Winter Fun for FREE Plus Extras!

We all need mid-year boosts--teachers, parents, and learners! 

Celebrate Simple is all about encouraging and equipping parents and families; adding spring in your winter steps! 

We have created several winter-themed, inter-related learning resources for your family--all ages preschool to adult. The contents of each resource is related but nothing is duplicated. 

Our first FREE winter resource is FREE to subscribers! If you are a current subscriber, you will receive this resource in the next newsletter. If you haven't yet subscribed, please do! We would love for you to have this handy, practical winter-themed unit. The contents are related to all of our NEW winter items listed below. The content of Simple Winter Family Fun includes

  • conversation starters for family members of all ages,
  • winter-themed book lists for preschool through high school, 
  • practical ideas for family team building,
  • learning activities for Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin (different from those included in Math Adventures: Experiencing Math in Snowflakes),
  • a four-year plan worksheet for families walking the home education high school journey, 
  • winter-related spelling words with fun spelling practice ideas, and
  • math practice for patterning, counting by fives, and solving word problems.

Our second FREE winter resource can be found in our FREE RESOURCES tab. Math Adventures: Experiencing Math in Snowflakes is a shorter math study similar to Math Adventures: Experiencing Math in Parks and Math Adventures: Experiencing Math in Nature. Click on FREE RESOURCES to download your copy!

Our third winter resource is intended to extend the learning in the above units.  The snowflake blank book and foam snowflakes are available in the store. The self-adhesive snowflakes can be use for sorting, counting, adding, and multiplication. When littles are finished sorting and counting, the snowflakes can be used to make a counting or addition book.

Finally, we are offering a winter special which includes all of the above resources AND a Magiscope! This sturdy, metal microscope has been a favorite in our home for twenty-two years and comes with a lifetime warranty! Our scope was a Christmas gift to our oldest son from his gandparents! 

Whether your winter will be spent outdoors making snow forts or indoors wishing it would snow, refresh the mid-year, winter blahs with some fun new ideas and resources. We would love for your family relationships to grow and for this to be your best winter EVER!

Remember, every moment matters when using what is intentional, real, and relational! 

Graph Paper with Purpose

One of my favorite SIMPLE resources is one-inch graph paper. 

I renew my supply every year as we use it for all ages and stages. 

Graph Paper Patterning. Littles, markers in hand, enjoy making colorful patterns. For the very youngest we start with simple ABABABA patterns and work up to harder ABBCBBABBCBB patterns. They love creating their own patterns or copying patterns I give them. Patterning is a prenumber skill needed for numeration, counting and even language arts skills.  

One-to-One Correspondence and Counting. One-inch graph paper (or larger) is perfect for learning one object to one number. The child counts, writing a number in each square. 

Column Guide. Graph paper can be a gentle guide, keeping columns in math problems aligned. For example, the problem 32 x 21 can be written on graph paper, one digit per square, to keep children on process (in other words, which number or column is added, multiplied, subtracted or divided next) and digits in line (making the last steps of problems easy and natural, not swinging and swaying between ones, tens and hundreds). Graph paper can be helpful for all number operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) keeping problems neat and organized. 

Concept of Multiplication. Rows and columns not only provide a visual picture of a multiplication equation, but also prepare a student for learning the concept of area: length times width. Once the multiplication concept is mastered, begin learning the multiplication facts. 

Concept of Area. A natural next step to the column/row concept of multiplication above, graph paper allows the concept of area visual. I begin by drawing a large square on graph paper. Then, I teach area as length times width, tracing my finger along the square while speaking "length times width". I then write the corresponding numbers and operational symbols (squares along the length x squares along the width) under the square and solve the multiplication equation. Lastly, I count the number of squares inside the large square to check.

Algebraic Graphing. Graph paper helps big learners, too. My bigs have drawn x- and y- axis graphs on quarter-inch graph paper to solve slope intercept problems. Some learners cut out their graphs and pasted them into their regular math notebooks while others have me purchase a graph paper notebook to work their lessons, both graph and not-graphing problems.   

More than Math. We have also used graph paper for spelling, writing one letter per square. When comparing word lengths, we have cut and placed words strips side-by-side providing a visual tool for word comparison. For children who have difficulty with letter and word spacing in sentences, use quarter-inch graph paper to spell words one letter per square, leaving a square empty between words. 

Valuable Visual. Many children need a visual reference to file in the brain, especially when learning a new concept. Graph paper has provided this colorful visual for my children and many others to whom I have made this recommendation. Try it! See if graph paper presents the visual tools necessary for your child to master foundational concepts. 

Graph paper is an education staple in our home. For some children it has kept columns straight, for others graph paper offered opportunities for patterning and geometric design creation. As we look forward to the coming school year and inventory our back-to-school needs, graph paper will be a must-have resource.  

