Additional Math Pages & Resources

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Big Ben's Birthday and Telling Time

On May 31, 1859 Big Ben went into operation in London. Located at the top of the 320-foot-high St. Stephen's Tower, this clock tower rang out over the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London, for the first time on this day in 1859.

In October 1834, after a fire destroyed much of the Palace of Westminster—the headquarters of the British Parliament—one feature of the design for the new palace was a large clock on top of a tower. The royal astronomer, Sir George Airy, wanted the clock to have pinpoint accuracy, including twice-a-day checks with the Royal Greenwich Observatory.
Big Ben, London, England

While many clockmakers saw this goal as impossible, Airy counted on the help of Edmund Beckett Denison, a lawyer known for his expertise in the science of measuring time.

What seemed impossible became a reality less than 25 years later. Read more at 

This weekend, Big Ben will celebrate it's 156th birthday!

With Excel Math lessons, students learn to tell time using a variety of digital and analog clocks.

Take a look at this large online clock developed by Mark Cogan to help students see the current time on an analog or digital clock and then click a button to see the time it will be in 1 hour, 1 minute, 5, 10, 15 or 30 minutes:

You could have each student make their own clock with movable hands, match the computer clock for the current time, then change their clock to show the time it will be in 1 hour and click the button on the computer clock to check their answers. Play with two students on one computer so they can see who can get the most correct answers (or who can do it fastest).

You can also have the students change the time on the clock and then set their own clock for 1 hour later, click the button on the computer clock to check their answers, and continue playing, alternating who gets to choose the new "start" time.
Inca Clock

For more clock games, check out the following:

Read more . . .

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Burger Math

Since May 28 is National Hamburger Day, try a little burger math with your students. Begin by talking about meatless options to the traditional hamburger such as veggie burgers. Also mention bread-free options to hamburger buns such as lettuce wraps. Then give your students some burger math to solve.

If you have 2 pounds of hamburger, how many burgers can you make if you use 1/4 pound of meat for each burger? (8)

If you want to feed 4 people, how many burgers could each person have? (2) If you make each burger 1/3 pound how many burgers could you make? (6)

Have your students look online to find the cost of 8 hamburger buns and one head of lettuce. Ask the students to find out if it would be less expensive to serve the burgers on buns or lettuce wraps.

If your students have learned to calculate cost per unit, ask them to find out how much one pound of turkey would cost if 5 pounds costs $20.50. ($4.10)

Let your students take a survey of which burgers, sandwiches or toppings their classmates prefer and then make a bar graph showing how many students prefer veggie burgers, hamburgers, turkey burgers, hotdogs, cheeseburgers, hamburger wraps, veggie wraps, etc. Which type of food do most of the students prefer? Which is the class' least favorite?

Give your students a few more food word problems to solve:
Caleb bought 3 pounds of pears,
2 pounds of oranges, 4 pounds
of apples and 5 pounds of carrots.
How many pounds of fruit did he buy? (9)

Andy has 5 eggs, 8 apples
and 2 pears. How many
more apples than eggs does he have? (3)
Here's a problem from the Excel Math Grade 3 Guided Practice:

How many cookies did
Brian and Anna bake? (75)

How many more cookies will
Paige have to bake to equal
what Jose has baked? (25)

Help your students explain their problem-solving strategies as they work through these problems.

Give each student 8 gummy bears or goldfish crackers. (Make sure no students have allergies to these food items.) Ask the student how many they would have if you gave them 3 red gummy bears plus two yellow bears. (13)

Then ask the students to each eat two of their bears or crackers and tell you how many they have left. (6)

Finally, let your students make up some of their own word problems about food and then solve them. Excel Math lessons include lots of practice with word problems of increasing complexity as well as our unique Create A Problem exercises that merge math with literacy.

New to Excel Math? Take a look at the lessons for Kindergarten through Sixth Grade plus lots of math resources at

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Higher Order Math Word Problems

Calming the Frenzy Over Fractions

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Higher Order Math Word Problems

New standards ask students to solve higher order word problems and begin to explain their thinking as they look for the answers.

Here's a word problem from one of our Excel Math lessons to help students calculate the cost of a day of roller skating.

Feel free to share it with your students. The answers are shown in red.

Excel Math lessons provide lots of opportunities for students to solve word problems and even write their own!

Excel Math features indepth word problems called Create A Problem.

The Create A Problem pages in Excel Math give students a chance to merge math with literacy as they create their own story problems and solve them. Here's an example of a Create A Problem exercise for Grade 2.

This feature lets students express their own understanding of a story problem, explore various problem-solving techniques, finish longer story problems, and eventually write their own problems.

Create A Problem exercises are included on the back of the test pages for Grades 2 - 6.

The right-hand side of the page will usually provide activities for the students to complete and problems for them to solve from the story.

We start with simple stories and give students a chance to observe what is happening in the story.

They then use those observations to solve problems.

Later in the curriculum we ask students to create a problem or two, and make up their own CheckAnswer.

The stories become more involved as the students progress through the year. These exercises provide a great way for students to begin to verbalize the problem-solving strategies they use and to hear how their classmates solve the same problem.

Read more . . .

Take a look at grade level samples from the Excel Math program through our web store:

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Giving Students Feedback in Your Math Class

New math standards are asking teachers to facilitate discussions and encourage collaborative problem solving among students in the math classroom.

