May 28, 2013

Fizzy Water Fun

Did you know you can make your own carbonated water without dry ice?  It's so easy.  All you have to do is mix water, juice, or any other drink, and add equal portions of baking soda and citric acid.  We mixed it with Tang a few months ago and it was tasty.  It changes the flavor of the water a wee bit, so you don't want to add too much.  Experiment until you find a good consistency. Apparently this is how everybody did it back in the 50's.  It's a lost art, I guess.
In this video we mixed 1/2 teaspoon of each to the cylinder.  We got the idea from Steven Spangler's Big Bag Of Science.

May 22, 2013

Tribute to Glenn Doman


The world lost a great man this week.  It has been an emotional time for me as I contemplate what this man has done for my family, and the depth to which he has touched my life.  I can't imagine how different our family life would be if I had never heard of him, if I had never touched on his research, read his books, or changed my entire parenting philosophy as a result of his life's work.  I love him.  I love him so much for the difference he has made for me, for thousands of others, and his undying, constant love of children, and his firm belief in every child's potential.  Because of his work, brain-injured children have been made whole.  Because of his work, well-children have become exceptional.

His work extends beyond the work of the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential.  Stemming from his research, companies such as Your Baby Can Read, Monkisee, Right Brain Kids, and BrillKids, with over 110,000 members in its forum, have taken root and spread the beautiful message that young children are a lot smarter than we give the credit for.  Spreading this love was his life's work.  It is his legacy.  It is his gentle revolution.

Glenn Doman is a man I never met in person, but I love him like a beloved grandfather.  When I see his face, when I hear his voice, when I read his word, when I witness the awesome, beautiful change that has happened to my family, I am so touched with gratitude that he was born.  He died peacefully at 94, living a full, fruitful life.  I will not sorrow at your passing, for I do not think you would wish it.  I will celebrate your life, express my love to your family, and tell my children what an honorable man you are.  I am perfectly confident that you are very happy now, your life's work accomplished.  Rest in peace, beloved man.  Your work will continue, your legacy carried forward by the lives you have touched.

I know I cannot do justice to my feelings, to my desire to share what a wonderful man he is.  But I can pay tribute to him by sharing some of his own words that have touched me.  Last night and this morning I have been pouring through five of his books which adorn my library to find a few of my favorite passages.  I ran out of time, but I found a few I hope you will find of interest.  But first, you can see him firsthand as he introduces the Institutes and what they do there.


The Institutes were founded only after Doman began his work with brain-injured children.  It was only after his phenomenal success in helping these children heal that he began to wonder what was possible with well-children.  The next video is a tribute to his work with the brain-injured.




Words of Glenn Doman from his books.

Tiny kids would rather learn than eat.
Tiny kids would rather learn than play
Tiny kids think that all learning is play.  They do not however think that all play is learning as most professionals do.  That is because a good deal of what adults regard as proper play for kids is downright silly.  Nobody fools kids.
TINY KIDS THINK LEARNING IS A SURVIVAL SKILL.
TINY KIDS WANT TO LEARN EVERYTHING THERE IS TO LEARN, AND THEY WANT TO DO SO
RIGHT NOW.
TINY KIDS THINK LEARNING IS THE GREATEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED. (1)
 ...
We are opposed to any brand of competition that dictates that I must score more points than you, I must overcome you - or prove that I am somehow superior to you.
...
We do teach our children here at The Institutes what we believe to be a higher brand of competition, one that goes like this: "If I want to reach some new higher level of mobility, one that I have never yet attained, only I can be the obstacle.  If I overcome myself and achieve my goal, then I have won."  In short, we teach the children self-competition. (2)
...
Babies can learn absolutely anything that you can present to them in an honest and factual way and they don't give a fig whether it is encyclopedic knowledge, reading words, math, or nonsense for that matter.
They'd prefer great things- reading, math, all the presidents of the United States, the nations of Europe, the great art of the world, the song birds of the eastern states, the snakes of the world, the kings and queens of England, the great music of the world, the international traffic signs, the dinosaurs, the state flowers, or any of the millions of fascinating things there are to know about on this old earth.
But they'll even take nonsense if that's all they can get. (3)
...
 We hold these truths to be self evident,That all men are created equal,
That they are endowed by their Creator
with certain unalienable rights,
That among there are life, liberty,and the pursuit of happiness.

