Have a Mathy Summer!

    By Dawn Lamping

Summer is always welcome in the Rockies, and it beckons us to have fun. Why leave math out of that?

Here are some great outdoor math games and projects that are guaranteed to hold the interests of all your crew and keep everyone’s skills sharp until the days get shorter again. Not only will your kids enjoy them, but they’re adult-tested for fun, too!

purple Columbine[1]For the youngest set, counting is the name of the game. There are so many beautiful plants to count in summer! Some have three petals, many sport six. The rose (an edible math treat as long as it’s safe from pesticides) is built on the principle of 5, as is our state flower, the columbine. Older siblings can help younger ones press flowers, and these can be used to make math cards! Let an older child glue specimens to index cards and laminate or cover with Contac paper. If you have three cards that each have a three-petaled flower on them, count how many petals in all. Children like to make up their own games with such cards. You can choose to follow up the activity with writing multiplication equations if you like. For pre-algebra-with kids as young as kindergarten and as old as teens-add and subtract things your children gather in their romps by writing the first letter of the object along with the amount. Although you can’t add leaves and pinecones, you could do something like this by writing “p” for pinecones and “l” for leaves: 2 p + 3 p + 4 l + 7 l – 2 l = 5p + 9l.

Little ones also love motion. Sidewalk chalk can be used for a number line to play addition and subtraction games. For the older set, make jumps of a certain number to skip count, or skip count backwards to divide. Make “four square” with numbers in each cell, and toss a pebble in turns to see which numbers to add. Expand the square or add fractions and decimals for greater challenge.

Ball games help with skip counting. Even very young children can learn to count by twos, fives, and tens just playing catch and counting aloud each turn. Older kids will enjoy skip counting. For a larger group at the park, it can help children reorganize their energy to get in a circle and toss a ball to anyone in the circle while skip counting. Let the ball bounce once without saying that number to work through all the “every other” patterns: fours are every other two; eights are every other four. Sixes are every other three; twelves are every other six.

Use a duck-duck-goose format in a circle for the “every third” sets. Choose a target “goose” number on the times table you will practice before you begin, and when that number is reached, then the chase ensues. Nines are every third three; twelves are every third four. Sixes are every third two. Let “it” run around the circle of friends who are sitting down and touch everyone’s head. Each person in the circle must be silently skip counting to keep up. Only every third person says their number aloud. If you are counting by threes, the first person would be three, the second six, the third nine. Only the third person says “nine.” If the target number-such as 36-is reached without errors, then the target person gets up to chase “it” around the circle and if they catch “it” before “it” can run around once to sit in the target’s place, then “it” has to stay “it” for another round.

Sunny DayUse sunny days to your math advantage. Chart sunrise and sunset times to watch the coming and waning of the solstice on the longest day of the year, June 21. Students can chart these on a graph and determine the rate of change daylight and find the average rate of change in a week’s time or across the whole summer. Temperature charts lend themselves to this activity also. A next step is to combine temperature and day length for comparisons.

Shadows can be used to measure the height of a tall building or tree. Just measure the shadows of yourself and the tall object. Then measure your own height and figure out the height of the tall object through setting up a ratio by imagining right triangles. The right angle will create comparable proportions. If you are five feet tall, and your shadow is seven feet long, and the tall object’s shadow is fifteen feet long, set up the following proportion: 5 : 7 as h : 15. Solve for the unknown height h. This method is called “shadow reckoning” and was used by the ancient Greek mathematician Thales to measure the height of the Great Pyramid using only shadows.

Above all, stay outdoors as long as you can and enjoy learning together. With a bit of creativity, you and your children will have fun without even realizing how “mathy” the summer has been!

What are you most looking forward to this summer?

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    Dawn Lamping didn’t see much of fifth grade recess because she was held in to try to “catch up” in fractions. That experience cooled any interest she had in mathematics until she started her family in 1994. Through the journey of homeschooling two children, Dawn discovered the “blueprints of Creation” within mathematics. She feels blessed to share the joy of math and enjoys exploring and mastering numeracy in the classroom through hands-on experiments, fun drill games, geometry, and art. She holds an Honors Degree in Psychology from the University of Missouri and completed teacher training at Arizona State University.

Crafty Corner: Embroidery Hoop Birdfeeder

Welcome to the Crafty Corner! Join us the third Tuesday of every month for fun craft and project ideas courtesy of your host, Nicole Wenger! Today Nicole teaches readers how to create Embroidery Hoop Birdfeeders. We hope you enjoy, and will look forward to seeing you on many a Tuesday to come!

    Spring Prayer by Ralph Waldo Emerson

    “For flowers that bloom about our feet,
    For tender grass so fresh and sweet,
    For song of bird and hum of bee,
    For all things fair we hear or see,
    Father in heaven, we thank thee!

    For blue stream and blue sky,
    For pleasant shade of branches high,
    For fragrant air and cooling breeze,
    For beauty of the blooming trees,
    Father in heaven we thank thee!”

    My childhood during the spring season was nothing short of magical. Outside my mother’s kitchen window are tender-hearted memories of crocuses and tulips pushing up from the snow encrusted ground. Memories of tree buds ready to burst with excitement, and the sound of the dawn chorus welcoming morning’s early light.

    Birds in particular have always held a special place in my heart. Their brightly colored feathers, the endless energy of flickers and woodpeckers drumming on chimney tops, the sweet songs echoing throughout deep woods, and the freedom to fly far away are just a few of the reasons why I loved birds as a child.

