Saturday, October 26, 2013

Five on Friday

1.  Corn Maze

Missed last just blew by without my noticing!  But here's a pic from a corn maze we went to.  It is about 15 minutes from our house, which was nice.  They had a maze, zip line, giant bouncy pillow(!), hayride, and petting zoo.  The goats and sheep slobbered all over us!  It was super fun, and a good deal for only $8.00 (military discount).  If you're in the Augusta area, it's at Steed's Dairy through Nov 17th.

2.  Halloween Costumes

Jack and Ginny picked their Halloween outfits for this year's festivities!  Jack is recycling a bit of last year's costume, but has added a creepy skull mask and a knife with fake blood!  Ginny has decided to be a Greek goddess this year.  Her middle name is "Athena" after all!  Last year's costume got lost in the move somewhere between here and Fayetteville, so we had to find a new one.  They both love their costumes so much, they had to wear them for homeschool!

3.  Mad Math

This video is from the math program we use (Art of Problem Solving).   This one is a little bit of number fun.  You have to pick your favorite number and then perform some calculations on it.  Watch it and give it a try!

When we watched it, Jack's favorite number was 7, Ginny's was 72 and mine was 10.  And what do you know?  We all got 23!  Jack wondered what would happen if your favorite number was 1 or 23, so he chugged through those options too.  1 gave him a little trouble when he got to rule 3.  Subtracting 2 from 1 gives you -1 and that confused him at first.  But then a light bulb went on and he finished up the problem.  And of course, he got 23 for each number.  So I asked, what would happen if your favorite number was a negative 5?  Jack quickly plugged that through the rules, and it was 23 too!  We finished watching the video and Jack said, "That was pretty cool!"  I love it when math is fun!  (As it should be, of course!)

4.  Lego Rush Hour

In puzzle news, we found this awesome video showcasing a Lego version of Thinkfun's Rush Hour puzzle.  This is well constructed and really cool!  We love Rush Hour and are now wondering what other puzzles could be made from Legos too...

5.   Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman gave a lecture for The Reading Agency on October 14th.  You can watch a video of the lecture here.

Neil says, "Well meaning adults can easily destroy a child's love of reading - do not discourage children from reading because you feel they're reading the wrong thing. There is no such thing as the wrong thing to be reading and no bad fiction for kids."  When I worked at Barnes & Noble way back in 1995, Goosebumps were the popular choice for kids.  I would have parents bring their kids into the store and then stand in front of the Goosebumps shelf to make sure they didn't touch any of those highly damaging books.  I always thought that if kids wanted to read something, they should just be allowed to read it.  If they aren't ready for it, they will put it aside or skim past the parts they don't understand.  My parents never dissuaded me from reading any books, and I will not do that to my children either.  The simple fact is, the more they read, the more they enjoy reading and the more they will read.  Ginny loves manga and will devour several books in just hours.  Jack is not a big reader, but when he expresses interest in a book, we grab up a copy and he usually reads it in 2 days.  This is how we discovered "The Unwanteds" and "The Familiars", both quite good reads!

Neil also says, "We have an obligation to read aloud to our children. To read them things they enjoy. To read to them stories we are already tired of. To do the voices, to make it interesting, and not to stop reading to them just because they learn to read to themselves. Use reading aloud time as bonding time, as time when no phones are being checked, when the distractions of the world are put aside."  My kids are 10 and 12 and we still read aloud together.  Sometimes I even do voices.  They ALWAYS love the voices, even the bad ones.  We've shared so many wonderful stories together.  Books only get better when you can talk about them with someone else!

Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite children's authors.  Sometimes his books are a little scary.  Jack doesn't like scary, but if we listen to the stories together, he feels braver.  Neil's books are always worth reading.  He constructs excellent stories with beautiful words.  Some writers are better than others, and Neil is one of the best.  Definitely listen to his lecture.  It's well worth your time.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Halloween Tic Tac Toe Freebie

Here are some Halloween Tic Tac Toe sheets for you to print for your spooky students!  Just click on the picture, download from Google Drive and print!

This sheet is for very young players of Tic-Tac-Toe.  They can trace the x's and o's if they need help forming the letters.

This sheet is for kids who don't like too much spooky stuff.

And this one is for kids who love spooky stuff!

The Halloween graphics are from

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Halloween Puzzle Mini Books

Halloween Puzzle Mini Books for grades K-3 are ready at my store!

These are some pics from the second grade book.  My kids did the creative pumpkin coloring!  Below you will find each of the grade level mini book kits.  Just click on the picture and it will take you to that product in my store.

