Citizen Science: Get Real with Learning

We like real learning. Learning which is practical, hands-on, experiential, with purpose. 

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Becoming a Citizen Scientist is one way children and young adults can immerse their studies in real science for real purposes. And, the projects integrate into almost every curriculum or can be used to create an independent study. Budding scientists dive in and dig as deep as their interest takes them. 

One of my high schooler learners participated in a local bird banding experience with an ornithologist who worked in a local park area. This particular learner is not a science guy. However, when he arrived home he couldn't stop talking about the experience. The opportunity brought his biology unit about birds, alive; and my son took part in real scientific research. 

Citizen Science projects can be found online. Simply type "citizen science projects" in a search engine. Here are a few to get started and jump start creative ways to integrate real science into the day. 

Citizen Science- Cornell Ornithology 

Science Buddies

National Wildlife Federation Wildlife Watch

10 Popular Citizen Science Projects

PBS Kids- Citizen Science

National Geographic

To enhance the study, think outside the box. 

  • Interview a scientist in the field of study.
  • Visit an aviary, aquarium, or arboretum and talk to the caretakers about what their work entails and what education was needed to work in the field.
  • Start a collection--rocks are a favorite--label and categorize.  
  • Start some porch science.
  • Talk with scientists at a local Audubon facility. 

And, as always, read a few good books! You never know when a little learner will grab ahold of an older learner's current study. Some of our elementary and middle learners love these hard-to-find science readers

Over the years, we have enjoyed: 

Are You A Grasshopper?, Judy Allen

All about Sharks, Jim Arnosky

Look Out for Turtles, Melvin Burger

Ant Cities, Arthur Dorros

Frogs, Gail Gibbons

Owls, Gail Gibbons

The Honey Makers, Gail Gibbons

Frogs and Polliwogs, Dorothy Childs Hogner

The Life and Times of the Bee, Charles Micucci

The Bird Alphabet Book, Jerry Pallotta

The Frog Alphabet Book, Jerry Pallotta

From Tadpole to Frog, Wendy Pfeffer

The Ant and the Grasshopper, Amy Lowry Poole

Cricketology, Michael Elsohn Ross

One Small Square: Backyard, Donald Silver

Sea Shells, Crabs, and Sea Stars, Christiane Kump Tibbitts

What Lives in A Shell?, Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld

Middle and high school learners may want to read a Living Book or biography to bring a personal connection to their Citizen Scientist project. Some of our favorites have been: 

Luther Burbank, Plant Magician, John Y Batey

Louis Pasteur: Founder of Microbiology, Mary June Burton

Ernest Thompson Seton, Naturalist, Shannon Garst

The Story of Louis Pasteur, Alida Sims Malkus

The Story of Marie Curie, Alice Thorne



FREE Winter Resource

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Math Adventures: Experiencing Math in Snowflakes is available for download  in Free Resources

When Holidays Bring Sensory Challenges and Worries

Cinnamon scents. Bustling shoppers. Joyous music. Holiday visitors. Schedule changes. Lights blinking.

Holidays can be a sensory, anxiety-ridden nightmare for some children. 

The holidays can be frustrating for children sensitive to sensory stimulation or anxious thoughts. Add holiday spontaneity and change of routine to the mix and there's a potential recipe for outbursts, breakdowns, and tantrums, making for a less than pleasurable holiday season.

Fortunately, there are practical helps parents can use to lessen the stress of a season.

Anticipate. Children can quickly become overwhelmed by the sights, smells, sounds, textures and emotions of holiday festivities. In addition, anxious feelings--the unknown why, how, what, who, and when--may add additional concerns. Pondering the possibilities for your family's holiday activities and schedule may be extremely helpful in preventing holiday meltdowns. Are there events, activities, or food items which could easily be eliminated to make the season less stressful? Could limiting or staggering activities and visits with known triggers be advantageous? Three common elements to anticipate: 