    I was an adult before I had the opportunity to hold the tiny body of a wild Black-capped Chickadee. I felt its restless heart beating against the palm of my hand and the soft silky plumage between each finger. Looking into her deep brown eyes, I was humbled by her divine Creator and every detail He’d designed into her being.

    Over the years, my passion for birds has passed on to my children. Every spring we plan a special “Welcome Home” gift for our beloved friends. We hope this month’s craft will inspire you to take a closer look at the birds outside your window.

    I usually search the thrift stores for embroidery hoops. For this project a plastic colorful hoop is fun. Applying paint to a wooden hoop will add color and splash. Seed-eating birds don’t care how decorated the hoop is, but the kiddos always enjoy a little bit of paint.

    Materials: Embroidery Hoop (wooden or plastic), beads, fishing line or hemp, window screen, hook, scissors, and bird seed.

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    Lay a piece of window screen under the embroidery hoop. Measure an extra 5 inches around the hoop and cut. Treat the screen as fabric and place between the two hoops. Tighten the hoop and cut away the remaining screen. Measure three to four pieces of fishing line to the same length. Tie the fishing line under the hoop and through the screen. For this project I used four lines. Using three lines in the shape of a triangle works well too.

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    Once the lines are tied, start beading. There are many different items to use for beads (colored plastic beads, wooden beads, buttons, pasta, bottle caps and much more). We used plastic beads for this feeder. My son, Grant, counted the number of beads on each line and arranged his colors and shapes to fit his own patterns.

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    Depending on your child’s attention and age, stringing the beads may take a couple of sessions. I enjoyed watching my kids design their own patterns and talk about each color and shape.

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    Each line is colorful and unique!

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    Once all the lines are filled, tie the ends together. Make sure to adjust the lines for stability and balance or you could have a lopsided birdfeeder. Fill the feeder with seed. We use Black Oil Sunflower seed.

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    Find a place to hang the feeder. If a bird feeding station is not already established, always hang the feeder near trees or shrubs. Birds need a place to perch and fly to when not feeding. If this is the first feeder in the yard, be patient and allow up to two weeks for the birds to find it.

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    This is Grant’s birdfeeder! Isn’t it beautiful?

    What crafty ideas are you creating to welcome back spring?

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Nicole WengerNicole Wenger is the mother of two spunky boys and the wife of her best friend, Chris. She is the founder and director of Science Quest: a science education company which introduces students, parents, and teachers to interactive and affordable science learning. Nicole is the Preschool Director and the Director of Development at The Garden School. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Bridgewater State University and a Master of Science in Environmental Studies/Conservation Biology with an emphasis in Ornithology from Antioch University. You can keep up with Nicole, her family, and their adventures in home education, crafting, birding and loving the outdoors at http://www.loveandlearning.typepad.com.

Creating Time Together

    By Nicole Wenger

My life would be incomplete if I weren’t creating on a daily basis. Most of all, I love creating with my boys. We enjoy sewing, painting, cooking, gardening, woodworking, stamping, felting, blowing things up and more; and truth be told, we are more creative during different seasons of our lives. While the “things” we create are fun and satisfying, what is most important is the time I spend with my children.

As a child, some of my fondest memories are centered around experiences with my grandparents. My grandmother was the first person to teach me how to thread a needle on a sewing machine. I learned how to sing Polish songs stuffing pillows with duck feathers, and I love Kapusta because I cooked it with my great-grandmother. Those memories are some of the most cherished I have from my childhood. In the same way, I want my boys to experience a rich, creative life filled with fond memories of our times spent together laughing, talking, and singing.

In my search for fun activities I stumbled across this ingenious creation. With tweaks of our own, we built a great Light Box while spending time together building, laughing-and, as always-singing. What kinds of things are you creating with your family this week?

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I used two shallow, plastic clear containers. The shallower, the better, so the light can reflect closer to the lid. I sprayed the inside of both bins with metallic silver spray paint (Lowe’s). After they dried, I lined the sides with black paper. This helped keep the light from reflecting.

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I used one 18″ fluorescent light – removed the top plastic lid from the light, and duct taped the light to the bottom of the plastic bin. I cut a hole at one end of the bin and pulled the cord through. This allowed the bin to be plugged in an outlet. I read a few other posts about using battery operated lights so it becomes more portable, however, the expense of the batteries was too much and the light was inefficient.

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I used frosted spray paint on the underside of the top lid to help diffuse the light. If you can find a white or frosted lid top for the bin you can skip this step.

Wallah…the Light Box!

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Below are some of the activities we did today…more to come!

Tracing with stencils…

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Finger painting and mixing colors…

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Practice writing the alphabet and numbers:

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Using store-bought materials I spent about $35.00 for one light table, saving over $110.00 on a small 12×9 light table as seen on Amazon.com. 

What do you think?!
 
Try these links for other ideas:
http://playathomemom3.blogspot.com/search/label/Do%20It%20Yourself%20Furniture
http://www.teachpreschool.org/2011/06/diy-light-table-for-preschool/
http://tinkerlab.com/2011/08/easy-diy-light-table/

    ____________________

    Nicole WengerNicole Wenger is the mother of two spunky boys and the wife of her best friend, Chris. She is the founder and director of Science Quest: a science education company which introduces students, parents, and teachers to interactive and affordable science learning. Nicole is the Preschool Director and the Director of Development at The Garden School. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Bridgewater State University and a Master of Science in Environmental Studies/Conservation Biology with an emphasis in Ornithology from Antioch University. You can keep up with Nicole, her family, and their adventures in home education, crafting, birding and loving the outdoors at The Cuckoo’s Nest: http://loveandlearning.typepad.com/love-and-learning/.