Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Latin Puzzles for First Year Students

Latin Language Puzzles - Noun Bundle #1

Over the summer, I give my kids some school work to do.  I like them to have something constructive to do, and it keeps them off the streets!  Seriously though, many of the kids that live on our block sleep in late through the summer, but my kids are always awake by 7am.  So it does give them something to do while they wait for everyone else to wake up!  This summer we are practicing math, reading some fun books, and reviewing Latin vocabulary as our morning work.  It seems like languages and math just sneak out of their brains over the summer months!

To practice our Latin vocab from this past year, I have been creating puzzles.  I've tried to group the words by theme and have the kids practice each grouping for one whole week.  So far, I have created practice puzzles for animals, people, houses, towns, and nature.  Each theme has from 10 to 12 words to practice and 5 puzzles.  So they get a new puzzle each day of the week, in the hopes that it will remind them of their old vocabulary and help cement it in their brains!

This week the kids are working on colors.  I also have some numbers puzzles in the works and plans for battles and oceans!  We're going to be taking the next couple weeks off though.  The packers come next week and the week after we will be hoping for some housing in Ft Gordon, GA.  After we get all that figured out, I plan to get the kids back to Latin practice through puzzles!

If you're interested in some extra Latin practice for your students or children, you can find all my Latin puzzles at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  And here's a puzzle you can download from Google Drive to try out for free!  Just click on the picture below.  You do need to know your Latin animals.  (Hint: 1 across is a beast!)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Alphabet Soup and Categories

Alphabet Soup is a great word game.  We often play this just as a verbal game, no paper needed.  Someone picks a category, then starting with "A" and continuing through the alphabet, players must think of an appropriate word with their letter in that category.  Making it trickier, you can require all players to repeat all the previous words.  For the category Fruits and Veggies, play might sound like this, "Apricots", "Bananas", "Cantaloupes", "Dates", "Eggplants", etc.  In the trickier version, you might require players to say, "I went to the store and bought some apricots, bananas, and cantaloupes."  The next player has to repeat the entire phrase, adding in their next word.  With younger kids, we always just play the easier version.  It's challenging enough just thinking of the words sometimes!

My daughter loves to write lists of words.  She recently filled a piece of scrap paper just with words starting with "M".  So I thought she would enjoy having an "Alphabet Soup" version that she could write down, and I was right!  Here's her page below.  She picked "Animals" and "Things that Fly" as her two categories.

We worked on this together, but she came up with most of the ideas.  Many of the ones that were tricky for her were tricky for me too!  We looked them up on the internet.  But that's not cheating as we still learned something!  We also tried to be creative, so for "X" and "Things that Fly", we wrote down X-wing Fighter from Star Wars.  It does fly!

Just click on the blank copy of the game above and you can download it from Google Drive. 

Another fun game that both my kids seem to enjoy is called "Categories".  It's rather similar to "Alphabet Soup", but timed and without the alphabet part.  My kids really like picking a letter and seeing how many words they can write down starting with that letter in one minute.  It is interesting that when we play using just a letter, we almost always come up with VERY different answers, hardly any overlap at all.  When playing with a category, we tend to have a lot more overlap.  You can see a couple games we played below.

We did the categories "Words starting with C", "Computer Games", "School Supplies", and "Animals".  When one minute is up, everyone reads out their lists and crosses off any words that are duplicates.  You can then count up your remaining words as one point each and whoever has the highest score wins!  We don't worry too much about score.  I know so many more words than my kids, I usually win (but not always!)  We had a little discussion with the "Computer Games" category as most of the games I thought of were played on a Nintendo or DS, which my children informed me were NOT computer games.  It's up to the players to decide together what words are acceptable.

If you'd like a copy of this game sheet, just click on the "Categories" picture above and it will take you to Google Drive.  Of course, both of these games can be played just using little scraps of paper, but sometimes kids like things nicely organized and cute. 

I hope you and your children enjoy playing these word games together!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Fun Math Freebies on TpT

As homeschoolers, we usually school year round.  In the summer, we slow things down a bit and try to mix in some more fun activities, but I do like to keep those brains sharp!  It's amazing how much math these guys forget in just one month, let alone three!

So to keep sharp and review concepts, we have been working on some of the amazing freebies you can find on Teachers Pay Teachers.  You do have to kind of weed through all of the classroom behavior charts and poster freebies to find the real meat, but there are some good ones out there!  (Not that those things aren't useful for classroom teachers, just not for me!)