  • Interpersonal interactions. Holiday visiting can be stressful. Some children worry about talking to guests. Others are concerned they won't know the guests and therefore feel uncomfortable. Knowing your child's unique thinking pattern, anticipating his or her concerns, and helping to process feelings associated with those apprehensions are beneficial in beating holiday anxieties. One way to coach a child through interpersonal fears is to prepare ahead of time. Talk about who will or won't be at an event. Processing thoughts and feelings often helps to reduce anxiousness and over time offers children life skills to work toward self-regulation. I know parents who chose to host a holiday party in the child's home where the safety and familiarity of home helps lessen anxiety. Being in the home, the child has the ability retreat to a quiet place for a short time, if needed. This is a great option for some families. Demanding interpersonal communication is generally not the best solution and could actually bring on guilt. Many children who struggle with anxious thoughts are able to conceptualize the cause and effect of not communicating. In fact, they often understand that not talking to or acknowledging a person could have relational consequences. As a result, they may feel guilty about their inability to communicate. And, what about those unexpected visitors? When an unexpected visitor comes to the home, a child who is anxious around people but feels safe knowing the parent will respond if needed, will eventually be able to work through the uncomfortable feelings. As the child experiences his or her ability to regulate his or her anxiety, confidence and resilience grows. In turn, the child becomes better able to regulate through--even predict--anxious times. 
  • Sensory input. The holidays are packed with sensory experiences--sound, texture, smell, taste, and emotions. Knowing which sensory triggers may upset a child can be helpful when planning and scheduling. For example, three hours of light sighting may be too much, while driving by a few houses to and from normal errands might be more enjoyable. 
  • Food sensitivities. Holidays include yummy foods. Monitoring sugar, food dyes, and caffeine--which become stimulants in some children--may  be helpful. In children with heightened sensitives and anxiety, these items can be doubly troublesome. Talking with your children about how these things make them feel--shaky, jittery, nervous, heart-racing--they may be more likely to understand how to make better food choices. Again, this is another step in providing empowerment to children who tend toward anxious thoughts and actions. Pondering daily triggers offers insight to potential holiday obstacles. If your gluten-sensitive child is invited to a Christmas party, consider sending an alternative treat option. If your family has been invited to Grandma's house and you know there will be a vast selection of soda pop, consider bringing a beverage your child enjoys to add to the collection. We have also used these occasions to help our children process options prior to arriving. These conversations include talking about how to choose wisely, offering insight to how a particular food has caused a trigger reaction in the past, and brainstorming solutions to how to react graciously should certain foods be served. 

Prepare. Preparation is powerful. Talking with children ahead of time--in the car on the way to an event or offering time for children to share concerns the night before a big day--can help ward off anxiety and and stress. Knowing the schedule of events--for some children--can ward off anxiety. However, if your child can only comprehend small chunks, preparation may be your constant companion. Talking through upcoming events--or events which have passed--models for a child how he or she can begin to learn to self-prepare. With preparation, outbursts from over stimulation may be avoided. 

Observe. When the parent intentionally observes behavior and considers how that behavior may be related to particular situations, the parent is able to help a child not only process and work through the situation but also help the child recognize personal triggers. Knowing the triggers, the parent can further help a child work with those triggers to lower anxious thoughts. 

Limit. Let's face it, all of us--children and adults--have a tipping point, a point when holiday festivities become stressful. Consider the challenges your child faces on a daily basis. Perhaps there is a heightened awareness to smell or lighting. Maybe there is a sensitivity to food dyes or even anxious feelings around strangers. Use those daily challenges as a guide for what might have to be limited during the holiday season and plan accordingly. 

Model (self-regulation, self-control). My children--all of them--have benefited from my purposeful external processing. In other words, when I find myself in a situation which requires self-regulation or control, I process my thinking. For example, if we are visiting another family's home for a holiday dessert, while on the car ride to the home, I might say, "When I arrive at Mrs. Smith's home, I know she will have many yummy desserts to choose from. I will be tempted to sample everything. Instead, I am going to choose the two desserts I would most enjoy. And, I must also remember that nuts give me headaches. So, I probably will not choose anything with nuts, even if it is my favorite." This type of processing allows children opportunities to "hear" how other people process through decisions but also how people regulate or control their choices.

