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# Math Inspirations Blog

Learn how to use the Discovery Method and discover tips and activities to create the homeschool math program you’ve always wanted

# Math Inspirations Blog

Learn how to use the Discovery Method and discover tips and activities to create the homeschool math program you’ve always wanted

## Ready To Grow As A Mentor For Your Kids? Learn How Below.

Great Games Inspire Thinking, Discovery And Fun

Simply put, I love games. They’re an everyday part of our homeschooling and an incredibly easy way to increase thinking, discovery and fun in your everyday homeschooling. Games can be especially effective as we allow our kids to discover strategies and thinking on their own instead of telling them what to do. GIVE THEM THAT FREEDOM! It will pay huge dividends in their thinking, confidence and enjoyment of learning. Here are our game recommendations for 2019!!!

Find The Object

I want to introduce you to a new favorite game in our house: Find The Object.

The goal of the game is to help students become more familiar with ordinal numbers (first, second, third, etc.).  It is found in the Numbers and Counting topic of Unit 1: Number Sense in the Math Inspirations curriculum.

Building Logic And Independent Thinking

When learning to become a mathematician, two important skills to develop are logical and independent thinking.  One of the best ways to develop both of these skills is through games.  One of the reasons that games are so powerful for the development of these mathematical skills is that playing games is simply fun.  When we are having fun, our brain releases endorphins that make more active and learning more effective.

We’ve been trying out a ton of different logic games with our kids and below I’ll share with you 5 of my favorite games we’ve tried so far that not only build logic and independent thinking, but also are super fun!

The Focus Of A Math Education

When I was a high school math teacher, I was always asked the question “When am I ever going to use this?”  Too often, the honest answer was “You’re not.”  This is why our focus at Math Inspirations is on our student’s ability to think, problem solve, observe patterns and test hypotheses.  These are the skills they will use no matter what endeavors they pursue. These are the skills which are in HIGH demand right now in our workforce.

One way to emphasize thinking is by giving students the opportunity to discover the definitions of different mathematical vocabulary.

Different Perspectives

One thing we are always on the lookout for, are games that encourage unique and creative strategies.  The Coyote and The Hares game, is such a game.  In the game, players an opportunity to play one of two different roles, the single coyote role and the 12 hares’ role.  The goal of the 12 hares’ is to trap the single coyote so that it cannot move nor jump any of the hares.  The coyote’s goal is to eat enough hares that they will not be able to trap the coyote.

Each side provides unique strategy and a different perspective.

A Classic Challenge

When I was at university I was introduced to a classic mathematical problem and now I extend this challenge to you and your family.  It goes like this:

The city of Königsberg in Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia) was set on both sides of the Pregel River, and included two large islands in the middle of that river which were connected to each other or to the two mainland portions of the city, by seven bridges.

Mastermind

One thing we are always looking for as a family, is a fun game to play that builds our abilities to think.  We also love games that everyone in the family can play no matter what level of thinking they are at. Mastermind is a game that checks all of those boxes!

There are several different ways to play the game Mastermind. You can play with different colored blocks, like Cuisenaire Rods.  You can also play…

A Common Misbelief

If you are like the majority of Americans, then at some point in your life you have doubted your mathematical abilities.  More likely than not, no matter how you feel about your own abilities, one, if not more, of your kids either hate math or believe they are no good at it.

You may think that this belief is not that big of a deal, but when doubt what we can do, we put limitations on ourselves and we are less likely to achieve all that we are capable of.

10 Homeschool Math Resolutions For 2018

Happy 2018 everyone!  What an amazing time for new beginnings, new routines and, of course, new resolutions! This year we want to help you out by suggesting 10 resolutions to make your homeschool math more effective, meaningful and fun.

I’ve also included simple ACTIONS you can take to achieve each resolution.

To an awesome 2018!

It’s almost Christmas!  I wanted to give you a few last minute gift ideas in case you’re still shopping (bonus: all of these can be purchased online so no need to brave the frenzy at the stores).  I chose each of these 10  because of their emphasis on strategies and problem solving, focus on logical thinking, encouraging unique and creative thought, and, of course, they’re tons of fun.  Each one of these recommendations has also been kid tested by our family and friends so we know they fit each of these criteria.

Digit Place Game

The Digit Place Game is a great for every member of the family.  It incorporates the logic of Mastermind and the elements of place value.  All you need to play the game is a paper (or whiteboard) and a pencil (or marker).  It can be played in pairs or in a group.  Click the link below to download and enjoy!

A Case Of The “I Don’t Knows”

This is an actual exchange between my daughter Ellie and me.  I was wanting to shoot a quick video about a new math game we were trying out and, before we could get into it,  I spotted a case of the “I Don’t Knows.”  Here is how the conversation went:

Me- “Ellie, what are you doing?”

Ellie- “I don’t know. I don’t know what I am doing.”

Me- “Well, are you swimming right now?  What are you doing?”

Homeschool Moms Are Amazing!

My favorite part about Math Inspirations has been the amazing homeschooling parents that I have had the privilege of working with and learning from.  Because the school year has recently begun for most, we held a Jam Session where several families discussed their unique, personalized schedules for the upcoming year and they were all so great that I wanted to share them with you.  I’ll also share some tips and tricks to hopefully help you make your plan the best it can be.

When Do You Start?

There are so many different opinions out there on when to start educating your kids.  Some believe that you can’t start early enough, like in the article The Sooner the Better. While other studies, like this one called Staying Back to Get Ahead, are saying that we are sending kids to school way too early.

