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» Raising Creative Kids

Do You See What I See?

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Over the past week, I’ve been observing how my kids take in and process information. This little experiment has been fascinating.  What I’ve come to realize is that although we might be looking at the same thing, my kids and I “see” different things. This is particularly true with my 8-year old son.

My son had just finished a few pages of his multiplication workbook and asked me to check his answers. He’s much (much, much) more mathematically inclined than I am, so I wasn’t surprised when he answered all the math problems correctly. What did surprise me was a pattern he saw when multiplying by 5.

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A Creative Way to Teach Multiplication

In an earlier post, I mentioned how my oldest son asked to learn multiplication. To encourage his love of math, I bought a multiplication workbook and left it, along with a pencil, in the living room. What I’ve found is when my son comes into this frequently used room, he grabs the pencil and starts working on multiplication. In thinking about other ways to nurture multiplication, we started playing “Multiplcation War.”

What is Multiplication War? Well, it’s like the card game War, but rather than using regular playing cards, we use multiplication flash cards. Here are instructions:

  1. Grab a set of multiplication flash cards, or make your own by writing down the 12 Times Table. To create your own cards write down one multiplication problem per index card. Start with 1×1 and go all the way to 12 x 12. Note, don’t write down the answers on the index cards. Once you’ve written down all the multiplication problems, you should have 144 index cards.
  2. Deal out all the cards. Players do not look at the cards. Keep them face down. The goal of the game is to win all the cards.
  3. Players turn over their top card. Each player computes their multiplication problem. The one with the higher total wins the cards. Keep playing.
  4. If players turned up cards are equal, there is a War. Saying, “W-A-R spells WAR” each player places 5 cards face down onto their original card. Each player turns up their last card. The player with the higher total wins the cards.
  5. The game ends when one player wins all the cards, or after a designated number of rounds. When you end the game depends on how much time you have. If you play until one person wins all the cards, it can take a long time. Hint: playing until one person has all the cards is a great way to pass a rainy day.

We’ve been playing Multiplication War for the past week. What I love about the game is that it helps my oldest son reinforce his knowledge of multiplication. And, though I thought Multiplication War would be too difficult for my Kindergartener, he’s addicted to the game. It turns out, my younger son is able to look at the numbers on the cards and conceptually figure out which multiplication problem results in the highest total. He told me, “9×3 is more than 8×1 because 9 and 3 are bigger than 8 and 1.”

Even though my youngest son isn’t able to guess every multiplication problem correctly, he’s learning the basic skills that will help him get ready to multiply. To help younger children play Multiplication War, you can provide them with a 12 Times Table answer key. See the example below or use this link for a printable version. Additionally, earning a masters of arts in teaching will teach you new and exciting methods to make learning fun for students of all ages.

Multiplication

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A fun, creative, and inexpensive way to encourage multiplication!

What To Do with a Kid Who Loves Math?

math outside

So, asking what to do with a kid who loves math may sound like a silly question. But for a parent (namely me) who naturally gravitates to language arts rather than numbers, having a child who loves math is quite foreign. It’s like having a kid who loves vegetables. Though I’m prone to memorization when it comes to math, my oldest son was born with an ability to understand mathematical concepts and theories. He’ll turn anything into a math assignment. This even includes writing a book report. Talk about creativity. LOL!

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What Makes One Kid Ask for a Toothbrush and Another Ask for Candy?

Though Halloween was a few weeks ago, the memories (and the candy) still linger. We started a Halloween tradition where we get together with neighbors for pizza, then go out as a group for trick-or-treating. This year was no different. After a bit of dinner and socializing, we began our two hour trek through the neighborhood.

The kids went from home to home ringing doorbells and thanking neighbors for candy. Interestingly, when we arrived at the home of the local dentist, my 8-year old son saw toothbrushes at the doorway and asked if he could have a toothbrush rather than candy.

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Where Does the Tooth Fairy Get Money?

