Saturday, May 30, 2015

Guest Post: 4 Math Activities for the Pool by Patricia Sarmiento

This guest post is by Patricia Sarmiento.  You know how I love math and I am tickled to incorporate math into my summer pool times

4 Math Activities for the Pool

            Don’t get me wrong, summertime should definitely be action-packed and fun for the kids. But I’ve never been one to pass up a great learning opportunity, and time at the pool provides many. First, it’s a great time to teach your kids about water safety as they strengthen their swim skills. If you’re looking for information on pool safety, this all-in-one guide on recreational swimming safety is a great place to start.

            Then, there are also the many learning-based pool games. What’s great is that many of them are so much fun that the kids don’t even realize they’re playing an educational game. Here are a few math-based games that I played with my kids last summer, and that I’ll definitely be trying out again this year:

Swimming Pool Math Toss. From, this is a great game to play with elementary school-age children. Buy a few plastic Frisbees and sponges. Write numbers on the backs of the Frisbees and corresponding equations on sponges. Then, put the Frisbees in the pool and have the kids toss the sponges at the correct Frisbees. If the kids are older, you can use more challenging equations or larger numbers.

Fishing Fun! This is a fantastic multi-subject lesson. It prompts you to take the kids pretend fishing at the pool. Make your own fishing poles using string, sticks, and paper clips and have the kids go fishing. Use the worksheet provided by to help the kids imagine what kind of fish they might catch. When they do catch something, have them “measure” what they’ve caught by using the fish on the worksheet.

In addition to being a creative thinking and math lesson, it is a great opportunity to teach your kids about how to be safe around ponds, lakes, streams, and other natural bodies of water. 

Math-driven Swim Lesson. Academy Swim Club offers several ways to turn your kids’ swim lessons into math lessons. For example, you might ask them to swim a path in a certain shape or ask them to swim x + y number of laps. Connecting their swim lessons to math concepts is a great way to challenge their minds as they become stronger swimmers.

Swimming Pool. From the University of Cambridge, you can either use the provided diagram to use this lesson on a rainy day or use the actual steps of a pool. It comes with several questions for you to ask your “students” to help you guide them through the lesson. The activity offers a fun way to help younger kids work on counting and to introduce them to negative numbers. It also offers a nice opportunity to discuss with young children the safest ways to enter the pool.

I want my kids to experience learning during the summer, but because swimming is such a valuable skill, I also want them to spend as much time as possible becoming stronger swimmers. With these activities, they can do both.

Patricia Sarmiento is a health and fitness blogger. A former high school and college athlete, she loves writing about health, wellness, fitness, and other health-related topics. She and her family make living an active lifestyle a constant goal. They live in Maryland.

Photo credit: Via Flickr – by flattop341

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Walking Through Burnout 2

Last week I talked about what I did when I was burned out.  This week I wanted to share about what I did not do.
  • I did not keep looking for new curriculum or new ways to do things.  I did not research or look for anything.  I stopped getting freebies. 
  • I did not stick around when home education friends started getting in big discussions about math programs or the latest and greatest.  I found it too stressful.  I stepped away from talking about home education.  
  • I did not blame my children for being burned out.  It was me, not them. 
  • I did not worry if my children were doing enough, reading enough, or making progress.  I followed the plan and rejoiced at what we were doing.  
Stepping back was really helpful.  It helped me to get a new perspective and remember why I started home educating.  I want to enjoy the limited amount of time I have with my kids.

Hopefully something in these last two weeks was helpful for you if you are feeling burned out.  I am here to say that things are better.

photo credit: Fuego 1 via photopin (license)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Walking through Burnout!

About this time last year, I looked at my husband and told him I could not keep home educating.  I just did not have it in me.  Between our oldest son with multiple issues, all the kids, and my very busy little ones I could not go on.  He thought I was joking.  I convinced him that I meant it.  I started looking at the Baptist school down the street, and I am not even Baptist.  Something had to change.