The italics are, of course, my own.  I would not dream of trying to improve upon that magnificent document, but only to emphasize the significance of what it says.  Although I have known it by heart since I was eight, I am unable, even today, to say or write even a part of it without tears rushing unbidden to my eyes.
I have always treasured the belief that the giants who wrote it had taken for granted the prior right to be intelligent.
For without intelligence, there is no true life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness.
With limited intelligence, there is limited access to life, to liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
With average intelligence, there is average access to life, to liberty, and to the pursuit of happiness.
With unlimited intelligence (which is every child's birthright), there is unlimited access to life, to liberty, and to the pursuit of happiness.
...
For without the right to be intelligent, freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear are mockeries, and hollow things indeed.
The most unalienable right of all rights for every child is the right to be intelligent.
That right is inborn, it is implanted in the genes of Homo sapiens.  It is his birthright.
All babies know it--innately.
All babies demand to be highly intelligent.
All babies can be highly intelligent.
All babies should be highly intelligent. (4)
 ...
Intelligence is the degree of ability one has-- to see the difference between the way things are and the way things could be and to make them closer to the way they could be. (5)
...
What can we do with thirty seconds?
What can we not do with thirty seconds!
Now you mothers with little time to spend with your children, pay attention as never before.
Your child looks out the window and sees a collie.  "What's that?" he asks you.

1. We can say, "Look, baby, Mommy has to get dinner."
It will take at least thirty seconds to get rid of the baby and make that stick.

2.We can look out the window and say, "That's a bow-wow."
It will take at least thirty seconds to make that one stick.3. We can use thirty seconds to say, "That's a dog."
It will take at least thirty seconds to make that one stick.  At least it's true to say, "That's a dog."  However, it is far from meeting the standards.  The word "dog" is not precise, it is not discrete, and it is highly ambiguous.  If one says the word "dog" to a hundred different people, a hundred different images will appear in the mind ranging from tiny brown smooth ones to huge black and white hairy ones.

4.We can say, "That's a dog called a collie."
We can then go on to tell him thirty seconds' worth of information which is precise, discrete, unambiguous, and true.

