Saturday, April 2, 2016

Math Is Fun!

Note: all product links connect to through Hoagies' Gifted, Inc's affiliates program. Thank you for supporting Hoagies' Gifted, Inc!

Some people cringe when they hear those words... Math is fun.  Fun? Yes, FUN! Math is all about numbers and patterns and graphs and statistics. It's about fractals and computers and nature and ... life!

Our family's favorite parts of math are the fun and games. We've read books about math as bedtime stories, and play math games to make car trips seem shorter, no pen or paper required. Here are a few of our favorites.

Math books are great for independent reading and reading aloud.

The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure. The perfect bedtime read-aloud, The Number Devil is all about Robert's dreams.  Robert hates math. In his dreams, he goes on many adventures, led by the mysterious Number Devil. From number triangles to prime numbers, Fibonacci numbers and beyond, The Number Devil leads Robert through the amazing world of number theory, as he learns just how lovable numbers can be!

The Math Curse points out just how much math is life. As the author says, did you ever have one of those days where everything is a problem? 30 minutes with 10 things to do, 3 shirts and 2 pants to make up 1 outfit, and so on and so on. And then there's school... why can't you keep the 10 cookies without someone taking away 3? You're under the Math Curse!

Sir Cumference and the Knights of the Round Table. The first in a fun series, Sir Cumfernece takes us to the land of King Arthur, where Sir Cumference, his wife Lady Di of Ameter, and their son Radius, with the help of the carpenter, Geo of Metry, create the perfect Round table for the King's peace negotiations. Continue folowing Sir Cumference's adventures with The Sword in the Cone, The Dragon of Pi, and more!

When you think of alphabet books, you might think of some rather boring books to teach toddlers their alphabet.  G is for Googol is an alphabet book that is far from simple, and has something to teach kids from preschool to adult.  Do you know how big a Googol really is? What's a Rhombicosidodecohedron?  The Fibonacci series? And lots more, from A to Z! Once you master the alphabet from Abacus to Zillion, check out Q is for Quark, and discover science from Atom to Zzzzzzz.

For tons more great math books, visit Hoagies' Gifted Hot Topics Reading List: Mathematics.

Reading is rewarding, but Games are grand! Math games bring hands-on practice to arithmetic, logic, and other math skills. Our family loves math games while we're in the car or at home.

The 24 Game is a great game at home, but with older kids, we play more often in the car these days.  In the card game at home, Players try to solve a card containing 4 numbers, using those numbers to get to 24.  You might get there by addition, subtraction, multiplication or division. Advanced sets include Fractions / Decimals and Algebra/Exponents, using additional math functions to reach 24.

Once you know how it plays, you can play The 24 Game in the car.  How?  In many states, including mine, license plates usually contain 4 numbers and 3 letters. Pull up behind a car and use the 4 numbers to play.  (0 become 10). So the plate in front of us contains 2, 1, 5, 0. Using 2, 1, 5 and 10, one of us comes up with 10*5 = 50 / 2 = 25 -1 = 24! Sometimes we find different solutions to the same plate.  Math is FUN!

Speaking of travel, whenever we travel I keep Math Dice in my computer bag or purse.  The small mesh bag makes a perfect travel case. Inside, find 3 six-sided and 2 12-sided dice.  Roll the 12-sided dice and multiply them to get the target number.  Roll the 6-sided dice and use those three numbers to reach the target. Much like The 24 Game, but with a different target number each time, making it a little more creative and challenging.

A great new addition to my math games collection is Prime Climb. Prime Climb appeals to kids and adults, and helps kids with their math facts and prime recognition along the way. Roll the dice, and add, subtract, multiply or divide to get to the center of the board. :Land on an opponent? Send them back to start.

Math isn't just about numbers. SET is probably the single highest recommended game for gifted kids of all ages. Cards are dealt and your job is to find a set of three cards. Each card contains three characteristics: shape, color, fill, and number. Each characteristic in a set must be the same or all different. So a set might contain 3 green cards, but the cards might have 1, 2, and 3 shapes on them. Those shapes might all be ovals, but they might have solid, striped, and empty fill. Can you spot a set? Are there any sets in the tableau of 12 cards, or must 3 more cards be dealt? For beginners, separate the deck into a single color and have only 3 characteristics instead of 4, plus you'll have two more small decks to use at the same time!

Math also includes construction, and ZomeTool is an amazing construction set. Sets can be simple or complex, and can be used for tons of creative play. There are puzzles, educational units for many grades, and real-life to ZomeTool opportunities. From the Bubble Kit to the Hyperdo, ZomeTool grows with gifted kids through college and beyond!

