Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Estimation Activities

After attending a family math night at our local public school I was inspired to do some estimation activities with my son at home. Practicing estimation is fun and an important skill. In life we estimate how much things will cost, the number of days until food will spoil, the quantity of tomatos we will need to buy for the week, the number of hours it will take to complete a project and so much more. These estimation activities were very simple and easy to do at home. Well, my son loved it.

First he estimated how many animals, mosaic tiles, fuse beads and colored pencils he could grab with one handful.

Then he grabbed a handful and counted. Each time he grabbed a handful of something he modified his estimates for the remaining items.

Next he estimated how far he could jump, throw a tissue, a Q-tip and a Band-aid. Again he modified his estimates while going through the activity. When he threw the tissue and Band-aid he also did a bit of science. It didn't take long for him to figure out that if these items were crumpled into a ball he could throw them farther.

That was all I had planned, but he had ideas for more.
He thought we could also estimate weight. He estimated the weight of three books, 10 quarters and a cup of water without the cup. To check the weight of the water without the cup he weighed the cup, the weighed the cup with water and found the difference.

Then he checked to see how close he was. All of the data was recorded in a notebook.

He is a visual, hands-on learner who loves to figure things out. This activity helped him better understand estimation and its importance while having fun.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Colorado Bird Banding

In the spring I was asked by Karl at the Denver Audubon Society to write an article for their newsletter - The Warbler. Bird banding is a great way to introduce children and adults to birds. Most banding is done in April-May and in September-October when the birds are migrating. They have stations in Nebraska and Colorado. You can read the article here.

Target Practice - Line Graphing (and some Algebra)

All the kids ages five to eleven learned from this target practice activity. The goal was to create a line graph based on data collected from shooting at the target. 

First we measured the distance from the target and placed marks at 5 feet intervals.

Each child shot 12 bullets from each of the 5 ft marks from 5 feet to 35 feet.

The number of bullets which stuck to the target we recorded at each location.

To demonstrate an application of the activity I showed them a line graph I created to track the white blood cells in my five year old's blood each day. (She is currently battling Leukemia.)

Then I helped them to create their own graphs. Distance is on the x-axis and number of bullets which hit the target is on the y-axis. From the graph, my oldest used the formula y=mx+b to develop an equation for the line. m is the slope of the line and can be calculated by selecting two points on the line and finding the rise divided by the run. Or the difference between the y-axis points divided by the difference between the x-axis points. b is the y-intercept or y value where the line intersects the y-axis. The line had to be projected to determine the y-intercept and the equation was only good for distances between 10 and 35 feet.

My 5 year old learned about line graphs, my 9 year old practiced graphing and saw practical applications for graphs, while my oldest saw an application for equations for lines and was able to practice creating an equation for a line.

To see more of our hands on math activities please visit our math page.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

China History Co-op. Week 7: Han Dynasty - The Silk Road

Week 7: We did silk paintings.

Co-op began with a sushi lunch. The kids filled their nori wraps with rice, egg, vegetables and got a chance to roll up their sushi.

Then we learned all about the silk road. The wonderful mom in charge of the week's lesson created a large cardboard map and this little caravan cart. The kids loaded up the cart with silk and men to begin a journey down the silk road. They followed the path in the book The Silk Route: 7000 Miles of History by John Major. At each stop they traded away silk for various items such as carpets, horses and camels to bring back to China or use to continue the journey.

Throughout the journey the blue yarn was taped to the map to represent the path of the silk road.
Then using real silk fabric and special silk paint the kids got a chance to create their own silk paintings.

To see more of our history activities please visit our History Page.

This post is linked to
Sun Scholars

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Playing Speed! with Grandma - Multiplication

Grandma is getting her chance to challenge the lightning fast kids in the game of Speed! I think they will win.

When I play Speed! with any of my kids they usually beat me. I'm too busy trying to figure out which card to play next while they shout "Speed" because the two cards in the center are the same. I end up getting all the cards and they win. It's a bummer for me, but they love it. Actually I love it too because they are developing their number sense, while I'm secretly laying the foundation for multiplication.

Speed! is a game I developed and began selling on last year. There are eight decks of cards that come in a rainbow of colors. Each deck focuses on skip-counting by a different number. We have always played games for math. Adding war, Black Jack 21 and Cribbage for adding; Gin Rummy to develop strategy.

Games have made math a fun and low stress subject. We focus on the basics. After all, my math education through fifth grade was mainly addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Telling time, learning about money, rounding and other mathmatical subjects seemed to happen more during the course of life than in school.

I needed a game for multiplication several years back and thought up Speed! It worked great for my daughter and now I play with my other two children. It is working great for other families too. When we play Speed! the room gets very quiet as everyone is focused and concentrating on trying to win the race. The silence is broken by someone (usually not me) shouting Speed!

After each round the kids beg to play again. Winning the fast paced race keeps them coming back for more.

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