Math@Our House

I try really hard to hit math hard on Mondays.

I love that a blog I frequent has a Math Monday blog hop.

It inspires motivates me to do math with the children, so I can take photos and join the Math Monday blog hop.

I know. I know.

Teach for the purpose of taking photos and blogging about it?

That is not exactly what I meant.

Today was no different than most other Mondays.

I attempted (and actually succeeded in) a fun and productive math lesson with the littles. If we don’t do anymore “book” math this week, that is fine because we do plenty of living math through games, road schooling and life. And for the bigs, I had them do a lesson in their books (Saxon for two older right now and Life of Fred for Mo), watch a Khan Academy video and they also did some work on IXL (well some of them have; some still need to but the sun is out and they are out).

I used to be a planner. Really I did.

But somewhere between kid #3 and kid #6, I started flying by the seat of my pants a lot more.

Maybe this is a bad thing? I don’t know.

I know today Mo and Larry were BEGGING me to give them more problems on our whiteboard to solve. WHAT???!!! So, sometimes, flying by the seat of one’s bum is not a bad thing.

They had watched a video on Khan about adding mixed numbers with unlike denominators (why do math sites and books and such use the word “unlike” instead of “different?). Actually the whole thing with problems on the board started because Mo said, “If you give me some problems and I can solve them, will you let me skip the video?” Hmm … let me think … OK, I say. And sure enough, he aces the problems.


OK, I guess he does know how to do that. {I swear the last time I gave him one of these problems, he got totally frustrated.} I love it when the light bulb goes off over time. So Larry decides he can do this too {after watching the video a couple of times}. And after fumbling through the first problem, Mo shows him a trick he uses (that really does work) and Larry gets it too.

Then it became a game of me trying to stump them (not really but each problem I added in a bit more challenge like improper fractions after they found the LCM and converted and added the fractions) and them trying to stump me with problems as well.

It lasted a short time, but it was fun and it got the job done. While it may be unconventional, I always think if they are learning, there is a point. If they are not, well then there isn’t one. So we trudge on and some days just go better than the last … like today.


Meanwhile, Li’l Miss and Li’l Dude (OK more Li’l Miss, but Li’l Dude is able to sit in and so it is not optional 🙂 are very interested in adding and subtracting, so I’m going with it.

Late last week, we used the Do-A-Dot paints to add and subtract in my bathroom floor. Judge me but they had fun while I finally got around to my shower (thus no pictures :)).

Li’l Bit even had her notebook and painted away with the dot painters.

Li’l Miss and Li’l Dude … they would roll two die and then add [or subtract] the numbers.

Each time they rolled, they would paint that many dots. For the addition, it didn’t matter which number they dot-painted first. I would also encourage them to write the digits. I also showed Li’l Miss how to write her equations vertically and horizontally.

With the subtraction, it was more challenging of course. They learned quickly to write and dot-paint the larger number first. I would have them then cross out the smaller number (using the previously painted dots). Then whatever was left in terms of dots … that was the answer. After a few tries, they really started getting it.

So this morning, I got out our brand-new (Dollar Tree find) large foam die.
Yes, I bought two sets in orange because they didn’t have purple, so I didn’t want to buy red (Li’l Dude’s color) and not purple (trust me, it is better this way and Mo is the only one who knows what I did). It is just easier when you have *twins* to buy two sets of some things … in the same color if both of “their” colors are not available. The littles grabbed their math notebooks and I wondered aloud, “How else can we add and subtract?”


Enter unifix cubes (any manipulative will do but this is one we haven’t used in a while) and Red solo plastic cups. The littles rolled their two die and then counted that many unifix cubes into their cups. I added a twist though. I told them roll the two die two times. I titled this lesson, “Adding 3 or More Numbers.”
They AMAZED me with it!

Not only that, Li’l Dude was counting the teens like crazy. {Note to the Prez: If you give him SOMETHING TO ACTUALLY COUNT, I promise he can count to 20} I am thinking Li’l Dude has just figured out what is the point of counting if there is nothing to count? Can’t say I totally disagree with him.

At this point in my life, I find myself counting “1-2-3-4-5-6” a lot. Bet you all can guess why?! Speaking of which, Li’l Bit can already count to 3 in English. 🙂


In this next photo, Li’L miss is actually adding two 2-digit numbers! She wanted to add her “two answers together” (love how her mind is thinking ahead!) so I showed her how. Granted it was “11” and “13” but I drew a little line and showed her the columns and she added it and said “24!” Yep!

After we had a few rounds of adding our unifix cubes, they were losing interest but they weren’t quite ready to put up the cubes.

I suggested they build something and that just didn’t motivate them. So I said “Hey, let’s sort them and count them!” SCORE.

As we began sorting them into the cups, we talked about “more than” , “less than” and “equal” and “most” and “least.”

It became apparent which one had the most, and I asked them “Which one has the most?” Li’l Miss quickly answered “the green Mommy, see it is the highest in the cup!” Well, yes, they are! And then I had a momentary thought, “Graphing!”

So, I suggested we count them all and “record” it on a new sheet of paper.

I told them to grab colored pencils that corresponded to the colors of cubes. Li’l Miss is ALWAYS up for anything that sounds half-way like art, and Li’l Dude was … well, he was not about to let Li’l Miss count all of the cubes by herself (little friendly competition mind you).


So, we began counting and recording on our VERY SIMPLE “bar graph.” We figured out which color had the “least”, “most” and which were “equal.” And they loved it! so much so Li’l Miss begged to do “another graph tomorrow Mommy?”

In the meantime, I had gotten out these neat little marble and rod do-dads we salvaged from a bunch of yard sale donations given to us by another homeschooling family who had found out we were having a yard sale to raise $$$ for an adoption.



Li’l Miss’s “rectangle”


Larry’s hexagon that turned into a hexagonal prism

Mo’s “church”

This is one of those things about homeschooling that I love. The spontaneity. Before long, all but one of our children were building with these things and making “3-dimensional shapes” and “prisms” and “hexagons” and “triangles” and it was fun! I wish I was more math-minded and could figure out something really cool to do with these, but in the meantime it certainly presents a great opportunity to review names of shapes and prisms and how that all relates to math.

Finally, Mo challenged me to a game of Stratego. OK, is it just me? I DON’T GET THIS GAME. I actually won, but it was by accident. I put this right up there with RISK. Over my head. I don’t think I’d make much of a soldier for many reasons, but strategy is certainly not my thing apparently.

How was your Monday? Linking up to Math Monday today.


4 thoughts on “Math@Our House

  1. The little rod and ball magnetic things are called Magnetix I think. Watch the kids while using them (well, mainly Lil’ Bit) they were recalled because if you swallow 2 pieces they can pinch the intestines together. If they were made after 2006, then I think they are okay….but since you mentioned from a yard sale…just wanted to make sure.

    Weren’t you using Teaching Textbooks? Why are you using Saxon and Life of Fred now? Email and don’t post….please. 🙂

  2. You have really great ideas for math.

    I used to play stratego with my brother. What I remember from waaaay back then was, if I put my flag in the corner with bombs all around, I would always win. Even when I was that young, I wondered what the point of the game was if I could always win by doing this. Maybe we were doing something wrong? 🙂

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