Coin Challenge

Here is a great post from education.com when it comes to multiplication and helping your kids count money.

Enjoy!

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Typically, the way children practice multiplication is by looking at equation cards and answering from memory. With this challenge, your child will be able to use objects to practice multiplication and counting money. Having tactile materials makes more sense and adds relevancy for children learning new concepts.

What You Need:

  • Letter envelopes
  • Index cards
  • Coins

What You Do:

  1. Insert multiple coins of the same value into each envelope. Make sure you come up with equations ahead of time, and try them to see if they would make sense to your child.
  2. Put index cards inside the envelope he can use to practice writing the equations. If you don’t have any index cards on hand, have him write the equation on the envelope.
  3. Have him pick any envelope and open it. When he takes out the coins, have him tell you the value of that coin type. Then, have him count how many coins he has.
  4. To begin creating an equation, he will have to multiply the amount of coins he has by the value of the coin. For example, if there are three quarters in the envelope, he needs to multiply 25 x 3.
  5. Repeat!

    By the end of this activity, your child will have a strong grasp of both multiplication and counting money, a useful skill as he sails out into the world.

10 Things I’ve Learned After the First Week Back to School

School has been in session for a little over a week now. It feels like they’ve been back for four months already. Anyone else feel that way too? It’s weird.

Even though this is not my first time at the rodeo, I always feel like the new school year teaches me something new…besides how to do common core math, which by the way is ridiculous.

It doesn’t take long to be reminded why I actually look forward to the summer and days off. Between work, school, activities, and meetings…it feels like it should be wine o’clock all day long!

So, what have I learned since we hit the play button on the new school year?

  1. I hate making school lunches. If the school lunch menu gods would understand that my kids don’t eat pancakes and French toast sticks for lunch then maybe I wouldn’t have to make sandwiches that I hate to make and I know they hate eating.
  2. There is no “fun” in fundraisers. Yes, I know they idea is to raise “funds” and not have “fun”, but I still find the name deceiving. It’s no fun seeing family members cringe when your child walks up to them with their trusty little sheet and book of “goodies”.
  3. Realizing you’re giving up half your day on Saturdays to sports. I proudly wear the title of soccer mom, but when you have two kids on two different teams, that’s your Saturday in a nutshell. The bigger problem is realizing you’ll have to use the porta potty if you opt for the medium coffee over the small.
  4. Apparently a closet full of clothes=nothing to wear. Funny how I was ready to poke my eyes out with a  spork while doing back-to-school clothes shopping, yet my kids tell me they have nothing to wear. My wallet tells me otherwise. Perhaps I need to get their eyes checked. By the way, uniforms were so much easier.
  5. My kids are allergic to waking up early. That is the only explanation. Riddle me this…in the summer they were ready to jump in the pool by 8 a.m., yet we can’t get up at 7 a.m. no matter how early we’ve gone to sleep.
  6. I don’t care where everyone in class sits. While I love to know who is in my kids’ classes and who they’re having lunch with, I don’t need to know where everyone sits and how many feet away they are from the door. If Jenny sits directly across from Michael who sits next to Thomas, that’s great, but I don’t care.
  7. I can’t keep every worksheet my kids do at school. I love seeing what my kids do at school, but am I supposed to keep every piece of work? Who has the space for all that paper? Why in creation do my kids think we need to keep everything? Yes, I know it’s special because they did it, but that work can still be special somewhere else…like not all over my house.
  8. My car is a disaster. All of a sudden, my car is full of soccer cleats, socks, shin guards and half-empty water bottles (okay, a lot of those are mine). It’s chaos in the car. I’d much rather go back to when sand in the car was public enemy number one.
  9. Getting to bed on time must be an Olympic sport. It seems like we’re jumping through hoops to try to get to bed on time every night. It’s a 100 meter dash that we are desperately losing. It seems that everyone is dehydrated or needs to give me the answer to a question I asked five hours ago just as we’re going trying to get to bed. In this event, we’re barely getting the bronze.
  10. I can’t do third grade math “right”. If my daughter has a question about her homework, I’ve tried to help but I’m told I’m not doing it “right”. Hmmm…but I know the answer is right! It’s downright annoying.