Kindergarteners get a pack filled with mazes, coloring, and dot-to-dots.  They also get a chance to practice letter recognition and counting.  Our favorite puzzle involves a cute spider and learning about his body parts.  When the puzzle is done, solvers get to color and name their spider!   

First graders will learn about the life cycle of a frog and an interesting fact about bats!  They also get to search for matching pumpkins and get lost in some mazes.

Second graders get more word play in their puzzle packs, plus a little bit of Ghostly Logic!  They get to learn about the growth cycle of pumpkins and the history of candy corn.

Third graders will have fun finding the missing parts of Halloween words and learning about the parts of an owl.  But even with all the educational puzzles, there is still room for fun with mazes and riddles and word searches!

I've had a lot of fun getting these puzzles ready for Halloween!  I'm still hoping to get a grade 4 pack done before the 31st.  And then it's on to fall and Thanksgiving...(the year is flying by!)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Spooktacular Giveaway at 2 Brainy Apples

There's an awesome giveaway going on over at 2 Brainy Apples!  She's got 4 different packages available, a K-1, 2-3, 4-5, and 6-8.  I've got my "Fraction Circles Puzzle Cards Level A" in the 2-3 group, so if you're interested in trying out this type of puzzle, enter and win a free copy! 

There are tons of fab resources for teachers of all levels, so be sure to check out the giveaway and enter a bunch of times!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Five For Friday

1.  Not much going on this week.  We get a special furry visitor to our homeschool every day.  Her name is Deb (we adopted her from the pound almost 5 years ago!).  She usually likes to lay on Ginny's school work, but she decided to curl up on the printer today!

We think she speaks Latin.  She gets very excited when we do our Latin chants.  You can see that we were having Latin class and talking about "habeo" on the board!

2.  I have posted a new puzzle freebie pack in my store!  It's a collection of 5 puzzles that you can make into a mini book for Halloween!

You can download the pack from my TeachersPayTeachers store.  Or you can CLICK HERE to download from Google Drive instead.  I'm always appreciative if you leave some feedback for me at my store!

To create the mini book, print the puzzle pages and answer page.  Cut along the gray center line.  Sort the pages with the answers at the back.  Staple along the left edge.  I think it would be fun to print out some of these to hand out for Halloween or for a party treat.  You could staple a candy to one corner too!

3.  I also finished up the mini puzzle book for first graders!  It has 15 more puzzles for Halloween fun!  It is $3.00 in my store.

4.  And a new Latin pack too!  This week deals with words Around the House.  You can practice your Latin vocab for bed, chair, door, wall, floor and more!

5.  Last Sunday we attended the "Octoberfest" here on base.  They didn't have real German weiners, so I was a little disappointed.  (I miss the curried brats! YUM!)  But they had some fun rides, and we got to eat a funnel cake.  Devoured by four people in about two minutes!

Tomorrow, we are off to a Corn Maze!  I am looking forward to feeling some fall-ness.  I miss fall terribly.  There won't be any pretty fall leaves yet, and it will be in the 80's, but it should still be fun!  Can't go wrong with corn and pumpkins!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Perplexing Puzzles - 10/9/13

The freebie for this week is a Word Compass!  These two puzzles are All About Owls.  They should be easy enough for first graders to solve with some help.  Second through fourth will also enjoy solving these and learning a little about owls.  Halloween is coming and owls are in the spotlight!

Just click the photo below and you can download the file (with answers) from Google Drive.

If your students/kids like this type of puzzle, let me know!  I'm thinking about making more!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Pirates Undercover

Today's puzzle in the spotlight is called Pirates Undercover.  It was made by Educational Insights.  I don't see it for sale from the regular vendors, so it must be a bit old, but it's still a good one!  Timberdoodle has it available for purchase, if you're interested.  (Timberdoodle is a homeschool curriculum provider.  They have Thinking Skills as a core part of their curricula using tons of  puzzles!  I, of course, am all for using puzzles in any educational setting!)

Anyhow, Pirates Undercover is from my puzzle collection.  Don't know when or where I picked it up, but it is a little gem.

All the puzzle pieces and the challenge booklet are stored inside the puzzle case.  Just slide the top over and you find them nestled within.  I love when the puzzles are designed with good storage!

Here are the four puzzle pieces.  It seems like only 4 pieces would make for a very simple puzzle, but it doesn't!  There is a certain elegance to a puzzle (or a game) that uses a limited number of pieces and/or rules but still presents an intriguing challenge.

