Don’t Skip Skip Counting, Let Skipper Skip

Skip Counting
 is a long, lost skill.
When modern educators thought rote drills were too monotonous, 
boring and unproductive,
they stopped having the kids chant in class,
The multiplication tables weren’t chanted, either.
They even came up for a name for it…
“Drill and Kill.”
You can research all the arguments. 
They use a lotta’ big words and catch phrases I didn’t understand,
but I know this,
some things have to be repeated over and over to be learned.
How many times have you told your kids to flush the toilet?
How many times do you go in a find a toilet full of…
well…um….ah… you find the toilet is unflushed?
My point exactly.
Repetition is good.
Anything valuable has to  repeated over and over  to get through their
knuckleheads, peabrains, noggins,
their precious little minds.
Skip counting is valuable in addition and multiplication.
Jolanthe from Homeschool Creations
is an amazing teaching mommy.
Generous, too.
She offers many, many free printables and ideas to make your
teaching rock.
She inspires me so much I think I wanna’ be her when I grow up.
Start by printing out her
If you do this, drop a comment and thank her.
Did I tell you how amazing she is?
2,700 followers think so.
I put mine in clear page protectors in a binder,
but they could also be laminated.
Thanks to Jolanthe blogging about a great deal on a laminator,
I got one for Christmas.
Back to Skip Counting.
Here’s where my little touch comes in.
Remember how I love toys?
I really, really, really love toys.
Just like a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down,
toys make any lesson better.
I thought we needed Skipper to help us Skip Count.
Since we’re trying to learn the 3’s in multiplication,
we hopped through the list a few times,
counting out loud.
Then, we began working on the facts,  beginning with Skipper on zero.
If I said,
2 x 3
Skipper hopped twice up to the six.
I made Rebekah repeat the problem and the product,
yea, that would be the answer in multiplication.

Skipper landed on 27. 
what math fact did I call out?
Yea, yer’ so smart, 3 x 9.

3 x 4 = 12
Yea!  Got another one right.
Then you introduce the commutative property.
If 3×4 = 12
It’s a two ‘fer one kinda’ deal.
You memorize a lot less facts when you understand this concept.
Then, just when I was really patting myself on the back about
our amazing math lesson I had presented and the blog I was gunna’ write
Skip Counting With Skipper
Rebekah said,
“But, Mom, this doll’s name is Stacie.”

Rhyme Time is a Fine Time

Sometimes, the reasons I love to homeschool are simple.
It’s not  great philosophical or academic reasons
I could spew off a soap box.
I love being with my kids.
 I also love being there for those amazing moments
of growth and enthusiasm when they conquer a new skill.
Imagine if I never saw the worksheet below,
and never had that
moment because this worksheet was completed then shoved
to the bottom of a desk or lost on the bus.
Click to enlarge.
I know ya’ really want to read this.
Yes, my daughter discovered the word
rhymes with the word
It’s truly moments like these make me
my decision to homeschool.
Teaching is my delight.
I teach with all my might.
My children are outta’ sight,
Even when they bite.
I really like to write
But my poetry is  a fright.
Speaking of rhyming,
Write Express offers a free online rhyming dictionary.
There’s another one from Ken Nesbitt’s
If you’re one of those cool, younger moms who
use their thumbs to rule the world,
there’s even a free app to download.
Kids love rhyming when it’s fun,
and shoving a worksheet in front of them first,
isn’t fun.
I like to entice them with a reading from
Jack Prelutsky first.
I blogged that I like to turn their
knee-jerk negative reaction into a knee-slap.
When they learn that poetry and rhyming
can be ridiculously fun,
then you bring on those boring worksheets.
Oh, did I call them boring?
Imagine my excitement when a local writer,
Marty Nystrom, wrote two poetry books,
one for the Old Testament and one for the New Testament.
A versatile writer, you know him best as author of
As the Deer” and many other contemporary worship songs.
Once while reading this aloud to Rebekah,
she giggled and said, “Mom, he has boys, right?”
Yea, he writes as a Christian, a poet, and a Dad.
Reading silly poetry
and giggling with my little girl,
is just one more reason why
I love homeschooling.

On Your Mark….

