Category : Teaching

Learning the times tables: not always fun, but necessary

The other day, my teenage kids admitted to me that I was right.

Trust me, this doesn’t happen often! So it warrants a quick post.

My kids admitted to me that it turns out that knowing your times tables does really help you in whatever math class you’re taking. That’s because after you learn your times tables, most (if not all) other mathematical concepts use the knowledge of times tables in order to solve problems. It’s not critical to know that seven times eight is fifty-six; you can figure that out when you’re working on a math problem that requires that information. However, knowing how to solve multiplication equations efficiently and correctly will vastly speed up the time it takes to solve almost any math problem. This is not only important in math class, but it’s also important when taking standardized tests like the SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT… you know the drill. It also comes in handy in physics and other science classes.

So if you’re teaching young kids, make sure that they’re comfortable with numbers, and even though it’s a slog, have them memorize those times tables. Come up with fun ways to do it that don’t simply involve rote memorization (though the rote memorization is also important). Once they can solve multiplication problems in there head, it will help them solve more complex math problems in the future.

Here’s a post with a helpful times tables practice activity.

Being comfortable with numbers

Creating a math glyphI’ve been creating educational products for students for some time now, and I’ve discovered something about learning mathematics that I think is important. What’s important in learning math isn’t whether or not you’re good at math, it’s whether or not you think you’re good at math.

When students start learning mathematics at a young age, they’re going to either adapt to the concept of using numbers and symbols, or not. If they don’t, this might instill in them a common phenomenon – the “I’m not good at math” phenomenon. Once a student thinks they’re not good at math, it becomes true… they won’t be comfortable around numbers, and fear will keep them from learning to their full potential.

This is why I think it’s better to have students succeed at performing easier math than to challenge them with more difficult math. This is not to say that students who are already good at math should not be challenged. But for those students who fear numbers, giving them easier tasks that they are able to succeed at will bolster their confidence and remove their fear of numbers.

One way to achieve this is to make math fun. Give your students fun math glyphs or puzzles and avoid long, boring, repetitive rote math drills. Whatever you can do to remove their fear of numbers and instill a love of mathematics will help them as they grow as students.

Teaching Tolerance through Teaching about Religion and Cultures

In today’s world everything is constantly changing. We as teachers have to ability to teach tolerance through teaching about different cultures and teaching about different religions. It’s not about trying to convert anyone, of course. It’s about to understand the differences between people’s religion. Many religions do have common threads and with these common threads we can teach tolerance and empathy to our students.

I know when I was young, I didn’t know anything about any other religions and just a little about a few different cultures in Europe and Mexico (I lived in Texas). I really didn’t learn much about these things until I went to the University of Texas in Austin. I learned some through the classes I took, but most from the people I met. I took lots of foreign languages because I was so interested in learning more about these neat cultures. I took Malayalam, Japanese, Russian, French, Czech and Latin. I guess you could say I was a little bit obsessed. I embraced learning about the differences.

Today with the dawning of the internet, we can teach our children so much earlier when their minds are open to learn about new cultures and religions. One of my favorite things to make for my students and Teachers pay Teachers are units on different countries, religions and ancient civilizations. I hope you can use some of these products in your classroom to help teach about tolerance! We all can help make the world a better place to live together!

Viewing a rocket launch

Space Shuttle AtlantisIf you live in Central Florida, or if you ever find yourself in the area, you might consider taking your kids or students to see a rocket launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Florida. It’d say “It’s a blast!”, but then you’d probably send me hate mail and unfriend me on Facebook.

Last week I visited the Kennedy Space Center with some friends. My friends live and work in the United Kingdom, and as such had not checked out the Kennedy Space Center before. Our family got annual passes some years ago and been to the center several times, but it is always interesting to visit the complex, especially (for me at least) the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit. On this particular day our kids did not accompany me to visit the center – they had school that day.

When we arrived we learned that there was to be a launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket later that evening. We decided we would take the shuttle to watch the launch. None of us had seen a rocket launch before – they don’t get that sort of thing in the UK, and while I do live here in Florida I had never gotten around to doing it. Maybe it was one of those “it’s always there if I ever want to do it, so no hurry” sorts of things. So after exploring the center we took the shuttle to the special viewing area and sat in the bleachers to watch the launch.

The launch went according to plan (well, okay, it was one minute late) and it was amazing. At first the flames appear, then the clouds of smoke start to billow beneath the rocket. The rocket slowly lifts into the sky, gradually picking up speed as it climbs. Then the noise hits you – a thunderous bass that shakes the bleachers even from far away (which is a good thing – being too close to a rocket launch will result in incineration or death by, believe it or not, ridiculously loud noise). As the rocket pierces the atmosphere it leaves behind a little wisp of cloud before it continues upward into space.

I’m hoping to take our own kids to the Kennedy Space Center to see a rocket launch someday soon. I think it is fascinating to see science in action, and the immense power of a space rocket in flight is breathtaking to experience. It also demonstrates how amazing we as a species have become at manipulating the materials of our world into amazing technology like space rockets, space shuttles, satellites, and telescopes to explore our universe. It also makes me think about STEM teaching, and of finding ways to introduce kids to different technologies by actually experiencing them – like exploring the insides of a computer, riding a high speed train, or watching something being manufactured at a plant. If you can think of any good ideas of this nature, please let me know!

P.S. One interesting site that a tour guide told us about at the Kennedy Space Center is Spaceflight Now. On this site you can see the various rocket launches that are scheduled throughout the world.

Falcon 9 rocket launch

TPT Teacher Appreciation Sale and Two Gift Card Giveaways

Hi Everyone! I hope you all are having a great end of the school year! I just want to thank you for all of your hard work this school year. Just think about all of your lives you have touched!

