Posts Tagged ‘TeaCHildMath’

Does Your Attitude Towards Math Influence Your Child?

Friday, July 16th, 2010




At book fairs, some parents tell me they weren’t particularly good at math.  Some will go even further and say they hated math. Some go even further than that and say, “My daughter’s a dummie in math like me.”  What’s shocking to me is they tell me this with their child standing at their side.  STOP and think what this message conveys to your child:


·     Mom/dad wasn’t good in math so maybe I won’t be either.

·     Mom/dad wasn’t good in math and doesn’t expect me to be good in math either.

·     I’ll show up mom/dad by if I do well in math.  They won’t like it if I’m smarter.


If you say YOU hate math, be aware you are shaping your child’s attitude toward math, particularly if you’re a mom speaking to a daughter.  Your daughter loves you and seeks to be just like you.  She may pick up the false message math isn’t for girls.  Now most moms would never say, “I hate reading.  I hate books. I haven’t read a book since high school.”  Yet somehow it’s okay for parents to disparage their math skills. 


If YOU say your child is a dummie in math like you, you are setting your child up for failure.  Your child may choose not to disappoint you.  Like mother, like daughter?  Like father, like son?


My recommendation:  do not to share your negative math experience with your children but encourage them.  If you feel you must share this experience, frame it this way:


·      I had trouble with math but you won’t because you have a parent who really cares about your success in math and will help you.

·      Your teacher also cares about your success in math and will help you. 

·      You have resources I didn’t have such as fun workbooks, video tutorials, multiplication CDs and math video games.


My point is:  your negative experience should not influence your child.  Although you had a negative experience, you expect your child to have a positive experience.  You expect your child to succeed in math.  Your child will fulfill these expectations.  There are few parents who do not have the basic skills to make sure their third grader succeeds in math.   Do not project your negative experience onto your child but rather give him or her the extra help and reassurance your child needs to succeed. 


                      Image by Robert Hunt/

Happy Fourth of July!

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

                                                                                                                                                        4th-of-july-5I imagine all of you celebrating the Fourth with friends and family today.  Watching our wed by some impressive homemade floats, I thought of years past with my two children.

Now it’s my five grandchildren who dress up like prairie  girls, Pilgrims and Statues of Liberty.4th-of-july-21

This evening I will picnic on the lake with my family and watch the fireworks.  It’s a wonderful day to celebrate with family. 

I wish you and your family a Happy Fourth!   4th-of-july-34




 Images from,,


Patterns in Nature — The Chambered Nautilus

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010



Discover the beauty of patterns in the natural world. Look at the structure of  a starfish or  a chambered nautilus? 


starfishA starfish has five points.  If we measured each point of the starfish, would they be the same?  Why is a starfish named starfish?  Is its shape similar to a star?  Does it have the same pattern?



chambered-nautilus-inside1If  we look at the structure of a chambered nautilus, we discover a nearly perfect equiangular spiral.   Why does each chamber become increasingly  larger as we spiral from the center?  Is it because the nautilus as it grows expands its living space, adding more and bigger chambers in an every increasing spiral?  The body, of course, would live in the biggest chamber of its “house.”


chmbered-nautilus-floatingLet’s look at the shell’s outer surface.  There’s a brown zebra stripe pattern on top and yet the bottom of the shell is white?  Why would this be?  Nothing in nature is random.  The brown zebra stripes on top act as camouflage.  Seen from the top by predators, the nautilus blends with the ocean depths.  When seen from below, it blends with the light coming from above.  Its shell is hard.  When the nautilus is threatened by predators, it withdraws into its shell and seals the door.  Did you know chambered nautilises existed 265 million years before dinosaurs roamed the earth?  These beautiful nautilises are described as living fossils.  Why?  Because they have remained virtually unchanged for millions of years.  So their beautiful design was perfect from the start!  In nature, patterns serve a function.  Patterns help the animal fool its predators and survive.

Our innate curiosity leads to discovery.  Stimulate your child’s curiosity by pointing out patterns in the natural world.  Explore the wonder of nature with your child. 

Although we now have the internet and can look up anything to explain the mysteries of nature to our children,  for a young child there’s nothing like books or magazines with photographs and illustrations to captivate his/her imagination.  A child turns the page at his own pace.  Best of all, he/she is there cuddled up with mom or dad.

Images  from, and

. Why all the artwork in my workbook?

