This blog is where we share our homeschooling journey. Our style is eclectic, employing strategies like notebooking, workboxing, and some relaxed unschooling I like to call organic or free-range learning.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Another Math Game: Receipt Wallpaper

Image courtesy of Stock Xchg

I was tossing some old receipts out of my purse the other day, marveling at how fast the little beggars stack up in my tote. I hit on an idea for a math activity that I know isn't quite new, but one I want to try and maybe add a couple angles to.

We'll be saving all our receipts for one month. That's every single one, from the 75-cent candy bar at the mini mart(remember when they were only a quarter?) to our endless loop of tape at the grocery store. All fast food. Every gas purchase. You get the picture.

Each time we bring home a receipt, it gets taped to a wall set aside for that purpose. I'm betting our new wallpaper will spread like wildfire. After the month ends, it'll be time to add up the number of receipts collected, as well as the total spent. (Good long hand or calculator practice!)

From this, several lessons can be taught (not all of which will be just to my child, I'm sure!)...

1. The sheer math value of counting/adding money spent.
2. The tie-in implication of budgeting (we could buy more toys, but this is what we spend).
3. The environmental considerations of our spending habits.
4. Sorting and categorizing of expenses. (What gets bought the most?)
5. How to save strategies (what if we bought less fast food meals next month?)

...and so on. With a little ingenuity, I'm betting all school subjects could be somehow tied in to this activity.

I think this will be an eye-widener for parents as well as kids, and something we can all learn from. I'd love to apply this on a broader scale, such as making this a year-long project if the one-month trial goes well. And just think, come tax time we'd have all our receipts handy!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Host a "No Math" Day!

Image courtesy of Stock Xchg

I was reading posts on one of my homeschooling groups (CA-Homeschooling-HSC, a wonderful bunch of folks and information), and someone pointed out, "I challenge people to try and have a day without math."

My eyes popped wide and I thought, "What a great idea!" The more I thought about it, the more I decided we are going to try this out as a home school activity.

What's "No Math" Day? Just a typical day, but the rule is the family cannot do any activity that involves math. What a joyous announcement THAT would be for the math-haters in the house, eh?

But then, let them see what happens when they try to live out the day.

1. TV? How can you watch it when channel selection involves numbers? So that's out.
2. Cooking? Can't measure ingredients. Only food that needs no measuring can be eaten that day.
3. Fast food instead? Money's out of the picture, so forget that and any other shopping as well.
4. Games (video,board games, sports)...not if points have to be added up for it, etc.

Sorry, no-can-do that restaurant milk shake if there is no math!

The level of strictness applied toward defining "math-related" activities can be adjusted based on the age/maturity of your child and your own interest, but even in broadest terms what an eye-opener this could be! This could demonstrate much louder than any lecture just how much of our lives are dependent on math. The activity might not make converts out of the anti-math brigade, but it will get them willingly participating in the very subject they're not allowed to DO that day!

I'll post back once we've done this activity at our house with a status report. Granted, Bri is not a math-hater by any stretch, but her eyes do glaze over faster at times in this subject than most others. I'm curious to see what we all learn from it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Blah Bulletin Boards? Never!

Among our other Earth Day projects this year, I decided to make a bulletin board to display the calendar items I've been using to help Bri get a better sense of time than she was getting from her Jonas Brothers calendar (though she digs the kewl photos!).

Here's the "plain" bulletin board before her calendar was added. It was simple to make, and she absolutely adores it! It's fun, yet isn't too busy for the display items to stand out.

Here's the finished product after adding her calendar stuff. For fun we also included a little weather report. Click on the photo to enlarge it and you'll see the calendar items sit inside a clear pocket along the bottom. This was the trickiest part of the whole thing, but it wasn't too hard.

This could have been done as a flannel/felt board, but I opted for a wipe-clean base for three reasons. First, this sits on our dining table (resting against the wall) and I didn't want a spill wicking up and ruining it. Two, I already had the laminated weekday/month/date cards, and didn't want to redo or alter them for a fabric board. Third, I was hoping to get away with using items I had on hand.

Here's how I made this:

1. I used spray adhesive to glue construction paper to represent grass/sky/sun/tree onto a standard sheet of foam core. (With Earth Day in mind, I "recycled" paper that already had been used on one side.)

2.To add the pocket, I cut a sheet of clear shelf paper a few inches over the length of the foam board. I folded the top down lengthwise about 2/3 of the way to make the double layer pocket, yet still leave a single layer of "sticky" paper along the whole bottom edge. I positioned the long pocket, folded the edges around to the back of the foam board, then secured it using packaging tape.

3.The sets of calendar items (obtained courtesy of are stacked in order and slipped into the pocket. Each day we pull the prior weekday/date/etc out and slide it to the back so the current day is displayed.

4. The mini "weather report" is available at Sprout Online's coloring pages. I cut it out and laminated everything with clear vinyl. Using the same basic idea I did for the board, I made a clear pocket for the little weather signs to slip into. This I attached to the foam board using brad fasteners. Each day the proper sign (sunny, cloudy, etc) is slid into view in the pocket.

There's still room to display other special items of interest like photos, theme letters/numbers/words, etc. Meanwhile, since we live in a tiny apartment and space is at a premium (not to mention our fondness for teaching Bri about recycling/reusing things), I want to spray-adhesive fabric to the entire back of the board so we can flip it around for use as a felt board.