Math Monday:: Right Brain Math and a Winner!

Which to talk about first?!?

I’m horrible at keeping exciting news to myself, so first I’ll announce the winner of my impromptu giveaway of a computer math game that takes fun and learning to a whole different level: Math Evolver – Virus Origin.

Sassy helped me out on this one, by choosing a number between 1 and 11, and she chose the number “2”. So, Theresa over at LaPaz Home Learning, come on down! I’ll email you to get our address and send it off in the mail! And everyone who didn’t win, thanks for your comments and keep reading. Because I noticed a big number of you struggle with math phobia and anxiety like I used to. This post is for you.

So, lets get down to math business. I know, you can probably hardly wait. Remember way back when I went on and on and on about number patterns and number circles?! Well, they’re baaaack! This time, not so much with vedic patterning, but with a creative little program called “Right Brain Math“.

Currently, math is taught as a ‘left brain’ subject, by very ‘left brain’ teachers where very ‘left brain’ kids succeed. But what about me! Me and my very right brain mind? Tom Biesanz, or, Mister Numbers on youtube, has thought of us right brainers, and come up with a solution. If you only do one thing today, watch this video. (Then, take a nap, eat some candy, lay around, and blame me when nothing else gets done and it’s time for bed.):

What’s that? You want more? You aren’t ready for your nap yet? OK! Here’s the patterns for the 2 and 8 times tables, done the right brain way:

It’s a fun twist on a previously tedious and painful subject (at least, for Naturalist and me!). Golfer falls on Hubby’s side of the left brain fence, and has already memorized his multiplication tables through 12. The ones he hasn’t memorized, he can figure out in his head, and he just loves to multiply two digit numbers together in his head…making Naturalist and I extremely (angry)(jealous) proud of him.

It goes to show, different strokes for different folks. And, just because one kid learns one way in a family, it doesn’t mean the other kids will, too.

Now, go ahead and explore the magic of Right Brain Math, either on their website or through their videos on youtube.

another math game blog: Educating Risa; Addition War and Make 10 Go Fish!

Weather blows.

So, it’s been sleeting outside since about 6pm Thursday. In most parts of the front range, the sleet was snow, and instead of getting a backyard full of water they got about 3-4 feet of the white stuff. I was kinda wishing for the snow instead of the flood I’m looking at, because even though I hate snow in the winter, it’s quite a novelty in the spring! The fact that I know it will be gone in a few days helps me keep some perspective on the cold factor.

But this sleet/rain/snow mix is driving me stir crazy. Not even my impervious to cold or inclement weather kids want to spend a lot of time out there–it’s something like 35 degrees with driving wet stuff. They’ve gone out for short periods of time to race paper in the river running down our street, or to take Frito out to do her business, or to stomp around in the lake that’s developed in our backyard.

when it sleets 14 hours straight...

I discovered (while trying to be as lazy as possible and snap pictures of the activities without actually having to go outside) that the water running down the windows created a lovely impressionistic quality of my shots. That kept me busy for a little while, and I forgot all about how stir crazy I was. But then the kids came inside, and here I am, crazy again.

I could do some laundry/cleaning/cooking, but those things tend to add crazy on top of my other crazy, and that can’t be good!

4 months of loving this puppy!

4 months of loving this puppy.

Frito Bandito!
you bite our toes often,
you make us laugh more.

In honor of the haiku…the only type of poetry/reading I have time for anymore. Short, sweet, and to the point. I’m loving the Haiku’s over at Haiku For People…how could I not with things like this:

Pressing Sushi;
After a while,
A lonely feeling
–Buson, Yosa (1716-84)


I kill an ant
and realize my three children
have been watching.
–Kato, Shuson


I want to sleep
Swat the flies
Softly, please.
–Shiki, Masaoka

I think, when I die, that I will leave a haiku on my gravestone. Maybe:

This woman!
only wanted a minutes rest
not one for eternity!

or how about:

no more laundry,
or cleaning toilets now.

Yes, I think the last one has a certain ring to it. If you are inclined to leave a comment, tell me what haiku you would put on your headstone…

and I have no idea how I got from puppy love to haiku’s on a headstone, but there you go. My mind at work is a frightening thing!)

Poor little bunnies.

A Sad Tale.

The life of a chocolate easter bunny is a short one in our house.

2e Tuesday::Finding A Voice.

Finding her voice.