As the year progresses I’m sure I’ll learn many more life lessons! For now, it’s time to pack lunches and secretly hide all of those worksheets that have wallpapered my home!

10 Signs That It’s Back to School Time

It’s here.

The time kids have dreaded since the middle of June and the time that parents have been counting down since the middle of June.

It’s back to school time people.

In my house, 50% of my children (that would be one), are actually excited about going back to school, while the other 50% (the other child), would be happy if summer vacation was a year round thing.

As for me, I fall somewhat in the middle. At the beginning of their vacation I was ready to poke my eyes out with a spork after one day of hearing them argue which Barbie would get to date the Kristoff doll. Sure he’s cute, but for the love of Elsa, I don’t care!!! Anyway, I digress. Slowly, and I mean like shopping by yourself in Target slowly, I began to embrace the fact they were home. I learned how to get my work done with them home (bribery, lots of bribery!) and we got to spend a lot of time together doing fun things. In the end, a bonus.

Now that it’s their last week of vacation, I admit I’m actually going to miss the little divas, although it will be nice to get back to a schedule that includes a steady wine time, I mean bedtime!

Besides the obvious indicator on the calendar, here are 10 signs that it’s back to school time.

  1. You have enough sunscreen left for one more beach day. There’s no way you’re going to buy another bottle. Why can’t they clearance these things like they do beach chairs in the middle of July? Hmmm…
  2. You see the ads for pumpkin spice everything. Let’s drink a piping hot cup of pumpkin spice coffee at the end of August when you’re still putting deodorant on twice a day because of the humidity. That sounds like fun. By the way, I’m not a big pumpkin spice fan if you couldn’t tell.
  3. Your car has more sand than the beach. No matter how hard you tried, your car is full of sand. It’s time for a deep clean.
  4. You have dreams about shopping at Target…alone. Momma has to get her Target on and doing that with the kids is no fun. Those dollar bins end up being anything but when the kids are around.
  5. Dust bunnies have taken refuge in your home. Let’s face it, cleaning the house takes a back seat during the summer months. When you’re aboard the fun train, there’s no room for the Swiffer. Now, it’s time to get down and dirty.
  6. You’ve memorized the entire order of the Kidz Bop CD & sing it more than your kids. I’m guilty of this one. One day my kids told me to stop. I was apparently embarrassing them while belting out “Hand Clap” when it was just the three of us in the car.
  7. You fall asleep before your kids. Being the head counselor at “Camp Mom” is exhausting. You can’t help but fall asleep by 9…ok 8:30!
  8. You can’t remember the last time you used the words “bed” and “time” in the same breath. Let’s face it no matter how much you love your kids knowing that they’re off to bed in two hours gives you hope that you will get to binge watch some of your shows. Thank-you back to school time!
  9. All of the flips have flopped. The kids lived in their flip flops all summer and they have the broken shoes to show for it. Sure it’s still warm out but there’s no way you’re buying another pair now. That would be silly. That’s why they created duct tape.
  10. Your kids are arguing for the tenth time in one hour & you could care less. As a mother you learn to block things out that other normal humans can’t. With that said,you can also hear your child call your name in the middle of a Bon Jovi concert. It’s a skill. But, there comes a point when hearing your children argue again doesn’t phase you in the least. Quite frankly, you don’t care. The neighbors may be yelling at them to stop but you don’t hear a thing. Not one.

What are your tell-tale signs that it’s time to hop back on the school bus?

Time to raise your glass to another school year! Cheers!

Why I’ve Decided to Lead a Cursive Crusade in my House

The other night my girls were getting ready for bed when my 7-year-old daughter was looking at a book and said something that blew me away.

