Make YOUR Own Math Books = Learning

My little learner decided she wanted to make her own books.

Math books! 

We'd been choosing and reading math literature from our home library shelves, borrowing others from the local library. Math was intriguing. Math was fun. She wanted to make her own books and apply her creative bent to master concepts. 

Thankfully, we had blank books on hand. 

My little learner chose a book from our stash, one which would match the fall leaf table toppers I found while grocery shopping. 

Once the leaves were sorted, we made piles of ten. 

On a piece of paper, I wrote numerals 1-10 alongside corresponding number words. From the sample, my little learner copied the numerals and corresponding words, giving each number a page in her book. By the time she was done copying, she felt very confident in her ability to form the numerals and count objects into sets. The more her book took form, the happier and more excited she became.

"I'm writing a book!" 

She wanted to write the number words. I wrote the words on a piece of paper and she copied them into her book. The final step was to count out leaves to correspond with the numbers on each page. 

I showed her how to set her book--open like a fan--on the kitchen table so the glue could dry. This prevented pages from sticking together. 

In the end, my little learner had not only written her first math book--she was quite proud of her accomplishment--she had also learned to match number words with a set of objects and mastered one-to-one correspondence--all foundational math concepts.

Shopping for Christmas wrapping paper, I discovered stocking table toppers. I immediately thought of my eager book-making learner and added them to the conveyor in the check-out line. 

Arriving home I told her there was a surprise in the  bag for her. 

She was thrilled.

Once again she chose a blank book from our collection and started to work. 

Before long, she added another counting book to her collection. 

She was ready for addition--adding two small sets to make one big set. 

As the weather cooled, I found foam snowflakes online. I knew they could be the makings of her next book, Adding Snowflakes. I pulled one of our favorite reads, Snowflake Bentley, from our home library shelf and sat side-by-side on the couch, engaged in the unfolding plot. 

When we finished reading, she sorted the foam snowflakes by size, shape, and color--three attributes--another foundational math skill. This was a perfect start to making sets!

Once the snowflakes were sorted, I asked her to make sets of two, three, four, five, six, seven, and eight. 

I explained the concept of addition--the combining of two sets to make a larger set and wrote some addition facts on the two-page spreads of her blank book. She read the numbers and glued the set required on each page. When gluing was complete, my little learner added the two sets and wrote the sum on the bottom right-hand corner of the two-page spread. 

Book complete--now three in total--my little learner had the makings of a math library!

The next concept, addition with three addends--three sets. 

With Valentine's just around the corner, I knew what we would do--add three sets of hearts. 

Again, she chose the blank book--red stripes this time--sorted hearts by size and color, counted sets, and started adding. For this book she wrote the equations vertically. I explained that equations could be written horizontally or vertically without changing the answer. She was intrigued by the tidbit of knowledge. I wrote an equation both horizontally and vertically on a piece of paper and proved the concept by adding foam hearts. Indeed, the answer was the same.

In the end, she completed the book and added it to her collection! 

Perhaps we will tackle subtraction next season?

I love that we were able to work side-by-side on these projects and that she was engaged and eager. She enjoyed math and wanted to learn more.  

Time well spent.

Indeed, intentional, real, and relational. 







Most Popular Posts of 2016

2016 is marked as significant.

Why? Because every moment of our days mattered--the triumphs and the trials. We lived and learned together being intentional about using what was real and relational--from cradle to shingle--toddler to adult. Thank you for walking that journey alongside us! We are grateful for you, our readers! 

As a recap of our year together, I compiled our top 15 posts of 2016. ENJOY! 


The Many Possibilities of High School Success

Just as there are many potential pathways to successfully completing high school--the end result of helping a young adult develop his or her divinely-created strengths and giftings--there are also many different avenues to the young adult's future; the years beyond the turning of the tassel.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also be encouraged by Real-Life for High School Credit: Care and Concerns for the Elderly.

Preschooling, Naturally

Preschool is foundational for life and learning. In fact, it is during the preschool years that little learners master foundational skills which serve as a base for later learning. More importantly, attitudes and temperaments toward learning are set during the preschool and early elementary years.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also be encouraged by "Let Me Do It!" Helping Little Learners Become Independent

5 Comments I Don't Regret

Words are remembered, taken with us through our days. This is true for us and it is true for our children and young adults.

If you found this post helpful, you might also enjoy Legacy: Learning Alongside

The Possibilities of Elective Credits - Part II

When I wrote the first edition (who remembers that first spiral-bound resource?) Celebrate High School I included a sample list of potential course titles--both core and elective. When I published my extensive revision in 2015, I expanded my list based on our experience and the experience of those with whom we work.

If the information in this post was helpful, you might want to continue on and read Part III.