Giving students effective feedback and helping them to "explain their thinking" will let you determine their depth of understanding. It will also give you a chance to clear up any misconceptions before moving on to more difficult concepts.

Excel Math lessons have discussion questions and teaching tips built into the Teacher Edition for Kindergarten through Grade Six.

Create A Problem Exercises begin with Grade 2 and provide a template for students to write and solve their own word problems, merging math with literacy. In Excel Math we suggest the teacher help students verbalize the problem-solving strategies they use as they solve problems.
Create A Problem from Excel Math lesson sheets for Grade 3

Describing the process can help their classmates understand that at times there can be several correct ways to solve one problem. Remind your students to show their work as they solve the problem so if they have errors in the solution, they can find and fix them more easily.

Explain that making mistakes and correcting them is the way to improve and learn. Excel Math includes a unique CheckAnswer system beginning in Grade 2 that lets students check their own work. Most of the time, students can find and correct their mistakes on their own.

When they need more help, a parent or teacher can help them work through the problem to find the correct answer.

Here are three steps to giving students effective feedback:
1. Ask if they understand the question or problem:
a. What information are they trying to obtain? Have them circle the question.

b. What information have they been given? Have them draw a line under the information that will be needed and cross out the information that will not be needed.

c. Do they have the information that they need to get the answer? Find out if the information they have is enough to answer the question.
2. If there is not enough information, ask the student to tell you what information they would need to answer the question or solve the problem.

3. If there is enough information, ask the student to tell you if they underlined the correct information that will be needed. Did they underline too much or little information to solve the problem? If so, have them fix it.

After following these three steps with your students, try using questions and statements rather giving answers when someone is having trouble remembering what to do to solve a math problem. You could ask:
What do you think you need to do first to find the answer?
Do you understand what the question is asking? Tell me in your own words. (This is a good place to make sure any vocabulary words used in the problem are clearly defined and understood.)

What steps should you take to find the solution?

Show me how you figured that out.

Tell me about the problem-solving strategy you used.

What other ways could you have solved this problem?
Take a look at the strategies you use to give your students feedback.

Do any of them need to be modified? Could you use the buddy system to have students help each other find the solutions? Share your suggestions in the Comments box below.

New to Excel Math? Preview elementary math lessons that really work for Kindergarten through Sixth Grade on our website:

Also find math resources for teachers, parents and students and download a sample packet at

Friday, May 15, 2015

San Diego Bike to Work Day Postponed

Bike to Work Day 2015 has been postponed in San Diego due to rain! It will be rescheduled for May 29. (Yes, we're a bit wimpy.) In other parts of the country where rain falls more frequently, people are used to biking in the rain.

Here in San Diego, we have safety concerns and many areas with no bike lanes.

We also have drivers of cars and trucks who don't know how to drive safely in rain. Because it rains so seldom here, the roads get especially slick during the first day or two of rainfall. The small amounts of rain we get are just not enough to wash away the buildup on our roads.

When drivers either go over the speed limit as if the roads were dry or slow way down to a crawl in the rain and then don't leave enough room before the car in front of them to make a sudden stop, traffic accidents are guaranteed.
By 6:00 a.m. this morning, there were already accidents, cars turned over, and cars sliding off the road on most of the major freeways in San Diego county.

Since May is National Bike month, the local organizers decided to postpone Bible to Work Day for a couple of weeks and reschedule those vendors signed up to provide pit stops for the bikers that day. They still plan to have over 100 pit stops throughout the county with everything from free drinks and t-shirts to snacks and protein bars.

In San Diego you can visit this website for more information and to get pit stop updates:

You can also read more about Bike to Work Day  and download some safety resources for parents on our previous post: Bike to Work: Get Moving with Math!

Here's a picture we captured of a double rainbow outside the Excel Math office.

New to Excel Math? visit our website to learn more:

Ready to place an order? Visit our web store and let us pay your shipping on orders over $60 placed today and paid within 30 days:

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Bike to Work: Get Moving with Math!

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Bike to Work: Get Moving with Math!

Friday, May 15 is Bike to Work Day and across the country, workers are getting their bikes ready. Bike to Work Day is a nationally recognized event, celebrated each year on the third Friday in May.

Biking to work is a great way to save money and get fit at the same time!

Some communities are setting up pit stops with snacks and free T-shirts for participants.
In San Diego you can visit this website for more information and to get pit stop updates:

This website also provides bike maps from around San Diego county and lets you log your trips and calculate your savings.

A 2014 Kaiser Permanente study urges less sitting and  more moving. The study found that men who sit more than 5 hours outside of work develop heart failure at a rate 36% higher than those who keep moving. Even if you exercise every day, being a couch potato and sitting too much can increase your risk of heart failure.
Men who sit for more than 5 hours a day outside of work develop heart failure at a rate 36 percent higher than those who do not - See more at:
Men who sit for more than 5 hours a day outside of work develop heart failure at a rate 36 percent higher than those who do not - See more at:

Read more about the study's results at

We can encourage our students to get up and move, too. Since 1983, May has been observed as National Physical Fitness and Sports Month.Take a look at some ideas for movement, fitness and healthy eating at

Download a Teacher Toolkit and read more . . .

New to Excel Math? Learn more on our website:

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