pizzas {which she prefers}, and she determined that it came out to $1.75 per pizza. So, I asked her – does eating 1 french bread pizza fill you up twice as much as the other kind? She decided that it was not worth the extra cost.

Rex’s hardest decision was a little more cut and dry – logically, albeit not emotionally. He desperately wanted some powdered sugar donuts.

learning about tough choices - consumer math

But, at $3 a bag, that put him over the $10 budget. He immediately saw that it was not a good option to put back his corn dogs, but he wanted me to allow him to pull $1 from his own money. Let me tell you – he was so angry at me when I told him no – that the exercise was in making decisions and making the purchases fit inside the $10.

Working Together

They both wanted to get Pop-tarts, and the best choice was definitely the 12 count box. But, they both wanted to have more than one kind, so we suggested that they might want to work together and swap some packages when we got home.

This thought had never even occurred to them! But, once suggested, they eagerly agreed that made sense. {Although I do not hold any allusions that will last for an extended length of time.}

Planning Ahead

What they purchased had to last a week – a whole week. Now, yes, they know that mom and dad have back-up food {ie PB & J and Rice}, but they needed to plan out how long what they were purchasing would last them.

Rex knew that he needed to plan on 2 corn dogs for a meal because 1 just does not fill him up. So that had to be accounted for when he was deciding how much to get.

I anticipate being able to help them learn the coupon process in the future as well – that way they will be able to stretch their money even further.

Estimating

They kept a running total as they went to make sure that they didn’t go over their $10. They knew that we would make them put something back instead of rushing in to the rescue. {And, I am happy to say that they both came in under with a little bit of change left over.}

Working with Money

Not only did they need to have an idea of how much everything should cost {so that they knew if it all rang up correctly, they also needed to have an idea of how much their change should be – and count it to make sure that they got back the right amount.

By practicing {and Mom not stepping in}, they will get faster and less trepidation when trying to give the money to the cashier. This was probably the most stressful part of the trip for me.

People Skills

Oh, could this be where those social skills come in? We chose to go through a real lane instead of the self-checkout lane so that they could get practice handing the money to a person {ie not balled up in a bunch but lying flat and straight} and receiving change from a real person. This way human error was a possibility – necessitating counting the change. :)

For this to work, Mom {and Dad}, you have to be willing to let them make a mistake. You have to be willing to let them experience the consequences of their actions. Definitely guide, but it has to be their decision. For example, had Rex chosen to get the donuts, we were going to let him – then he would have been missing his “real food” in about two days. And, on the flip side, it also makes any successes their own!

I know that some of you are probably very nervous about handing over $10 to your kids. And, let’s be honest, $10 for a week of lunches at home, really is quite a lot. For us, our grocery budget {for 4} is $70 a week for food, so forking over $20 of that was a little stressful. But, I do think that the skills they will learn from this process is definitely worth the sacrifice. And,  on the plus side, no more complaints about there being nothing “good” to eat – it’s all in their hands.

For some further ideas on how to incorporate math into your unschooling life, I highly recommend Joyce’s article Unschooling Math found, coincidentally enough, on An Unschooling Life.

How have you incorporated math into your everyday life? Or does it just happen naturally? Please share your experiences in the comments!

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iLiveMathAnimalsOfAfrica300x400

iLiveMath Animals of Africa App Review

Since one of my son’s special interests is Animals, I jumped at the opportunity to review one of iHomeEducators Educational Apps: iLiveMath Animals of Africa. This is the first app they developed in a series that use animals as the base for word problems. {They also have math apps that focus on transportation, agriculture, insects, and the Winter Olympics.}

From their website:

iLiveMath Animals of Africa” brings math to life by describing a group of animals as a coalition of cheetahs, parade of elephants, or a dazzle of zebras. There are 26 animal types from Africa (additional updates will include more African animals and problems). The app automatically generates over one million possible combinations of questions.

Three levels of difficulty can be configured to help students from first through sixth grade as they move through different operations and challenge the student with equations from single digit to triple digits.

Rex has had an aversion to word problems in the past. It was as if he had a mental block that he just couldn’t move past. This app has changed that. For one thing, he loves that he is not only allowed, but encouraged, to play on Dad’s ipod. But, more than that, once he started seeing word problems with his much loved animals as the focus, it was as if something clicked for him.

If you have a child that has resisted word problems, then I highly recommend the iLiveMath series to make it more fun. {They also offer apps for grammar, spelling, and vocabulary.}

And, here’s some fun – they have given me the opportunity to give away 9 codes so that you can have an opportunity to win your very own copy!

