Additional Math Pages & Resources

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Bike to Work Day: Adding Up the Miles

Bike to Work Day is a national event celebrated annually in the United States on the third Friday in May as part of National Bike Month.

The purpose of National Bike Month is to encourage biking as a viable, fun and healthy transportation choice for all types of trips.

Bike to Work Day was started in 1956 by the League of American Bicyclists to increase public interest in biking and to promote it as an alternative for driving to work.

Here in San Diego, we will celebrate Bike to Work day on Friday, May 20.

A total of 101 pit stops are planned for Friday. They will be open from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. for bikers who register beforehand.

Pit stops offer welcome breaks for new and experienced bike riders as they head off to work or school on Friday morning.

Bikers can rest at the Pit stops and pick up a FREE T-shirt, snacks, water, and encouragement before they get back on their bikes.

To see the Bike to Work 2016 pit stop locations around San Diego county, check out the pit stop map.

San Diego county also has many scenic biking trails you can try out any day of the year.
Mission Trails Regional Park
view from one of the bike trials

Chart your bike riding course using the San Diego iCommute Regional Bike Map.

Some Excel Math employees enjoy biking to work and riding bikes just for pleasure (and exercise). 

One of our former employees ran a bike shop back in the 'seventies.

Some of our Excel Math lessons include math problems about biking. 

If you have a favorite place to go biking, let us know in the comments below.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Cinco de Mayo Matemáticas

This week marks Cinco de Mayo. So let's combine this celebration with mathematics (matemáticas, en Español).

In the southwestern region of the United States, May 5 is a day of celebration that includes food, mariachis, street festivals, parades and festivities of all kinds. Cinco de Mayo (the fifth of May) celebrates the Mexican army's victory over France in 1862 at the Battle of Puebla. Contrary to public opinion, it is not Mexican Independence Day, but instead commemorates a victory during the Franco-Mexican War of 1861-1867.

Cinco de Mayo is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico. But here in the United States, it has grown to become a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, especially in areas such as San Diego, with a large Mexican-American population. So bring the flavor of Cinco de Mayo into your classroom this week. Tell your students about the Battle of Puebla and the Franco-Mexican War.

Help the class understand that this was not the war for Mexican Independence, which happened several decades earlier. That holiday is celebrated on September 16.

Excel Math gives you the tools you need to help build confident, successful math students. It's even available in English and in Spanish. (See our order form here.)   

If you have some interesting ways you bring Mexican traditions into your math class, feel free to share them in the "comments" box below.

Have your students say a few math words in Spanish or other languages. You can download a Glossary of math terms in English or Spanish on our website: Math Glossary

Invite a person of Mexican heritage to visit your classroom and share some traditions with your students. Serve Guacamole or Quesadillas (tortillas with cheese). Make sure no one is allergic to the foods you bring. Sing a few songs in Spanish. Use the Spanish math terms to solve some math problems.

More than just worksheets, Excel Math lessons include hands-on visuals and manipulatives, stretches (brainteasers), cooperative learning activities, interactive opportunities (including Projectable Lessons), a finely-tuned spiraling system, a natural feedback loop called CheckAnswer, in-depth word problems,  and lots more.

Excel Math Teacher Editions are available in three versions:
Common Core
Texas (TEKS aligned and STAAR ready)
Standard (Non Common Core)
With all three versions, you receive easy-to-teach lessons (to use as a supplement or in a core position) that include Guided Practice, Basic Fact Practice, Homework, and regular assessments, all for just $12.00 per student for the entire year—just $1.00 per month for each student! 

Walk through a lesson on our website:

Because Excel Math emphasizes critical thinking instead of fill-in-the-blank answers, these lessons are an outstanding bridge to the requirements of the TEKS, Common Core and state standards. Take a closer look and download samples on our website.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Making Pretzels—Do the Math

Tuesday, April 26 is not only Hug a Friend Day, it's also National Pretzel Day. So let your students make pretzels (or toast frozen ones) and share a fun snack together as they learn about tally charts and graphs.

Excel Math Lessons help build students who are confident in mathematics and prepared for higher-order thinking skills and advanced math education. In fact, many students develop a love for math as they progress through the Excel Math program. Take a look at our proven lessons for Kindergarten through Grade 6 at More than just worksheets, these lessons really work! Read the glowing reports from administrators, teachers and parents:

Now let's make some pretzels and try some edible math. Have your students wash their hands. Give each student a small sheet of parchment paper or foil and a small piece of bread dough (you can use refrigerated bread or biscuit dough or make your own). Provide cookie sheets, an oven or toaster oven, oven mitt, kosher salt, and a permanent marker. Also provide gluten-free dough or pretzels for students who have gluten allergies.

Let each student initial one corner of his parchment paper or foil sheet. Have him roll the dough into a thin snake shape. Then hold one end of dough in each hand and place it on the parchment paper or foil as if to form an oval. Twist the ends together as shown to form a pretzel shape as shown:

Some students may prefer to leave their pretzels as sticks or to give them a curved look. Others may want to create their own unique design (heart, face, initial, etc.). Sprinkle the pretzels with salt. Give each student a wet wipe to clean up messy hands and also to wipe down the work space. After shaping the pretzels, point out that the pretzel ends look a bit like arms reaching up to give yourself a hug. Let your students demonstrate crossing their arms to give themselves a hug.

