Multiplication Magic

Roman carbon dioxide spring
Roman spring with bench. I can’t tell you the secret about this spring because it would be a spoiler for UNDER PRESSURE WITH A SQUASH. But I will share the secret to the Sevens Times Table. (Not stealing credit for that!) © Laurel Decher, 2020.

In the story I’m working on right now . . . (see below if you want to see which one)

Magellan is REALLY not interested in Times Tables. Especially not the SEVENS!

He has maps to make and dragons to rescue!

I started looking around for things that would make it more interesting.

For him. 🙂

For readers. 🙂

Maybe you’ll find something your own local mathematicians will enjoy?

This site has parent encouragement tips as well as practical help. All kinds of things I wish I’d known earlier. 🙂
https://www.theschoolrun.com/times-tables-the-best-ways-to-learn


For example:
“For help and tips with specific times tables follow the links to more advice:

Tips and tricks for learning the 2 times table
Learning the 3 times table: expert advice
The 4 times table step by step
The “easy” times tables: 5s, 10, 11s and 12s
The hardest multiplication table to learn: the 7 times table
The “tricky” times tables: 6s, 8s and 9s

Once your child has a a full set of tables, they need to practise so that they are automatic by the time they start secondary school. A light touch, coming back to those that are difficult, will help, but you should also ensure that your child learns the standard methods of multiplication and division, so that they do not be come over-reliant on doubling and dividing by 10.

–John Bald is an educator with forty years’ experience in teaching literacy, languages and basic maths.”

He includes a link to a very fun video of SEVENS:

(I know, I know–but it’s true, you’ll love it!).

Spoiler: Snakes & Ladders + Tic, Tac, Toe. The perfect Math Night game!

Here’s the story where the math problems cause problems. . .

cover of Under Pressure With a Squash: The Mutliplication Problem. Shows girl archer standing on top of submarine with baby dragons playing. Boy looks out of top of submarine

UNDER PRESSURE WITH A SQUASH

For eleven-year-old Princess Saffy, tests ARE the point. Her twin, Prince Magellan, thinks tests are pointless.

But when their beloved dragon gets them into trouble with the Fairy Kingdom. . . the Saffron twins must face the ultimate test–together!

How can they beat the pressure?

Get on board the Hubbard submarine and find out!

Get your copy here

How do Grades Hurt Us?

A vending machine for art. It looks like it was re-purposed from a cigarette vending machine.
This re-purposed vending machine is all about external motivation–which piece of art would you like to buy? ©Laurel Decher, 2020.

Reading an article about how it hurts kids to focus on “grades” instead of “learning”: “Grades vs Learning: Shifting Attention to What’s Important

“Drafts, re-dos, and ‘evolving assignments'” may help students to focus on getting better at something instead of getting a good grade.

Hmm. That sure sounds like writing a book! Everybody write a book! *just kidding*

Creativity is supposed to increase when the motivation comes from inside the art instead of from outside. Poet and counselor Mark McGuiness’s MOTIVATION FOR CREATIVE PEOPLE is a wonderful exploration of this.

It’s hard to do your best work when you’re thinking about losing points.

The truth is: we all get grades. Adults have workplace evaluations, product sales, reviews, raises, etc. We all have to learn to use both kinds of motivation. 

At the Festival of Faith and Writing in 2004, beloved children’s author Katherine Patterson told a story about being stuck on a novel. She told a writing friend, “I haven’t learned anything!”

The friend said, “You’ve learned that novels can be finished.”

Listen to Katherine Patterson’s wonderful keynote speech here.

To me this means,

“Panic doesn’t mean anything. It’s a normal part of the process. It’s noise. It’s trying to keep you from playing with your work until you get something you like.”

How can we remind ourselves of this more often? How can we teach kids to work with both kinds of motivation? (Or how can they teach us?)

Were you ever a Junior Ranger?

I’ve been doing a little more research for the next Seven Kingdoms Fairy Tale. Look what I found! 🙂

Did you know you can get a Junior Ranger badge and book for your kids (ages 5 to 13+) at all of these National and State Parks?

If the list of 400+ parks overwhelms you, try this map to see what’s near you.

map of the United States of America showing states

(If you’ve read LOST WITH LEEKS, you know we’re all about maps around here. I may get lost, but I always have ALL the maps. 🙂

Do you have a 4th grader at your house?
Did you know 4th graders can get a free pass for the whole school year and the summer that follows? Sounds like adventure to me!

image of 4th grade pass to parks

Lost in a Campground

Stone castle walls with skinny steep wooden staircase (half-covered with wooden roof)
This rambling castle with ruins and tunnels is the inspiration for the Saffron Kingdom. A tunnel is an easy place to lose your sense of direction. Burg Rheinfels, (literally “Fortress Rhine Cliff”) in the central Rhine valley. © Laurel Decher, 2019, St. Goar, Germany.
Do you have a good sense of direction? How about the rest of your friends and family?

The second Seven Kingdoms Fairy Tale, LOST WITH LEEKS, is all about getting–you guessed it–lost. Prince Nero has a magically magnetic personality. He’s charming, but he wrecks compasses and maps.

I don’t know about charming, but I’m an expert at getting lost. One of the worst times as a child was in a huge campground.

I found the shower building. No problem.

But when I came out again, nothing looked familiar.
Hundreds of tents and campers stretched out in all directions. The sunset showed me West, but that didn’t help me. I didn’t know where I’d come from.

I also didn’t speak any French. By filling my hands with water from the wash room sink, I tried to mime that our tent was near the lake. *blushes* Needless to say, that didn’t work.

The colors of the tents all faded with the light. Finally, I walked out from each side of the building. In straight lines, so I couldn’t get MORE lost.

Eventually, I tripped over our tent lines and recognized where I was.
The arctic explorer returns to base camp. I could have died out there!
*cue Star Wars theme*

My family was unfazed. *Okay, it was July.*

How about you and yours? Do you have a story about getting lost? What helped you get “found” again? What are your favorite tips to keep your kids from “staying lost”?

P.S. Today is the last day for the free Seven Kingdoms short story TROUBLE AT THE CHRISTMAS FAIR. You might get lucky if the price hasn’t changed everywhere yet.

If you missed it, you can sign up for my Reader’s List and get the first five chapters of TROUBLE WITH PARSNIPS free. (That’s the first Seven Kingdoms Fairy Tale, about the magic of speaking up.)

Each Tale stands alone, so they can be read in any order.

tablet phone ebook hardcover images of LOST WITH LEEKS

If you get lost as much as I do, you might enjoy Prince Nero’s adventures in LOST WITH LEEKS

Click here for more about the book.

What tests do you need to pass to become a. . .?

What careers have you always wondered about?

The next Seven Kingdoms Fairy Tale stars the Saffron twins, Magellan and Saffy, so I’m thinking about what kinds of things they might want to do in the future. No promises and no spoilers. 😉

This video is about what surveyors do and how to become one.

The graphic novel-style WikiHow guide to becoming a surveyor is more informative:

cartoon image of a surveyor
How to become a surveyor

https://www.wikihow.com/Become-a-Surveyor

Would you have thought of a park ranger as Criminal Justice Career?

Did you know there was an International Ranger Federation?

The advantage of the reading and writing life is that you catch a glimpse of other peoples’ lives. 🙂