December 22, 2014

Math Teachers at Play #81

Math Teachers at Play blog carnival #81 is now online at

I haven't yet had time to fully read and explore the articles but several of them look quite interesting. There's something about thinking outside the box, place value, teaching time, art & math, and much more :)



December 20, 2014

I Will Survive! (Gloria Gaynor song)

An old top hit from the 70's... a clip of I Will Survive!, originally by Gloria Gaynor, here sung by Cheryl & my favorite group 24K Gold Music. Lots of energy!

December 09, 2014

Fourth grade SDC class achieves tremendous gains in math using newspapers

(Maria's note: This is a true and inspiring story of a good teacher making a huge difference in these children's lives! It was an entry to my Math Moments contest in early 2014. And yes, she did win some Math Mammoth materials! I hope you enjoy the story as much as I did.)

By Sylvia Everett

In 1998 I received my first teaching position, a fourth grade SDC class (Special Day Class) in one of the most dangerous parts of Northern California. The children had previously been confined to the cafeteria and sometimes even locked in to prevent runaways. I was given two aides who while they tried their best both were barely literate themselves.

It was hell and heaven. The kids had never had a teacher who spoke their own home language and this immediately created a bond between us as well as enabling parents to freely communicate with me.

I was given a room and allowed to scour the school to use whatever anyone else wasn’t using, which was a blessing as I had not built up the stores of needed materials that are a teachers mainstay. I can only imagine if I had the Math Mammoth series what other major changes I could have made in their lives.

I walked a fine line. There was fourth grade curriculum, there were Individualized educational plans for each child, and then there was the fact that most of my kids could only count to ten and were unable to write these numbers. I had to make math fun and relevant. I turned to the newspaper. Somehow the school was supplied with free daily papers and I made use of these. We made menus. We shopped for groceries. Homework was making market lists with our parents and then we were looking for deals and coupons in class. It was amazing how they took to the work. Money and the things one needs to live on are major motivating factors!

Within weeks we were adding up multiple numbers they had written themselves. We could put values to coins and bills. They were able to play store in the classroom and at home. 

I was able to move into other areas of mathematics and allowed the children to continue the newspaper exercise as a homework practice. My children had seen that math was not something to be hated, but something that was all around them and in every aspect of their lives.

Parents were amazed that their children could not only understand the concept of numbers, but had helpmeets in their shopping and children who were realizing the value of a dollar.

I was blessed with being in these children’s lives for 3 years in one way or another. At every step I scrambled for material. I spent hours and hours trying to create relevant and purposeful lesson. Teaching is hard work and any possible advantage a teacher receives benefits her students. To be handed materials like Math Mammoth was a dream. I can be thankful for what I accomplished with what little I had, but I can also see what the possibilities could have been if I had been properly supplied.

Sylvia Everett

November 24, 2014

Printable Thanksgiving activities

If you're preparing for Thanksgiving, check out my daughter Abby's web page for some FREE printable Thanksgiving activities for children, including color-by-numbers, copy-the-pictures, find the correct path worksheets, and regular coloring pages.

Besides freebies, my girls have also put together a book that contains many more Thanksgiving-themed activities:

This book costs $3.95 at Currclick. But, the first link goes to free activities.

November 21, 2014

Man who had half of his brain removed

I received this story in an email and thought it was very encouraging and heart-warming! True story. I asked Scott for his permission to post it online.

In the beginning he is referencing this article of mine (I sent it to my list last year):

Enjoy... and SHARE. :)

Hello Maria,

I am just NOW ... today reading this email from about one year ago. I know terrible, but late than never, right.
Anyway, I wanted to write you and tell you that like Cameron, I had more than half of my brain removed in 1978. I had brain surgery for an AVM, arterial venus malformation. I had three surgeries total and nearly died. The doctors told my parents that if I lived I would be a vegetable. However, I defied them. I made it to the cover of the Children's Hospital of Sand Diego's December/January 1978/1979​ magazine. They called me the "Miracle Boy".

Anyhow, I just thought I'd share.

I have two master's degrees. I am a former teacher. I had to get out of teaching, due to my seizures. But upon my receiving of my first Master's degree, my father was still alive, and made it to my ceremony. He was so very proud. He told me that day that not only was I the first Blanchard in our family to ever receive an advanced degree, but he told me that I did it with less than half a brain!! I laughed, and he said, "NO really!"

He told me that my mother, who had died of cancer years before that, and my father had decided never to tell me about how much of my brain had been removed during the surgeries, because they never wanted me to use it as an excuse to say, "I can't do XXXX, because I only have less than half a brain..." or "I am not smart enough, since I don't have a full brain..." I am so very thankful for that, that they did not. But I just had to share this with you. 

Thanks, a lot.

Although I am not teaching in a classroom, I am teaching, in a way. I do tutor. I do help many friends who homeschool. And, for several years I have been a host father for boys from other countries coming to the U.S.A. for a year of schooling. I LOVE it. I am a single, never married 46-year old (on Sunday) guy, who is blessed beyond words, and am privileged enough to be able to share it with others.

Thanks, again, Maria.

Blessings for you and what you do. I do enjoy reading your emails. Sorry this one is so long in replying.