32 Ways to Learn from Real and Relational 

Some of my children love making lapbooks, others prefer unit studies. Still others learn best when we incorporate field trips into our days. And, our middle and high school young adults? They have learned at co-ops, through online courses, and with personal independent study. 

If you are being intentional about keeping learning real and relational, you might also be encouraged by the practical life lessons (and history!) in this post-- Living History: 30 Questions that Bring History to Life

8 Skills Children Practice in Puddles

There was much to learn in the puddles. Each learner carried a small fish net, sand bucket or shovel. They were off on an adventure.

Rainy days are natural wonders which intrique little learners. If rain is falling at your house and you are waiting for a safe pause in weather, try this indoor art activity--Torn Paper Rainbows

Grades...In High School

"How do I give grades in high school?"

If designing a transcript is your next step, this post may be helpful--Transcript Matters

Using 4-H for High School Course Content

"Our high school learner is very active in 4-H. Can we use any of what the student is doing toward high school credit?" 

If you have middle school learners and are wondering how you can help them manage time, organize belongings, and pursue interests, this post--Magnificent, Make-A-Difference Middle School--might be helpful. 

Preschooling, Intentionally

Learning is the natural outcome of everyday living, especially for little learners. With a few intentional questions here and a purposeful explanation there, preschoolers can learn naturally from walking alongside older siblings and significant adults. Through everyday experiences, preschoolers gain a jump start to mastering foundational cognitive, social, emotional, physical, and spiritual life skills.  By the time the young learner blows out six candles on the birthday cake, significant progress toward mastery of foundational skills has likely been made.

If you are seeking ways to help your little learners do what they can, 3 Things They Can DO on Their Own, might be helpful. 

Living Books and Independent Studies

An interest evolved into an independent study, a year-long learning adventure. 

Science--especially animal science--is particularly interesting to little learners. If you have little learners with a zest for all things living, check out the book list in Vintage Science Readers for the WIN! 

Nature Adventures Made EASY- A Glimpse into Part of Our Day

Ten minutes later, peering out the bedroom window to check on the adventure, my heart smiled--three little learners discovering, wondering together. Co-laboring in learning. 

Looking for a way to learn math outdoors, in nature, where children crave? Check out Math Adventures!

Using Living Books in High School for Credit

We have used several approaches to formulating classes based on strengths, interests and the future plans of the young adult.

Interested in earning credit for writing college essays? This post--High School Made Simple: College Essays for Credit--might offer some insight. 

SIMPLE Prepositions for Little Learners

Keeping early learning active and fun!

Picture books can encourage learning. Read Aloud to Foster Counting Skills lists some of our favorite math picture books. 

Intentional Cursive Handwriting

Oh yes, there is good reason to teach cursive, teaching correct strokes and rotations. Proper letter formation does make composition easier. However, once initial instruction is complete and letters are formed properly, practice begins. Practice.

Interested in hands-on, real-life, spelling activities? This post--What About Spelling?--has lots of practical ideas. 

Helping Learners Foster Strengths and Interests

A trip to the electronics store. I was hoping to go alone. You know, time to enjoy quiet; time to think without questions. After all, it is ONLY the electronics store. 

If this post made you curious about interest-based learning, The Benefits of Interests: Motivating Learners, may answer a few more questions. 

Want to know more about how your days can be intentional, real, and relational? Click below to sign up for the Celebrate Simple Newsletter. 

Boxes, Creativity, and A Bunch of Imagination

Kids love boxes. 

I know I did. 

Small ones, but especially LARGE ones. 

The other day I returned home from Aldi with groceries and BOXES!

I put away the groceries and sat down to help a high schooler edit some writing. It was mid-afternoon, a perfect time for our children to enjoy exploration, adventure, and independent studies.

From the kitchen, I hear...

"Mom, can we use those boxes to build a phone booth?"

My mind was with my high school learner. I didn't have time to think about mess and such. So, I said yes and kept an ear out for the communications and happenings in the kitchen, you know, like moms do when "creativity" is happening. 

An hour later I walked to the kitchen to get a drink of water, and check on "progress".

My kitchen was littered with cardboard pieces, shreds of paper, plastic inserts from a cookie package, more paper scraps, staples. And the kitchen table? YIKES!

Where would we eat dinner? 

Mike came in the door not ten minutes later. 

"Dad! Look at our phone!"

The phone had the makings of a coin slot, a receiver, and a timer to time calls!

What an afternoon these sisters had!

The kitchen was abuzz with excitement. I decided to allow dinner to take place elsewhere. 

The next morning, math was done and I was working independently with an older learner. The enthusiastic builders were now hard at work in the living room. 

Imagine my surprise when after the lesson with the older I walked into the living room and saw


They continued their learning adventure, making a price list with plastic coins so their sister who couldn't yet add coins could play, too. For the users who could add there were hand-written instructions. 