Number four is a fine answer and meets the requirements.
How sad it is that we put information into a computer with great skill and great precision and put information into our children's brains in a hit-or-miss, slip-shod, sloppy, and often untruthful way.
Remember also that, unlike the computer, we can never totally erase the facts which we put into our baby's brain.  They will remain as the first response available on recall.  They will remain if they are true and they will remain if they are untrue. (6)
...
High motivation is a product of success.
Low motivation is a product of failure.(7)
 ...
It is worth remembering that you are not simply teaching your child all that is worth knowing in this world, you are also teaching your grandchildren's father how to teach them.  It is a humbling thought. (8)
...
From the moment a baby is born, a struggle begins.  Mother does her best to keep her baby close to her, and the world does its best to separate mother from baby.
This is a mistake because mothers are the best teachers in the world for their babies.
...
There are strong forces at work to separate mother from child, and most people have come to regard each of these encroachments on mother's domain as normal. It is as if that is the way it has always been.
But hospital nurseries, day care centers, and even compulsory education are not the way it has always benn for mothers and babies.  They are newfangled notions, and a radical departure from the age-old human tradition of children being with their mothers until they are ready, willing, and able to handle life on their own.
...
New cars come with owner's manuals- new babies do not- and yet we all know that babies are a great deal more important than cars.  To be sure, there are manuals for the feeding and changing of babies.  There are books about the general stages of development that can be observed in average, healthy children.
But these aids are based on two main underlying assumptions.  The first is that the baby's needs are primarily physiological and emotional.  The second is that baby's development is triggered by the ringing of a series of genetically preset alarm clocks that go off on schedule regardless of what does or does not happen to him.
These assumptions are false.
It is perhaps because of these false assumptions that modern babies are being raised on accident instead of on purpose.  That is a great shame because the growth and development of the human child is much too important to be left to chance.
It is also because of these false assumptions that mothers have increasingly been persuaded, against their better judgement, to let their babies be cared for by others.
...
Mothers have know more about babies than anyone else since the world began.
It is mothers who have successfully brought us from prehistoric caves to the present.
However, the modern mother faces a very large problem: her own possible extinction.
She has the same powers of observation, the same intuition, the same insticts, and the same love for her baby that mothers have had throughout human history.  But she is threatened by a world in which it is no longer safe to be a mother.  In this world she must battle to keep her baby by her side from the instant he is born.  In this world she is often told that her baby is better off in a nursery than in her arms.
It is a world in which it is no longer considered fashionable or useful to be a mother. (9)
...
The brain grows by use.
...
There is an old law of nature that says that function determines structure.The brain-injured child demonstrates that the opposite is also true.  A lack of function creates a lack of structure.We believed that if we could successfully treat the brain, the child would begin to increase his function, and that as this happened his structure would begin to change.
This is exactly and precisely what happened.(10)(This passage describes how brain-injured children are often small, but as they are properly stimulated, as they heal, they grow in size as well as intelligence.  This is true, whether the child is 4, 6, 10, or 30- the size of the brain doesn't stop growing at age 6, but when it reaches maturity.  The brain does indeed grow by use.)
...
Reading is one of the highest function of the brain--of all creatures on earth, only people can read.
Reading is one of the most important functions in life, since virtually all learning is based on the ability to read.
It is truly astonishing that it has taken us so many years to realize that the younger a child is when he learns to read, the easier it will be for him to read and the better he will read.
Children can read words when they are one  year old, sentences when they are two, and whole books when they are three years old-- and they love it.
The realization that they have this ability, and why they have it, took a long time. (11)
...
1.  Tiny children want to learn to read.
2.  Tiny children can learn to read.
3.  Tiny children are learning to read.
4.  Tiny children should learn to read.

I shall devote a chapter to each of these four facts.  Each of them is true and each is simple.  Perhaps that has been a large part of the problem.  There are few disguises harder to penetrate than the deceptive cloak of simplicity. (12)
...
Millions of young women watched other women moving into what had been men’s jobs and professions.
However they found that they wanted a different sort of profession and a very different sort of life for themselves.  They discovered that they wished to be what we have chosen to call "professional mothers."
It was not so much that they didn’t want to enter the male world.  It is that they wanted much more to be mothers.
...
They had decided that the best way to change the world for the better was not by improving the world’s institutions, but by improving the world’s people.  They controlled the world’s most important resource and raw material—babies.
...
They experience a sense of high purpose and take pride in their children and the contributions those children will make in the world.
They have expanded and increased their own knowledge and find that they are more confident and more capable than they were before they began to teach their children.
They expected their children to change but they were astonished to discover that they themselves have higher expectations and bigger goals for their lives as a result of being professional mothers.
Nice side effect, isn’t it? (13)
Footnotes.  In each case, emphasis original.
 1. From "How to Teach Your Baby To Be Physically Superb", 2002 printing, page 17.  Emphasis original.
2. ibid, page 233 Emphasis original
3. From "How to Give Your Baby Encyclopedic Knowledge", 1994, page 18.  Emphasis original
4. ibid, pages 64-66.  emphasis original.
5. ibid, page 93
6. ibid, page 220
7. ibid, page 230
8. ibid, page 263
9. "How Smart is your Baby?" 2006.  Pages 5-7
10. ibid, page 23
11. "How To Teach Your Baby To Read" 1990 version, page 1.
12. ibid, page 9
13. "How to Multiply Your Baby's Intelligence" 1994, pages 150-55

May 19, 2013

The Making of a Queen

I wrote this song a couple of years ago but haven't shared the music until now.  I'm bringing it out in response to the discussion of our cultural obsession with disney princesses.  I love the article and picture essay of the 5-year-old aspiring to be like real women in history.  I think it is important for us to give our daughters realistic goals for their future.  Not everybody can be like Kate Middleton and marry a real prince.  But in a free country, every little girl can aspire to live happily ever after.