This week we tackled a freebie from Virtually Montessori.  It's called Create a "Geometry Star".  It's a fairly quick activity, depending on how much effort your students want to put into it.  I like that it has a brief review of geometry concepts included.  The added bonus is that parents and homeschoolers can do this with their kids too.  It's makes a fun activity to combat the summer doldrums.


Here are the stars we made.  Ginny's has wonderful patterns and is titled "Crazy Quilt".  Jack and I went with solid colors, and Ginny thinks they look like stained glass.  I just love the creativity!

Another interesting freebie I'm going to have the kids work through is "Fraction Avenue" from Ashleigh.  Ginny's been working on fractions lately and this looks like a fun little related activity.  Included with the activity is a pre-drawn street with houses to color, so if you have reluctant artists (or lazy kids!), this is perfect!

This is a freebie that I just LOVE!  Of course, that could be because it explores one of the classic puzzles, the Tangram!  It's called "Tangram Polygon Explorations" and is from Laura Candler.  This freebie has tangram templates in black/white and color, just in case you don't own a tangram set yourself.  (Shame on you, if you don't!)  There are also several different worksheets that challenge students to try to create basic shapes using various numbers of the tangram pieces.  Definitely making the kids try this out!

This next freebie is from Scipi (she's got a wicked store) and is called "Dots Fun for Everyone".  This freebie uses dominoes.  A set of printable dominoes is also included, in case you don't own one.  There are 3 different activities and one game.  The activities look interesting, but the game looks really cool!  It seems to be a variant of "24", but this version has players find pairs of dominoes that sum to 12.  I never thought of doing that with dominoes!  We'll have to give this a try! 

Whether you're looking for curriculum supplements or just a fun activity to fill a boring afternoon, TpT has a ton of possibilities just waiting for you!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Hexus from Brainwright

Hexus is a pocket puzzle from Brainwright.  There are quite a lot of these little shape games out there these days, and I enjoy them all!  Hexus comes with 7 shapes, a play board/storage box, and 44 challenge puzzles.

This is what it looks like out of the packaging.  It measures 3 1/2 by 4 inches and really could fit inside a pocket or a purse.  I carry a very small purse-bag, but I think I'll find a spot in there for this.  It would make a great little game to play when we're unexpectedly waiting somewhere.

The box opens on a hinge at the top.  You'll find the puzzle pieces and puzzle challenge info snuggled inside.  Along with the 7 colored shapes, you'll also find a stationary red obstacle and a white start marker piece which moves around the board.  As you attempt the challenges, you'll need to move the white marker to show which puzzle challenge you are working on.  This has the added advantage that when you're done with play for the day, the marker will save which puzzle you were working on last!

To begin the game, you select a challenge from the sheet.  Say you choose Level 7.  You would then move the white marker to the position that allows the number 7 to show through the little center hex.  Then place the colored pieces in their start positions as shown.  Now the fun begins!

Here you can see the Level 1 puzzle set up and ready for play.  You can store the extra pieces in the top of the box.  It has tall sides, so they are contained nicely.  The challenge is to fit the remaining pieces onto the puzzle board!

And here it is solved!  Level 1 is quite easy.  I made my way up to Level 30 something before having any difficulties.  This shouldn't too hard for kids.  Brainwright recommends 8 years and up.

What I liked about Hexus:
- Nice sized carrying case, definitely portable
- Quality pieces with a fun feel
- Nice array of challenges

There really isn't anything that I don't like about Hexus.  It would be nice if there were more challenges!  And it doesn't come with answers, so if you get stuck on a level, you might be stuck for a long time.

While I was solving these challenges, I wondered whether the solutions were all unique.  I also wondered if you could create different challenge arrangements for each level.  Well, I'm not so sure about the unique solutions.  The higher levels don't have any starter pieces placed at all, just the start marker.  So I'm thinking those levels may have more than one solution, but I haven't tried that out yet.  Something for another day!

But as for different challenges...why, yes!  You can make them!  I whipped up 4 new challenges for any Hexus owners out there looking for more fun.  You can download them from Google Drive by clicking on the image below.

These should be fairly easy.  But if you need help, I did make some answers too.  Each of these puzzles places the start marker at positions 1 through 4 on the board.  So maybe some day I'll create even more challenges for the other puzzle positions!  But I've got to move from NC to GA in just 3 weeks, so all that may have to wait quite some time. 

Happy Solving!