Sleep. It is easy to overload the holidays, staying up late to make the most of the hours in our days. In addition, with the excitement, children--like adults--are often fearful they will miss something should they fall asleep. The results are wide-eyed children awake long after the regular bed time. Being overtired can heighten sensitivities. When looking over the holiday schedule, consider how many late nights your family will be able to handle. Remember, children are not the only ones who will benefit by making sure sleep is a priority. 

We will not be able to ward off every potential challenge for our children. However, creating an environment--even during the holiday season--where children feel safe and listened to will help them overcome low to moderate levels of sensory stimulation or anxiety. When in fact, reality brings an unexpected--or even an anticipated--stressful situation, helping children process through the challenge will allow them to learn how to self-regulate. This learning is not only a welcomed treat during the holiday season, but also a life gift. 






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! 

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. 

In our twenty-three years of homeschooling, our children have benefited from activities rooted in just about every educational methodology.

As beneficial and pleasurable as these experiences have been, the greatest rewards in retention and relationship have come from incorporating life moments into our days together; discovering God’s creation, serving the needs of others, and engaging in conversations.

In the younger years, we:

  • Watch busy ants carry food to their hills, commenting on their phenomenal strength and work ethic.
  • Till a small garden and sow seeds, watering and weeding with hopes to enjoy the abundant harvest, the fruits of patience, diligence, and perseverance.
  • Build a birdhouse, hanging it in a nearby tree and observing the types of birds that enjoy the shelter.
  • Weed the flower bed, discussing root systems and parts of the plant.
  • Pull out a blanket after the sun goes down and gaze upward, identifying constellations, studying the night sky.
  • Study and sketch the moon each night, pondering its changes.
  • Solve a jigsaw puzzle or play a game, building critical thinking and problem solving skills.
  • Sing together, experimenting with high and low pitches and encouraging vocal giftedness.
  • Sort the laundry, learning the difference between lights and darks while engaging in conversation.
  • Tidy the house, encouraging young helpers to be a part of the family team, doing what they are able.
  • Peel carrots together, strengthening small motor skills while discussing life’s profound questions, like why are bats nocturnal. 
  • Make lunch together, slicing bread into half-inch slices and cutting sandwiches into halves and quarters.
  • Make lemon meringue pie, marveling at how the egg whites change and stiffen.
  • Slice and quarter lemons, stirring in one-half a cup of sugar and filling a pitcher with water to make lemonade.
  • Cuddle on the couch, reading page after page, book after book, traveling to unknown places, meeting extraordinary people.
  • Look through family photo albums, recalling favorite memories and sharing family history.
  • Invite people of varying backgrounds, cultures, and careers into your home, broadening our children’s understanding of the world.
  • Make homemade holiday and birthday cards, sending greetings to those who might need extra cheer.

During the pre-teen, teen and young adult years, we:

  • Discuss theologies, philosophies, and belief systems, expanding our young adult's understanding of how people think and apply knowledge, while building and refreshing our own knowledge base.
  • Learn with our young adults, discerning when to encourage independent study and when to be involved.
  • Embrace our young adult's talents, giftedness, or special interests, offering to help in the discovery and research process.
  • Start a sewing project, learning and creating alongside, shoulder to shoulder.
  • Sweat with our teens, practicing sports and fitness skills, caring for their physical health.
  • Walk briskly around the neighborhood, praying for the neighbors while setting a foundation for life fitness.
  • Complete a task together (cleaning a bedroom, washing a car, mowing the yard), lightening the load of doing it alone and engaging in conversation which may not happen otherwise. 
  • Take our teens on dates (clothes shopping, tea rooms, book cafés, or sports stores), enjoying our alone time together away from the hustle-bustle of everyday life.
  • Read books together, sharing feelings and insights.
  • Sit with our young adults, engaging in conversation, helping them sort through challenges, uncertainties, and frustrations.
  • Strive to be quick to listen, asking questions that help our young adults move through difficult circumstances or relational snags using problem solving and conflict resolution skills.
  • Relax together, watching a movie or discussing a recently read book.
  • Serve at a local shelter, mission, or children’s home, blessing those who need an extra dose of love while encouraging one another to care for the least served.
  • Offer childcare for single moms or moms on bed rest, meeting her practical needs.
  • Go on a mission trips together, experiencing new cultures and serving people whose existence matters despite difficult circumstances. 