There are messages in the movies that I don't agree with.  Ariel runs away from home.  Belle falls in love with her captor (no way of telling this story without incorporating that element, unfortunately).  I'm not going to address those elements today.  The criticism I want to address is that of the Disney princess movies often ending with marriage.  Marriage is placed to represent that they lived "happily ever after", setting girls up for disappointment in life if they never marry. Can girls find happiness in adult life without marrying?  Of course they can.  Can they achieve great things without a husband?  Of course they can.  Indeed, the princess in history that I most admire never did marry.  Instead she became a great Queen who brought such prosperity to her country that the Elizabethan era was named for her.  Naturally we should not teach our daughters that everything depends on their becoming a wife someday.

But I don't think the princess stories teach that.  They tell a story of a girl who finds happiness in finding their true love- someone to share their life with and establish a family.  There's a big difference.  I have to wonder, what are we teaching when as a society we lash out at something so beautiful?  With the disintegration of the family, with broken marriages, single mothers dependent on welfare, and falling birth rates that threaten whole nationalities, we would do well to remember the example of these princesses- to marry.  Certainly we can't all marry a prince or a rich Mr. Darcy though we would all love to, but finding a good husband is a realistic goal for most little girls when they grow up.  Not unreasonable at all.

I love the lesson my parents taught me when I was small.  I wasn't taught to dream of being a princess someday.  I was taught that I AM A PRINCESS.  I am a princess because I am a daughter of God, the King of Heaven and Earth.  Therein lies my great worth.  Therein lies the worth of every little girl.  My biological father is also a king.  He is the king of our home and he rose to the occasion.  We are to be agents unto ourselves, every man a king, every woman a queen of that which falls under our jurisdiction.  If my father is a king then, I am a princess.  I wasn't taught to wait around for prince charming to come.  I was taught that if I want to marry a prince, I would have to be a princess.  I would have to act the part, to educate myself as a princess should, and to be the best person I could be.  That's what being a princess meant to me as a little girl.  When I went through the temple I gained an even greater appreciation of this principle.  In the walls of the temple, during the temple endowment, members are ordained to become kings and queens, priests and priestesses.  This blessing will be realized as we prove our faithfulness in this life, a blessing and reward we have to look forward to.




When I wrote this song, I was reflecting on the Relief Society Theme, which states that we find nobility in Motherhood.  It was shortly after my second child was born, a time of rejoicing in my life.  Whether or not a woman becomes a mother, we can all find nobility in this calling.  I don't want my daughters to feel deprived if they don't marry in this life because I believe as we are taught, that many of these things will be straightened out in the life to come.  We do believe that to attain the highest degree of glory, women AND men must have a spouse sealed to them in the walls of the temple.

I want to teach my daughters that while there is a need for botanists, nurses, teachers, anthropologists, and a host of other careers, what the world needs now more than ever is good mothers.  Mothers who know their own worth, who know the worth of their children, and who instill virtuous character sufficient to overcome the challenges of our day.  Mothers who love their children, spend time with them, and instill a moral code as only mothers can.  Glenn Doman teaches that mothers make the best mothers, and I wholeheartedly agree.  If children are the world's most valuable resource, then it stands to reason that motherhood is the noblest of professions, one worthy of admiration and respect.

That's my bottom-line takeaway from the princess culture.  There are many important things for us to teach our daughters.  Academics are important.  But let our girls wear the pretty dresses if they want.  Let them wear pink.  Let them dream of marrying a good man someday.  The more dreams like this that come true, the better off our world will be.

The Making of a Queen sheet music pdf

May 10, 2013

Free Piano Lessons 4 Kids Review

Today I'm so excited to share a wonderful resources with you- FREE piano lessons!  No joke, check it out.

https://www.hoffmanacademy.com/


His videos are also available on YouTube, like this one.



