As you teach mental algebra to your child, the first step is to work on problems that cover situations with people or objects that are equal distances away from each other, or an equal number of fruits were purchased, or the stick was broken in the middle. After you get your kids through the problems that focus on “one independent unknown with one independent equation” type, it is time to get more complex. Now you teach your child how to solve the problems where things are not equally divided. It isn’t hard, as you might imagine, just different. And so you teach her to figureRead More →

Chapter 3: A Plan Interrupted By An Adventure and Maybe A New Friend In which Newt attempts to speak with Keeper Karl Newt had spent all last night thinking. And thinking. And, thinking. He was trying to figure out where Keeper Karl went every evening, but was having little luck. Each morning Newt would try out a new plan. One morning he tried talking to Keeper Karl, but the kind, tall man just stared down at Newt and hooted in a clumsy, quasi-bearlike fashion. Newt loved the times, at breakfast and again at dinner, when Keeper Karl would sit in the bear house with NewtRead More →

This week on TeachMeBetter.org DoodleMom and her eager team of doodles continue Algebra lessons in the Doodles Do Algebra curriculum series. These lessons are available as worksheets for download at www.teachmebetter.org along with answer key and teacher’s guide included in each lesson post. We are in the final stages of completing the Doodles Do Algebra curriculum for publication and give away individual lessons on teachmebetter.org because we, like you, homeschool our children and cost is always, always a factor. The lessons are based on algebra texts written in the 1700’s and 1800’s by Cocker and Ray. We chose this model of teaching because, simply, thisRead More →

From time to time during our homeschooling adventure I have had one of those days. The kind we all face once in a while. The kind of day where you wake up in the morning, perhaps you overslept your alarm and you don’t have enough time to sit with a cup of coffee and read the news before getting the kids up to have breakfast and start lessons. You lay there in bed looking at the ceiling and wishing for a do-over, even though the day has hardly begun. You are not particularly looking forward to homeschooling today. You really wish you could spend theRead More →

A good part of algebra requires thinking through problems in your head. This type of mental work is not taught anymore in school (not even in the dark ages of the 1970’s when I was in middle school). So learning to teach it to your own children first requires that you understand how it works. Let’s start at the beginning. One important type of mental “algebra” problem is focused on solving the typical type of “so-and-so has twice as many apples as his friend, if together they have such-many apples, how many does each person have?” problems. The key here is to mentally count upRead More →

Chapter 2: In Which Newt Discovers the Name of the Man in the Blue Coveralls Newt was happy to be at the zoo and comforted by his new friendship with the man in the blue coveralls who brought him food and sat with him and told him stories of all the animals in the zoo each day. But the nights were still cold and long and Newt dreadfully missed the daytime companionship of the man in the blue coveralls. One especially long night, Newt devised a plan to find out where the man in the blue coveralls went each evening. The first step in thisRead More →

This week on TeachMeBetter.org DoodleMom and her eager team of doodles continue Algebra lessons in the Doodles Do Algebra curriculum series. These lessons are available as worksheets for download at www.teachmebetter.org along with answer key and teacher’s guide included in each lesson post. We are in the final stages of completing the Doodles Do Algebra curriculum for publication and give away individual lessons on teachmebetter.org because we, like you, homeschool our children and cost is always, always a factor. The lessons are based on algebra texts written in the 1700’s and 1800’s by Cocker and Ray. We chose this model of teaching because, simply, thisRead More →

This week we begin another school year. I worked for weeks to be ready for the traditional end-of-year celebration we usually have. I prepared fun names for various new clubs and activities for my kids for the new year. I color-coded everything to make it fun and exciting. On Sunday (the last day of July), I was finally ready. I cooked a special dinner and made a two-tiered cake. With grade sheets and descriptions and lists of every last little thing my kids learned in the previous year at the ready, I called everyone to dinner. Happily, I thought to myself, “This year I reallyRead More →

Before your kids learn about unknowns and how to simplify polynomials, it is really really helpful to give your kids familiarity and confidence “mentally” solving problems that usually are taught as algebra problems with written steps. I discovered, after fielding years and years of repeated versions of the “why do I have to know how to do this?” question, that my kids just took to algebra straight away when I took them through a number of mental math problems first. It was also quite surprising how easily they (and I) could do the problems without pencil and paper. You can start by looking for aRead More →

Chapter 1: In which we meet Newt… It was a bright, warm morning at the zoo. The animals were all waking up and the sounds of everyone grunting and hooting and crowing filled the day. A tall man wearing dirty blue coveralls trudged along the main path leading from a nice cottage towards the animal cages. He was still tired from staying up late the night before to settle in the new baby animal that had been shipped from the zoo’s Artic research station. As he passed the monkey cage, the man said, “Why good morning, Gertrude? How are you and your fine children faringRead More →