As she pointed to a page where someone had signed their name, she said, “Look, she wrote her name in cursive.”

I froze.

Cursive?

Right away I asked her how she even knew what that was because I know she hasn’t learned it in school. She went on to tell me that one of her classmates writes her name in cursive.

Impressive.

Wait, it gets better.

“Mom, I want to learn how to write my name in cursive.”

So, I said what any penmanship award winning mom who grew up in the 80s and 90s would say, “I’ll teach you.”

After I put my kids to bed I began to think about how cursive has become the black sheep of the writing world. It was something I thought about before, but never really zeroed in on to be honest with you. Since Common Core standards don’t require teachers to teach cursive writing in schools anymore, many kids don’t even know what it is. When they hear the word cursive, they probably think it’s some kind of disease.

I know I sound like my mother, but “when I was growing up” there was a big emphasis on cursive writing. I remember the upper and lower case cursive letters hung around the top of the chalkboard all around the classroom so that we could always be reminded of what the letters looked like. We also had those papers with the dotted lines so that we could practice our penmanship. Cursive was where it was at.

Not now.

Fast forward 30 years and we are raising a generation of cursive-illiterate printers.

Here are some questions to all of those who have written off cursive. How are our kids going to sign documents when they grow up if they don’t know cursive? How are they going to sign checks? Will they even know what a “signature” is? Are they just going to print for the rest of their lives?

I know there are a lot of people who could care less about cursive writing, that’s probably why it’s no longer mandatory in schools. But, I care and I find it a sad commentary on our little society.

As a society we’ve thrown out so many of the “old school” things that used to be important and have value. Things like cursive writing for one. What have we gotten in return? Technology? Tablets and phones? Sure. While technology has helped in many ways, it’s also created a generation of kids who don’t have the social skills to have a conversation that doesn’t involve a text message. Many kids would be outraged if they could no longer text. But, not learning how to write in cursive doesn’t faze them in the least. OMG! BTW we need to bring back cursive kids!

I’m excited that my 7-year-old daughter wants to learn cursive. Although I wish it was still mandatory in school, I’m ready to take on the challenge of teaching her. Maybe I’ll even break out my old penmanship award for inspiration. Perhaps cursive will make a comeback like the boy bands of the 90s. Until then I’ll be leading the cursive crusade in my house so my daughter will always have the “write stuff”.

 

My Love-Hate Relationship with My Kids’ Homework

As a kid I was never a big homework fan. I did it because that’s what I was supposed to do. I’ll admit I was pretty good at it and did well in school.

As a parent, my relationship with homework is more complex. Being on the other side of the coin, you begin to question the benefits of homework. Kids spend the better part of their awake time at school. When they get home should they do more school work or should their time be spent doing something else? Hmmm….

For years there’s been a “10 minute rule” attached to homework. Many educators seem to follow it from what I’ve read. It means ten minutes of homework for each grade level. Ten minutes for grade one, twenty minutes for grade two, etc., etc.This tends to ring true in my house. Both of my girls come home with homework four out of five nights a week. My oldest daughter is in second grade and her homework takes her about 15 minutes, maybe 20 on a bad night. My youngest daughter is in Kindergarten and her homework takes about five minutes.  In the big picture, I know this is not a lot of time out of their day. Still, my girls do not want to do more work when they get home from school.

I know some parents who wait until after dinner to tackle homework. I’ve always been a “get it done early” kind of parent. I’ve tried the after dinner thing and it doesn’t work well in my house. My kids are even more tired and less interested. Many after school programs also have students do their homework right after school for this same reason.

The big question is, should kids have homework at all? There’s research to support both answers to that question. Some say it helps when it comes to self-discipline and problem solving. Others argue it can lead to negative attitudes towards learning. There is also an argument to limit or eliminate homework for elementary school children. I know my kids would love that right about now!