When I was a teenager, I remember asking my Dad, an entrepreneur, why he one of his products was so much less than his competitors.  Why not charge the same and make more money?  His answer was that he knows how much he himself loves to find a bargain, and how much bargains have helped him raise a large family.  He said that whenever you can make something more affordable, you are doing a service to your customers.  He told me he would rather serve 100 people to make $100 bucks than rake a couple of people over the coals for the same amount of money.  Likewise, he likes to give his business to people who share that philosophy and are serving the community with their business.  Yes, you do have to put food on the table, people understand that, but the wonderful thing about making something affordable is that you will attract more customers.  You serve more people, and you still have your needs provided for.  That lesson from my Dad has really stuck with me.

In the music education business, websites like freepianolessons4kids are a breath of fresh air.  As a musician, I have been really surprised at the cost of many music materials.  Math websites an resources are a dime a dozen.  Same goes for reading, spelling, and writing.  Why not music?  I've been so shocked at the price tag of some of the music products I've come across in the past.  When I first examined Joseph Hoffman's site, I immediately thought of what my dad had said and I loved it right away.  He is a good man who sincerely wants to help more children learn the fundamentals of music and he has made it very affordable.  This website is a real gem and a service to the online community.  This is his business model:

The piano lessons are free.  Completely, totally, 100% free on YouTube.  They are the meat and potatoes, and they are designed so that you don't really need anything else to progress through the lessons.  Isn't that wonderful?  The lessons are fantastic too.

For sale is the e-book that has a printout for every lesson.  Sometimes it's a cutting activity.  Sometimes it's a coloring activity.  Sometimes it's the music written on the staff so you can become more familiar with reading music.  There's a rich variety from lesson to lesson.  It's very well done.  You can also purchase the videos on DVD.  I love this business model.


So now that we know that it's affordable and I like his business model, it's time to look at why I love the piano lessons themselves.

First off, my kids love them.  They really love Mr. Hoffman.  My 4-year-old is so proud to tell people that she is taking piano lessons and Mr. Hoffman is her teacher.  Every time we finish watching a video she waves at the screen and says "Goodbye, Mr. Hoffman!"  She really loves him.  My 5-year-old especially enjoys the movement incorporated into the lessons, and the Early Learning community will be happy to know that while my 2-year-old hasn't actually played the lessons on the piano, he is gaining a lot from the lessons as well.  He is able to count the rhythms "ta, ta,  ti-ti, ta", sing the songs, and overall has a good sense of accomplishment at the end of the lessons.  He knows he is getting piano lessons too and he loves it.  Mr. Hoffman is his music teacher too.  I don't hesitate to recommend these videos to very young children, they don't have to practice on a piano to benefit.  (although obviously for best results you would.)  Concepts like low and high, fast and slow, steady beat, the music alphabet, and SOLFEGE are taught very well and thoroughly. 

I think it's awesome that he teaches solfege.  He teaches the ABCs and incorporates movable do (which I prefer over fixed do) into the lessons, so Do-Mi-So is synonymous with a I chord.  By the end of the e-book you are playing simple melodies, like the frog song in my review video above, in the right hand, while accompanying with chords in the left hand.  And they kids will understand the why behind the chord as well.  I love the theory in the lessons, and the e-book reinforces it very well.  By the way, it's a full-color e-book, I just printed it out in black and white to save ink.

I love the story he uses to teach where the C is on the piano (and all the other letters).  It really stuck with my kids.  We've been using a piano insert with the letter names and the kids have been reluctant to get rid of it.  Well, shortly after watching these video clips, my 4 and 5-year-olds told me they didn't need it anymore.  And they were right!  So check out his videos for that perk alone.