(Maria's note: please share this encouraging story with others.)


November 18, 2014

Will there be Math Mammoth Algebra 1?

I've had several people ask me if I'm planning to write algebra 1, algebra 2 and other high school math courses.

The answer is no. I'm planning to stop at pre-algebra. The main reason is, I've seen some fantastic high school math books other people have written -- people with lots of teaching experience etc. -- and I feel I could not surpass what those people have done. Especially when I don't have lots of experience teaching high school math to students.

You see, with elementary math, there exist numerous homeschool math curricula. I've seen most of them and I can tell many of them  are not written by someone who has a good background in math. To write a math text, it really helps to know what concepts the students encounter later on. But beyond that, math is strange in the fact that many of the FOUNDATIONS of math are only taught at university level. For example, the axiomatic foundation of real numbers; logic and the different proof techniques; the whole idea of how mathematical theories are constructed from axioms to theorems via proofs. Those things were very fascinating to me when I encountered them in university -- math had less to do with calculations and more to do with abstract ideas and thinking processes.

So... in order to guide students towards mathematical thinking in the early years, it helps a LOT to be familiar with the common techniques of proof, which people typically study in university (or college) level math courses.

Ok, what I'm getting at is this: most high school math books are written by people who've studied a lot of math in university. So... for the high school level, there already exist good math books written by people who truly know math and can write math texts and I feel there's no need for me to write anything, and that I could not write texts better than they.

I've tried to put together somewhat of a guide for high school math for people who ask me for advice. It's not 100% comprehensive -- I just don't have time to delve into all the textbooks that exist.

Also, it is not for everyone. I realize some students will just take practical math or something like that in high school. I just am a math lover -- not of the calculations but of the thinking processes and logical constructions -- so what I wrote on that page reflects that.

November 15, 2014

Math Mammoth Thanksgiving sale

My traditional Thanksgiving sale has started: you can get 25% off of all Math Mammoth & Make It Real Learning downloads & CDs at Kagi.

Use the coupon code THANKSGIVING.

The sale starts TODAY and runs till Monday, December 1, 2014.

You can go to first, then find the links to Kagi's order pages there.

Or, if you know what you want to get, you can use these direct links:


New pre-algebra topic books for Math Mammoth Blue Series

Three new books in the Blue Series! These books deal with some pre-algebra level topics.

Check out their free samples!

Math Mammoth Expressions & Equations workbook cover
Math Mammoth Expressions & Equations

This is a worktext covering the order of operations, equations, expressions, and simplifying expressions in several different ways in 6th-7th grade level.

The main principles are explained and practiced both with visual models and in abstract form, and the lessons contain varying practice problems that approach the concepts from various angles. We also touch on inequalities and graphing on a very introductory level. In order to make the learning of these concepts easier, the expressions and equations in this book do not involve negative numbers (as they typically do when studied in pre-algebra and algebra).

Sample pages (PDF)
Writing and simplifying expressions 2: area
The distributive property
More equations

Math Mammoth Rational Numbers workbook cover
Math Mammoth Rational Numbers

In Math Mammoth Rational Numbers we study rational numbers, which are numbers that can be written as a ratio of two integers. All fractions and whole numbers are rational numbers, and so are percentages and decimals (except non-ending non-repeating decimals). Hopefully, students already know a lot about rational numbers and how to calculate with them. Our focus in this book is to extend that knowledge to negative fractions and negative decimals.

Sample pages (PDF)
Rational Numbers
Multiply & Divide Rational Numbers 1
Multiply & Divide Rational Numbers 2
Equations with Fractions

Math Mammoth Linear Equations workbook cover
Math Mammoth Linear Equations

Math Mammoth Linear Equations presents the student with the basics of solving linear equations, including equations that involve a variable on both sides and equations that require the usage of the distributive property to eliminate parentheses. We also briefly study inequalities and graphing. This book best suits pre-algebra or grades 7-8.

Sample pages (PDF)
Word Problems 1
Two-Step Equations
Growing Patterns
Variable on both sides
Speed Time, and Distance

November 03, 2014

Group buy for Math Mammoth bundles - only TODAY!


Homeschool Buyers Co-op is running a GROUP BUY for large Math Mammoth bundles at 40% discount – but just for today, November 3, 2014.

So hurry! It's only for ONE day!

November 01, 2014

Mathemagic with Arthur Benjamin (video)

This is a pretty amazing performance of "mathemagic" – calculating things in one's head by Arthur Benjamin. He not only can calculate but also ENTERTAIN, so this video is sure to captivate you! I enjoyed it a lot, and my children watched it multiple times in a row. :)

I also posted the video on my website with some more commentary:

Mental math "mathemagic" with Arthur Benjamin

October 27, 2014

Math anxiety and how to prevent it

Photo courtesy of Wecometolearn

7 Reasons behind Math Anxiety and How to Prevent It

This article lists some of the major factors that contribute to math anxiety in students and gives helpful ideas for teachers to motivate children to study math and to prevent math anxiety. Including:

- how teachers feel about math
- whether mistakes are valued or not
- tests and especially timed tests
- whether math is presented to be a creative subject or not

... and more! Check it out!