…Get Set….
Kids love to line up elbow to elbow,
their rubber-soled shoes pointing to an inevitable victory,
and dash forward with the final command~
Young kids think they’re going to win every race they enter.
They challenge their older sibling,
and think they’re going to win.
They challenge their dad,
and think they’re going to win.
They aren’t mature enough to  understand when they do win,
it’s because Daddy lets them win.
As they age,
they understand the competition,
they understand their limitations,
and they realistically know they might not win every race.
But, the diligent racers still put their foot forward,
crouch down,
and listen for that command
When I first lined up for the race of homeschooling,
I was confident I was going to win.
My enthusiasm and my excitement knew no boundaries.
Who doesn’t love school supplies?
I was thrilled to be doing
what I loved
whom I loved.
When I first heard the starting gun,
I took off sprinting.
The supplies and books had already been purchased,
special snacks and meals prepared,
everything was waiting for that exiting occasion~
the first day of school.
I was surprised to discover what I thought was going to be a sprint,
turned out to be the hurdles.
Through the years, my race has been interrupted by
books on backorder,
power outages,
and my personal battle with cancer.
When I first put my foot on that starting line,
I had no idea how hard it sometimes would be 
to see the finish line ahead of me.
But, I always kept my rubber-soled shoes pointing forward.
It wasn’t always pretty, but I always finished,
and I’ve learned to count
This year, I don’t think I was even at the starting line when the gun went off.

Like my kids, I just didn’t want summer to end.

But, like most veterans,
I now understand the competition and
I now understand my limitations.

I’ve learned what has to be done ahead of time,
and what can be done as you go.
I’ve learned that anxiety and frustration breed faster in a home
than all the dust bunnies in my corners.
I’ve learned that the most important thing about this race,
is to be thrilled to be doing

what I love
whom I love.


Ya’ know what? 

Once the race started again this year,
I was a little kid all over again.

My rubber-soled shoes are pointing to an inevitable victory,

I’m convinced I’m gunna’ win.

Bear Necessities of Rounding

Counting Bears have been a bear necessity for our home school.
I remember eyeing them in Wal-mart,
waiting for the day I could afford them.

When I found another set at a garage sale,
I was ecstatic. 
It felt better than that dream
of picking up money in the streets,
cuz this was real.
Doesn’t take much to make the
Momma of home-teached kids happy,
does it?

I said that on purpose – remember the name of my blog?

Any-hoo, we were trying to learn the
concept of rounding to the nearest ten.
As always, the first time a concept can be introduced,
it can be confusing.

First time mastery brings confidence and enjoyment to any subject.

I pulled out my pile of tricks from overstuffed and underorganized shelves and got to work.

We started with the laminated number line that goes from 1-100.

A small bear was placed on the number 18,
the number we needed to round.

Rebekah had to tell me the two tens her number was between,
in this case 10 and 20.

Large bears were placed on the tens.
If your items aren’t different sizes, you could differentiate with colors.

At a glance, she could tell the 18 was closer to the 20.
(double-click to enlarge and print)
We repeated with different numbers,
emphasizing the rule~
numbers ending in 1-4
are rounded down,
numbers ending in 5-9
are rounded up.
Yep, counting bears
are the bear necessities
of a hOme tEaChEd life.


Playing In Math Class

Beka and I love to play together.
We play dolls, store, raft, school, restaurant, store and servant.
She always lets me be the boss and she’s the servant, isn’t she sweet?
It’s hard to do school when you wanna’ play,
so we like to play during school.
It greatly improves math skills.
So does scratching your head, we learned.
In 2nd grade, Beka is learning money skills.
The worksheet introduced the concept of counting back change.
Having a cash register with a calculator and a change drawer that
“dings” when you open it, is a must for math class.
The worksheet was  kinda’ confusing.
It was kinda’ boring, too.
If Teacher Momma Mindy is bored,
I know my student is bored.
When the head scratchin’ didn’t help enough,
We opened a store.
While Beka priced her toys, I scribbled quick cards for each item.
The box on the left is the price, the bill used to pay is in the middle.
She had to use $5, $10 and $20 bills.
First, she had to figure out change, using the lease amount of each coins.
 Then, I came into her store many times, in character,
buying gifts for nieces, spoiled children, brats, and kids having birthdays.
She recommended an item, took my money, and counted back my change.
After I bought out the store, she had nailed the concept.
We went back to the boring worksheet, and finished it in a few minutes.
I’m thinkin’ boring doesn’t always mean just boring.
Confusion can bring on boredom.
When you are confident and understand,
math isn’t boring, it’s exciting.
Then, we played, because that’s what we like to do.
We play.