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

teachildmath-coverWhen I wrote my Teach Your Child the Multiplication Tables workbook, I wanted to create the excitement of a circus.  I wanted each page to be as REAL as possible. I had my graphic artist, Rudy Rodriguez, create the cute circus animals and clowns.  I thought it fitting that Rudy the Ringmaster be named for him.

To make the times tables REAL, I used grids.  Children can immediately see how the multiples increase from 1 x 1 to 10 x 10.  This develops number sense.  On a grid, they can see that 5 x 5 really equals 25 squares.  Some children will quickly fill in the tables on the grid so I included circus figure watermarks for children to trace.  I wanted to entertain children as they learned the  times tables.


Children who have an aptitude for math often have an aptitude for art.  Because we were working so much with grids, I asked myself: Why not take the opportunity to teach basic drawing at the same time?   We included eight pages of “copy the circus character on the grid”.   I wanted a workbook that was also a fun activity workbook.  I wanted a workbook that children couldn’t wait to work in.


The first mom to receive a copy of my workbook took it with her on the family’s beach vacation.  She told me her son promised to work on it 20 minutes a day.  She knew she’d have to interrupt his afternoon each day.  But to her surprise her son came out of his room after his nap with the workbook in hand.  Rather than napping, he’d been filling it in.  “I never had to ask him to do his math homework,” she said.  “But to get him to nap, I did have to take the workbook away.”   At that moment, I knew my book would be a success!

Book Recommendation: BUNCHES and BUNCHES of BUNNIES by Louise Matthews

Friday, June 18th, 2010

bunches-and-bunches-of-bunniesFrom time to time, I’ll be posting about favorite children’s books.  Some will have math  stories and others will be favorite storybooks.  I want your child to fall in love with numbers and understand math concepts but I also want your child to fall in love with words!  

Reading to your children not only enhances their vocabulary but also stimulates their imagination.  If you have a passion for reading, your child will too!  Reading to your child is not only fun but creates a special bond between you and your child.  Please add your child’s favorite book in the Leave a Reply box below so that other children will enjoy these too.

        Here’s a  favorite multiplication book: 

    BUNCHES and BUNCHES of BUNNIES  by Louise Matthews, published by Scholastic with delightful illustrations by Jeni Bassett.

    Your child too will have fun reading about these cute, silly little bunnies while learning basic principles of multiplication.  Each page illustrates what happens when you square a number, that is multiply a number by itself  (1 x 1,  2 x 2,  3 x 3, etc.)   till we end up with 144 bunny relatives living in one house!  Each multiplication has a four line poem with a cute, memorable rhyme such as:       

                                 Count the bunnies at the ball,

                                 Rabbit partners, short and tall,

                                 Now the music comes alive,

                                 And 5 x 5 is 25.




Book Recommendation: ANNO’S MAGIC SEEDS

Friday, June 18th, 2010

annos-magic-seedsIf you haven’t come across Anno’s storybooks with their beautiful watercolor illustrations, you and your children are in for a special treat! 

See what happens to Jack when a wizard gives him two golden seeds and tells him to eat one and bury the other.   Jack’s planting these seeds introduces children not only to the concept of multiplying but also investing in the future.  As Jack reaps more and more abundant harvests, he marries and has a child.  When a hurricane wipes out his crops, Anno is able to begin anew because ten golden seeds have been saved. 

This enchanting tale entertwines literature, art and math concepts.  Parents and teachers will reap rewards with this book.  Why not stimulate interest in math by seeing mathematical concepts in an a enchanting “real world” storybook context?     The beautiful illustrations alone tell the story.  The youngest of your children too will be turning page after page.

Book Recommendation: 26 Letters and 99 Cents by Tana Hoban

Friday, June 18th, 2010


Many of you have come across Tana Hoban’s fun books.  Her 26 Letters and 99 Cents will delight your preschool to kindergarden child or even an older child who has trouble figuring out how to add pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters.  This book is in fact two books in one.  One book presents upper and lower-case letters beside colorful objects beginning with that letter. 

Turn the book OVER and numbers are pictured with pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters totaling that amount.  Your child is learning not only about numbers and  grouping but also  money.  While reading this book to your child, expand the lessons by having a pocketful of change on the table and having your child figure out how many ways to make 35 cents with all pennies, or all nickels or a combination of coins.  Your child is learning number concepts and addition.   Why not develop your child’s “number sense” at an early age?  This fun book will engage your child!

What are your child’s favorite Tana Hoban books?

Make Math Real!