And here's the game booklet with the challenges and solutions. 

Inside the front cover are the rules and some hints for play.

And Challenge #1.  The challenge page shows you what objects must be left uncovered once you place the 4 puzzle pieces on the board.  So in this challenge, you need to have 5 white ships left uncovered.

Twist and turn the pieces, place them in each of the four spots and when only the 5 white ships are showing, you have conquered the puzzle!  In the starter levels (1-12) there are hints at the bottom of the page.  You will see one or more of the puzzle pieces shown in the orientation needed to solve the challenge.  There are 4 levels and 48 challenges altogether.

Here is another challenge.  If you look closely, you can see a colorful little compass in the lower right.  The colors correspond to the different challenge levels.  There's a little needle on the compass which shows how far you've progressed through the levels.  That is quite a novel little feature!

On the flip side of each challenge, you will find the solution.  Some of the challenges are quite tricky!  The makers recommend this puzzle for ages 5+ and K+.  I'm sure 5 year olds could easily manage the Starter levels, especially if they use the hints.  The other levels might be more challenging, but that's where parents come in!  Solving puzzles is a great way to spend some quality family time together.

Pirates Hide and Seek

UPDATE 9/8/14 - Apparently this has been republished by SmartGames as Pirates Hide and Seek.  You can find it on Amazon.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Five On Friday

1.  This week we got to see two very large insects!

This praying mantis was on our table out back.

And this millipede was in our driveway.  He was huge!  I decided to "rescue" him by moving him into the grass.  He didn't like being messed with and curled into a ball and squirted brown yuckiness all over the piece of cardboard I was using and my hand!  Apparently it is very foul smelling (I didn't smell it) but not dangerous to humans as long as you get yourself washed up.  It was really neat to see these guys!  They make critters big in GA!

2. We did a bunch of experiments this week too.

First we layered some liquids to investigate density.  (That's oil, water dyed red, dark corn syrup, and googly-eyed Jack!)

Then we played with iron filings.  We mixed them with salt crystals and then separated them with a magnet.

Next we plopped some effervescent tables in some water to watch them fizz.  We are learning about chemical and physical changes.

And lastly, we stuck burning sticks into small test tubes.  The kids REALLY enjoyed these experiments.  They were quick, easy, showed good results, and who doesn't like playing with burning things?

3.  In puzzle news, Puzzle Nation had a wonderful blog post about perspective.  You should totally check this out!  They have some really neat and mind boggling videos posted.  Here's a cool lego optical illusion...

4.  More puzzle news:  At the Barnes & Noble checkout they had a copy of Scientific American MIND.  It is a special issue all about optical illusions!  And they have some fabulous lego illusions too!  I don't think I've ever even heard of SAMind before.  But this special issue is definitely worth checking out, pricey, but cool!

5.  Last but not least....I've got some new products in my TeachersPayTeachers store!  I've been quite busy this week (I think the iron supplements are kicking in!) and have finally completed the "Balancing Act".

This is a set of task cards which helps young students understand the idea behind balancing equations.  There are a bunch of adorable aquatic animals from Pink Cat Studio.  These guys are the tokens that you use to solve the challenges.  Each animal has a value, and the challenges ask students to balance the given animals.  There are tokens, scales, task cards, recording sheets, instructions and answers included in this pack.  It's also great practice for adding from 1 to 10!

I also finished up a pack of puzzles to practice the Latin Number words from 1 to 10, including 100 and 1000.  These puzzles are great for first year Latin students of all ages!

And here's a sneak peak of something I should have ready by tomorrow...Halloween puzzles for kindergarteners!  These puzzles are designed 2 to a page and are easy to cut in half to make little booklets.  (Love the cute clip art from LittleRed)

And here's a picture of Jack "testing" one of the puzzles.  It's a color by letter.  He usually does homeschool in this position too, draped over his stool and writing on the floor.  That's just the way he rolls!  Jack and Ginny test all the puzzles I make, even the ones for younger kids.  Jack was oohing and aahing over the cuteness puzzles and I just heard Ginny giggle...must have been one of the riddles!  Look for this and other grade level Halloween sets in my store soon!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Perplexing Puzzles 10/2/13

Today's puzzle is Crypto-Animals!  It will help students practice 2 digit subtraction with no regrouping.  After completing the math problems, students can use their answers to decrypt the riddle at the bottom of the page and find the secret animal!  Click on the image below to download a pdf copy of this puzzle.  You will find answers on page 2 of the download.

Happy Solving!