Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Expressing Gratitude

Expressing Gratitude

Hello there!  It's Thanksgiving again here in the U.S. and Moonlit Minds is very thankful this year.  All of our family was able to travel to a warm part of the country to celebrate together.  We'll be cooking some delicious meals, telling the "classic" stories about each other, and laughing out loud.  But we found a few quiet moments in all the excitement to bring you a quick activity that's perfect for this holiday.

Keep it Simple


Tonight, while lying quietly in bed, simply take turns telling each other what you are grateful for.  You could also try guessing what each other might be grateful for.  Studies have shown that people who express gratitude often show higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism, and energy.  To get you started, here are some things Moonlit Minds is grateful for:

After you finish this activity, you both might list "moments like this" among your gratitude list.

Thank You! 


Before we leave you to your holiday celebration, we wanted to take a moment to thank you!  Thanks for reading our blog and sharing it with others.  We'd love to hear from you.  Please leave a comment here or on Twitter or Facebook and tell us about what you're grateful for.

Happy Thanksgiving and....Mind the nap!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Math Monster Story 1 - Meet the Math Monster

Math Monster Story 1 - Meet the Math Monster

In our house, math and science are very important, and we try to bring the concepts to life as often as possible.  We believe kids need a growth mindset and confidence in order to overcome obstacles and find a love of learning.  The other day we overheard a mother tell her daughter, "I don't like math."  This broke our hearts because it can have such an impact on that child's perception and interest in math and other STEM subjects.  University of Chicago researchers found that "children of math-anxious parents learned less math over the school year and were more likely to be math-anxious themselves."  This underscores just how important it is to throw away your own prejudices and help your child discover things for herself.

Today we introduce the Math Monster, a lovable fellow who lives in a math-filled world and creates math-based challenges for children to overcome and develop confidence in their math problem solving skills.  We have been telling Math Monster stories to our daughter since she was four, but the concepts can be adapted for children at different ages and levels.  In tonight's activity, you will want to tell a story and go on a sort of adventure with your child.  We'll provide the characters, story framework, and example problems, but you can mold and retell the story to best suit your child's level and needs.  (Note: in each problem set, you'll see "Warm-up", "Jog", and "Sprint" which are just levels of increasing difficulty.  Adapt as needed.)

Ok, let's begin!  From this point on, you may begin telling the story to your child.

Pack Your Bags


It is a long journey to reach the the Math Monster's castle, and the key to a successful journey is preparation!  Begin packing your bag.  You'll need enough clothes and food to last you until you get home.  It will take you 1 day to get there and 1 day to get back and you'll want 1 day to spend with the Math Monster.

Warm-up: How many days will you be gone? 

Jog: If you need to eat 3 meals each day, how many meals do you need to pack?

Sprint: Breakfasts weigh 1 pound each; Lunches weigh 2 pounds each; Dinners weigh 3 pounds each.  How much weight will you have to carry for the entire trip?

The Journey Begins

Treasure-Island-map You check your map one last time, pack your bags into your ship, hoist your sails, and begin sailing east toward the rising sun across the Sea of Learning.  You arrive on the southern rocky shores of the Cubic Coast and anchor your ship.  You wade to the shore with your backpack and immediately begin hiking north.  You travel for hours through the deep, dark Fraction Forest and then over rickety bridges spanning the vast ravines of Calculate Canyon.  In the distance you can see the top of Math Mountain where the Math Monster lives. You are now in the far northern limits of the country of Arithmetica.

Warm-up:  If your ship has 5 sails, how would you count them on your fingers?

Jog: On the ocean you saw 4 dolphins, 3 whales, and 6 seagulls.  How many animals did you see?

Sprint: Calculate Canyon is twice as wide as it is deep.  It is 300 feet deep.  How wide is it?

He's Not So Scary Once You Get to Know Him

You climb a winding set of stairs carved into the mountainside.  You come to a castle shaped like the number 101.  You enter his castle through the giant 0-shaped doorway and can go into either of the enormous 1-shaped towers from there, but standing by the giant dining table in the middle of the great room is the Math Monster.  He certainly looks different from what you expected.  He stares at you for a while, and you don't know what to say.  Suddenly he smiles a humongous smile and says, "Hi, I'm Marvin the Math Monster.  I've been expecting you.  We're going to have such fun together!  But first thing's first: what did you bring me to eat?"  You share your food with Marvin who seems friendly enough.  You laugh at his silly jokes, and pretty soon you're feeling tired from your long journey.  You ask if you can go to bed.  He smiles a sly smile and says he has a guest room for you, but you have to answer 3 questions in order to find it.

Warm-up: The rooms are numbered 1 through 10.  Can you count them backwards?

Jog: Your room is one of the even numbered rooms.  Can you count by 2s to find even numbers?

Sprint: Your room is the one that is equal to half a dozen.
You find your room where a fire is crackling in the fireplace.  You fall into the warm bed, and you're asleep as soon as your head hits the fluffy pillow.  Your dreams are alight with swirling, sparkling numbers.

To Be Continued


We hope you enjoyed the first in our Math Monster series.   Feel free to adapt it to make it more appropriate for your child.  Remember to keep it light and fun.  Don't push too hard if a question is too challenging.  Acknowledge it can take time to figure some problems out (growth mindset) and promise to come back to it another time.  Sometimes the concepts are best demonstrated with a pencil and paper in the morning.  Math should be fun and exciting, so don't force it on them if it's not working out.  Try a new approach or try another night.  Remember the goal of these activities is to connect with your child and have fun, not to be their teach and drill math!

Stay tuned for more activities, including more in this series by following us on Twitter or Facebook.

And if you're interested in more great math problems for kids, be sure to check out Bedtime Math.  Their nightly math blog is always informative, well-written, and fun!

Mind the nap!


Pack Your Bags
WU: 3
J: 9
S: 18 pounds

The Journey Begins
WU: 1,2,3,4,5
J: 13
S: 600 feet

He's Not So Scary
WU: 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1
J: 2,4,6,8,10
S: 6