Bedtime Math 3 – Add some math fun to your bedtime stories!

Bedtime Math 3
Bedtime Math 3

My family has enjoyed the first two volumes of Bedtime Math, by Laura Overdeck. When I was offered a chance to review Bedtime Math 3: The Truth Comes Out, we were very excited!

If you aren’t familiar with the Bedtime Math series, here’s a quick introduction.

Author Laura Overdeck says, “We want kids to feel about math the way they feel about dessert after dinner.”

Our mission: to make math a fun part of kids’ everyday lives. When is the last time you gave your child a math problem just for fun? Yesterday? Last year? Maybe never? We all know it’s wonderful to read bedtime stories to kids, but the question remains–what about doing math? Math has a negative association in our culture and many Americans are uncomfortable and even fearful of math and numbers. But Bedtime Math is here to change all that.

Bedtime Math stories feature different difficulty levels, so kids of varying ages — and parents — can participate in the math fun.

Getting kids to enjoy math as much as dessert may seem impossible, but wait until you try Bedtime Math with your kids. Give it a try and give math a chance! You might be pleasantly surprised at their reactions!

Why learn math? (Fox Trot comic)
Why learn math? (Fox Trot comic)

Is “Like a Girl” an Insult?

I think the phrase “like a girl” is used as an insult, not as a compliment, almost every time it is spoken. Here is an interesting video by Always, that looks at what we think when we’re told to do something “like a girl,” and how we might change what it means.

I like the idea of changing the meaning of “like a girl” to something empowering and strong, especially since my daughter is now in that almost-a-teenager stage. I know that the next few years will be important in her physical and emotional growth. I want her to make it through puberty feeling positively about herself and her future.

Some girls never recover from the things they experience and feel during their early years. I want to do whatever I can to help my daughter feel good about growing up.

What do you think about the message in this video?

How to make edible Minecraft dirt and grass blocks

Hello, friends! Recently, I threw a Minecraft birthday party for my son, featuring dirt and grass blocks made from crispy cereal. Here is the recipe for those treats, which were delicious, and which scored highly on the Minecraft cred scale with the kids. Enjoy!

Minecraft treat ingredients
Minecraft treat ingredients

Ingredients

1/2 stick margarine

Large box of chocolate Rice Krispies or Cocoa Pebbles (about 8 cups, I think)

2 regular-sized bags of small marshmallows

1/4 cup corn syrup

1/2 cup chocolate chips

green icing in a can

green sugar sprinkles

chocolate sprinkles

Pam or other cooking oil spray

13 x 9 inch cake pan

Dirt blocks without frosting.
Dirt blocks without frosting.

Instructions

In a large nonstick pot, melt the margarine and marshmallows over medium-low heat, stirring so the marshmallows don’t burn. Mix in the corn syrup and keep stirring. Once the mixture is smooth, turn off the heat and stir in the chocolate chips until they’re completely melted and combined.

Add most of the cereal and fold it into the marshmallow mixture. I think I used about 8-10 cups of the cereal, which ended up being the whole box. You want the treats to be chewy, but not so squishy that they won’t hold a cube shape.

Grease the cake pan by rubbing the margarine wrapper all over the inside of the pan, or spray with Pam. Then pour the cereal mixture into the pan and spread it out evenly. It might help to spray some Pam onto your spoon or spatula, and use that to pack the mixture down into the pan. You want to press it down pretty well so there aren’t any big air pockets.

Allow the “cake” to cool to room temperature.

One Minecraft dirt and grass block.
One Minecraft dirt and grass block.

Decorating the treats

Place a cutting board over the top of the cake pan. Hold it in place and flip the whole thing over. Set it on the counter and tap on the bottom of the pan until the whole thing falls out onto the cutting board. Remove the cake pan and use a knife to cut the treats into squares/cubes.

Use your fingers to squeeze the treats into cube shapes and then roll the sides into the chocolate sprinkles. Don’t put sprinkles on the top of the cubes, because we’re going to put frosting on that part.

Use the green icing with the serrated tip (it looks like zig-zags) to make pointy tufts of frosting on top, to look like grass. Sprinkle some of the green sugar on top of the frosting for a little extra sparkle.

Arrange the finished blocks on a plate or tray, and add Creeper face picks if you want to (get free Creeper printables here).

I hope you enjoy these treats. I posted the recipe the way I made them, which was without a recipe, so that’s why the measurements are approximations. Cheers!

Summer Schedule Printable

summer schedule printable Even though it’s summer vacation, my kids and I need some structure to our days. To aid my never-ending battle against entropy, I put together this schedule this morning. Though the kids say it’s too much like school, it makes sense to have something down on paper.

This reminds us what needs to be done each day, and still leaves time for “recess,” video games, and time to be bored. “Mom School” is my name for the little bits of academic review we do (math facts, mostly).

