## Friday, July 14, 2017

### Speed! - New Font

Skip-counting is a key ingredient in teaching upper level elementary math concepts. Once kids have a good handle on the numbers 1-100 and can count backwards from 20 to 0 they are ready to learn skip-counting. This usually happens between the ages of 4 and 8 years old and around the same time as kids are learning addition. Numerous math skills are based on skip-counting such as multiplication, division, adding and reducing fractions. With a good understanding of skip-counting, children are able to progress much more rapidly through these upper elementary math concepts.

Songs, the card game Speed! and hands-on practice work well together to cement the fundamentals of skip-counting. When playing Speed! kids learn to skip-count beginning on any number. For example, if they are skip-counting by 3's, they may begin at 18 and progress to 21. They also learn to skip-count backwards. The rhythm and rhyme of song helps engage memory and the colored decks of cards in the game Speed! help kids create a visual association with numbers.

The card game Speed! has just been given a facelift. The exterior of the container was lightened from a dark blue to a light blue and the numbers on the cards are now a more common font which is easier to rapidly read. The original version is shown above on the left, and the updated version is on the right.

If you haven't purchased this game yet, now's the time. After all, it's fun and a great way to keep kids learning over the summer! Kids play because they want to win, not to learn to skip-count. The beauty of the game is that in order to win, they have to have the skip-counting numbers memorized and they do so enthusiastically. The big secret, is that the numbers are all the answers to the times tables. After playing Speed!, kids can quickly apply what they've learned to multiplication, division, factoring, and fractions. How can you beat an educational game kids actually want to play.

## Friday, July 7, 2017

### Bridge Unit Study - Lesson 8: Maintenance

Our bridge unit study ended with a discussion on maintenance.

Too often the cost of maintenance is not considered as part of the cost of a project. Whether you are building your home, a building or a bridge, maintenance should be a huge consideration. After all, if the structure breaks down, we will have to do without or start over from scratch.

Therefore, I was pleased that the book we chose to follow for our bridge unit study Bridges: Amazing Structures to Design Build and Test addressed the issue of maintenance. Painting, erosion, weather, corrosion, and traffic load are a few issues that determine how long the structure will last. The book does a good job of summarizing maintenance considerations.

To gain a better understanding of weather effects, my son explored corrosion with a science experiment. Putting steel wool into different types of water, he watched it over a 24 hour period to see how much it rusted. It was a very simple experiment and a great way to wrap up our bridge unit study.

Now where ever we go we take a good look at the different bridges around us.

Honfleur Cable Stay Bridge (Normandie, France)

London Bridge

Tower Bridge

Charles Bridge, Prague