I'm Bon Crowder and the photos above are both of me - in 1989 and today. I'm a Generation X mom of Generation Z kids.

I began peer tutoring in high school in 1984. MathFour.com is the 2015 version of me helping peers be comfortable in math.

If you're a Gen-X parent, you're in the right place!

Christmas Ornament Craft with Fractions!

This weekend I had the privilege to collaborate with Heather Sanders, amazing homeschool teacher and blogger. She let me spin her Christmas tree debacle into a fun fraction experience over at Pioneer Woman’s homeschool blog.

In the writing of that post, I was inspired to create this Christmas ornament craft.

You can use these ornaments to describe the fractions happening in your Christmas tree. Print them on card stock and let your students find the fractions. Then have them write them down and color the ornaments to put on the tree!

Supplies

• Scissors
• Hole Punch
• Sharpie
• Crayons, colored pencils or markers
• Card stock
• A Christmas tree
• Optional: glue, glitter, sequins or other embellishments

Step 1: Count & Categorize

Consider how many ornaments, lights, strings of garland, etc. you have total on the tree.

Now divide them up into categories and subcategories.

For example, suppose there are 20 ornaments on the tree. “Ornaments” are the category. Your subcategories might be the colors.

Like this: you have 6 blue, 5 red and 9 silver ornaments.

Step 2: Make the Fractions

Create the fractions and write them on an ornament. (Print the ornaments on cardstock from the free downloadable ornament sheet.)

In our example, we would write “6/20 Blue Ornaments”, “5/20 Red Ornaments” and “9/20 Silver Ornaments.”

Step 3: Color & Cut

Color the ornaments and cut them out. Embellish with glitter and other goodies if you want!

Punch holes in the top and hang them on the tree.

Step 4: Discuss

Here’s the vocabulary for the activity with some casual definitions:

• Fraction – a number that represents part of a whole or part of an entire group.
• Numerator – the top number of a fraction. For us it’s how many of that subcategory.
• Denominator – the bottom number of a fraction. For us it’s how many of the big category.

Notice that the sum of the fractions in each category will add up to 1.

6/20 + 5/20 + 9/20 = 20/20

(You’re getting into some probability stuff, by the way!)

Step 5: Share

Oh – and don’t forget to check out Heather Sanders’s Christmas tree debacle at Pioneer Woman. It’s painfully funny!

2 Responses to Christmas Ornament Craft with Fractions!

1. Seriously Bon, thank you for making my ridiculous situation even better with a Math lesson. You are a creative genius!

• Bon says:

I very much enjoyed it, Heather!

Number Practice with ELF on the SHELF or Advent Calendar

Whether you’re doing ELF on the SHELF this year or the classic Advent Calendar, you can integrate some number and shape practice in your holidays. Continue Reading

Try this Thanksgiving math craft that introduces set theory concepts! Continue Reading

Real Life Pinterest Board for Teachers

With the popularity of Pinterest people are starting to create in-real-life Pinterest boards. So why not teachers? Continue Reading

Linear Programming Problems – How to Set Them Up

Do your students struggle with setting up linear programming problems? Do you? Here’s a handy list of steps that will help. Continue Reading

4 Responses to Degrees in a Circle – Why 360?

1. You can share that idea with your students because it is geometrically pretty, and you can choose to like any historical explanation, but keep in mind that the Summarians used sexgesimal notation well before the Babylonians (from whom they obtained it).
More importantly, the Chaldeans routinely made and preserved examples of solar and lunar eclipses dating as early as 652 BC. They also calculated the recurrence of these events in periods, synodic months, with a span of about 29 1/4 days. By the first century BC they had conceived the zodiac recognizing major star patterns that moved in approximately monthly cycles across the heavens. Hence a period of 12 synoptic months.
The base sixty system was coincident with the emergence of the 360 day year, but your suggestion would have more likely led to a zodiac like method of 6 periods, not twelve.

• Bon says:

Wow, Pat. Thanks for the information!

2. The Babylonians knew the length of the year to be 365.25 days so anyone who claims that days-in-a-year had anything to do with it is a moron. They were quite competent at mathematics.

Far more likely is the idea that 360 is a really nice number, a highly composite number.

For people who worked with fractions instead of decimals, and who needed to subdivide a circle into many different sizes of piece (24) with integer sizes, 360 is the best choice.