As our children move to adulthood and away from home, I often ask what mattered most in their learning and living years at home. By far, the experiences which have impacted them most, shaped their being, are the experiences which involved the real and relational. 

As you move about your day today, embrace the real and relational. Those moments matter and they will impact your family for years to come.

Life Lessons in the Laundry Room

The laundry room. Daily laundry loads.

Life reflections, unexpected.

That box. That one (yes, that assumes there are others) box in the laundry room, way up high atop the file cabinet (yes we still own one).

Last night I began the PROCESS of dejunking the laundry room, under the influence of my very organizational-minded daughter.

It started with that box.

I began digging, wrestling through papers and pictures. Tossed a few in the trash. Read entries from my college journal, the one I kept while dating Mike. Shared some of my thoughts with our children and then made a "keep" pile. I pulled out a binder of notes scrawled on napkins, scraps, and bulletins; a book someday. I added the binder to the "keep" pile. Another binder. This one dated in the 1990s full of notes from an encouragement column I wrote as a homeschool support group leader. I read over the columns, smiling at the names, remembering the faces and field trip moments. People I knew and walked the homeschooling journey with, twenty years ago.

Ah, my early years of home education with our oldest children five, seven, maybe ten years old. I purposed an environment of love, grace, enrichment; a place where intellect could be challenged and a love to learn modeled. I wanted learning to be digging deeper, studying the fascinating, fostering curiosity, but also master math facts and memorize the periodic table. I planned my days with the "goal" or "what I thought they would need" when they walked over our threshold.

I loved those days. Blossoming with potential, fresh with anticipation, hope and aspiration. I loved being a mom, being with my children, watching every light bulb light, pondering how their early passions—strategy, the outdoors, people, analytics — might be used in their future.

Forward to today.

The oldest are now adults, one graduated from college, earning an MBA, working full time and acting as CFO for a non-profit. The other, married, pursuing a doctorate in physical therapy. Each unique.

But here is the interesting least to me, the lesson I reflect on.

The lesson which will impact the education of the ones still at home.

Though I envisioned young men walking across my threshold, educated a certain way, prepared for certain things, I would have never dreamed my young strategist would to teach business skills to people in Haiti. Had I known that, I would have prepared him a different way!

But wait! Prepared him a different way? He WAS prepared.

That is the lesson I learned.

Though we had our vision set on something totally different, God used our faithful prayers and provided EVERY opportunity my son needed today. His learning at home PREPARED him for where he is today. And, I am glad I really didn't know exactly what he would need, as my heroic attempts to PREPARE him would have pigeon-holed him, given him too narrow a perspective, limited to what I thought "he needed".

There is no way I would have ever fathomed him teaching business skills to business owners in Haiti.

And even if I did, how would I have taught those skills?

I look over my thoughts in those notebooks. All I thought I had to do. All I thought I knew, but really didn't understand. All the books I thought we had to read. All I purposed. All great things.

Now, I see differently.

What did he learn from his days in our home.

  • The ability to communicate with others and work with individuals very different than himself.
  • The ability to take risks, to visit places that might not be safe, for the sake of something bigger than he can understand.
  • The ability to solve a problem, a problem he didn't even know he would have.
  • The ability to pour his heart into something, not give up, and walk faithfully when the future is unknown.

That box.  The one stored in the deep, dark corners of a closet or the one atop tall piles in the laundry room. That box of lessons. 

I'm glad my daughter encouraged me to purge and organize.

In the process I was able to reflect on our years and look to the future, with new anticipation.

What opportunities will our children have ten years from now? I don't really know, and I am glad. That reflection causes me to use what we have and know today, to the best of our ability, with what is provided, and allow God to plant our feet to destination I cannot possibly know or understand.

More to Playing Store

"Let's play store!"

There is much more to playing store than meets the eye. 


In fact, as a struggling learner, I believe playing store--adding customer orders and writing receipts--saved my declining math and spelling skills while building my learning confidence. As a mom, I have observed my children build the same skills behind their cashier stands and in their make-shift restaurants. 