With such a variety of opinions, how do you know what is going to be best for your kids?  Now, I am not an expert on early childhood education, but here is what make sense to me.

Loss Of Brain Power

According to a study by the John Hopkins University Center for Summer Learning, “all students regardless of socio-economic status, lose approximately 2.6 months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation over the summer months.”  They speculate that the reason for this is that students just don’t do any mathematical thinking over the summer.  (I believe an additional reason for this is because students never really learn the math in the first place, but we can save that argument for another time.)

This statistic doesn’t really surprise me at all.  As the saying goes, “If you don’t use it, you lose it!”  The brain needs consistent exercise to stay fresh and grow.

Math Was Created

Mathematics is an innately creative and discovery based process.  All math stems from very simple laws and truths.  This means that all of math can be discovered and created using our unique individual ability to think logically and problem solve.

All mathematical truths have been discovered.  No one sat down with Newton and said “here’s how you do calculus.” He studied.  He struggled.  He hypothesized.  He experimented.  He failed.  And then he discovered.

All of our students can, and will if given the opportunity, discover, on their own and in their own way, every mathematical truth, rule and procedure.

Reviewing is just a part of math, right?

When I was teaching Algebra 2 at a public high school, the entire first semester was spent reviewing what should have been learned during Algebra 1.  I am sure that when you look back on your traditional math classes, this was probably a large part of your experience as well.  In fact, Saxon even lovingly refers to this constant review as the “spiral method”.

Doesn’t this seem sometimes like a waste of time? Well, when the focus of math is on memorization of another person’s method, then review is necessary because the information that is obtained never really connects in the student’s mind.

The Secret To Seeing Patterns

“There are only patterns, patterns on top of patterns, patterns that affect other patterns. Patterns hidden by patterns. Patterns within patterns. If you watch close, history does nothing but repeat itself. What we call chaos is just patterns we haven’t recognized. What we call random is just patterns we can’t decipher.”

– Chuck Palahnuik

Whether we like it or not, patterns are a part of life.  Unfortunately, the skill of finding, recognizing and communicating these patterns is briefly touched on when kids are young and then mostly ignored…

What If They Have No Idea They’re Wrong?

“I never made a mistake in my life. I thought I did once, but I was wrong.” -Charles Schulz

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog post on how to respond to the question we so often get from our kids, Is this right?

Not long after the post, I was chatting with a mom who said “What if they have no idea they are wrong?”

So, today I have 4 tips for what to do with wrong answers, especially if your kids don’t know or care they are wrong:

Combo

If you want a game that is part logic, part problem solving, part basic operation review and part luck, you need to try Combo.  It will quickly become a family favorite!

All you need to get started is to get at least 3 dice per person (you can share if you need to) and a printed version of the game (found in the link below).

The game is perfect for students who know their basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and subtraction facts.

Taming The Beast

Be honest, when it comes to learning math can some of your kids be a little beastly?  It’s no surprise that math is usually the subject that homeschooling parents worry about the most because the odds are that at least one kid in the family, if not more, is going to fight against doing math.

If you have a kid (or 2 or 3) that hate math time, here are some helpful tips for taming the beast and making math more meaningful and enjoyable in your home.

Think back to your math experience.  It most likely involved a teacher modeling several problems on the board and then students whose only job was to copy those exact steps on different problems.  Sound familiar?

Traditional math is all about memory recall and in all honesty, requires very little actual brain thinking. So how do we elicit more thinking in our math no matter what program…

Ok, I’ll Admit It, Math Wasn’t Always Fun

Looking back on my traditional math experience, I can honestly say that there were times when math got a little boring.  Having to do a worksheet with 20-30 of the same types of problems was not my idea of fun. Let’s be real, it could bore even the biggest math enthusiast.

So why do we even make our kids do that kind of work if we know that are going to get bored with it?

Now, there are definitely times when kids need repetition.  They may need…

“Is This Right?” And Why You Should NEVER Say Yes Or No

We all get asked it every day…especially when mentoring in math

“Is this right?”

You CANNOT give in and tell them Yes or No.

Doing so builds a behavior of dependency on you and your input to be able to make decisions – quite the opposite of a self-reliant thinker…

Our Kids Are Terrible Communicators And How We Can Change This

We All Started Out As Terrible Communicators…

When my boy Jimmer was born last year, he possessed only one tool for communicating all his wants and needs – crying. Now, he’s one-year-old and knows three words (ba, ba ba and da da) and two sign-language symbols (all done and please).

I know that this process is totally normal, but it’s important to realize we all started out as really poor communicators and many of us still are!

That feeling of “I want to help, but I don’t know how…”

Your teenager comes in with his most recent Algebra homework and all of the sudden your pulse quickens and your throat goes dry.  “How am I supposed to help him if I don’t even remember how to do even the parts I understood, let alone all of the things that I didn’t?”

Has this ever happened to you?

Don’t worry!  THERE IS AN ANSWER!!!

Why The Quick Fix Will Break Your Kids

Me to my 3 year old today: “Go get dressed sweetheart.”

5 minutes later, TOTAL MELTDOWN! My 3 year old is in tears, crawling up the stairs crying with one arm in her shirt and the other sleeve dangling from her neck.  She can’t get her shirt on.

I Know You’ve Been There Too…

Now as a mom, we have one of two options: