Reviews for my Daughter’s Book

I cleaned up the clutter on my other blog, and so I decided to make a page about my daughter’s book, which meant taking the time to pull out excerpts from her reviews. And since I hadn’t posted anything about her on this blog for a couple of months, I thought I’d brag a bit to you all, too.

Reviews of Banished

Banished is a captivating fantasy story with a well-thought-out plot that would be a credit to any writer. But it is especially remarkable coming from a thirteen-year-old student who has been homeschooled all her life.

Teresa Gaskins actually wrote this book as a project for the National Novel Writing Month program. One noteworthy thing about the book is that there is no sexuality or bad language (the euphemistic interjection “Blasted” is used once), so, other than those who object to the presence of any kind of magic in books, parents can let their kids read the novel with no reservations.

However, be forewarned. When you reach the final page and find the words, “Not the End…,” you will cry, “Oh! No!” The story does not resolve itself at the end and then pick up in a sequel. Rather, the plot is left hanging at the end and will continue in another book. I for one feel as if I simply can’t wait to read the next installment to find out what happens to Chris and his friends. It’s that good!

— Wayne at Home School Book Review

Continue reading

About these ads

5 Stars at Home School Book Review

Wayne at Home School Book Review just posted a very kind review of my daughter’s book:

Banished is a captivating fantasy story with a well-thought-out plot that would be a credit to any writer. But it is especially remarkable coming from a thirteen-year-old student who has been homeschooled all her life.

However, be forewarned. When you reach the final page and find the words, “Not the End…,” you will cry, “Oh! No!”

I for one feel as if I simply can’t wait to read the next installment to find out what happens to Chris and his friends. It’s that good!


Get all our new math tips and games:  Subscribe in a reader, or get updates by Email.


New Fantasy Fiction Book by 13yo Homeschooler

My 13-year-old daughter just released her first book on Kindle:

  • Banished (The Riddled Stone, Book One)
    Falsely accused of stealing a magic artifact, Chris is forced to leave home, never to return. As he and three friends travel toward the border, however, they are warned of great danger approaching the land. They set out to solve an ancient riddle — but will they be able to save the kingdom, or will the quest cost them their lives?

[Update 7/6/12: The paperback book is now "In Stock" at Amazon (yay!). They are even including the book in their buy-3-get-1-free promotion for books and home/garden items.]

Teresa (also known as Princess Kitten) has done the NaNoWriMo Youth Program as part of her language studies for the past three years and has written many stories on her blog, but this is the first time we’ve followed through and published one of her books.

Of course I’m biased, but I think she did a pretty good job, as first books go. It’s clearly the beginning of a series, so she sets up more plot threads than she resolves — but I did convince her not to wait for this year’s NaNoWriMo to start Book Two. (I want to find out what happens next!)

Anyway, if you or your kids enjoy fantasy fiction and are interested in reading something written by a teenage homeschooler — and if you have a Kindle or Kindle Reading App — please download the sample chapters of her book and check it out. She would love to get some reviews!


Get all our new math tips and games:  Subscribe in a reader, or get updates by Email.


Summer Slowdown

It happens this way every summer: I think that when school’s out, I’ll have time to catch up on things. But school is never out, because we’re homeschoolers — and something else always comes up to make us even more busy than normal. This year, an emergency forced dh to move his engineering office from town to home. It’s great to have him close at hand, but spring cleaning has turned into a total house reorganization to make room.

Niner's baby snapping turtle sitting on her wrist

And then Niner and Kitten adopted a couple of new pets. Here’s a picture of Niner’s new snapping turtle. The old one is getting so big he eats feeder fish by the dozen, but she plans to release him back into the creek as soon as the spring floods go down. Kitten rescued two baby birds (normally the dogs take care of wind-blown fledglings), so we have to find room for yet another cage in our menagerie.

In the meantime, this month’s Math Teachers at Play carnival is coming home to my blog, so I’d better get to work on that. If you would like to share a blog post about learning, teaching, or just playing around with math, I’d love to have you send it in. Just click here and fill out the handy automatic submission form.

Update, July 2011: Niner wrote a blog post on the turtles, with photos. Kitten had one of her babies die (sad!) but the other grew up enough to be released into the woods across the creek.

Working on My Let’s Play Math! Books

Workplace stress caused by an unsuitable work ...

Image via Wikipedia

This blog originally grew out of my books, and now it’s coming full circle: New, expanded editions of my long-out-of-print books are ripening on the vine, growing out of the blog. To bring them to harvest, I’m going to need your help.

The Books

I’m working on the games books first because I think they will be the most helpful supplements to any math program.

  • Let’s Play Math! Number Games for All Ages
    This book will include games like Tens Concentration and Hit Me, as well as tips for teaching negative numbers, the times table, and more. Never before published, because it was planned as the fifth book in my earlier how-to-teach-homeschool-math series, but my self-publishing experiment ended after book four.
  • Others to be announced, if I ever get the first two done…

Continue reading

Our Power Outage Adventure

[Photo by Nestor Galina.]

Our power finally came back on this afternoon after a couple of cold, dark nights.

Staying Warm

We heated the house with candles and stove-top burners (propane). We found that if you get enough candles lit in a room, it really can make a difference, and the stove was able to keep the kitchen in the upper-50′s, even above 60 degrees at times, which was pretty comfortable. We dressed in lots of layers and wore gloves, drank a plenty of coffee and hot chocolate, listened to oldies on the battery-powered radio, and went to bed early each night. (Hooray for sleeping bags!)

Continue reading

A Little Bit of This, a Little Bit of That…

funny pictures of cats with captions

It’s high time I got back on track with my Alexandria Jones posts, so I’ve been working hard on a short introduction to probability, to go along with The Birthday Surprise. Or, more honestly, I’ve been procrastinating on a short intro … well, anyway, here’s a little of what I’ve been reading around the interwebs lately.

Continue reading

Congratulations, Kitten!

[Photo by dougwoods.]

Today is my daughter Princess Kitten’s blogiversary. Check out her post:

And then take some time to browse her blog. I think you’ll enjoy her stories. She’s even written a few things about math:

[Update: I just noticed that this is the 500th post to be published on Let's Play Math! blog. Wow! I guess Kitten and I will both be celebrating today...]


Don’t miss any of “Let’s Play Math!”:  Subscribe in a reader, or get updates by Email.


Rate Puzzle: How Fast Does She Read?


[Photo by Arwen Abendstern.]

If a girl and a half
can read a book and a half
in a day and a half,
then how many books can one girl read in the month of June?

Kitten reads voraciously, but she decided to skip our library’s summer reading program this year. The Border’s Double-Dog Dare Program was a lot less hassle and had a better prize: a free book! Of course, it didn’t take her all summer to finish 10 books.

How fast does Kitten read?

Continue reading

Review: Math Mammoth

When Maria of Homeschool Math Blog asked if I would review her Math Mammoth curriculum, I jumped at the chance. I’ve always enjoyed her blog posts, and I liked the worksheets I had seen on her website. (Maria gives away more than 300 pages absolutely free!)

She sent me her then-new 4th grade worktexts, and Kitten and I dug in.

Well, that was longer ago than I care to admit. But of course, it takes quite a bit of daily use before one can be absolutely sure of one’s opinion about a homeschool program — or at least, it does for me. Too many times a homeschool resource will look great in the catalog, and we’ll start it with high hopes only to bog down in the day-to-day grind and abandon it after a few weeks or months. So I wanted to give Math Mammoth a thorough workout before I wrote this review.

And all excuses aside, I really am a pro at crastinating. . .

My aim is to help parents and teachers teach math so our children and students can really understand what is going on. I’ve strived to explain the concepts so that both the teacher and the student can “get it” by reading the explanations in the books.

— Maria Miller
author of Math Mammoth worktexts
and Homeschool Math Blog

Continue reading

squirrel monkey

Prime Numbers Are like Monkeys

[Photo by mape_s.]

I’m afraid that Math Club may have fallen victim to the economy, which is worse in our town than in the nation in general. Homeschooling families have tight budgets even in the best of times, and now they seem to be cutting back all non-essentials. I assumed that last semester’s students would return, but I should have asked for an RSVP.

Still, Kitten and I had a fun time together. We played four rounds of Tens Concentration, since I had spread out cards on the tables in the library meeting room before we realized that no one was coming. Had to pick up the cards one way or another, so we figured we might as well enjoy them! She won the first two rounds, which put her in a good mood for our lesson.

I had written “Prime numbers are like monkeys!” on the whiteboard, and Kitten asked me what that meant. That was all the encouragement I needed to launch into my planned lesson, despite the frustrating dearth of students. The idea is taken from Danica McKellar’s book Math Doesn’t Suck.

Continue reading

New Blog: 19 & Still Alive

old man by Niner[Graphite drawing by Niner.]

Niner (pronounced Neener), who takes the photos for my blog header — which reminds me, we’re about due for a new one of those… — has started a new blog. She calls it 19 & Still Alive, because “the world doesn’t end when you’re 16 if you don’t go to Prom or don’t get your driver’s license. (I never went to Prom, and I didn’t go through Driver’s ED until 17, but I’m alive, amazingly.)”

There won’t be any math there, or at least I don’t expect to see any; the blog will be mostly her rambling thoughts about whatever catches her interest. But she does have a wonderful graphite drawing based on the photo Masarwa man. On her blog, you can click the image to see him up close and personal. Wow!


Don’t miss any of “Let’s Play Math!”:  Subscribe in a reader, or get updates by Email.


Do Your Students Understand Division?

Cheerios by sixes
[I couldn't find a good picture illustrating "division." Niner came to my rescue and took this photo of her breakfast.]

I found an interesting question at Mathematics Education Research Blog. In the spirit of Liping Ma’s Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics, Finnish researchers gave this problem to high school students and pre-service teachers:

  • We know that:
    498 \div 6 = 83.
    How could you use this relationship (without using long-division) to discover the answer to:
    491\div6=?
    [No calculators allowed!]

The Finnish researchers concluded that “division seems not to be fully understood.” No surprise there! Check out the pdf report for detailed analysis.

Continue reading

Math Facts: 5 Minutes a Day

free-rice-image

Y of x reminded me about one of my old favorite websites for math fact practice with a purpose:

5-10 minutes of daily practice will cement the math facts in your student’s mind, while at the same time doing a good deed. For each correct answer, a Free Rice sponsor donates a very small amount of rice to feed hungry people worldwide through the UN World Food Program.

Even very small amounts of rice add up. Since Free Rice started in 2007, its sponsors have bought more than 63 billion grains of rice, just by paying for one right answer click at a time.

You and your students can practice other topics as well:

Continue reading

late-night-math-by-oakleyoriginals

Buddy Math

[Photo by OakleyOriginals.]

Kitten strongly dislikes math when forced to do it on her own, so I am trying to get back into the habit of doing “Buddy Math” with her. We take turns working the problems in her workbook: mine, hers, mine, hers, and so on down the page. We work each problem out loud, explaining how we got the answer and checking each other as we go.

In a way, it is like Charlotte Mason-style narration applied to math, since my daughter has to process her thoughts in order to explain how she worked the problem, which fixes the math concepts more deeply in her mind.

Continue reading

Homeschool Kids Write

homeschool-kids-writeNo, it’s not math, but it looks like a great way to kick-start Princess Kitten’s long-neglected blog. She sat down at the computer and browsed the links to other kids’ posts for over an hour last night, occasionally laughing out loud. Then she opened her Dashboard and started to type a response to the green assignment.

I’ll have to let her know there’s a new post up today. Check it out:

  • Homeschool Kids Write

Maybe I can even get her to send something in to the next Homeschool Kids Blog Carnival. It’s worth a try…

Update

Unfortunately, Homeschool Kids Write has disappeared from the web. The Wayback Machine link gives a taste of what the site was like, but It’s just not the same without the Mr. Linky connections to all the children’s writings.

Kitten did three of the writing assignments. And not only did she enter the Homeschool Kids Blog Carnival, she even hosted one edition!

My baby is growing up…


Don’t miss any of “Let’s Play Math!”:  Subscribe in a reader, or get updates by Email.


Homeschooling Perks

sledding
[Photo by jonathansloan.]

One of the best perks of homeschooling is that we can take our snow days when the rest of the world is back in school. Niner and Princess Kitten have the sledding hill to themselves. Meanwhile, I’m brewing up a batch of JD’s Winter Soup while I prepare for co-op classes tomorrow…


Don’t miss any of “Let’s Play Math!”:  Subscribe in a reader, or get updates by Email.


More Backwards Math


[Photo by *clairity*.]

Have you ever noticed how very different little girls are from little boys, in the way they play and in the way they think about things? Princess Kitten has been playing around with Backwards Math again, and my first thought was, “No boy would ever have done this with numbers.”

