Showing posts with label math. Show all posts
Showing posts with label math. Show all posts

FREE Math App Friday 5/16!!

Sometimes things happen just the way they are supposed to.  For one thing, I had to go searching through the closet from hell today to find my son's birth certificate.  While I was in there I found a missing library book- score!

Much more fun than that is this next event of synchronicity: I have not had time to blog much this week. I keep adding all the great resources we find and the moments of insights that I get to my "to do" list but I just haven't had much time "to do."  Because of this, I decided to at least share an older post on FB and Twitter.  For no particular reason, I decided to share my Review of Mystery Math Town.  It's just a really great app so I thought it should get another share.  Well, the next thing you know its developers at Art Gig tweeted back that they are giving away their other awesome math app, Marble Math, for FREE tomorrow!

I mean, really, what are the odds?

I am so PSYCHED to get this app!  Mystery Math Town and its sequel Mystery Math Museum did not disappoint.  They were fun, entertaining, and really TAUGHT.  They had everything I wanted them to have- complete customization of skills and levels, even allowing me to customize it differently for each child.  They were really a steal at $2.99; a lot of educational apps go for more.

I have been eyeballing Marble Math for a while now.  I thought it looked really cool.  My kids like mazes and that's what this seems to be, navigating a marble through a maze to answer math problems.

The type of problems vary.  This is intended for kids over 9 and you can customize what you want them to work on the same way that you can with the mystery games.  

And again, you can customize differently for each child!

Making math fun is so important!  Having a child with dyscalculia, finding ways to engage her in math means everything.  It is so critical to find ways to get her to practice without it feeling like a terrible chore. 

The Artgig apps are also great to keep kids sharp over the summer months!

So there it is.  I wrote something.  I had to so that nobody would miss out on this great freebie!  If you feel so inclined, hit me up in a comment, a tweet, or a FB tomorrow and REMIND me to download this.  I am so excited about it, but we have been so busy that I have been forgetting a lot!!  Thanks!

Download Marble Math Free 5/16

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Never Give Up!

For anyone who suffers with dyscalculia or has a child that does, I want to say that math is not hopeless so please don’t ever give up.  

My brilliant daughter has dyscalculia and dyspraxia (dyspraxia affects her executive function which is a double whammy for math).  She also has an auditory processing disorder so it was so hard to learn in the classroom.  When I decided to homeschool her, I searched everywhere- online, the library, medical and educational experts, and the most I really got was that people with dyscalculia “will probably always have to use a calculator.”  I was shocked.  There were no teaching techniques or tools that I could find for people with this learning disability.  If you were lucky and you fought hard enough, I was told you could secure accommodations like having the times tables and a number line on your kid’s desk.  This was not satisfying to me at all.

One person did recommend Touch Math to me, where you have the dots on all the numbers and you count them, but this was useless to me because 1) having the dyspraxia affects A’s ability to count items correctly because she cannot coordinate her movements with her counting, and 2) I did not want her to always have to count in order to add and even though they said you could still somehow count when you did multiplication I did not see how this was possible.

Since A is great at reading and has an excellent imagination, I knew stories would help.  The way I figured it was that if the math door to her brain was closed, we could get the information in through the reading door.  Using Addition the Fun Way and Times Tales for her basic facts did the trick.  She does not know every single fact every single time.  She still draws blanks, she probably always will, but she is 90% better than she was in the beginning of the year.  She knows her facts most of the time.

Instead of diving right into fourth grade math, we started the Life of Fred Elementary Series from the beginning.  This is like starting math with someone who does not even know what math is.  It is presented in story form and it is fun and entertaining.  Fred instills a deeper understanding of mathematics and of why we do the things we do and why we actually need to know these things.

I worried about what I was doing.  Part of me wanted to forge ahead.  This part of me also often got frustrated and felt like we might never get math nailed down at all. There were times I thought the experts must be right and she would just always need a calculator.  Luckily, the other part of me is so stubborn that it would not give up.  It was hard for me to take things slow and be patient because I am very bad at both of those things, but I managed.  I stuck with those basic addition facts until she had 75-80% of them correct on any given day.  Then, we moved on to the multiplication facts.  Every day we did basic facts and Fred.  We would also do some other math- Xtra Math, Khan Academy,, or even a cool math book from the library like Math for Girls. Sometimes we would find or make up math board games.

