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Archive for February, 2011

We will be switching to Singapore Primary Mathematics 1B this week and in planning the lessons, I started organizing our math manipulatives. Then I went on to clean and organize the whole Learning Loft. This includes our Math Manipulative Closet which I don’t think I ever mentioned it before. I’ve gotten a few emails asking where I store/organize everything, so hopefully this will help others who are looking for ideas.

The narrow closet is just off our loft area. It works perfectly to hide all our manipulatives. Since I’ve entertained using quite a handful of math programs, I ended up with lots of math manipulatives, starting with our MUS blocks. I admit that I’m a helpless addict to this kind of stuff. In this closet, I try to keep the supplies Satori might want to take out to play with on her own on the lower shelves that she can reach. She just loves playing with her math manipulatives.

The lowest shelf holds our MUS blocks, ManipuLite Pattern Blocks and Color Cubes, Geometric foam solids, Math Links, Linking Cubes, 1″ wooden blocks, Cuisenaire Rods, Math dice games, Place Value Kit, 1″ plastic square tiles and a few other various counting items like shiny rocks and beads. (To see any photo larger, just click on it.)

Next shelf holds more manipulatives and some logic games. We’ve got Tangoes Tanagrams, Large Rubber Vehicle Counters, smaller Kid and Wild Animal counters, transparent disc counters, plastic coins, tanagram shapes, blue and multicolor centimeter cubes, Unifix cubes and disc counters. We’ve got a few logic games up here, but we keep some in our game closet downstairs. Here you’ll find Mighty Mind, Logic Links, Block Buddies, Rory’s Story Cubes, Hundred Mat, and magnetic fractions. You can see I went wild with the labeler!

On the floor rest our math balances and scales, time clock and long pointy thingies like yard sticks, big thermometer, and a pointer.

Top shelf holds science and social studies stuff: Microscope and slides, Animal flashcards, timelines, Magnet kit, Little Passports suitcase… The shelf below it holds workbooks we’ll be using very soon. I’m entertaining moving ALL our math and logic games and storing them on the second shelf, but I’m not sure there would be enough room.

Things we use on a daily basis are taken out of the closet and stored on the bottom shelf of a small bookcase we have in the middle of our Learning Loft. The red tote holds our math manipulatives and math cards so we can easily take it all out while we do math. The abacuses we use all the time are also within convenient reach. I’ve decided to store our Singapore math books down here too as they are shorter than our normal binders and workbooks that we store elsewhere. We put a children’s dictionary here too, Satori uses it often. A new manipulative we’ll be using soon are the Unifix and linking cubes.

Hi it’s me Satori,

I don’t like my daddys job I won’t get that job!  He havto travle all the time on air planes, Mexico is so hot!

When he leaves infront of me i’m hart broken. I just want to tell you don’t get that job!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Just wanted to share some of Satori’s free writes from the week. A few times this week I’ve been waking up to a new State Capital Chart where she writes the states and their capitals in a list. She knows them better than I do now. She also loves creative writing. A few days ago we started reading this excellent book The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich and we’ve both fell in love. It’s about a 7 year old Ojibwa girl, Omakayas, living on Madeline Island in 1847. This is particularly meaningful to me, as I’m half Ojibwa (Satori is 1/4) and I’ve been to Madeline Island.

Satori is so taken with the book she talked all night about writing her own Birchbark House book. She said she’d make it a bit different though, so her book is about Esacoma and her Burchbark House!

I haven’t read her whole book yet, but I was impressed. She’s been taking everything she’s learning and meshing them all into her book. We’ve been learning about early American History, geography, and of course, The Birchbark House.


In the actual story, Omakayas named her baby brother Chickadee. Well here he gets named Carloee.

The book is several pages long, and on the last page, she even included a pronunciation chart for the harder-to-pronounce names! 🙂

Another book she wrote this week is The Alive States of America. This is a combo of both books Scrambled States of America and The Little Man in the Map.

Of course it starts out with Kansas and some states being upset for being in the middle of nowhere.

Party time when all the states decide to scramble themselves! Anyone with the Scrambled States book will recognize these little state characters.


I’ve known about the free math resource – Khan Academy for a few years now, but just this month I checked it out again. Right away I noticed the tagline said over 38 million lessons delivered, and each time I refreshed the page, that number was updated. Today, the site hit over 40 million lessons. A few million lessons served in just a few weeks, wow!

This is an ASTOUNDING, AMAZING, ASTONISHING resource of 2000+ 10-minute (give-or-take) videos, mostly on math, but also on science and much more! They are easy to learn from and did I mention free?

The thing that caught my attention this month was that you can now login with your Google or Facebook ID and it will track your participation with Energy Points. You can earn points and badges from watching videos and doing your exercises.

I went through all the easiest Arithmetic videos and exercises and now almost done with Pre-Algebra. I will for sure be using this as a math and science supplement for Satori!

I could take all my own screenshots to show you, but it’s best if you just watch through his explanation video. I’m not sure this YouTube video will fit within my blog, if it doesn’t all show, just head here:

Khan Academy Exercise Software Video demonstration

Bill Gates is a huge fan – he uses Khan Academy for himself and his children. Khan Academy was also one of the first winners of the Google $10 million dollar award for Project 10^100, a global search for ideas that would “help the world the most”. What did Sal do with his $2 million from that? He turned right around and put that toward translating his videos into other languages, so even more of the world could benefit from his videos. Sal now works on Khan Academy full-time and has added a staff of six.