The videos are short and sweet.  This is great for short attention spans.  You can move at your own pace.  Since my children have already had some piano exposure, we've been going through about 3 lessons a week although we will need to slow down soon.  If they don't "get" a topic, they can watch the video again.  It's short enough they can watch it before practicing each day really.  So go slow.  Go fast.  It's up to you.  Mr. Hoffman is always encouraging.  If the kid didn't practice for a week there's no awkward apologies necessary.  Just pick up where you left off and work through it.  I am finding that short video lessons with worksheets and other non-media reinforcement afterwards has been the best education model for my kids and our family.  That's what we're doing with http://thehevproject.com/ too.  It's a great way to learn.

I've hit on it already, but I love the kinesthetic reinforcement.  Children stand up and move to demonstrate Do-Mi-So, proper posture, bad posture, and steady beat.  Awesome.

I love the Kodaly elements that are in the lessons.  I recognize that influence, and I think it's fantastic.  Things like showing notes on a one-line staff, rhythm solfege, the rhythm and letter flashcards, and the kinesthetic elements are things I associate with the Kodaly/Orff teaching methods.  The most powerful, life-changing music class I had in college wasn't one required for my vocal peformance degree.  It was my Orff training I had one summer before I internshiped with the Cache Children's Choir.  My piano-teaching approach dramatically changed after that class, for the better.  My students were better able to understand and internalize music concepts with the tools I gained.   And it's so much more fun!  I wish every music teacher could benefit from this kind of training.  I wish every music student, especially children, could gain from this kind of teaching approach.  Well parents, Mr. Hoffman's got it and he's nailed it.

The other question is, does this replace piano lessons with a paid teacher?  Well, that's up to you.  Ultimately there's no replacement for real-life feedback.  If you are uncomfortable with teaching piano, hiring a teacher is a great option.  There's something to be said for a weekly commitment with a teacher.  If you pay for something, you take it more seriously too- they say you get what you pay for, and it goes both ways- sometimes you get what you pay for because you expect to get it and put in the effort.  But we're talking about the very basics of piano here.  These videos will not prepare you for Solos and Ensembles or other like-music competitions by any means.  But they will teach the basics, no matter what age you are.  If you know nothing about piano, you can learn with your children.  I wouldn't put an upper or lower age limit on these videos.  You are where you are.  If you are a beginner, you will benefit from watching these.

As an early learning advocate, I'll put in a special plug as well.  It is hard, it can be nigh impossible, to find a teacher willing to take a 3 or 4 year-old for piano lessons.  Usually it's not because young children can't learn to play piano, but because they lack the attention span for a 30 minute lesson, which seems to be the gold-standard length for children.  Not only that, we seem to think young children HAVE to practice 30 minutes a day for it to be worth the money and effort to take them to lessons.  Because of this barrier, many wait until their children are 7 or 8 to start.  Even then, there's still the issue of jumping in and creating burnout.  Even at 7 or 8, a beginning piano student needs to taste success and unless they are naturally inclined to music, they will reject the new 30 minute workload.  20+ years later we hear them regret that they quit piano when they had the opportunity as a child.  I think these online piano lessons are the perfect bridge for preparing children for formal lessons with a teacher.  A child who has gone through these lessons will have a good foundation and will be ready for that workload.  Alternatively, these videos are an excellent tool for piano teachers to use with their beginning students.  Let the videos and e-book be their homework, and an in-person teacher can reinforce what they have learned.  Either way, you win.  And the videos are on YouTube!

It's giveaway time!

www.www.freepianolessons4kids.com is hosting a giveaway for 3 (three!) copies of their e-book that accompanies lessons 1-41.  Thank you so much!  Good luck everybody.  :)


Entry-Form

Disclaimer: www.freepianolessons4kids.com gave me a free copy of the e-book for review.  I was not otherwise compensated for the review, and my opinions shared are my own.

May 5, 2013

Math Resources

I have been meaning to do a post on all of the different math activities and things that we have been doing and none of them seem to warrant their own post, so let's have a math smorgasbord and look at everything briefly.  We really love math at our home.  :)

As a follow-up to my soroban post, this is the primary thing we are doing now.  I told my mom how cool I think the soroban abacus is and she showed me a neat homeschooling site called thehevproject.com, which has short and sweet abacus training videos with 15-problem worksheets after each lesson.  There are only 33 lessons, but that's plenty to get our feet in the door so that's where we are starting.  I'm looking forward to telling you more about this website in an upcoming post.  When I saw the abacus in the video, we went ahead and bought two Japanese Soroban Wood Abacus from Amazon (one for each of my older kids), got on hev's monthly plan, and today Peter finished lesson 10.  Helen will start next week.  So far so good.