To enter, simply leave a comment below telling me how you make math fun in your homeschool. One entry per person. Giveaway ends Thursday, August 9th at midnight ET.

Good luck!

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Disclosure: I was provided a free copy of iLiveMath Animals of Africa for my honest and unbiased review. All opinions expressed are mine.

Linking up with

Learn Math Fast!

Learn Math Fast! {Review}

Math has been a struggle for us lately. Not so much because the kids didn’t know what they were doing, but because I haven’t trusted how much they have actually learned.

We tried Speed Math and Real World Math Problems. Both went over very well, but there was still the problem of not enough structure to make me comfortable that we were covering everything that needed to be covered.

Luckily, right about the time I was about to throw my hands up in frustration again, I was introduced to the Learn Math Fast! program. I was immediately intrigued. When given the opportunity to review the program, I jumped on it.

For us, one of the wonderful parts of this program is that everyone starts at the beginning. Well, that let me make sure that they understood the beginning concepts without making them go though something labeled First Grade – which would have been destined to create grumbles from the 7th grader.

And, the program truly lives up to it’s name. Each lesson lasts about 5-10 minutes, and then they have a worksheet to complete on their own. And, the awesome thing is that the book is a non-consumable and you can print the worksheets directly from online. Which means that if you need to go back and do a section again, you can easily print the worksheet again – no muss, no fuss.

The author has also been wonderful answering questions when we ran into a bit of a quandary with the timed tests portion. (Monkey does *not* do well when timed on anything – it makes her quite stressed.) It was fabulous being able to ask JK about how to handle the situation.

I really can’t say enough good things about this program. The kids learn very quickly, without getting bogged down by pages and pages of the same problems. It also allows them to feel confidence in their abilities which makes them eager to do more.

We’ve been using the program for a little while now, and it is definitely a winner for us! They are just zipping right along, and I can easily envision a day where they will be doing the work all on their own – yippee!

I’m thrilled that I get to offer one of my lucky readers a copy of Volume I to get you started. Just follow the directions in the rafflecopter to enter. The giveaway will end on Thursday, May 17th at midnight, and a winner will be chosen on Friday, May 18th. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: I was provided a free copy of Learn Math Fast! in order to review the system for my fair and unbiased review. Prize fulfillment will also be provided by Learn Math Fast!

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Giveaway Day

Real World Math Word Problems

Free Real World Math Problems

I’ve found that math can get rather boring if all you do is learn a problem style and then do a page of problems with that style, so lately I’ve been on the hunt for some free real world math problems that would stimulate curiosity in the kids.

Here are my favorite sites that I’ve found with FREE problems.

Source: cityyandcolour.tumblr.com via Nicole on Pinterest

Figure This!

This site has about 80 different Challenges that you can choose based on mathematical skill set necessary. We haven’t used these yet, but they are on our to try list. Middle school and up.

Franklin Institute

This site has quite a few different types of problems ranging from Melting Pot Math to Toothpick Puzzles. So far, we’ve only completed a few of the Open-ended Math Problems, and we’ve enjoyed working them out together very much. Middle school and up.

Real World Math: Using Google Earth in the Math Curriculum

They have lessons based on concepts, project based learning, space, and more. This site has ALOT of information, and I’m still digging through it. I have seen some projects that are for as low as 3rd grade, but most seem to be appropriate for grades 5-12. The author is clear though that it’s difficult to assign grade levels to the problems presented. I think the U-boat Hunt looks particularly interesting – combining decoding a cipher with charting latitude and longitude. This is an extremely well done resource, but you won’t be able to just pop on and print out a problem for the day – there are Google Earth files to download for each lesson.

Make it Real Math and States by the Numbers by Make it Real Learning

OK, this is not actually a free resource, but they do have a free download that contains 10 sample problems taken from the various workbooks. And, the entire state of North Dakota is available as a sample. So, while not free, you can definitely get some good practice problems out of it, and the cost is not prohibitive to purchase them. Make it Real Math is probably my favorite of what we’ve done so far because it uses actual real situations that you could find yourself in. States by the Numbers covers place value, rounding, estimation, fractions, and percents.

And, if you still don’t have your fill of math and want to get more real world ideas – you can check out Education Math’s article: Get Real: Math in Everyday Life.

And, for day to day math encouragement as well as great ideas, I can think of no better place than my friend Bon’s site Math is not a Four Letter Word. This girl LOVES math! Don’t believe me? Just take a hop on over there yourself. :)

So, what about you? What are some of your favorite math resources? How do you integrate math into everyday life? Tell me about it in the comments.

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