No matter if you homeschool, afterschool, or don’t even have children, you can use Khan Academy for yourself and/or your children to get up to speed on math. Since I’ve been watching these videos, I’ve become very psyched about math. I think you’ll see a big math focus in our household this spring.

Salman Khan is my hero!


Feb 24

I took these pictures a few weeks ago, but I want to get more posts of us using our curriculum in action. So the next few weeks, look for updates on how we’re doing in all our favorite programs! I then tag our curriculum by its abbreviation I use. So all Math Mammoth posts should have this link:

In Math Mammoth 1-B, you’ll be doing a lot of 100-chart and place value work. These have actually really helped Satori lately, she now has another tool aside from her abacus to think of numbers. The way she’s been talking, I know she’s got this 100-Chart in her head now. Here’s a sample page of work she did a few weeks back.

Since she totally loves hands-on, mama-daddy-interaction, I knew this floor Hip Hoppin Hundred Chart Map (by Learning Resources) would be a hit. Before you use it, let it AIR OUT for like a month somewhere. We had lots of fun playing with her number mat, and she wants it out everyday now. She teaches Daddy math on the weekends with it as well. 🙂

Back to Math Mammoth, here’s an online math game that Maria (creator of Math Mammoth) linked to on our sheet. At first it took Satori a long time to figure out where the numbers were on this blank chart, but after some practice, she’s a real pro now.

Play it yourself here! Find the 10 hidden bones on the 1-100 number square in less than a minute.

I purchased our current science program (RSO Life) long before we started using it. It was the Animal Kingdom portion that delayed me – you’d be getting your hands on little creatures like worms and snails and roly-polies. I was a little squeamish. We don’t have easy access to such creatures way up in high altitude dry climate. I also never hurt a living thing, and even though the program doesn’t have you dissecting or hurting animals, I don’t even feel right just borrowing them from their natural environments for a time.

So we’ll see how we get through the next few months in our animal study without actually keeping worms and snails as pets. We’re going to rely heavily on books, videos and zoo trips. We have some great places near us – Butterfly Pavilion, Downtown Aquarium, and Denver Zoo just to name a few.

So digging into the program, RSO had us do a classification exercise to demonstrate how difficult it can be to classify living things. They had Satori classify 12 Blobonians using her own judgement. Then, a scientist who had observed these Blobonians in their natural environment was able to classify them successfully and gave us a flow chart for us to do it correctly. Of course, it did not match up to our original sorting. (We used our dry-erase table for this exercise, love it! Thanks Grammy and Grampa.)

This just drove the point home that sometimes even though living things may look alike, we may learn more about them and have to re-classify them. Anemones and corals are an example of this. At first we thought they were a plant. Then we realized they were actually animals.

We watched Discovery Education videos to learn more about the Animal Kingdom, classifying living things, and then Invertebrates. Today we watched a video about Cnidarians, our first animals we’re learning about.

Just yesterday I started using the Discovery Streaming StudentCenter. It is super easy to use, and Satori now has her own login (no extra charge to your subscription). She was very excited to login herself and see what assignments she had.

She really enjoyed the video with King Philip to learn about the Classification of Living Things. We had to watch it twice and I’m sure she’ll ask again this weekend. 🙂

The past month people have been buzzing about Math Mammoth’s huge 40% off sale coming in March at the Homeschool Buyers Co-op. Well this morning I noticed it was already up! If they hit 50 orders, the best discount of 40% off will be offered. I can pretty much guarantee they will hit that mark.

Math Mammoth 40% at Homeschool Buyers Co-op

We use Math Mammoth as a supplement to the more teacher-intensive RightStart B Math. On days I don’t get to RightStart or if we are traveling without our manipulatives, Satori still can get in her math. She usually does 2-3 pages in one lesson. It has a unique combination of being probably the most affordable and easiest to teach out of the math programs available today, while still being extremely effective. This whole program is based on worksheets that are surprisingly easy for the student to teach themselves or learn with minimal parent help. Some people do use it as a stand-alone math program.

Years 1 through 6 can be purchased as the Light Blue full curriculum for just $70.80 (or $11.80 per year). The year is broken up into A and B for each year, and this offering covers up through year 6-B. If you already have a math curriculum, you can supplement with their Blue package, which covers single topics for years 1-6 (1,700 lesson pages) for just $9 a year. If you get their downloadable PDFs, you have to factor in printing expenses of course. Here is our Year 1 A & B printed out and in their binders.

People on the homeschooling forums I hang out on can’t get enough of Math Mammoth. It’s certainly been one of the hottest math topics since they had their last big sale when it went for 40% off before.

Here is the home page for Math Mammoth.

Although Math Mammoth is a mastery program (you cover one topic  until you master it), we like to mix it up a bit and make it more of a spiral. So we’re in 1-B now and reviewing place value, but will be going back to 1-A this week for a month. Here’s a page Satori did today.

Here’s a page we’ll be doing later this spring.

NOTE: I can’t claim to be an Math Mammoth expert, as we’ve only been using it very lightly as a supplement.  I can’t say Satori has learned anything new with Math Mammoth’s methods, as we learn things first in RightStart, and then use these worksheets as a review. We also mix it up instead of the intended order.  Either way, I thought I’d talk a bit about it to let everyone know they can get this math program next month for a great deal. It is a popular math program, and people using anything from Singapore to RightStart to Saxon to (insert math program) have been finding ways to take advantage of Math Mammoth.

If you go through the co-op, I do think you’d have to wait until after it’s finished to get your download or CD. So that means not until early April will you have it available. If you want it faster, head to Kagi store to get it as an instant download at 20% off until Friday, February 25, using the coupon FEBSALE.