The “love” part of my relationship with my kids’ homework stems from the fact that seeing them do their homework gives me a first hand look at how they’re understanding the material. I can tell right away if they get it or if they’re having trouble. Sometimes asking your kids how their day at school was and what they learned is like pulling teeth. Parents, I know you know what I’m talking about here. You get the appetizer and the dessert, but you never get the full-three course meal.

For this reason, I think homework is useful.

There are other days when I don’t want my kids to have to worry about doing homework. I want them to have all the time they can to play or draw or do something they choose to do. They can worry about school the next day when they’re there for six plus hours. Let there free time be just that…free. I wonder if teachers find it time-consuming to correct all of that homework the next day. Couldn’t that time be used for something else? Just a thought.

For this reason, I think we can do without homework.

But, I can’t see a universal no-homework rule on the horizon any time soon. I’m sure there are many parents who would raise an eyebrow or two if their kids didn’t come home with homework. Some may wonder if the teacher is doing his or her job or what’s being taught at school. Either way, you’re never going to please everyone.

So, perhaps the status quo will remain. Teachers will give homework. Kids will complain. Parents, like myself will continue their love-hate relationship until the next worksheet shows up tonight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Kindergarten, You’re Taking My Baby Away

Hello there Kindergarten. So we meet again. I remember you quite well from a couple of years ago when you lured my older daughter into your lair of learning. Now, you’re back with all your fancy sight words and cutesy books. But, this time, you’re going for the jugular.

You’re about to take my baby girl.

Do you know the worst part? She’s actually excited about meeting you. Before you go around and brag to all your little ABC friends, I have some words for you.

I know you’re used to sucking up to all of your new recruits with the glories of snack time and gym class, but I’m not too happy about all the things that are going to change around here. This momma is one carrot stick away from some major water works. You see, baby girl and I have been together like peas and carrots from day one. Yeah, yeah I know, you’re little brother pre-k has had her for a few hours a day over the past two years. But, this is not the same. You’re taking her for almost the entire day. You’re going to get to have lunch with her. You’re going to get to see the little light bulb in her head go on when something she’s been trying so hard at finally clicks. You’re going to hear her little giggle all day long. I’ll just get your leftovers when she comes home and tells me all about how great her day was. Thanks a lot.

You know you’re taking on a big responsibility. Sure you have experience and some great references, but you need to really take this one under your wing. I know all the other mommas tell you this too. But, you should listen to me. I have friends…a lot of them…friends that carry bats. I think I’ve painted you a clear enough picture.

You see, although my baby girl is excited, I know she’s a little scared too. So am I. It’s a whole new world for her. It’s a world filled with new people, new ideas, new routines, new lessons…heck, even new crayons. Since I can’t be there by her side it’s your job to make sure she gets through it all okay. Got that? You need to guide her and let her know she is going to be just fine when she feels like she won’t be. You need to encourage her when she gets frustrated. You need to cheer her on for a job well done. You need to make sure she’s kind and doesn’t say any bad words. You need to make sure she knows her teddy will be waiting for her in the car afterschool just like she asked. Perhaps most importantly, you need to make sure she pees! And of course, she needs to wash her hands.

Kindergarten, are you up for the job?

You’re not just adding another player to your roster. You’re adding one of my all-stars. I know this is all part of the circle of life, blah blah blah, but I kind of liked the circle we’ve created over the years. I’m not ready to start another one just yet. But, I know the decision is not mine. You’re a pushy one Kindergarten with no wiggle room for giving me more time.

I wish I could make time stand still, but I know Kindergarten is just the beginning of letting go. It’s a baby step in what will be a lifetime of changes, challenges, accomplishments and even let downs at times.

So, Kindergarten, be gentle with my baby girl. Although she may act like a tough cookie, on the inside she’s a big softie.

