Dad’s Worksheets: my favorite math resource for parents and teachers

Dad’s Worksheets is an amazing website for parents and teachers. Dad provides a perfectly organized, comprehensive math curriculum for elementary school students. The tagline: “One Dad. Two daughters. 4,665 worksheets…and counting!”

The website and worksheets are completely free. Dad cleverly breaks every math skill into its component parts. He develops worksheets for the most basic skill level up to pre-algebra. Using Dad’s Worksheets, you can teach everything: the basic operations, word problems, money, time, graphs, patterns — you name it!

Dad has at least four versions of everything he does. At each skill level, students can practice over and over, using different problems.

I treasure Dad’s Worksheets’ Spaceship Math. It’s a system for teaching the basic math facts. Dad has Spaceship Math for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

Comment: I linked you to Spaceship Math Addition. To get to Spaceship Math for each operation, click on the operation (addition, subtraction, multiplication or division). Then go to Spaceship Math for that operation.

My students love Spaceship Math Addition. I love that it weans them off of counting on their fingers. Spaceship Math Addition begins with Level A, 1+2 and 1+3. Each level adds one or two math facts until your child knows all of them. Dad has created tests for every two levels. My class enjoys working through the levels. We leave no student behind: we don’t move on until every child has mastered a level.

Comment: Spaceship Math tests are supposed to be two-minute tests. For third graders, I give more time, because third graders write slowly. For fifth graders, I insisted on the two minute limit.

I really can’t say enough about Dad’s Worksheets. You have to see it for yourself. Teachers, use this to supplement your math curriculum. Use Spaceship Math to teach basic facts. Parents, use Dad’s Worksheets as a summer learning booster and for home tutoring materials. Kids, use Dad’s Worksheets when you play school.

Thank you, thank you, Dad’s Worksheets!

Posted in Academics,FREE Worksheets,Math by Corey Green @ Dec 22, 2009

 

Check the Lost-and-Found before each school vacation

Lost-and-FoundThe school lost-and-found usually holds an amazing collection of sweatshirts, jackets, note books, toys, jewelry, homework, water bottles, lunchboxes… the list goes on.

Chances are, something you purchased for your child resides in the lost-and-found.

In general, elementary schools clear out the lost-and-found before each major vacation.  Most  start by laying everything out on a large area.  The classes troop by,  inspect the goods,  and claim what is theirs.   Students are warned over and over that anything left over will be donated to charity.

There is usually a great deal left over to be bagged and donated to charity.

If your child is missing something, find it before the next school break.   Start by asking your child to check the lost-and-found.   Your child probably won’t find the lost item.   Don’t give up.

Kids lack the patience to sort through the lost-and-found.   I remember spending half an hour digging through the lost-and-found and finally emerging with my little brother’s warm jacket.   My brother stood beside me and complained the whole time.  Then and there, I knew that no child would ever spend that kind of time searching—even for a treasured possession.  Through the years, my students have confirmed my theory.   My students usually spend about ten seconds looking in the lost-and-found and never find anything of their own.

Parents, if you are serious about finding something in the lost-and-found, you will probably have to search for it yourself.   Turnabout is fair play:  consider assigning your child a chore or writing task that takes the same amount of time you spent searching through the lost-and-found.

Posted in Classroom Management,Tips for Parents by Corey Green @ Dec 16, 2009

 

Video games and history class

Age of EmpiresIn elementary school history, boys tend to have a big advantage over girls.  Why?

It goes back to the most important learning strategy: making connections.  Children must be able to link new knowledge to prior knowledge.  Without a frame of reference—the hook on which to hang new information—children find historical information to be foreign and difficult to understand.

Computer games and video games have given boys an advantage in history class.  When I teach history, particularly when the topic includes a war, the boys make many connections to video and computer games.  Boys have experience with ancient history from games like Age of Empires. When we discuss World War II, the boys cite the Call of Duty games as sources.  Although Call of Duty: World at War is the hands-down favorite, I also hear boys talk about learning history from the Medal of Honor games.

The Age of Empires games have battles, but the emphasis is on strategy and understanding how empires are built.  I think children can learn from playing the games—I know my younger brother did.  In my years of teaching, I have met many boys who developed an interest in history because of the Age of Empires games.  Learn more at the Age of Empires website.

The Call of Duty games are shooter games.  While I certainly can’t recommend Call of Duty games to parents, I will say that the boys often refer to them during history lessons.  Note for Parents: children are not permitted to view the Call of Duty website—you have to certify that you are a grown-up or the website locks you out.

These war video games are targeted at boys. While girls certainly have access to video games, I have never heard a girl refer to them in any way.   In my classroom, girls build a frame of reference for history class by reading the American Girls books.

Comment: These games introduce boys to history, but they are by no means a complete account of history.  The games cannot give boys an understanding of the horrors of war.

Posted in Academics,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Dec 10, 2009

 

Magic moments: reading before bedtime

With one simple lifestyle tweak, your child can become a better learner and a healthier person.  Your child will build vocabulary, attention span, and vicarious life experience.  Your child will develop healthy sleep habits that will last a lifetime.  The secret?  Reading before bedtime!

Reading before bedtime used to be the standard, but now it’s the exception.  In the classroom, I can tell who reads before bedtime each night: the kids who are wide-awake for school and above grade level in reading.

My experience is that all teachers require students to read for at least half an hour each day.  Finding quiet time to read can be difficult for kids, as well as for their parents.  The busy moments of the day between when parents return home from work, dinner time, bath time, and preparing for tomorrow leaves little time for other activities.  Few people can concentrate on reading during the hustle and bustle of early evening.

Right before bedtime is a terrific time to read.   In addition to the obvious benefit of increasing reading skills, reading in bed provides health benefits.  Reading lulls children to sleep, whereas a flickering computer or TV screen keeps them awake.  Reading is a calm, quiet activity that lets children quiet their minds and prepare for slumber.  Reading in bed can be an important relationship-building time: sharing a bedtime story with a parent or sibling is a powerful bonding experience.

I recommend that parents declare a certain time for children to be in bed.  For example, setting 8:00 as the time to be in bed works well for children in primary grades, who need at least 10 hours of sleep a night.  For them, lights out might be 8:30 on a school night.

Here’s a twist that confers a huge benefit to 5th and 6th graders: tell them they can stay up as late as they want as long as they are reading in bed.  No TV.   No games.  In bed.  Reading. 

This suggestion helps older kids feel empowered and in control of their lives.  The great thing is that it doesn’t matter what your child reads at bedtime.  Books, comic books, magazines, instructions for video games—any printed word builds reading skills.  Reading aloud to a younger sibling builds important skills, too.  The important thing is to get your child to read before falling asleep. 

If your child shares a bedroom with a younger sibling, reading in bed might not be practical.  Instead, you could give your child a quiet corner of the house designated for nighttime reading, with a pillow and a blanket to add a touch of soothing warmth.  I loved to read in the bathtub while I was growing up.  I was always ready to sleep after a warm reading bath!

An extra benefit for parents:  When your child is happily reading before bedtime, you’ll have more quiet time in your life, too.

Posted in Tips for Parents by Corey Green @ Dec 1, 2009