September 14, 2016 Edition 
Creative Ways to Teach Math 
That Won't Make You Tired Before You Even Begin
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Mercy Every Minute   

The Wuehler Family
It's easy to be creative with math in the elementary years. I am not creative when it comes to middle, junior, and high school math. My kids just have to do it. Yes, there will be hard math days, and sometimes even tears. These are opportunities to teach children to do hard things and to be overcomers. And to reward our little overcomers with a treat at the end can really help!

If there are tears, then that is my cue to sit next to the child and help reinforce the learning until it is not so hard, or have them learn under another teacher like an older sibling or dad or a friend you can trade with. And if I am the one in tears, then that is my cue to sit next to my Savior and His Word and find help.

Some days help means just doing the odd numbers in the lesson, and sometimes it means trying another math curriculum altogether. Whatever it takes, don't give up. (We have found videos for every math concept here: www.virtualnerd.com and there is always math help at www.tosmagazine.com and www.schoolhouseteachers.com.)

The real joy--sometimes in the midst of the tears--is that we have our own children in our own homes, under our own care. Math can be done on comfy couches with hot chocolate or outside in the beautiful fall weather.

Home education means we don't have to deal with Common Core math, fuzzy math, or questionable math teachers. The kids are free to go as far and fast as they can, or to take it more slowly until they really learn a concept. They are free from bullies and fear and monotony. We are free to speak about the mighty wonders of God and His orderly, math-centered creation. We have freedom to teach truth! We are free to pray and talk about God in the "classroom." Our children are free to be Home Where They Belong.

Praising God with you! We are more than conquerors through Christ!
~Deborah
 
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Raising Real Men    
 
Have you ever noticed what happens when your child adopts a new hobby? Their enthusiasm seems boundless--they'll read everything they can get their hands on, search the web for information, write summaries of what they've discovered, look for opportunities to perfect new skills, seek out experts, and attend presentations and workshops on their own. It's a beautiful thing, and it doesn't take any prompting or deadlines to keep them engaged.

Remember how they fell in love with math that way?  Probably not. For most of us, and for most of our children, math is a tool, a grim necessity, at best.

Of our eight kids, we had one who actually loved it, but he was unusual. How can we get our kids to engage the abstraction we call "math" and learn this critical tool?

One of the best ways is to make it practical. It may be nifty-neato to know the formula for the volume of a cone, but really, does anybody care? By offering real-life, visible situations that use math as an answer, you are showing your student how these abstract tools really improve life. Want some real family examples? Try some we've actually discussed in our home:
  • How many inches of rain, falling on your roof and collected in your gutters, will it take to fill a rain barrel? How much weight is that total inch of rain that fell in droplets overnight? Isn't God good that He doesn't send it all in one big sploosh?
     
  • Can you use similar triangles and the length of shadows on the ground to calculate the height of a tree in your yard, or the peak of your roof, or whether your ladder is long enough to reach a kitten on the lowest branch?
     
  • If you need a pound of cooked hamburger for a recipe, and you have a choice between 78% lean and 93% lean, how much does each grade of meat really cost for the cooked pound at the end? How does the price compare to the actual cost for the meat you actually eat?
     
  • E85 fuel costs less per gallon than standard regular gas, but it burns 5% less efficiently in the engine. What is the cents-per-mile cost to use each fuel in your family's flex-fuel van? Is the loss of efficiency made up by the savings of buying the cheaper fuel?
That's right --word problems will help your reluctant math student realize that math is meant to be used, even if you're not planning to be a teacher or a rocket scientist!

Yours in the battle,
Hal and Melanie

We need to take the Bible from principles to practice, too. Our weekly podcast, Making Biblical Family Life Practical, is all about real-life application of timeless truth--with a dash of humor! Check us out at the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network, iTunes,or   www.halandmelanie.com/radio !  

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Building Faith Families

Steve Demme
My first response when I began writing was to list several creative ways and methods I have used to make math fun and understandable. I wrote MathUSee to be an example of good "edutainment," where children liked math because it was fun and understandable.

But then I remembered where I learned these methods: from our creative God. Many times I would be sitting across the table from a student, and the way I had explained the problem did not make sense to him or her. When I ran out of ideas, I silently appealed to God to give me an idea or an illustration which would help turn the light bulbs on for the child. God was always faithful and provided me with a different twist or new language or a concrete example which resonated with them.

I knew that God, who had creatively designed the remarkable world in which we live and the unique people who inhabit it, could help me to help them understand and enjoy math. God is THE Creator, and the anointing of His Spirit "teaches you about everything" (1 John 2:27).

Here are some specifics:

Use manipulative base ten blocks to reveal the decimal system. Teach with them, and before kids see them in a teaching situation, let them play with the blocks. The benefits to their visual-spatial kinesthetic development are amazing.

Use real money to reinforce the decimal system. Money in America is one of the only applications of the base ten system. Metric measurement is also based on ten, but not nearly as widely used as English measurement, which is base 12, base 3, base 16 . . .

Our family played alphabet when driving on trips or long errands. I used to play count to 10 with the preschoolers. We would hunt for a zero, then a one, then a two, etc. We found numbers on signs for speed limit, route numbers, mile markers, and advertisements.