Ramen Noodles and Roman Numerals

I know Ramen Noodles are for eating
 and Roman Numerals are for counting,
but sometimes my kids get mixed up.
My older kids, who were allowed to eat Ramen Noodles on occasion,
used to get frustrated when learning their Ramen Numerals,
but wanted Roman Noodles  for lunch.
 Due to dietary decisions, we have nixed the Ramen Noodles
and kept the Roman Numerals,
although we still get them mixed up on occasion.
A visual person, I’ve learned I teach better according to my style. 
When the kids were having a hard time grasping  Roman Numerals,
a concept  we don’t often use except in math class,
I needed to land the learning so they would have success for a lifetime.

I invented Roman Numeral Tiles.

 One inch squares of Fun Foam were labeled with a permanent marker. 
This lesson we were just learning to count from 1-30.

The patterning makes it very easy to understand the rules of
adding consecutive numbers together,
subtracting a lower number when placed before a larger number,
and not using a number more than three times in a row.

When set out in numerical order the beautiful number patterns
also remind us of a God who created in pattern and order.
To test her skill, I quickly made number cards,
and had her use the tiles to show the Roman Numeral equivalent.

When she stumbled with 19, I reminded her it’s 10 + 9,
then she quickly found the correct tiles.
It takes a little extra time to pull out the manipulatives to enforce a lesson,
but it’s time that usually won’t need to be repeated.
A longer introduction to a concept,
followed by a few short reminders,
is more successful than a short introduction,
and a lot of lengthy reminders.
I found a  few free Roman Numeral worksheets from abcteach.
Your kids can enjoy a cute computer interactive game by Tullie House,
playing Snakes and Ladders with Roman Numerals.

I gave up trying to find a free bingo game,
they all wanted me to buy or subscribe to something,
so I made my own.
Yea, right in the middle of trying to blog, finish up school,
prepare for a meeting, and eat dinner,
I had to make a bingo game.
Stay tuned. I have another fun way to learn Ramen Numerals.

The Borrowers

Nuttin’ like startin’ out the second semester with a bang.
Our first day back, after two glorious weeks of vacation,
and Beka had to learn borrowing.
It is one of the hardest concepts for lower elementary kids to grasp.
Being patient while teaching one of the hardest concepts
is one of the hardest challenges for those teaching lower elementary kids.
At first, my patience was STILL on Christmas vacation!
Quickly, I had to get back into the calm, praying teacher mode,
so I didn’t add to her frustration.
I took out all the tools.
Place value was quickly reviewed, then Beka wrote the problem
with the digits in the correct columns on my place value chalkboard.
This THING is amazing.
It’s old, it’s cool, and it helps visual learners.
If you can’t find a vintage THING like this,
you easily could use Legos or Duplos.
 Or, if you don’t have little ones crawling around eating your manipulatives,
you could use pipe cleaners and pony beads.
Look around….there is probably something you could use…
When you show tens as a unit,
it is much easier to understand the concept of carrying and borrowing.
Instead of saying you’re borrowing “one”
it is helpful to say you’re borrowing “one ten.”
Here we borrowed one ten from the tens column,
and placed it in the ones column.
Instead of 31, we made 20 + 11.
We don’t change the amount,
you never create or destroy matter,
you just changed its clothes.
This is why modern curriculums call it “regrouping.”
I guess it is more accurate, because you’re not borrowing
like you’re going to return it, you use it and don’t give it back.
It is good to introduce all the terms you know for any concept,
you never know what they’ll be called on testing, or in different curriculums.
We practiced several times before we began the worksheet.
I had her physically move the group of ten over to the ones column
for each problem we did.
You get to touch your math,
you get to see your math,
you get to hear your math
with mom using manipulatives.
When math isn’t working with numbers, I talk about candy.
“You have only three pieces of candy and you
need to give me seven pieces of candy.
You have to borrow ten pieces of candy from your sister next door.”
Sometimes, it grabs their attention long enough to grasp the concept.
It still wasn’t clicking, so I brought out another manipulative.
Yea, Dad!
This was his last day of vacation,
then I am on my own.
I’ll make sure my patience comes back to school with me.