Now, I will be honest. I did make a few trips to the living room after the initial booth was up and "bargaining" was taking place about who would use the booth and when it would be used. When negotiations needed navigating, I stepped in to help with problem solving and conflict resolution. 

Two days ago, when my learners asked to make a phone booth, I could never imagined all they would learn and practice in the process: geometry and physics in the construction, math and spelling in the user details, collaboration, problem solving, interpersonal communication skills.

And it all began with some boxes, a question, and a bunch of imagination. 

Are there boxes in your house today?

Wonder what they may be?


Intentional Cursive Handwriting

Eight weeks of summer home education evaluations leave me pondering.

Methods and means.

Current trends.

Proven practices.

Preparing our children for the future. What skills will they need? Thoughts today revolve around penmanship and cursive.

All those practice books.

Oh yes, there is good reason to teach penmanship and cursive, teaching correct strokes and rotations. Proper letter formation does make composition easier. However, once initial instruction is complete and letters are formed properly, practice begins. Practice.

Purposeful cursive allow for greater retention, practically and naturally.

All those practice pages? Maybe, since progress can be seen if a person thumbs through pages, first practice page to the last. But could there  be another way? Another means? 

Seeing books full of practice pages was helpful to us and to the learners. There was completion and progress. However, there was a missing element to learning.

Quite honestly most of the children who completed the work were less than excited about their accomplishments. Sadly, some learners didn't even care about their work. It was pushed aside or tossed back in the crate with other books. Further, most learners hadn't even considered their ability to write with purpose, compose. Handwriting was just another thing to do, complete. 

Handwriting can be valued;

something of purpose, useful. 

Then there were other learners. These learners pulled out papers that were important to them: a creative writing piece, a business plan, a data report from a science project (which included very delicate drawings), a list of important goals.

These papers mattered, and they were completed in cursive! 

The purpose of this post is not to argue whether or not cursive (the mechanics of it) is important or if it has proper place in a school day. Of course learners need proper instruction in strokes and formation. They will be more efficient writers if they choose to keep working in cursive. 

However, once strokes and formation are known, practice and purpose may look different. In fact, productivity--not to mention attitude--will be effected.

Looking for fun, productive means to practice cursive? 

  • Paper checks. Have any old ones resting in a box collecting dust? Pull them out. Hand them to a learner and watch fascination drive learning. First, there will be a discussion of what they are, what they are used for, where the money comes from, and how they are becoming obsolete. Then, there will be instant need to use them! Play store, restaurant, shop and more, while practicing handwriting. To encourage their play, I write related vocabulary on the white board: check, date, total, receipt, cashier, pay, cash. I add number words as well as dollars, hundred, thousand. Then, my children have the words needed to play and to write their checks (spelling!). They play, practice, and enjoy using their best handwriting because it mattered to them. Checks were something of value. The written checks from play time became part of a portfolio of work samples. 


  • Grocery lists. Children love to dream about what they would like to buy at the grocery store. Let them dream in lists! Using a sale ad from a local store, I allow my children make a grocery list, either in manuscript or cursive, their choice. The next day I make the project more applicable to life. Children worked together to combine their lists and create a nutritionally sound family meal plan on a budget. Not only do we practice handwriting, but we discuss lessons in health and math. There is intentional purpose. The list and meal plan are added to the portfolio of work samples. 
  • Plan an in-state vacation. Use a state map. With the help of the map, I ask my child to plan a vacation to visit 6 cities, 1 lake, and 1 river in our state. The names of the places (capitalized proper nouns) are written in the spelling notebook or on a white board. Handwriting (and capitalization) is practiced while considering state geography. To add math, the learner can use the scale of mile to add and find an estimate of the total mileage to be traveled.
  • Plan a European (or other location) vacation. As above, the learner plans a vacation to include visits to 1 mountain, 2 rivers, 2 lakes, 5 cities, and 2 countries. 
  • Create a menu. The menu should be complete with prices (writing decimal numbers). Using play coins, an adding machine or pretend cash register, learners can play restaurant. I remind the learners that handwriting should be the best it can be so customers can read and order. 
  • Copy a recipe. This is a great practical handwriting for a budding chef. The best handwriting will help the recipe be read by others, if necessary.
  • Write a poem. Poetry writers will appreciate this intentional, practical suggestion. Some families we know use poetry or verse for handwriting and copy work. 
  • Create purposeful lists. Learners have interests. One of my elementary learners is creating handcrafted jewelry. Making a wish list of supplies, chains, and beads allows her to check off items as she makes purchases. Learners may choose to make a lists of colors, car parts, robotic supplies, hair accessories, and more.   
  • Foster creativity. Creatives will welcome using fancy charcoal pencils, felt pens, or quill pens to practice manuscript and cursive. 

In the comments, share ways you have made cursive personal, natural.

We are in this together, helping one another to be intentional, real, and relational.