One of the most discouraging things I’ve been through as a parent is watching my child find her voice until about age 5, and then slowly lose it over the course of a few years. If anyone has ever witnessed the slow silencing and taming of a wild, irrepresible spirit then you’ll know what I’m talking about. Only, in the case of naturalist, she wasn’t tamed at all by her experiences in school…she just went underground in her mind. Her spark? Gone. Her passion? Gone. Her curiosity and humor? Gone, baby, gone. It’s not a pleasant thing to look into the eyes of an 8 year old and see resignation already there.

The interplay between being gifted and LD meant that her experience in a classroom was so very different from her peers. She felt this difference keenly–most out of the box thinkers are incredibly intuitive and self reflective. Even at 5, she knew something that didn’t dawn on me until 7 years later…she processed things fundamentally differently from everyone around her. Even though she had friends and loved her teachers, she still related to her school environment as an outsider looking in.

I recently attended a seminar on helping gifted kids find friends. Ha. Doesn’t that sound funny?! Most people assume, because of the gifted label, that kids like this are set in life. But the truth is, friendships are made between equals. Best friendships form because two people share common interests, goals, and experiences. And statistically speaking, in a classroom of 35 kids, there was maybe only 1 who had a shared interest with Naturalist. While other girls ran around playing cooties (it was 1st grade, after all!) Naturalist was out trying to protect the habitat of a bunch of red ants. While other girls were talking about boys (in 3rd grade…it starts so early!) Naturalist wanted to discuss frog culture and go down to clean up a creek. Naturalist would tell jokes that no one else laughed at. She struggled to do things that everyone else was doing easily. Out of 8 years on this earth, she spent almost half of them feeling like an outcast. A stranger in a strange land.

Not unlike how the Bee Girl felt in Blind Melon’s video for ‘No Rain’. (Remember that?! 1993 in the house!) The embed code isn’t linked up, so click through here to watch the poor Bee Girl dance her way across a city, trying to find someone to connect with. And then, to see what happens when she comes across a meadow full of Bee People!

Helping her find her voice again has been a large part of the last 4 years of homeschooling. I’ve been on the lookout for people, places, and things that will put her around other people ‘like her’. Dynamic, creative, nurturing, and involved. I realized the importance of the task one night when she had the chance to meet her hero, Jeff Corwin. He picked her to go onstage with him and help out with a giant frog. First, he played around with her and started asking questions he thought she wouldn’t know the answers to. Heck, I didn’t think she’d know the answers to them. But she did. She answered every one. Then he tried to stump her, and still she answered them right. Finally he gave up and complimented her on knowing so much. It was a moment of clarity for me. In school, her experience was the opposite…she never knew the answers, never felt what it was like to do well in class, and never was complimented for anything. But if it had been a naturalist school, then she’d have had a different experience. A joyful one!

So, she started volunteering at a vet’s office. She took enrichment classes at the Science Museum and at our local university. She spent a week camping at a Wolf Camp, where all the counselors and leaders were amazed at her depth of knowlege and composure in a harsh outdoor environment. Then I told them that she pretty much sleeps outside on our balcony every night, even through the winter. They thought that was the greatest thing they’d ever heard, and I knew she’d found “her people”.

The internet is also full of possible connections to help find others like her. I know the internet is a scary place, and we’ve gone over the rules 093458034958034598 times. She’s connected with friends in places like the Spore Community, the Dyscalculia Forum, and the Being Dyslexic Forum. These connections have given her confidence and a self esteem that I haven’t seen before. Slowly, she’s finding her own voice and starting to develop her strengths rather than dwell on her weaknesses. I’m happy to see that!

I think these connections are important for anyone, but for a 2e, out of the box learner, they are a literal lifesaver.

Click through to link to past 2e Tuesdays.

Math Mondays::Learn Math or Die Trying…plus a Giveaway!

This is the trailer for a new kind of computer game, based entirely on math. MATH! Geared primarily toward those ages 10 and up, there are a couple games that are set up like a first person video game…the first game is all pre-algebra concepts, while the second game is algebra based.

We have the one based on pre-algebra, Math Evolver – Virus Origin, and it has been rocking our world for the last few weeks. One day, when we first got it, Naturalist and Golfer played it for 3 hours straight, and when I told them it was time for lunch they were amazed because it felt like only ’15 minutes or so!’.

From the Dimension M website:

DimensionMâ„¢is an immersive video game world that engages students in the instruction and learning of mathematics. Pre-algebra and algebra objectives are covered through a series of missions that bring math into a world that today’s students understand. Students become so captivated in solving problems that they forget they’re learning but they don’t forget what they’ve learned.

Research with our programs demonstrates how well they align with the way today’s students learn and how naturally immersed students become in their learning. The result: increase in student motivation, increase in time on task, and the ability to apply their learning in real world situations that have meaning for your student.