Continue reading

jaycoxfilm-if-every-picture-tells-a-story

Math Game: What Number Am I?

Photo by jaycoxfilm.

Math concepts: mental calculations, math vocabulary, and anything else you want to include
Number of players: any number, but I think it works best with two players who alternate asking questions
Equipment: imagination and, if necessary, scratch paper

Many years ago, I read a magazine article by mathematical music critic Edward Rothstein, wherein he described a game he invented for his daughter:

  • “What number am I? If you add me to myself, you get four.”

Rather than explaining the rules of the game, let me tell you a story…

Continue reading

Does Life Have You Swamped?


Photo by Niner.

My yard, my life! This was our front yard and driveway last weekend, as we rushed through our last-minute preparations for the County Fair. Niner, too old for 4-H, was determined to get her photos entered in the open competition before Saturday afternoon’s deadline. She rolled up her pants legs and waded through the drink, using her feet to feel out the edges of the driveway and marking the path with red-flagged fence posts so the Jeep could make it through.

Just in case you were wondering why there were no new posts this week.


Don’t miss any of “Let’s Play Math!”:  Subscribe in a reader, or get updates by Email.


Not Just a Math Geek

It took 4+ years of practice and one solid hour of sweating — which included punching and kicking his dad as hard as he could (holding the karate pad is no easy job!) and the breaking of two boards — but it was worth it.

Last night, Chickenfoot received his black belt, being presented in the photo by his instructor, Sir John.

Congatulations, son!

[Disclaimer: I gave in to blogger's poetic license for a catchy title. To tell the truth, I am sure Chickenfoot wouldn't consider himself a math geek at all. Math is far from being his favorite subject, even though he is good at it.]


Don’t miss any of “Let’s Play Math!”:  Subscribe in a reader, or get updates by Email.


Welcome to Blogland, Niner!


Photo by Niner.

The daughter who supplies my header photos has started a blog to show off her pictures:

Niner’s SnapFair
[It's pronounced "NEE-ner."]

Update: She no longer posts to that blog, but has been writing and posting photos, recipes, and craft projects to her new blog — College & The Years After.

Her photography skills continue to improve, and her sense of humor comes through in the stories that accompany each photo. I’m sure she’d love to have you stop by and visit!

Continue reading

Backwards Math

aloft, sideways & backwards
Photo by Complicated.

Princess Kitten is recovering from her cold and getting some energy back. She came to me and said wistfully, “I wish I could do backwards math.”

I looked up from my keyboard. “Backwards math? What do you mean?”

“Umm. It’s kinda hard to explain, but I can show you.”

Continue reading

Way To Go, Boys!

Math competition
Photo by ccarlstead.

Congratulations, math team! All your hard work paid off, and I hope you enjoyed yourselves thoroughly. Of course, as C. S. Lewis wrote:

…if you do one good deed, your reward usually is to be set to do another and harder and better one.

C. S. Lewis
The Horse and His Boy

Now it’s time to practice for the state level in March. You can find practice problems online at:

Preparation Drills for MATHCOUNTS
or
The “Go Figure!” math challenge
[ACK! MathCounts has re-written their website. The old link is no longer any good, but I haven't yet found the new location for this game.]

And give the new interactive Countdown Round game a try:

AoPS For The Win!

Continue reading

That’s Mathematics

Things are still hectic, but at least the phone company guy found the problem and got our “extended DSL” service working. “Extended DSL” is what you get when you live out in the boonies. No guarantees that it will be faster than the ancient modem, but at least it doesn’t tie up the phone line anymore.

And it is a bit faster, so I finally get to enjoy You Tube. If the video doesn’t display properly, you can find it at this link:

Funny Math Problems

Continue reading

They Grow Up Too Fast!

Chickenfoot ready to perform

Even the child in question agrees with that. Chickenfoot is suffering from Peter Pan syndrome: “I don’t want to grow up!” This week, someone asked him, “You’re 17, aren’t you?” Not yet, but 13 has passed into memory…

I got tricky with the hidden present this time. The outside of the envelope changed insignificantly. It read:

I’m your last present.
Can you find me?
I’m hiding some place
That you cannot see…

But the real departure from normal came with the poetry inside. The poem was a success, in that he laughed at all the appropriate spots, but the hiding place turned out to be a little too good. Can you find the two clues in all this mess?

Continue reading