I’m giving away two $10 gift cards to two lucky people to help you wrap up the school year. One giveaway is at my instagram account Yvonne__Crawford. The other giveaway is at my facebook page – Mixminder. Enter both contests and double your odds of winning!

I’m also throwing a Teacher Appreciation Sale – 28% off my entire store. Just use code – THANKYOU17 to receive the entire discount.

Make sure to check out my new products, as I’m always adding new items. My newest item is an interactive notebook for kindergarten. Here’s a little peek at it.

Why I Exercise with My Children

exercise

I remember the days of yesteryore when I was in school and we had PE every single day for an hour. This was from when I was in kindergarten until I graduated. I know some people opted out of PE in highschool after doing their required two years, but I stayed in it because I liked it. I had grown up with it. Today; however, it’s a time where students are lucky to get PE every 3 days and many PEs are skipped because specials are cancelled for some reason or another.

I’m sure there are some schools where students do get PE every day, but not at my children’s school. I used to homeschool them so we always exercised together as part of our homeschool curriculum. They actually attend a school where there is no PE. I think there is a health class they are required to take for 1/2 of a sememster, but it’s not just PE, it’s learning about the body, etc. They attend a public performing arts school and in the last 3 years my son has gone there, he has not had a PE class once. I’m fine with that because this gives us a task as a family. We need to stay in shape together. My son and I like to take walks together and go running together and my daughter and I take Irish dance classes together and practice together.

I’d like to hope that I’m instilling in them the sense of health and the ability to take care of ones’ body and soul through exercising. Time will only tell.

French Interactive Notebook

The other day, I mentioned that I have a new Spanish Interactive Notebook. What I didn’t mention is that I have a new French Interactive Notebook too.

I think interactive notebooks are even more important for learning a new language than for math or reading because so much of learning a new language is repetition. Also hands-on activities make it easier to remember new vocabulary words and grammar points. Here are few pictures from my New French Interactive Notebook:

french interactive

french grammar

french notebook

For more information about my new French Interactive Notebook, click here.

Interactive Spanish Notebook

I love interactive notebooks as much as the next teacher. I think they give students a lot of great information to reflect on when studying for a test, as well as when they look back on what they learned for the year. It’s also great to show parents and administors as well. But, more importantly, interactive notebooks are great for keeping students involved in the lessons!

I was looking for a good interactive spanish notebook for my friend for her daughter that she homeschools, but I couldn’t find any. I decided to make one myself. Growing up in Texas, we always spoke Spanish. My mother was fluent in Spanish and made sure we all knew how to speak it. She felt, like I do, that learning new languages is really important, as well as fulfilling.

Here are a few of the pages from my new Interactive Spanish Notebook:

spanish learning

spanish interactive notebook

spanish fun

If you’d like to see more information about my Interactive Spanish Notebook, click here.

Easter STEM

What’s better than STEM? Easter-themed STEM! Easter is a bit later this year and I like it because it’s not too close to St. Patrick’s Day so there is a lot of time to fully celebrate both holidays! I’m super excited with my new Easter STEM packet because my own children had so much fun making these challenges.

The first challenge is a Rocket Egg challenge. It’s really neat to see how innovated students can be when given a list of materials they can use and provided with a task.

Easter STEM

EASTER STEAM

Creating an Easter Egg Tower is so much more difficult than you can imagine. I tried building a few and although I did have some successful ones, I had a lot of disasters too which made us all laugh. Here’s one my son built.

Easter Science

Sewing in itself isn’t STEM, but it is when you try to create geometric designs in the design. And to tell you the truth, my daughter knew how to sew before this activity, but my son didn’t know. Now he does! So it’s really a win because he can sew his own buttons on his clothes when they fall off now. Believe it or not, but he really enjoyed sewing too and creating the designs. It also makes STEM more STEAM! Which is what I prefer!

Easter Sewing

The last challenge in my April STEM packet is a windmill. It’s really cute and I’ve included some printables that your students can use with their designs to help them have a more realistic looking windmill if they want to use them.

To fine my April STEM/STEAM unit click here.

Cooking Healthy with Kids!

One of my best memories of when I was young was when I used to cook with her. I remember one time she was a little upset, but she still wanted to do a little baking. My brother Rob Batot, my mother and I made up some coconut cloud cookies. But, since she was upset, she forgot to put the mixer together correctly and cookie batter flew all over the kitchen. My brother and I just went around and cleaned up all of the mess, of course by licking it up. Gross, yes, but it is a good funny memory because after that happened, my mother couldn’t help but laugh.

I like to cook and bake with my kids too, but it’s so hard since just when you think you have everything figured out, you find out that this or that is bad for you. Luckily for me I don’t have to worry about one thing when I cook with my kids – seasonings. My brother, Rob, created his own line of low salt seasonings. So, I just have to have those on stand by and everything else comes into place.

Here is our latest creation from last night – baked chicken, steamed broccoli and roasted utternut squash, seasoned with low salt seasonings. My kids were pleased with the results and my husband gobbled it up. I’m happy to have enough leftovers to eat today for lunch. It’s a win for all!

low salt seasonings

One of the things I really try to teach my kids is variety because I’m so bad at it normally. I try to buy different vegetables and use different types of meat so that they are used to eating different things and not the same thing over and over. I’m pretty sure they would be happy to eat mac and cheese every day, but that’s also not going to help them grow up healthy and strong if that is their only food.

I really try to actively get them into recipe selections and engaged in all aspects of cooking, from prepping to cleaning up. Because really who wants to clean up after cooking, not me! We try to clean while we are cooking. Then, when we are done, we don’t have much to do.