Playing store is an essential developmental milestone, academically and socially. Playing store provides valuable educational entertainment. 

I remember, fondly, my pretend store years. Every day after school, I spent the afternoon at the neighbor's house until my mom arrived home from work. My friend and I would spend all afternoon in the basement, playing. The basement was alive with learning. In one corner stood three tall metal cabinets packed with craft supplies: old jars, paper, stickers, glitter, colored pasta, craft feathers, beads, and GLUE...lots of glue. Oh, and PAINT! Along end wall, all twenty to thirty feet of wall, was THE STORE! My friend's mom saved and cleaned EVERY box, plastic container and bottle she emptied from her kitchen--especially the ones loved most by children: Lucky Charms, Jell-O pudding, Tastykakes, soda. When the recyclables were cleaned, they were placed in THE STORE. There was a cereal section, a dessert section, a dairy section. Oh, and there was THE CASH REGISTER--an old adding machine with a roll of register tape a mile long. The store was a child's dream! We spent hours playing in the basement. 

When my oldest showed interest in "playing store" I began saving boxes and containers. I purchases garage sale price tags and we made an OPEN sign. The boxes lined the wall of my kitchen and provided hours of play...and much more!

Yes, the box shelf grew and grew, spilling over into the living room. Visitors were understanding, almost envious. They wanted to play, too! 

Today's the day. Save that box. Wash out the plastic container. There's learning in those recycles. And, there is so much more to playing store!

To cultivate the interest in playing store, gather

  • coins- real will provide opportunity for responsibility
  • paper money
  • receipt book
  • garage sale price tags
  • We're Open sign- with analog clock with movable hands to practice time telling
  • adding machine or cash register
  • extra paper for menus and handcrafted paper pretend food
  • clean recycles materials- drink holders, washed cups and plastics from food vendors and retailers
  • aprons
  • chef hat

Playing store creates opportunity to

  • write numbers- numerals and decimals
  • associate numerals with values
  • apply number concepts
  • add money values (decimals)- coins and bills
  • practice math vocabulary
  • use shapes and symbols
  • practice language and communication skills
  • read and spell high frequency vocabulary
  • write with purpose- menus, orders and receipts
  • repurpose recyclable materials
  • collaborate with playmates regarding rules of play and responsibility

There is much more to playing store than meets the eye. Yes, there is the potential for recyclables to take over a corner of a kitchen or develop into a basement marketplace, maybe even make a mess of a living area. However, the rewards of the store playing season are indeed life-impacting. The mind will imagine. The feelings toward learning, brighten. Conversational skills will develop.

Celebrate the learning!

Indeed, when the cardboard boxes and plastics finally end up in the recycling bin, children will have been encouraged and empowered. And that is definitely worth a season of box and container collecting. 

Making Multiplication Mastery SIMPLE

There are some questions I am asked frequently. This one is no different. Comes often.

"How do you get children to master multiplication facts?"

The question is usually followed by a great sigh of,  "I've tried everything." 

Multiplication is a common frustration for parents. Mike and I hear concerns at evaluation time. I read worries on Facebook. Parents inquire while visiting my booth at conventions. And, I find the question in my inbox.

And, we are walking the journey with you!

We have personally faced this problem, several times.

Others have, too. YOU are not alone!

Developmentally, children must understand the concept of multiplication before they will understand what the symbolic (the number and signs) equation means. After understanding the concept and hence what the symbolic equation represents, children can begin mastering the facts.  In other words, children must understand the language " ____ groups of ______" and the corresponding numerals before mastery will make sense (unless, of course, the goal is to simply master the facts).

Based on our experience and the experiences of those whom we have coached through the process, the answer to the question about mastering multiplication depends on the child. In other words, every child has a unique developmental time table and there is no one right answer as to how to master facts (there are however, many opinions). In addition, some who once mastered the facts forget over a year's time and need review.

Though we all hope for an easy answer, one that works for every child, over time. It's just not so. 

At least it hasn't been for us or the folks we know. 

Thankfully, however there are many options and ideas from which to choose when working with children to master facts.