Sincerely,

One Misty-Eyed Mom

My Kids Will Be Doing School Work Over the Summer and I’m Not Sorry

Start the name calling and pouty faces. I’m putting the school work in summer.

Yes, I know it’s going to be 80 plus degrees out and there are sand castles to be built and bikes to ride.

My girls will get to do all that and then some. But, they’re also going to be reading and brushing up on their skills. I’ve been browsing the internet and reading some debates about whether kids should be doing “homework” over the summer. For every yay there’s a nay.

See, I don’t really consider my little plan “homework”. It’s more like “Let’s stay smart so we don’t fall back in September.” I don’t think that makes me a mean mom. I think that makes me a mom who cares about her children’s success and is taking a hands on approach to help them get ahead. Why let them fall victim to the so-called “summer slide” and waste all the progress made over the school year? It just doesn’t make sense to me. I can’t understand why so many parents are still anti-school work over the summer.

What kind of horrid school work am I going to subject my children to this summer? For my soon-to-be Kindergartener, we’ll be practicing writing her letters and numbers as well as her name. Her new school actually sent home a packet of practice sheets to help with the process. While some parents scoffed at it during orientation, I wanted to give the packet a big old bear hug! At least now I don’t have to go looking for sheets to help her. We’ll also be practicing counting and shapes.

For my soon-to-be second grader, we’ll be reading books to keep her skills up to par. We’ll also start working on more reading comprehension so she knows what she’s actually reading. I’m also going to have her brush up on her math so she doesn’t forget the skills and tricks she’s learned over the year.

Before you think I’ll be chaining my kids to the kitchen table for hours on end over the summer, think again. We’ll do these little exercises ten to fifteen minutes a day or every other day. Reading will be done for at least another ten minutes a day. On average, my kids will spend 20 minutes a day doing dreaded school work. I’m going to try to bang it out in the morning so the rest of the day is free. That leaves 23 hours and forty minutes a day to do whatever else they want. I don’t think that’s too much to ask, do you?

Here’s the alternative. I can have them not do any kind of school work all summer. They can go back to school in September and not remember anything they learned. They’ll waste time re-learning things they knew so well. They may even run the risk of falling behind if everyone else is on the express train and they’re stuck making all the local stops. All for what? All in the name of summer fun?

There needs to be a balance. The earlier we teach our kids this coping skill, the better. They need to learn just as there’s time to play over the summer, there’s also time to learn. It’s just like fitting in play time during the school year. It all gets done.

No child ever suffered from reading or practicing some letters over the summer. So, yes, my kids will be doing school work over the summer and I’m not sorry.

 

Mommy, How Do Babies Get in the Belly?

“Mommy, where do babies come from?”

It’s the question many parents dread no matter what age their child may be. No matter how you answer, nothing good is going to come from it.

a) Depending on your answer, your child may not believe you.

b) Depending on your answer your child will have more questions. Or…

c) Depending on your answer your child may not believe you and will have more questions.

My guess is that the answer is C.

Ugh.

Well, a variation of that question keeps popping up in my house more frequently than a darn whac-a-mole.

“Mommy, how do babies get in the belly?” asks my almost four-year-old.

Ugh.

Think fast. Think fast!

Answer: “Well, if a mommy really wants a baby, she makes a wish and prays that the baby will come in her belly. If she’s lucky, she will have a baby in her belly.”

I know, not the best explanation. But, I don’t think we need to start drawing diagrams and have the birds and bees conversation at this age no matter how educated we want our kids to be. Personally, I think it’s a little TMI for a three-year-old to handle. So, I go with my answer. In response, I get:

“What about boys? Can boys ask for babies?”

Answer: “No.” I decided to go with a cut and dry answer this time around. But, now my six-year-old decides to listen in and give her two cents. Good grief, I’m being tag-teamed.

Question: “Well, why?”

Answer: “It’s just the way it is.”

Silence.

They seem to have bought what I just sold.

Sigh. I can breathe a little easier. That is, until that question rears its ugly head again in a couple of days.