Last Christmas we were working on multiplication.  We bought the flashcards and played games on www.multiplication.com.  Helen really liked the stories but Peter never really engaged with it.  Now we're doing soroban, but when we get back to learning our tables, I'm going to really dig into this site.

Thanks to the advertisements, I noticed www.bigbrainz.com.  We downloaded the demo and Peter BEGGED me for the full version.  We got the 3-month subscription for Christmas and they really loved it.  The catch for us was that I played the game with the kids and told them the answers.  That's just where we were at.  I told my 5-year-old the answer like this, "eleven times six is sixty-six", and he would have to type it in.  My 3-year-old got to hear "sixty-six", and my 2-year-old got to hear "six, six".  I passed the biggest bosses for them all.  They all had fun, and all of them became very good at typing numbers quickly.  It was a great approach except that it backfired a little because after they had each won that way, none of them wanted to play the game anymore, so we let our subscription laps.  Maybe we'll come back to it.  My personal thought:  it's very much like a video game, and I have mixed feelings on docking kids as much for falling off a a machine as they do for missing a problem.  The graphics were fun.  I had fun playing it.  I never mastered my 12 times tables past 5 until I played the game myself.  Now I'm sharp as a pin with all my multiplication facts up to 12.  Ta-da.  It worked for me!  Maybe not the best thing for the early learning crowd unless you alter the game like I did.  Then again, maybe your EL kids are sharper than mine.

The kids seem to be benefiting a lot from our family subscription to more.starfall.com.  There are some really cute math songs and games there.

I would love to spend some time exploring http://wholemovement.com/.  I am amazed at what can be created and and learned by simply folding circles.

The kids love Mr. Numbers on YouTube, and again, when we get to our times tables, I'm going to dig deep into http://www.patternplaymath.com/.  I like the idea of using more than one approach to teaching, and I love what he has done.  His materials are very affordable too.

Before I got into Soroban, I printed out Ray's new primary arithmetic for young learners.  (Thanks to nee1 on BrilldKids for pointing this out!).  There are 89 lessons with between 15-30 problems each.  They seem like good practice questions, so if money is tight and you want a step-by-step approach, this will do the trick.  I still plan on making sure that ink wasn't wasted.  I think a child who completes this book will be ready to advance to Saxon 5/4.  :)

Speaking of Saxon, my plan is to use it as soon as my kids are ready for Saxon 5/4.  Did you know that Saxon himself didn't write Saxon books for the earlier grades?  Well, he didn't.  The company that ended up with the rights to his books did so they could make more money, and the general consensus I'm getting is that they aren't as good.  My father-in-law didn't like the 1st grade material when he used it at a private school.  I don't want to use it for the early grades.  I want something more hands on.  Like the soroban!  But after reading and following this thread, and then reading Robert Levy's reviews of Saxon math on Amazon.com, I am quite sold on using it for the upper grades.  I'm on track to begin Saxon 5/4 in about a year.  I think I could do it sooner, but I really want to focus on abacus training and developing mental math skills.  My plan is to finish the hevproject lessons, then do Ray's book with the aid of the soroban, supplementing with other sources as wanted, then the "in a nutshell" 3rd grade math on hevproject, and on to Saxon 5/4.  I've got a plan, and I LOVE having a step-by-step, know-what's-next plan.
Edit:  They say that to start Saxon 5/4, all a child needs to know is how to add and subtract two-digit numbers, and your multiplication up to 10.  Young children who know this information do well in Saxon 5/4, and it is thorough for other math topics.  Saxon designed 5/4 to be his beginning math book, and as such, it is comprehensive.  Starting 6-year-olds with the 5/4 book is not uncommon in the BrillKids community for this reason.  I promise I'm not a draconian drill-to-kill mom.  My kids actually really enjoy math, but I wouldn't call them a math whiz.  What I am suggesting, what I am using, is an accelerated math path.  Saxon is very good for this.  For more information, read the thread I referenced.  :)

For the younger kids.