Use measuring cups when playing in the bath tub and the sand box. Count how many 1/4 cups it takes to fill up 1 cup. Encourage children to play with a ruler and a measuring tape; then you can record and say aloud what you have measured.

Any time you can use a real object and connect it to a written and verbal number, you are preparing students to use math in real life situations, which is the whole purpose of learning math--to use it. See it, say it, and write what you saw.

Lastly, pray that God would help you enjoy learning math. Learn along with your kids. Your little peanuts are assimilating your attitudes without anything being taught. If you like something, they will be predisposed to like it as well. Give yourself and your children a fresh beginning to enjoy the study of math.

Steve Demme and his wife, Sandra, have been blessed with four sons. He is the author of Math-U-See (God is the Creator) and the founder of Building Faith Families. He produces a monthly newsletter, a weekly podcast, and other resources to strengthen and encourage parents. Learn more about these at www.buildingfaithfamilies.org.

~Steve
 
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Check out all of the great products and resources for HOMEschooling, HOMEindustry, HOMEsteading, and HOMEkeeping available through the Entrepreneurial Fair Directory in the Summer issue of TOS Magazine. Find more helpful directories for homeschooling preschool, elementary, middle school, high school, and special learners in the 2016 TOS Annual Print issue
The Familyman 
 
This is going to be short, because I'm heading out the door for a trip to Ontario to speak at the HSLDA Canadian National meeting. (There are lots of great Canadian homeschoolers up north.)

I'm sure there are a lot of wonderfully creative math tools to make math fun and exciting, but I'm thinking math is not fun--and boring. And that's OK. 

Maybe there are just some things that you have to slog through to learn. Not everything can be made into a game, a poem, a song, or a three-ring circus. Hey, if you've found something that works for you, go for it. But from my little perspective, math ain't one of those subjects.

Like it or not, you just open the book every day, learn the math facts and the formulas, and keep at it. I think the key is not to do too much at one time, or push meaningless math on non-math-ers.

Now don't write me mean, nasty letters, but I'm just not convinced that every student NEEDS to know geometry theorems, algebra, or calculus. In fact, I'm convinced they don't. But they do need to be able to add, subtract, multiply, divide, balance checkbooks, and use a tape measure, scale, and measuring cups, as well as work out life/story problems.

And the only way to learn those things . . . is to slog through it.

I'm off to Canada, eh?

Be real,
Todd
     
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Contest Corner 
For the month of September
 
   
My family loves a good movie! I, on the other hand, love something that is rich and educational. It can be tricky to find something that makes all of us happy on family movie nights. So, of course, I was more than happy to have the chance to review Beyond the Mask. Included in the bundle was also the CD soundtrack for  Beyond the Mask  and T he Official Illustrated Movie Guide (books make me happy!).

Beyond the Mask is a historical, Christian film full of action and adventure, amazing special effects, and a storyline that leaves you on the edge of your seat. This film takes place in 1775, in England. The mercenary, played by Andrew Cheney, is on the run in the American Colonies after he decides to turn in his resignation to his employers, the British East India Company. Needless to say, when his employer attempts to kill him, he knows he needs to go into hiding. He spends some time as a "vicar" in a village; it is when he meets Charlotte that he truly begins to seek and see his need for God. This is such a great story of redemption--also a reminder that the truth is best, because the past still matters--God is always in the details! There was the message of "redemption, not revenge" and the reminder throughout this film that, "There is only One who can make you new." I do appreciate how there are such powerful lessons woven into this story; at the same time, it is not so deep that only certain audiences can enjoy this. I do believe this is a film that everyone could not only enjoy but truly be inspired by. There was action and excitement, a love story (my boys thought was gross!) along with some humor, and lots of lessons in character and faith. In this one film there really is something for everyone.

We also received a CD of the soundtrack by Jurgen Beck, from Beyond the Mask. This is truly a masterpiece, in my opinion. I love how the music truly enhances the movie yet can also be thoroughly enjoyed separately. I can easily listen to this soundtrack all day long, every day. Such beautiful and powerful music--it brings the story to life!

We also received a copy of The Official Illustrated Movie Guide: Beyond the Mask, by Sara and Shannon Burns. This is a beautifully bound book; the pages are full of lovely design and amazing details that really enhance the opportunities for learning within this movie. Being very fond of history myself, I really appreciated this book and how it provided so many details in regards to various aspects of the movie. There are maps which show the East Indies and the routes taken by trading ships around the world. There is a section that speaks about the account of the assassination attempt from Washington himself. My oldest loved the pages that referenced Windmill Island--fact or fiction--and its role in the making of the movie. From notes regarding the wardrobe and hair styles, these were all so very appropriate to the times. As we read through this book, we were truly amazed at the details that were covered, in keeping with the times, for this film. Even colonial-style desserts were present for the filming of this. Just amazing, the historical accuracy within every aspect of this story. (. . .)

 
YOU can WIN all three!
 
TO ENTER:  Email Heatheat 
with your name, mailing address, and phone number for contact purposes, with the subject line, " Beyond the Mask " for a chance to win* it for your family! 

 
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