Read Aloud to Foster Counting Skills

Counting books cycle in our home; about every four years over the past two plus decades as little learners grow and start their quest to conquer the concepts and skills involved in counting. 

Noticing some of our favorites are disappearing from the library shelves, intentionality finds me adding to our home library so we don't lose our loves. 

How Many Snails? Rich, bold vibrant colors invite little learners to jump in and count! Though counting is the main skill reinforced, attributes, following directions, and processing fair well, too. One of our favorites! Author: Paul Giganti, Jr. 

M&M Counting Book. The familiar candies on the front draw readers to the content. Once opened, this book teaches counting through 12, counting sets, and beginning addition and subtraction. Author: Barbara Barbieri McGrath

Counting is for the Birds. The rhyming text makes this brilliantly illustrated counting-to-twenty book an all-time favorite of ours. Author: Frank Mazzola, Jr.

Cardinal Numbers: An Ohio Counting Book. Counting 1-14 with beautiful illustrations and real-world word problems on the last pages, this book is one of many in the Sleeping Bear Press series. A favorite for older children, too, as side bars on each page offer additional opportunities for curious learners. Author: Marcia Schonberg

Great Estimations. An intriguing look at estimating as an advanced counting technique. Great photography, fun examples, and helpful hints for counting objects in large numbers. Great for older learners, too! Author: Bruce Goldstone.

The Coin Counting Book. Counting takes another journey into the world of coin recognition and value. Great for beginner coin counters who have a piggy bank of coins waiting to be counted.  Another of our favorites due to the interest most kids have in money. Author: Rozanne Lanczank Williams.

Eating Pairs: Counting Fruits and Vegetables by Two. Reading and learning odds and evens go hand-in-hand with this unique counting book. We love that the numbers are written down the side bar of each page, begging for us to count along...again! Author: Sarah L. Schuette.

10 Little Rubber Ducks. Fictionalized counting story of a real-life event presented alongside the classic Eric Carle collage art. Bright illustrations and a intriguing story line. Great addition to the home library, for sure! Author: Eric Carle.


"There's Math in My Candy Bag!"

All that candy!

This may be a proclamation in your home this week.

If so, perhaps one of these simple adventures could add a fun twist to your learning.

Measurement (linear) 

Young children, generally preschoolers, often learn to measure in non-standard (inconsistent) measurements before they measure in standard (consistent) measurements. Non-standard units might be blocks or perhaps toy cars.

So, why not Snickers?  

Snickers, or any candy bar for that matter, can be a non-standard unit of measure.

How many Snickers high is Dad? How many Kit Kats long is the bed?

Draw a visual representation. 

Measurement (weight)

Weigh your candy on a kitchen scale. Did everyone collect the same weight amount? This activity offers opportunity for children to learn to weigh objects and read a scale. To extend this activity, have the children estimate the weight before placing on the scale. If the estimation and the actual weight are written on paper, demonstrate how to subtract to find the difference (how close the estimate was to the actual weight). 

Sorting and Counting

Skittles and M&Ms create wonderful opportunities for sorting, counting, comparing, and graphing. In fact, if you have an abundance of fun size bags, consider inviting another family or a a group of friends to learn too! 

Small candies work well for set creation, comparing and counting. We used Smarties and Sprees for counting by fives and tallying. 


Sort out two different types of candy bar from the collection. Ask each member which candy bar is his or her favorite. Offer each his or her favorite to eat. Save the wrappers to make a "favorites" graph. 


Packages with multiple colors of candies--Skittles, M&Ms, and Starbursts--are great for teaching fractional parts. Count the total amount. Sort the colors. Make a visual representation of each color in relation to the whole. For example, if there are 16 Starbursts and 4 are orange, the written fraction would be 4/16. Taking a step further, 4/16 is equal to 1/4 of the package. 


Halloween behind us, stores in our area are posting opportunities to use practical math, for example 50% off $6.99, 75% off retail, and buy-one-get-two free. Take photos of these while out and work the math when you arrive home. OR, do it in the store to determine whether the sale is a "deal". 

Operations and Equations

My older children love to use math to determine whether or not they are getting a "sweet" bargain. We figure out cost (If a bag of candy costs $3.99 and the sale is 50% off, what will be pay?) and cost per unit (If the bag of fruit chews costs $2.19 and there are 50 chews per bag, what is the cost of each individual chew?). I also make up additional hypothetical scenarios (If you have a $10.00 bill in your pocket and the candy is $3.29 per bag, how many bags could you buy and how much change would you receive from your purchase?) This often leads to conversation about sales tax, taxable and non-taxable items, and cost per pound.

These yummy math ideas (and more) are compiled in my Flip Three Pancakes With One Spatula book, a resource I put together after years of hands-on math activities. Yes, my children love to eat their math. 

Ideas from the Flip Three Pancakes book.