Once upon a time, when I had but one baby, I read Glenn Doman's "How to teach your baby math."  Then I did something crazy.  I bought $40-ish worth of materials and painstakingly made my own math-dot cards.  I was crazy.  And stupid.  Shortly after finishing I found a site where I could have just printed them out instead of using stickers.  Really?  All that time down the drain.  :'(  You think I'm joking?  It was such a pain to check to double check to make sure each card had exactly as many dots as I thought it did.  I placed thousands of dot stickers.  Stupid.  Don't do that. Technology means you don't have to, there's plenty of free resources out there.  Check this article out for more information on Doman's math dot program.



I have a hard time trying to make the sale when it comes to BrillKids Little Math program.  Why?  Because I know it doesn't always work.  Little Reader and Little Musician are simply amazing, and I have perfect confidence that they will work so I freely endorse them.  Little Math, I'm not so confident about.  Certainly there are cases where Doman's dot program has worked remarkably well, such as here, but youtube isn't littered with success stories like it is with babies reading.  One theory as to why this isn't the case is because parents can't reinforce it when away from the learning materials.  We can say, "Look, that sign says stop", and read cereal boxes to them, but we can't say "Hey, look at those 46 sheep in that field", or "Hey, you spilled 53 cheerios on the floor."  Maybe that's part of it.  I am convinced that using Little Math with my young children has been beneficial for my children, and that all early exposure to learning has its benefits.  Nothing is wasted.  But it's a hard sell.  I don't think I would have purchased it without my deep understanding of Doman's work, of how babies' brains develop, and how my kids don't have to demonstrate the ability to quantisize big numbers for the program to be successful.  So there you have it.  If you want to be sold on BrillKids' Little Math program, read Glenn Doman's math book and know that Little Math does all of the work for you, all you have to do is push play and there are cute icons that flash for you and keep track of everything.  If you read Doman's book and want that for your child, get Little Math.  That's it.  I'm not going to try to sell it any more than this paragraph.  Someday soon maybe my baby will demonstrate that she's a math whiz and I'll change my tune, but in the meantime I'm content to say that we have Little Math and we faithfully use it.  It's very well done.

TweedleWink also incorporates the math dots into their lessons.  We bought the whole package and we really love it- full review coming soon.  :)  Also, Your Baby/Child Can Discover incorporates math in an engaging way that we really love.  These programs aren't "sit down and do math" videos, but they are part of our overall math enrichment, so I share them here.

Math Games and Activities is an awesome book I stumbled upon and we've used it a lot.  Fun with tangrams also stemmed from this book.




A friend in my local homeschooling group shared this.  It's so cool.  Math is beautiful.  I made a printout for this and we've played with it with clear glass pebbles.  They place them, for example, on numbers divisible by 3, and it's a self-correcting activity because it makes a pattern.
http://www.datapointed.net/visualizations/math/factorization/animated-diagrams/
And here's a blog post with a few ideas on how to use it:
http://mathinyourfeet.blogspot.com/2012/11/new-math-game-factor-dominoes.html
She references this blog, which has a higher quality image for a print-out:
http://mike-naylor.blogspot.com/2012/11/factor-visualization.html

We play with pattern blocks a lot.  It's mostly free-play, but we do have some pictures they can place the pieces on.  There are some awesome teaching ideas for pattern blocks on this channel:  https://www.youtube.com/user/erloakland/videos.

https://www.khanacademy.org/ is awesome.

Products I would get in a heart-beat with a dream budget:  Math-U-See (we only have manipulatives and a decimal street poster, not the actual lesson books and videos), Mathtacular, Touchmath, Rightstart Math, and I definitely plan on getting Hands on Equations.

Phew!  I hope there's some gold nuggets in this article for you.  :)


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