Kawaii Mushroom Tooth Fairy Pillow

In a recent conversation with my 5-year old son, we chatted about where the tooth fairy gets his money (yes, in our house the tooth fairy is male). According to my son, the tooth fairy collects teeth and then sells them to people who need them. The tooth fairy then takes the money and gives it to kids who lose their teeth.

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How Meditation Can Help Students Improve Grades, Boost Self-Esteem, and Curb Bad Behavior

Two Kids, boy and girl (Trysta), Watch the Par...

If you’re a regular reader, you’ve probably seen my posts about how creativity gets stifled by stress. A relaxed mind is helpful in many ways. In fact, there is lots of chatter about the stress-busting benefits of meditation with school children. Studies have found meditation can help students improve grades, boost self-esteem, and even cut down on bad behavior. Makes sense right? Introducing quiet time should be beneficial. But, why so?

According to researchers, deliberate silence invites concentration and cuts down on stress. Conversely, noisy classrooms lower concentration and increase stress. Noisy classroom environments are also linked to lowered exam scores. A study by South Bank University and the Institute of Education in London found that test scores were cut by as much as a third if children Read more of this post

Is the Gamification of Education a Good Thing?

Kids' Computer

Image by macattck via Flickr

When my oldest son was in kindergarten, homework consisted of math worksheets and a reading log. Fast forward two years, and my youngest son is in kindergarten. While both boys were in the same school for kindergarten, things have changed. My youngest son is now assigned e-homework. His teacher assigns modules from EducationCity.com each week. I’ve heard mixed reactions from parents. While I love the idea of completing math, language, and science assignments online, some parents are concerned that kids are playing “games” rather than learning.

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Is Teamwork Driven by Nature or Nurture?

Linkware Freebie Image use it however you like...

Image via Wikipedia

Some say the First Law of Nature is self-preservation. If that is the case, then teamwork runs counter to nature. But, of course, that depends on your societal, familial, or organizational culture. While Western culture might be more geared towards an individual-focus, Eastern cultures are more apt to think about things from the perspective of the team. This debate led me to consider whether teamwork was driven by nature or nurture. For some clues, I looked to my 8-year old son.

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Number Sense: How to Help Your Kids Reach their Math Potential

math problems for girls

Image by woodleywonderworks via Flickr

With the back to school season upon us, memories of my elementary school years flash before me. I don’t know about you, but as a child I knew instinctively what type of student I was and what type of student I wasn’t. While subjects like English, Language and History felt natural, I was never one for math.  I was reminded of my gut feeling about math as I read the New York Times article, “In Future Math Whizzes, Signs of ‘Number Sense’“. The article confirms math abilities can be identified even before children enter school.

The New York Times reports children as young as three have a ‘number sense’, or intuition when it comes to mathematical concepts. In research that first appeared in the Developmental Sciences journal, Dr. Melissa Libertus, psychologist at Johns Hopkins University, found preschoolers were able to use their number sense to estimate whether there were more blue or yellow dots flashing on the screen even before they could count. The children with better number sense were also better at simple math problems.

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How Eating Dinner as a Family Improves Critical Thinking

Mormon Family Dinner

Image by More Good Foundation via Flickr

Growing up, my family sat down for dinner together seven days a week. My grandfather was a chef, so dinnertime was always a treat. Five and seven course meals were the norm back then. My grandfather’s day revolved around meal preparation. There were seven of us at the dinner table, so making dinner was a time consuming process. He would  start dinner preparation after lunchtime and soon our house would be filled with the wonderful aromas of ginger, garlic and fragrant spices.  These days, families are sitting down to dinner less and less. It is estimated that only 10% to 25% of families eat together 4 days a week. This is leaving our children at a disadvantage – especially when it comes to critical thinking. Outside of an educational setting, what better place is there than the dinner table for a child to practice, exercise, and experiment with critical thinking skills?

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