• Bon says:

I’m not sure if they should be called morons…

But since you are the Curmudgeon, we’ll run with it. 😉

Thanks for stopping by!

A palindrome birthday is an age that reads the same forward as backwards. But you can also celebrate pseudo-palindromes too – like 35.3 and 54.5. Continue Reading

One Response to When’s Your Next Palindrome Birthday?

1. This is an interesting exercise, and definitely a challenge if you try to calculate dates by hand! Good work on creating the spreadsheet! You can also calculate palindrome dates by actual dates as day/month/year… such as 4/27/24, or 12/25/21. You don’t require any calculations, other than a simple examination of your date before completing the year. I just noticed by looking at this that I missed (ok, failed to appreciate!) my palindrome birthday this year on 3/17/13!!

The Number Rings App for iPhone and iPad is simple – but its power to teach number sense is amazing. Continue Reading

1. I think it’s awesome that you took a potentially great tool and harnessed its power better than the developer was able to. Kudos!

• Bon says:

Thanks, Cindy. I was surprised to see they had materials – it took me a while to get around to reviewing it. I was hoping for more – but that’s okay. You can’t be great at everything. They made a great app, I’ll just fill in some gaps.

3 Responses to Fibonacci Birthday Party!

1. Christina says:

so I can’t tell if this is an old post or recent post…but thought I’d comment anyway and say how cool this is! I have one who will be three not too long from now, I have not even started thinking about the birthday theme, but I love this one. hmmm…anyway, also following on pinterest.

• Bon says:

The cool thing about math posts is that they (almost) never get old. Fibonacci birthday parties can happen for the next 500 years. Although I do hope the internet has morphed into something different by then.

Thanks for stopping by, Christina!

2. Elizabeth says:

You didn’t serve Fibonachos????

Factoring Polynomials – FREE Worksheet

When factoring polynomials it’s sometimes nice to use a graphic organizer to keep track of all your work. Here’s a free one! Continue Reading

10 Responses to Factoring Polynomials – FREE Worksheet

1. Oo, pick me, pick me!

There’s a quick way to find the missing magic numbers — find the factors of (ac) that add up to (b) — so for 6x^2 + 65x + 50, you’d look at 300; the possibilities are 1 and 300, 2 and 150, 3 and 100, 4 and 75, 5 and 60 (which works), 6 and 50, 10 and 30, 12 and 25, or 15 and 20.

It’s a little bit more work up front, but it saves you doing several grids.

• Bon says:

I think that may be the point, Colin. That method totally works for you (I’m guessing) – but it sends me into panic mode.

My major prof in grad school trained me to “get my hands dirty” (he’d tell me that ALL THE TIME). So now I write every single detail out.

And for our students – whatever works for them, should be what they use.

Thanks for stopping by!

• Charlie says:

I had the same issue with many of my students trying to find the factor with a leading coefficient greater than 1. I found the umbrella method works great. Youtube it and it works every time. The kids with the most trouble like this one the best because they can’t get it wrong if combined with the box method.

• Bon says:

Thanks, Charlie. I found it here: http://youtu.be/FxTiogyhwfc?t=48s I find the details the guy uses a little cumbersome. It took me a while to see that his “find the common factor” on the box method was fancy math words for just figuring out what to put on the left and top.

However, I see lots of value in making an umbrella on top of the trinomial to help students focus on the important pieces to put in the box!

Thanks so much for sharing!

2. This is an interetsing method… I didn’t come accros it before… I like it! Do share more

• Bon says:

Thanks, Cristina! I’ll happily pass along things as I find them.

3. Sara says:

Wow! So happy I found this! I’ve been teaching elementary and middle school for about 12 years. Now I’ve added high school math into the mix. Just recently acquired 4 Pre-cal students which I’m enjoying teaching! The challenge is mostly the varied math backgrounds of the students! Factoring polynomials will be our first review/re-teach workshop!

Thanks so much and wish me luck!

• Bon says:

How fun, Sara! Good luck and keep us posted on how it goes!

4. This is a nightmare for algebra 2 teachers when 8th grade and algebra 1 teachers teach kids this method. I’ve taught several student groups multiple years in a row, and the students I taught this or the “split the middle method” did not remember how to factor the next year, but those who I taught the old fashioned “guess and check” method remembered from year to year.

• Bon says:

I can totally see that. Once students learn to get their hands dirty, they can always go back and dig around to find the answer.

Thanks for stopping in to join the conversation!

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