I’m sharing this here in case it helps your family, too. Put it into a plastic page protector or laminate it, to keep it from being destroyed too quickly. If you cover it with plastic, you could even use a transparency marker to cross off the completed tasks and wipe it off for re-use at the end of the day.

General summer vacation daily schedule for kids (download and print).

Enjoy!

P.S. I love old-fashioned toys, and you can find some great stuff at the Good Old Days Store. Click to check it out.

Go Outside! Summer boredom busters

Geek Mom’s old-fashioned, non-electronic, free outdoor summer vacation activities. Hey, kids. If you are bored, go outside and be bored until you’re not bored any more. You will survive. You will figure out what to do, and you will even have fun! Here are some ideas to get you started.

bored kids
photo by Jan Tik, used under CC license

School’s out, and summer vacation is in full swing. Or full boredom, as my kids would have me believe. As much as I enjoy technology and gadgets, my kids and I benefit from some unplugged time. However, as soon as I turn off the electronics, I’m hit with a barrage of “I’m booooored. There’s nothing to do. Can I have a turn on the computer?” This annoys me.

Excuse me while I indulge in a bit of reminiscing…

Listen up, children.

When I was your age, we didn’t have cable TV. We had three channels, and cartoons were only on Saturday mornings.
We didn’t have a computer.
We didn’t have video games.
We didn’t have air conditioning.
We had bikes and sprinklers and mosquito bites and neighborhood kids to keep us entertained all summer.
And Dad made us work in the garden.

So if you are bored, go outside and be bored until you’re not bored any more. You will survive. You will figure out what to do, and you will even have fun! Here are some ideas to get you started.

Geek Mom’s old-fashioned, non-electronic, free outdoor summer vacation activities:

  • Pick up a rock and see what’s living under it.
  • Smooth out some sand and draw in it.
  • Mix dirt and water to make mud.
  • Write on the sidewalk with a rock.
  • Sit in the shade and watch the sky.
  • Learn how to whistle with a blade of grass.
  • Make a kazoo with a plastic comb and waxed paper.
  • Melt stuff in the sun.
  • Look for bugs.
  • Find another kid who looks bored. Talk about stuff.

I’m sure there are lots of other great ideas for curing boredom. Please share yours in the comments!

Need a Nap?

As any mother knows, once you have children, you have to do twice the work on half the sleep you used to. If you’re like me, you might feel guilty lying down during the day to catch a nap. I call it “sleep guilt.” It’s the feeling I get from resting when I should be working, like everybody else…

Well here’s an interesting infographic that might help you feel better about napping. Not only is it good for alleviating sleepiness from nighttime sleep deprivation, napping can also improve clarity, motor learning, bone/muscle repair, and memory. Who couldn’t use more of that good stuff?

So take a look at the case for napping, and then go lie down for a little while. You could use a few minutes to rest!

Benefits of naps

Infographic via Mashable and photo via flickr

ChoreMonster.com aims to make chores more enjoyable for kids and parents

choremonster logo Getting my children to help with household chores can be a daily battle. It’s no fun, and everybody ends up feeling grumpy. Right?

ChoreMonster.com is an online system of chore assignments and rewards. It lets parents assign chores for kids by choosing from the default list or adding customized tasks. Each chore can be customized by due date, frequency, and points awarded.

Each child gets his own account, where the chores and rewards are presented in a colorful, easy-to-use interface. Kids can view assigned chores, check them off when they’re done, and see how many points they have earned. When they’ve saved enough points, they can redeem points for parent-defined rewards.

My kids have been using ChoreMonster for a couple of days now, and they’re still in the “this is so cool” phase. They enjoy suggesting chores and rewards for me to add to the system. They’re accumulating points and saving up for the big rewards (playdate with a friend, doughnuts, and a trip to the children’s museum, to name a few).

I like ChoreMonster because the kids go to the computer to see what they can do to earn points and help out around the house. This cuts down on the number of times I hear “Mom!” during the afternoon, which is nice. It also reduces the number of requests I get for treats and things, because they know how many points they need to save before they can be rewarded with something special.

We’ll see how they continue using ChoreMonster. Usually, they’re excited about any new chore system for about 1 week, and then they’re back to dreading chores. Maybe the combination of the computerized format, the scorekeeping, and the rewards-for-points system, will encourage them to stay with the ChoreMonster program! It’s kind of like a game!

ChoreMonster.com is still in beta mode, but the developer has given me an invitation code to share. If you’d like to give the free ChoreMonster system a try, just visit ChoreMonster.com and enter geekmom in the code field at the top of the page. Then follow the instructions to confirm your account.

Let me know what you think of the system. What kind of chores and rewards will you include in your family’s assignments? Do your kids do chores more willingly when it’s kind of like a game?