Hit Me! (A Math Game)

Photo by paparutzi.

Math concepts: addition, subtraction, negative numbers, mental math, absolute value
Number of players: any number
Equipment: math cards (two decks may be needed for a large group)

Set Up

One player (the dealer) shuffles the math cards and deals one card face down for each player, beginning with the player on his left and proceeding in turn around the table. Then he deals one card face up beside each face down card.

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An Ancient Mathematical Crisis


[When Alexandria Jones and her family visited an excavation in southern Italy, they learned several tidbits about the ancient school of mathematics and philosophy founded by Pythagoras. Here is Alex’s favorite story.]

It hit the Pythagorean Brotherhood like an earthquake, a crisis of faith which shook the foundations of their universe. Some say Pythagoras himself made the dread discovery, others blame Hippasus of Metapontum.

Something certainly did happen with Hippasus. The Brotherhood sent him into exile for insubordination, or for breaking the rule of secrecy — or was it for proving the unthinkable? According to legend, Hippasus drowned at sea, but was it a mere shipwreck or the wrath of the gods? Some say the irate Pythagoreans threw him overboard…

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Alexandria’s Dog is Now a Teacher

Photo by alex-s.

A reader of Indian descent has been kind enough to write to me about a difference in our cultures. In the US, or at least in the parts with which I am familiar, it is common to name one’s pet after a famous person. In India, however, to name a dog after a human is a very deep insult.

I am sorry! It was not intended that way.

Therefore, I have re-named Alexandria Jones‘s dog after a Westerner. I would like to keep the tradition of naming the characters in my Alex stories after people in math history, so I am hoping this one will not offend anyone.

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Math Facts Are like Learning to Type

Photo by jetheriot.

One of the most common math questions on homeschooling discussion forums is, “How can I help my child master the math facts?” Unfortunately, when it comes to drilling facts, many children think math is spelled “B-O-R-I-N-G.” Worksheets are tedious, flash cards make them groan, and even the latest computer game is a yawner.

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Not Just a Math Geek

It took 4+ years of practice and one solid hour of sweating — which included punching and kicking his dad as hard as he could (holding the karate pad is no easy job!) and the breaking of two boards — but it was worth it.

Last night, Chickenfoot received his black belt, being presented in the photo by his instructor, Sir John.

Congatulations, son!

[Disclaimer: I gave in to blogger’s poetic license for a catchy title. To tell the truth, I am sure Chickenfoot wouldn’t consider himself a math geek at all. Math is far from being his favorite subject, even though he is good at it.]

Diagnosis: Math Workbook Syndrome

Photo by otisarchives3.

I discovered a case of MWS (Math Workbook Syndrome) one afternoon, as I was playing Multiplication War with a pair of 4th grade boys. They did fine with the small numbers and knew many of the math facts by heart, but they consistently tried to count out the times-9 problems on their fingers. Most of the time, they lost track of what they were counting and gave wildly wrong answers.

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My New Blog: Frugal Homeschooling

Photo by ninjapoodles.

As if I didn’t have enough things to do, I have started a new blog: Frugal Homeschooling, [It’s still there, but no new posts since Sept. 2008. I was stretched too thin, trying to do two blogs.] inspired by the popularity of my math resource page. For months, I have been wanting to write a similar page about homeschooling, but it always seemed like too big a chore even to get started.

On the new blog, however, I can enter links one post at a time — check out the latest Frugal posts in the sidebar widget, just under my Popular Posts list. Bit by bit, I hope it will grow into a helpful resource list for homeschoolers.

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The Function Machine Game

Math concepts: odd numbers, even numbers, greater-than/less-than, rounding off, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, negative numbers, prime numbers, square numbers, problem solving, mental math
Number of players: two or more
Equipment: pencil (or pen) and paper for every player

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Welcome to Blogland, Niner!

Photo by Niner.

The daughter who supplies my header photos has started a blog to show off her pictures:

Niner’s SnapFair
[It’s pronounced “NEE-ner.”]

Update: She no longer posts to that blog, but has been writing and posting photos, recipes, and craft projects to her new blog — College & The Years After.

Her photography skills continue to improve, and her sense of humor comes through in the stories that accompany each photo. I’m sure she’d love to have you stop by and visit!

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How to Teach Math to a Struggling Student

photo by MC Quinn via flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Paraphrased from a homeschool math discussion forum:

“Help! My daughter struggles with arithmetic. I guess she is like me: just not a math person. She is an outstanding reader. When we do word problems, she usually has no trouble. She’s a whiz at strategy games and beats her dad at chess every time. But numbers — yikes! When we play Yahtzee, she gets lost trying to add up her score. The simple basics of adding and subtracting confuse her.

“Since I find math difficult myself, it’s hard for me to know what she needs. What’s missing to make it click for her? She used to think math was fun and tested well above grade level, but I listened to some well-meaning advice and totally changed the way we were schooling. I switched from using workbooks and games to using Saxon math, and she got extremely frustrated. Now she hates math.”

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