I watched this video by Susan Wise Bauer. She starts talking about burnout at about the 9:30 minute mark.  It helped me to define my feelings, and realize I needed a plan to get through it to the other side.  I like home educating, but I needed a break.  These are some of the actions steps I took.

  • For me I started by taking the whole summer off.  I had never done that.  We had schooled all year with breaks in-between.  I had not taken a large chunk of time off.  It helped tremendously. 
  •  I realized I was not going to finish the whole curriculum, took a deep breath and cut my losses.  I did finish math, but that was all.  I dumped some things in my recycling bin and did not look back.  (Well, until they blew out of the bin in a storm and landed on the deck and stuck there.  I did get over that.)
  • I choose a complete curriculum with lesson plans for the next year, and just followed that.  I would try to be more eclectic in the past and pull in all sorts of resources, but I did not have that in me.  I just followed the plan.
  • I was distressed with the state of my life and house and started doing a project a day.  My friend Kerry and I would write each other daily and share our projects.  It kept me going and as my house became neater my attitude changed.  My kids helped me with the projects.  We really had fun.  I felt like I was getting my life back. 
  • I shared with some other friends how I felt, and I was shocked that they felt the same.  One friend said she was so burned out she was crispy.  I loved that.  Just sharing with others made me feel better. It is so easy to think that everyone else is doing great and you are the only one.
  • I enjoyed just playing with my kids.  I played hours of badminton, sat in the back yard with them, took a few field trips, and just did not worry about school.   I remembered what it was like to just be with them. 

Next week. . . I will tell you what I did not do.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day!  Some of you know that I became a mother on Mother's day.  So Mother's Day has a special place in my heart.

As a homeschool mom we all wear many hats.  Here's to you on Mother's day.  May it be a day filled with happy moments. As home education moms we really are Everything Moms. Here is a poem that celebrates you! 

Everything Mom

How did you find the energy, Mom
To do all the things you did,
To be teacher, nurse and counselor
To me, when I was a kid.

How did you do it all, Mom,
Be a chauffeur, cook and friend,
Yet find time to be a playmate,
I just can’t comprehend.

I see now it was love, Mom
That made you come whenever I'd call,
Your inexhaustible love, Mom
And I thank you for it all.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Go Figure! math website

  I was thrilled to learn about a wonderful new math web site by Kimberly, a homeschool student.  Go Figure is a project she has been working on. It is an wonderful site filled with the "elegant side" of mathematics.   Read below to learn more!  I love seeing what our fellow homeschoolers are doing. 


First Stop

Welcome to Go Figure! This is a website dedicated to showing the elegant side of math, the kind that gets less attention than it deserves. Math is not just about rote calculations: it’s about analytical thinking and creative problem-solving, and that’s what makes it so fun! This website is still growing, so there’s more to come. To subscribe to our email list and hear when new content is posted, click here.

More Information:  

Go Figure is a project designed to boost mathematical interest in middle school and junior high school students. Not only is math becoming increasingly important in an ever more technological world, but it also has a playful and elegant side that is too often overlooked. A lot of students see math as dull and difficult, and this mindset can artificially sway students who are on the fence about math. My goal is to promote an alternative approach: one that celebrates the beautiful side of mathematics and provides a path to learning the invaluable lessons – such as analytical thinking and creative problem solving – that it teaches.

I really only started seeing the beautiful side of math in middle school, when I started participating in math competitions. In my contest preparation, I ran into elegant math concepts I hadn’t encountered before, and I really enjoyed exploring them. Around the same time, I saw my friends starting to like math less and less, and I thought it was sad that they were turning away from it just as things were getting interesting. Over time I read more about the non-math culture in the United States and the way most students see math, and I wanted to do something to change this mindset. When I attended a Julia Robinson Math Festival in my area and saw volunteers helping students explore beautiful math problems, the atmosphere galvanized me to get involved in showing students that there’s a lot to like about math.
Quoted From The Davidson Website.