It’s a challenging game, but set up in such a way that makes it very playable. At 9, Golfer is on the young end of the ability spectrum, so I sit with him and help explain the concepts so he learns how to finish the level. Naturalist, at 12, is perfect for it. Her dyscalculia means that I just give her a calculator to help compute, and then sit with her as she completes the levels in case she also needs some explaining. The game also has a ‘math concepts’ type dictionary that explains things, too…which is good as it’s been a while since I’ve had to worry about the Order of Operations or what the Additive Inverse of a number is.

I can see this game applying equally well to both an advanced math student in middle elementary range who wants more challenge, a Middle School range student learning the pre algebra basics, and to a high schooler in need of some remediation. It plays like a step above the popular Math Blaster
series of math computer games, and is much more sophisticated.

They have set up a fantastic website to explain the games, the skills they cover, and other FAQ. It’s worth a look!

And now for the giveaway portion of this post. I have the Math Evolver game that has levels 1-5 on it. It was only $19.00, and they play it every day! When I visited the website, I noticed they have more than 5 levels for the game…it actually goes up to 20. That is pricier, at $70, but I can justify that in the name of math education. 🙂 I have the original Evolver game (1-5) that is obsolete now that I’ve downloaded the complete game, and I’d love to send it to someone who’d like a chance to check out the game in their house!

Simply leave a comment in the comment section, and I’ll pick a random winner. The game works on both Windows and Mac’s, and is geared for ages 10 and up. I really can’t say enough good about this game, and am excited to send the game off for someone else to try with their kids! It’s been a fun way to spend time with my older kids, problem solving and learning new math concepts. (That was probably one of the nerdier sentences I’ve ever written, but there you go. I love this game! I missed most of these concepts the first time around, and am enjoying the experience of relearning them and going, “OH, OK! So that’s why….”)

Leave a comment, and I’ll choose a winner to announce next Math Monday. Comments need to be made before midnight, April 19!

Sassy’s Long Term Goals.

So, lately Sassy has been particularly feisty, whiny, and demanding. We’ve all noticed it here at Child’s Play (it’s hard not to when she’s yelling at everyone, “You are ANNOYING ME!!!!!!!) and I’ve been hoping this is just another downswing on her developmental cycle, to be followed shortly by amazing leaps in her abilities.


I’ve been waiting for a while. A LONG while.

I think she’s coming out of it, though. She’s shrieking her displeasure less and less, so that’s good. Also? She’s been making long term goals all of a sudden. Usually she’s all about the right here and RIGHT NOW!!!! But yesterday, as she was eating a lemon (don’t ask), she pulled out a seed and asked how long it takes a seed to grow into a lemon tree. I told her about 5 years (??? Is that right?). She said, “In 5 years, when this seed that I will plant is a lemon tree and has lots of lemons growing on it, let’s have a lemonade tea party with your pretty cups and my lemons!”

She’s also coming in to my room in the morning and instead of asking, “what are we going to do today?! Let’s eat now! Right now! What can we do for fun right now?! What are you doing RIGHT NOW?!” she’s thinking further down the road. “Mom! I’m ready to have some fun! Let’s have fun now AND next week?! What are we doing now? And what can we do next Tuesday? I think we should go to the zoo! Today! AND next tuesday!!!”

I have to say, I’m not finding this advanced skill any less tiring.

Her longest long term goal affects me personally, as it involves marrying Hubby. She’s been irked for a while now that I married him before she could. I’ve seen her looking at our wedding picture with total disdain that he would choose ME over a cool girl like HER. One of my pregnant friends asked Sassy what she should name her kids (if it’s a girl: Beautiful. If it’s a boy: Awesome.) She then asked Sassy what Sassy was going to name her babies. Sassy declared, “I don’t know! I don’t even know who I’m going to marry! My mom already married my dad!!!” A while later she came up to me with little 4 year old tears. She’d been thinking about it all day. “Mom, if I can’t marry Dad, I don’t know who I’m supposed to marry. What if I can’t find anyone?!” I caved. “Alright. If you can’t find anyone to marry, I guess you can marry Dad.” I regretted my moment of weakness immediately. “Good! And then, when you go away, it will be just me and Dad going on dates and stuff!” Me: “Uh, Sassy, what do you mean ‘when I go away’? I thought I could stay around and we could all live together? I mean, where am I going to go? What am I going to do?” She thought for a second. “Well, mom, you’re just going to go on and live your life, I guess.”

So, that’s her long term goals so far. Go to the zoo, have fun tea parties together, and then depose me in my golden years. I don’t think I was quite so forward thinking when I was 4.