By the time we finished the entire Fred Elementary Series, most of her math facts were pretty solid.  We then and only then started doing fourth grade math on Time for Learning.  Now every day she does a warm up and that includes a couple of long division problems with 2 digit divisors and even longer dividends, a couple of long multiplication problems, and a long addition or subtraction problem.  She often gets one wrong.  She might forget to add the rows in her multiplication problem or she will make an arithmetic error, but she is mostly right.  Since she had a hard time even adding 4+3 in the beginning of the year, the fact that she can now multiply 678 by 29 and divide 56783 by 32 is a huge win.

When we started long division, I had a lot of fear that it would never stick.  She was so resistant to it and could not seem to keep track of what to do when.  I had signs all over her desk that said Divide, Multiply, Subtract, Bring Down, but she was still so confused and frustrated.  The only thing I can say that made it finally work was practicing every day.  Once we moved on to fractions I just kept having her do these kinds of problems every morning so that she would not forget.

Honestly, despite having a disability, I think the way they were teaching math in her school made it difficult anyway.  They would do a little telling time, a little addition, a little counting money, and then they would loop around again.  They did not stick with anything long enough for her to grasp it and when they got back to the same topic again she had forgotten it.  I have heard a lot of other moms say that math is difficult for their children as well, so I don’t think it was the disability alone that was the problem.

A might always make careless mistakes on problems and draw blanks here and there with math, but she understands it very well.  She understands why we do the things we do in math, she always knows what operation to do in word problems, and she can explain how she got an answer and why she took the steps she did.  She gets it.  She might forget to carry a one or she might accidentally write that 8+6 is 13 instead of 14 and these things might cause her to get 10-15% of her math wrong, but 85-90% is pretty excellent if you ask me and you can’t put a price on the understanding of the concepts.  Practice, Patience, Perseverance, and a Willingness to Start Over are what it took.

If we were able to do this, I really believe that anyone can.  So, if you or your child suffers with dyscalculia, don’t give up!  Do math first thing every morning when the mind is awake and fresh.  Practice whatever is hard over and over again until it starts to stick and he gets 75-80% more right than he did when you first started trying to master the skill or set of facts.  Try different books and methods until you find one that is enjoyable and seems to make sense to your child.  Spend as long as you have to on math.  There are days we do math for two hours and other days we only can do 30 minutes because it is just not working.  The repetition and hard work will pay off. Disability or no disability, I think anyone can get better at math.

As a side not, it’s not only math but A is now riding her bike like a pro, too.  Again, I feared she might never get over her fears and her coordination issues and again she proved that she can do anything.  Determination is everything!

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Mystery Math Town Review


I have been wanting to download Mystery Math Town by Art Gig for some time now.It has rave reviews on iTunes and on one of my favorite sites Common Sense Media.  The only thing holding me back was the price, the fact that it has one.  I like free.

What prompted me to finally take the plunge and pay the $2.99 were two things.  One is that A and I have gotten through memorizing her math facts so we need an activity to replace the drilling but that will still be reinforcing what she has learned. I don't want to move on to other math like fractions and geometry (which she is really good at) and have her forget her facts. Another is that she has recently become obsessed with mystery stories.  Time for Learning had a unit on mysteries for language arts and she has been devouring mystery books ever since!

I'm glad we got this app.  She is begging me to play just one more level which is a definite plus.  The paintings talk to you and give you clues about the mystery.  You can't finish the level or move to new areas until you solve math problems.  You also collect numbers on your way in order to fill in the equations so it takes strategic thinking.

With each level the players get paintings of different characters to add to their gallery.  There, the characters will make them laugh and tell them a bit more about themselves slowly unraveling the mystery.
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Times Tales Review


We started Times Tales this week.  It's only been two days but the stories seem to be sticking even more than the addition stories did.  This is a DVD rather than a book (although they have a book as well), so maybe that is why she is remembering better, or maybe the stories are better, who knows?

This comes with a DVD and another disc with worksheets and tests on it to print out.  The DVD has two parts.  First, you do Part One for a week or two and once you have those equations down, you move on to the rest.  This is only for the upper times tables which is disappointing to me because they do not have a product for the lower ones.  They start at 3 time 6.  A really needs to also learn 3 times 4 and 3 times 5 as well.  But we'll deal with those later, I guess.

Without me planning it, we moved into times tables at the exact same time Fred did in our Life of Fred books.  I have really been moving instinctively with homeschooling.  I make a plan but then go with my gut and adjust it accordingly.  I was going to move into times tables weeks ago  but decided that we should work on addition and subtraction longer. Somehow, our lessons are all overlapping.  That has been happening since we started this journey.  Our vocabulary words will have something to do with our science lessons.  Social Studies will be reinforced in a Fred story.  A book for language arts will mention something we learned in history.  You know you are doing the right thing in life when you find this type of synchronicity in what you are doing.

So back to my original thought, for dyscalculia, I recommend Time Tales for sure!   It's really the same concept as Addition Stories- every number is a character and when they get together you have a story.  Example: 8 is Mrs Snowman.  4 is a chair.  When Mrs Snowman (8) stands on a chair (4) she reaches for 3 buttons and 2 mittens.  8X4=32.  This actually works.  They go through several steps on the DVD and eventually they get to flashcards with no picture and no talk of the story but now the child knows the equation!  I do not know how or why, but it works!
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Two Great Resources for Dyscalculia


If your kid has a disability in math, I highly recommend the two products I am using: Life of Fred and Addition the Fun Way.

Now, my daughter is in fourth grade.  One of the things that scared me is that with math I have opted to pretty much just start over from the beginning.  She does not know her basic facts- neither multiplication nor addition.  I know in school they are doing high level work, but there is no way she can do this if she cannot even tell you how much 4+3 is.  Still, knowing this, I was still afraid that I was somehow doing "the wrong thing."

Now that I have used these two products for a couple of days, I feel much better.  I feel better because they are WORKING.  My daughter is 1) retaining the information, something she has never been able to do with math before (except for doubles for some reason- she knows all the double facts). and 2) she actually loves math now!

Life of Fred- The writer Stanley Schmidt would have been my favorite teacher if I ever had him back when I was in school.  You can just imagine how he would be.  He doesn't just teach math, he teaches everything and everything is amusing and makes you laugh.  When you laugh, you tend to remember why.

The book of Fred is a story book.  Within the story there is math, but kids barely know it, and they don't mind it either. At the end of each section is a "Your Turn to Play" with just a few questions, nothing to get worked up about.  Some of the questions are just fun or silly, which mixes things up a bit.  There is a lot of repetition in the stories- like, for example, within several chapters you are told that 5 an 2 make seven.  You are told in lots of different ways and it comes up in several different scenarios. Eventually, you remember.

You are also told about ancient philosophers, geometry, geography, the Greek alphabet, and much more. If you think this book is simple and talks down to kids at all, you're wrong.  I learn a lot reading this book as well!

This series is perfect for my daughter.  She has great reading comprehension and excellent language arts skills.  Learning math by reading a story is working for her. When we have extra time she asks me to do more Fred.  She hated math before and said she was bad at it.  Now she loves it and it's only been three days.

The only thing that worries me is that even when I finish the elementary set she will not have covered what fourth grade has covered (but she will  have touched on things they haven't.).  We may be able to get further than this set though because the books go a lot faster than you think.  We will be done with book 1 by the end of this week!

Addition the Fun Way- Here is another great resource for kids with dyscalculia. Here is how it works.  Every number is a character.  For example, 3 is a bee and 6 is sick. Now for each addition fact there is a story. For example: Sick Six was trying to take a nap but kept being bothered.  The Three Bee wanted to help so she made him a Nine Sign that said Do Not Disturb.  The stories are a bit longer than that and more memorable, but you get the idea. I read each chapter several times before moving on to the next one.  Then, when my daughter sees the equation she can recall the story. So if she sees 3+6, she knows 3 is a bee and 6 is sick and she just has to remember what happened when they were together and she'll have her answer.

I can say this is working.  We have only done 3's and 4's so far but it works!  Once in a while, I see her trying to count on her fingers instead (she is unable to count on her fingers correctly so it is of no help when she does this) but then I prompt her to remember the story.  She will take a few seconds to remember it and then she will have the correct answer.  Some equations have already become automatic.

Fred gives kids a deep understanding of why and how math works. It provides the needed basis for kids who just don't get it the way most others do.  Addition the Fun way is good for memorization when drilling does not work.  

Our math routine is reading whatever chapter we are working on in Addition the Fun Way and possibly taking a quiz to see how much we are retaining.  Then we do Life of Fred.  My original intent was to do three chapters of Fred per day and to split them up throughout the day.  I was going to do this so I would not give my daughter who hates math, too much math at once and also I thought she might retain it better if it was reinforced throughout the day and in shorter spans so there was less chance of her zoning out.  However, we have wound up doing three or more chapters all at once because when a chapter ends she asks me to please do another and as long as she is enjoying herself I will keep on going.

I find so little out there on dyscalculia.  I don't think even the experts understand it. But the way I see it is, if your brain rejects math, trick your brain and disguise the math as something else.  If you are explaining something and it is not getting through, your explanation needs a new mode of transportation and a new point of entry. My daughter's strongest areas are her language and reading skills.  So, the math is going in through that door,

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