For more math toys, visit Hoagies' Gifted Smart Math Toys and Games.

Whatever you do, teach your kids (and yourself!) that math is fun... because it is, and it should be. And once they know that math is fun, the sky is the limit!

This blog is part of the Hoagies' Gifted Blog Hop on March Math-ness. Please visit all the blogs in the hop by clicking here...

​​SMPGs: The Heart of SENG

Today we have a guest post by Kate Bachtel, current Board of Directors Chair of SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted). Thanks, Kate, for sharing with us!
“The concept appears to be a paradox: ‘Instruction’ and ‘conversation’ are often antithetical, the one implying authority and planning, the other equality and responsiveness. The task of teaching is to resolve this paradox. To most truly teach, one must converse; to truly converse is to teach.”(Tharp, Estrada, Stoll Dalton and Yamauchi, 2000, pp. 32-33)
SENG Model Parent Groups (SMPGs) are the heart of SENG. The objective of these facilitator guided groups is to unite diverse caregivers of complex, gifted children and provide space for each of us to learn from one another’s expertise and experiences in a nurturing, non-judgmental environment. While not counseling or therapy sessions, SMPGs provide space for critical conversations on how to best support the healthy social and emotional development of individual gifted youth.   

In many ways, by encouraging authentic dialogue among caregivers, SMPGs promote harmony and are a model of the continued evolution SENG would like to see occur both in classrooms and society. 

Last year, SENG engaged in a comprehensive evaluation of the SMPG program. We collected quantitative and qualitative data from active SMPG facilitators and recent participants via both surveys and interviews. The anonymous surveys encouraged honest, unfiltered responses and attempted to prevent positive self-impression response distortion. Here are a few highlights of what we learned.

SMPG Participants Report Transformational Experiences. All but one survey participant reported their SMPG experiences exceeded expectations. Additionally, participants rated their facilitators’ skills nearly uniformly as superior. Here is an example of the of feedback we received:

“This group was SO badly needed for my family. Other families I know need a group like this too, but this particular time did not work out. I wish everyone with challenging gifted kids could attend this program!”

“I do not feel alone now.”

“I’ve learned to communicate better with my child, and it is working.”

“I honestly feel this group saved my family!”

“My child is a happier child, my family is a healthier family, and I’m a better person as a result of this group. Thank you!”

SMPG Facilitators Hold Tremendous Expertise and are Mission-Focused. While SMPG facilitators are not trained as clinicians, approximately eighty percent have more than twenty-six hours of formal professional development in the field of gifted. Moreover, nearly two-thirds of participants rated their SMPG experiences as “delightful” or perfect on our Likert scale. The survey also reinforced our perceptions that facilitators are mission-driven. When asked why they facilitate groups, facilitator explanations align with the purpose of SMPGs: to grow understanding of gifted children, remind parents they are not alone and create safe spaces for parents to connect and share.

This year, SENG is prioritizing taking better care of our SMPG Facilitators. Here are a few things to keep an eye out for:
  • More opportunities for SMPG Facilitators to connect, share latest research and best practices (including an exclusive, facilitators only event at conference).
  • Additional SMPG marketing and promotion support.
  • Increased administrative support, including with registration and book distribution logistics.
  • Focused attention on recognizing the contributions and achievements of expert facilitators.
  • Creation of an SMPG Board Champion Position. Interested in applying for this volunteer leadership opportunity? Please click here to learn more.  
The SMPG Program Chair will lead decision making for SMPG related program decisions
  • soliciting input from fellow directors as needed.
  • soliciting input from fellow directors as needed.
  • Lead annual strategic framework SMPG program goal creation process.
  • Point person for collecting data to monitor program progress and to report on progress of annual SMPG program goals.
  • Insure program diversity goals are met as outline in strategic plan.
  • Engage in outlined rounding practices to support healthy community growth.
  • Lead SMPG Facilitator recruiting in partnership with the Executive Director.

The Launch of SMPG + Parent Retreats
In response to feedback from both facilitators and participants, SENG will be piloting a one day SMPG + Parent Retreat in 2016. This workshop format will cover core SMPG topics. The structure will alternate discussion with frequent breaks for movement, meditation, lunch and to connect with family at home throughout the day. While the discussions will be structured in a similar manner to the traditional SMPG model, parents will be held in the comfort of tribe for a full day (8am-4:30pm). We expect this format will help us reach families whose schedules do not align with the traditional eight-ten week program. Our goal will be for all to leave feeling relaxed, replenished and empowered with expanded community and expertise. We already have three SMPG + Retreats scheduled for May. 

Registration for the Boulder retreat on May 10th is live now!

Keep a lookout for more to come!