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010









Yesterday, I tutored a 5th grade student in math.  Julie is a smart girl but sometimes lacks confidence in her math skills.  Her mother wanted her to work on ratios and percentages.  I decided the math lesson would be more “real” if we worked with cents, dimes, nickels and quarters to learn percentages.  After all, percent means per hundred.  Our lowly penny is a cent, meaning one-hundredth.  So it’s not hard to figure out that a penny/cent is 1% of a dollar.  You need 100 of these to make a dollar.  The math is written:  100 x .01 =  $1.  So one penny is 1/100 of a dollar.  Divide 1 by 100 and you’ll get 1%.


On the kitchen table, I scattered handfuls of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters.   After we figured out a penny was 1% of a dollar, we went on to quarters.  Every child knows four quarters make a dollar.  We represented a quarter as a fraction:  ¼  and then divided 1 by 4 .and got .25 or 25%.    Two quarters represented  2/4 or 1/2  or 50% of a dollar.  Three quarters represented 3/4 or 75%.  With each of these computations, Julie handled the money, sliding it in place for the various math problems.  We then worked with dimes (its root word means ten) and nickels.  Interesting we have one coin named after the metal it’s made of.  As a child, I had difficulty understanding a nickel which is larger than a thin dime was worth one half of a dime!  So working with coins, we figured out percentages.


Then we turned to ratios.  I’d scatter an assortment of coins on the tabletop.  “How many of the 12 coins are quarters?” I’d ask.  We’d write the ratio:  3/12 and figure out the percent.  Then I had Julie scatter the coins herself and make up her own percentage problems. 



So when you have the opportunity, make math real by having real objects to illustrate the math lesson.



Any Correlation between Your Child’s Reading and Writing Skills?

Friday, May 21st, 2010





All the recent news articles, keep focusing on recruiting and retaining the best science and math teachers but  why the scant mention of recruiting and retaining the best  English teachers?  


As a former college English composition instructor, I saw first-hand the deplorable state of freshman writing.  Not only is it’s used incorrectly as a possessive when it can only be the contraction for  it is but an apostrophe + s was added to nouns to form plurals!   Yes, dear reader’s, this is true!  Alas, what is one to do?


Studies have shown that there is a high correlation between reading skills and writing skills.  Not surprisingly, students who were voracious readers were excellent writers.  Students who love to read are text savvy.  They know what paragraphs look like.  They know paragraphs open with a topic sentence supported by facts and examples.  Good readers are familiar with rules of punctuation and the grammar.  Good readers develop an extensive vocabulary.


Parents, I urge you to read to your toddler.  Make sure your first through third graders learn to read and encourage them to read to you.  If your child loves to read, your child will love learning.  An added bonus:  your child will become a proficient writer.


Encourage your children to design and write their own books.  When they come home from school with their artwork, take the opportunity to not only display it on the fridge but write a story about their drawing.  Talk about how now they are not only the illustrator but the author of a story.


Every time I read a picture book to my children, I would read the names of the author and the illustrator.  Sometimes they were one and the same.  Teaching your child to love books is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child.


little-rabbit-foo-fooLittle Rabbit Foo Foo, a storybook by Michael Rosen, charmed my  three and four-year old grandchildren while visiting in California. No matter how many times we read it, they couldn’t wait to turn the page and see Little Rabbit Foo Foo bop yet another creature on the head despite Good Fairy’s warnings!  



Little Rabbit Foo Foo turned out to be a real page turner!  Within one afternoon, the three-year old twins had memorized the book, could pick out the words: little, rabitt, foo foo and good fairy among others. They also knew when to turn the page. My daughter grew up with the song/game so it was fun to see her children enjoy it so. The illustrations by Arthur Robins of Rabbit Foo Foo riding through a forest on a motorbike, red mallet poised in the air are delightful as is the put-upon Good Fairy. For the children, it was thrilling to see naughty Rabbit Foo Foo defy the Good Fairy but there were consequences.  Your little ones will love it!


Be sure to also teach your children the game.  Children sit in a circle and recite the verses as a child in the role of naughty Little Rabbit Foo Foo circles the group and then lightly taps one of the children on the head who in turn becomes Rabbit Foo Foo.


The lesson in all this is:  share with your children the JOY of reading good books.  You, the parent, are the Good Fairy who can turn your child into an avid reader and a skilled writer! 










Interview on Homeschooling 101 Blog Talk Radio

Friday, May 14th, 2010


I just came across an interview I did on Homeschooling 101 Blog Talk Radio.  In the interview, I discuss how I developed my method, discovering patterns for each of the tables.  I also discuss the benefits of my method for children with special needs.


The link is: