## March Update: Expanding Blogroll

At our house, we’re fighting persistent colds, and I think these “new and improved” Puffs would be just the thing to cheer up my 9yo! Now that the season has officially turned, I need to put my talented photographer daughter to work on spring pictures for my header. Meanwhile, here is a round-up of the happenings at Let’s play math! blog this month…

## Retro-Dated Magic Square Puzzles

The hectic holidays kept me from finishing the Christmas stories of Alexandria Jones. I am finally getting them typed up, but I past-dated them to keep the seasonal connection. So if you want to read more, here are the newest posts:

Magic square puzzles

Christmas puzzle answers

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## Subtracting Mixed Numbers: A Cry for Help

Photo by powerbooktrance.

Paraphrased from a homeschool math discussion forum:

“Help me teach fractions! My son can do long subtraction problems that involve borrowing, and he can handle basic fraction math, but problems like $9 - 5 \frac{2}{5}$ give him a brain freeze. To me, this is an easy problem, but he can’t grasp the concept of borrowing from the whole number. It is even worse when the math book moves on to $10 \frac{1}{4} - 2 \frac{3}{7}$ .”

Several homeschooling parents replied to this question, offering advice about various fraction manipulatives that might be used to demonstrate the concept. I am not sure that manipulatives are needed or helpful in this case. The boy seems to have the basic concept of subtraction down, but he gets flustered and is unsure of what to do in the more complicated mixed-number problems.

The mother says, “To me, this is an easy problem” — and that itself is one source of trouble. Too often, we adults (homeschoolers and classroom teachers alike) don’t appreciate how very complicated an operation we are asking our students to perform. A mixed-number calculation like this is an intricate dance that can seem overwhelming to a beginner.

I will go through the calculation one bite at a time, so you can see just how much a student must remember. As you read through the steps, pay attention to your own emotional reaction. Are you starting to feel a bit of brain freeze, too?

Afterward, we’ll discuss how to make the problem simpler…

## Answers to Alex’s and Leon’s Puzzles

Remember the Math Adventurer’s Rule: Figure it out for yourself! Whenever I give a problem in an Alexandria Jones story, I will try to post the answer soon afterward. But don’t peek! If I tell you the answer, you miss out on the fun of solving the puzzle. So if you haven’t worked these problems yet, go back to the original posts. Figure them out for yourself — and then check the answers just to prove that you got them right.

Leonhard’s block puzzles

Alex’s & Leon’s homeschool puzzle

## Easter: He Is Risen!

Photo by joiseyshowaa.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade
— kept in heaven for you,
who through faith are shielded by God’s power
until the coming of the salvation
that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

In this you greatly rejoice,
though now for a little while
you may have had to suffer grief
in all kinds of trials.

## Good Friday: He Was Despised and Rejected by Men

Photo by dengski.

Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

## Alex’s & Leon’s Homeschool Puzzle

Photo by gotplaid?.

While checking out the book table after a homeschool group meeting, Maria Jones glanced up to see her children laughing with some kids she did not recognize. Driving home, she asked about the new family, but Alex and Leon had been too busy exchanging silly stories to even ask the strangers’ names.

“Well,” Leon said, “the boy told me he has twice as many sisters as brothers.”

No way!” said Alex. “The girl told me that she has the same number of brothers and sisters.”

How can that be?

## Leonhard’s Block Puzzles

Leonhard Jones is Alexandria Jones’s younger brother. He enjoys woodworking, and he cut a wooden cube into 8 smaller blocks to make himself a puzzle.

## Puzzle #1

Leon painted the 8 blocks with his two favorite colors: red and forest green. When he was finished, Leon could put the blocks together into a red cube, or he could switch them around to make a green cube.

How did Leon paint his blocks?

## More Free Math and Logic Resources

Photo by Drab Makyo.

I have a huge, long-neglected bookmarks folder labeled “To add to resource page.” I am never going to find time to sort and review all of those links. But if I post a few at random now and then, perhaps you will find something useful.

So here are five new links I am adding to my Free (mostly) math resources on the Internet page.