I know many people out there may think I’m doing my kids a disservice by not being honest with them about how babies really get in the belly. What’s wrong with protecting their innocence a little longer, especially at ages 3 and 6 (especially age 3)? I know they need to know. I know I run the risk of someone else bursting my bubble. But, I guess that’s the chance I take.

I know there will come a day (sooner than I would like) that I will have to honestly explain how all the parts fit together and how things really work. But, just not at age 3. I know there will be even more questions that I will have to answer. I will answer them all…honestly.

So, have you had “the talk” with your kids? How do you answer “the question”?

 

 

 

Monday’s Mommas: Nicole from Mommy Talk

We all know how hard it can be to keep things interesting when it comes to learning at home. Besides flash cards and worksheets, it’s always good to spice things up a bit.

This week, Nicole from Mommy Talk, shares a great idea to teach your kids addition.

Check out her Addition Bingo, in this week’s Monday’s Mommas segment!

bingo

Addition Bingo

My boys have been getting bored with their addition flash cards, so I asked a teacher friend if she had any ideas on how to make it more interesting and she suggested addition bingo!!

I tried it, and it was a hit!! So I thought I would share for any other parents out there looking for fun ideas to do with your kids to teach them addition (and really any kind of math for that matter.. this would work for subtraction, multiplication, division). But for today’s purposes we will talk about addition.

So what I did was make a Bingo sheet (not the fanciest or nicest bingo board out there but I wanted something quick and easy and this does the trick) 😉 On the board I put all the answers of the flash cards I already had made. When I held up the flash card, I read the problem out loud to them (so they are visually seeing it and also hearing it, which I like so that they are able to solve the problem either way in the future by looking at it or just by hearing it), they figure out the answer in their heads and then find that number on their board (which is good for quick number recognition as well).

Once they find the answer they can put a marker on that number. My boys wanted to use chocolate chips as their markers haha, so we made this an “after dinner” activity and they got to eat the chocolate chips as dessert when we were done 🙂 So basically who ever got the numbers in one row or column first won!! And you can play as many times as you want which makes it fun for the “competitive” type kids 🙂

 

nicole dellAbout the author: Nicole is a stay at home mommy of three sweet babies who loves to bargain shop, loves all things dessert, loves to write, loves to be with her kids and loves Christ. She and her husband Mike have been together for 15 years and married for almost 10 years. A lot has happened in her life the last few years, and through it she started writing again. Mostly on paper… sometimes just in her head or in the notes section of her phone… eventually she knew she wanted to take it a step farther so she started her blog as an outlet of sorts. A way to feel more in-tuned with herself, while also reaching others. Be sure to check out her blog!

 

Study Says Reading to Kids Doesn’t Make Them Smarter

I love to read to my kids. I think it’s one of the most important things I can do for them. They look forward to going to the library and the book store. My older daughter is learning to read in school and gets excited when she can read a sentence on her own. When she asks me who the illustrator of a book is, I know there is a light bulb going on somewhere. So, when a study comes out saying reading to kids doesn’t increase their IQ, I have to roll my eyes.

In a time when we are trying to get parents to spend more time with their kids, let’s discourage them by telling them that sharing the gift of reading will do nothing to make their little ones smarter.

A researcher discovered that how we parent will do nothing to change our children’s IQ because of the role genetics plays. His argument is the way we “parent a child is not going to have a detectable effect on their IQ as long as that parenting is within normal bounds.”

To say I disagree would be an understatement. Kids whose parents don’t read to them will be just as smart as kids whose parents do because of genetics? I don’t think so. Sure, all kids are going to learn to read at school. But, if you don’t do anything at home to reinforce those lessons, all is lost in my opinion. Parents need to take on the responsibility of educator as well. I think laying it all on genetics is just dumb. Studies like these give parents an excuse not to do something they should have been doing all along.

What are your thoughts?