Start with the concept. Go back and review it when needed whether several times in a lesson, several times a year or once every year. The learner must innately understand (even see a picture in the mind, for visual learners). Remember, the wording to internalize is "(a number) groups of (a number)".  For example, a dozen eggs can be 2 groups of 6 OR 6 groups of 2. 

Draw a picture. Drawing a picture is a great help, especially for visual learners, though it can be beneficial for other learners as well. 

Find it in life. Look for examples of multiplication in real life where math can be taken off the page and made relevant, meaningful. This is especially important for kinesthetic learners. Examples are a box of 16 crayons divided in 2 rows, 3 four-legged animals, 2 tricycles, etc. This strategy was helpful for all of our children.

Make a visual or model. Outlining arrays (rows and columns of squares) on a piece of graph paper, drawing a picture for a math problem in a lesson, counting objects to represent an equation, really anything a child can relate to and then save as a picture in the mind. 

Skip Counting. In our twenty-one years of home education experience (as well as experience with hundreds of homeschoolers through mentoring and annual evaluations), skip counting does not always equate to understanding the concept multiplication. The child must be able to have the memory and the processing abilities to convert and apply the information. Skip counting worked for one of our learners.

Turn Math into an Art Project. For our creative learner who likes to cut and paste, math is palatable when accompanied by color and flare. Last Thanksgiving we enjoyed making multiplication turkeys. Placing the 8 facts on colored feathers not only added festivity to our day but allowed quick access to troublesome, hard to remember facts.

Read about Math. We have had great success finding math-related books in the non-fiction section of the library. In fact, I have shown my children where the math books are shelved to give them greater independence as they dig deeper into math concepts introduced at home or in their math program.


Triangle Flash Cards. For one of our learners loved this idea, probably because it presented as more of a game than flash cards. Regardless, we were pleased with the results. Sherri Seligson explains her version of DIY Triangle Flash Cards on her blog, Just Extraordinary. 

Whole Equation, Including the Answer. "Are you kidding me?" That was my reaction to this method. For some learners we know, writing the fact (the whole equation factors and product) on flash cards and then verbalizing the equation aloud was the only technique which yielded mastery.This approached worked for one of our learners. 

No matter which strategy or technique you choose, there is an easy, natural sequence which helps learners feel successful, almost immediately. Mastering the facts in this order is helpful in terms of ease and building confidence: 1s (and number times one remains the same), 2s, 3s, 5s (perfectly illustrated with nickels), 4s, 10s (pull out the dimes), 6s, 7s, 8s, and 9s.  

For example, if using flash cards with answers (full equation), write all the 2s on 3x5 cards. Mix up the cards. Set a timer for two minutes. have the child go through the stack verbalizing the full equation on the card and moving the card to the back of the stack. Repeat through the deck until the timer rings. Repeat the activity once or twice a day for one week. To evaluate whether mastery is emerging, give an oral drill. If all the facts were mastered, move to the next fact grouping. 

Check Off List. Using a check off list, learners can cross out mastered facts. A dry erase check off list has worked well in our home. Once we practice drilling the facts with verbal and visual cues (using cards mentioned above) twice or three times a day for several days, we do an oral drill. Sometimes we do this while driving to a field trip or while enjoying shade outside under a tree. If the leaner knows the answer to the fact I give, we exchange high fives (if I am not driving!) and I tell the child they can cross the fact off the list. If we drill in the car, we high five and mark off facts when we arrive home. Checking off facts is always a CELEBRATION! 

I must add, I was not a fan of flash cards UNTIL I had a child who could only learn multiplication with this strategy. Though I was hesitant, I wanted my child to learn as desired. And, at the child's request, I tried and was pleasantly surprised. We did, however have to review for several years.

You may be on the mountain (as it seems) to mastery. Take courage! You are not alone. 

We are walking the journey together.

Preschool to high school and every stage in between.

Multiplication Dry-Erase, Mark-Off Chart

A handy tool offering learners a visual picture of mastered facts. When a fact is mastered, the child uses a dry erase marker to cross out the fact. 

Master the fact, cross it out! 

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