Place the pretzels in a 350-400 degree oven (or toaster oven) for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool and then serve. Hand out napkins. (You could also provide assorted mustards for dipping or cinnamon sugar to sprinkle on top, and water or juice to drink. Or bring melted chocolate, vanilla yogurt and mini pretzel twists to create covered pretzels. These are a bit more messy. Make sure none of your students have allergies to the ingredients.) If you like, bring hard stick and twist pretzels and do a taste test to see which type of pretzels your class prefers. Create a class tally chart to keep track of how many students prefer hard vs. soft pretzels. You could also show stick vs. twist preferences. Depending on which types of graphs your class is studying, have each student make a bar graph, a picture graph or a circle graph showing the class preferences for pretzels. Here's a Tally chart we created:

Have your students create their graphs using pencil and paper. Once you check them for accuracy, let the students get creative and use an online charting or graphing website to create a 3-D look and add color and text to the graph. The online graphs can be printed, emailed, or embedded on your class website. Here's a bar graph created from

Create your own chart or graph

The National Center for Education Statistics also has some free charts and graphs for students. This pie graph (from uses the same data as our bar graph above:
While your students enjoy the pretzels, talk about how math is used in our everyday lives —financial, measurements (length, distance, volume, temperature), computing, modifying recipes, cooking, listening to music, sports, medicine, carpentry, etc. Students who finish their graphs early can create a poem describing some of the enjoyable ways they (or their parents) use math.

New to Excel Math? Visit our website to learn more and take a look at Free sample lessons:

Looking for help for teaching your students Common Core math? Download samples from our Excel Math Common Core Editions.

Or, if you're from Texas, see how Excel Math is TEKS aligned and helps prepare students for STAAR assessments. View TEKS correlations online.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Running a Marathon and Celebrating Patriot Day

The Boston Marathon happens each year on Patriot Day. On Monday, April 18, Boston will hold its 120th marathon and residents of two states will have a holiday for Patriot Day, extending the due date for filing their taxes until Tuesday, April 19.

The Boston Marathon is the world's oldest annual marathon. It has distinguished itself as the pinnacle event within the sport of road racing by virtue of its traditions, longevity and the fact that entry into the race is via qualification.

So how long is a marathon? Take a guess and we'll reveal the distance below.

Next week security will be extra tight for the marathon. Spectators planning to watch the Boston Marathon from anywhere along the course should expect a significant presence of uniformed and plain clothed police officers.

In 2015 drones were banned along the entire Boston Marathon route for the first time in the history of this race.

Spectators approaching viewing areas on the course, or in viewing areas on the course, may be asked to pass through security checkpoints. 

Memorial wreaths have been placed around Boston in memory of the victims of the bombings that took place during the race three years ago.

In 2014, Rita Jeptoo of Kenya set a women's course record when she finished in 2:18:57. The men's course record was set in 2011.

Excel Math uses the back of most tests to introduce students to multi-paragraph word problems.

Some of these story problems revolve around sports events such as a marathon, bike race, skating, sledding, walk-a-thon, swim meet or a basketball game.

Eventually, students begin creating word problems of their own. These are called "Create A Problem" exercises and help to merge math with literacy. Here's a Create A Problem page from Excel Math Grade 2.
Excel Math Create A Problem from Grade 2
The answers are given in bold type, as shown in the Teacher Edition. Take a look at Lesson samples from Excel Math on our website:

To answer the initial question, a marathon is 26 miles 385 yards (26.21875 miles)  or 42.195 kilometers. The states that celebrate Patriot Day are Maine and Massachusetts.

To read more about the Boston Marathon and its history visit:

Monday, April 4, 2016

4-4-16 Square Root Day

On 4/4/16 we celebrate Square Root Day. The date of this unique day changes depending on the year.

For example, the last time we had a day of this kind was on 3/3/09.

Square Root Day only comes around once in a great while—whenever the month and day are square roots of the year, such as 5/5/25 or 6/6/36.

Some suggestions for enjoying square root day include finding the square roots of various numbers, rooting around to create a succulent garden or soaking an avocado seed in water to watch the roots grow, cooking up some root vegetables, square dancing, squaring off for a contest, or anything else involving squares or roots.

Serve a snack of square crackers (hand out 4 to each student and let them eat as many as necessary to leave the square root of 4). Provide gluten free crackers for students who may be allergic to gluten.

Also serve cheese cubes. Give each student two cubes and ask them to square that number and write down the answer on a piece of paper.

Do the same with 3, 4, 5 and 6.

If your students need help multiplying, let them try some Online Basic Fact Practice for a fun way to practice addition, subtraction and multiplication. 
Excel Math lessons give students lots of practice learning basic math facts, solving word problems, working with decimals, and much more. 
Take a look at sample lessons on our website:
and visit our web store to place an order:

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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

National Anthem Day: Coins, Presidents & Song

On March 3, 1931 (85 years ago), “The Star Spangled Banner” become our national anthem.

National Anthem Day is celebrated on March 3rd of each year in remembrance of this occasion.

“The Star-Spangled Banner” is the national anthem of the United States of America.

The lyrics come from “Defence of Fort McHenry”, a poem written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key, after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy ships in Chesapeake Bay during the Battle of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812.

At the time, Francis Scott Key was a 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet.

The poem was set to the tune of a popular British drinking song, written by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreontic Society, a men’s social club in London. “The Anacreontic Song” (or “To Anacreon in Heaven”), with various lyrics, was already popular in the United States. 

Set to Key’s poem and renamed “The Star-Spangled Banner”, it would soon become a well-known American patriotic song. With a range of one and a half octaves, it is known for being difficult to sing.

Although the song has four stanzas, only the first is commonly sung today, with the fourth (“O! thus be it ever when free men shall stand…”) added on more formal occasions. You can see the verses in red, white and blue, creating the flag at the top of this post.

“The Star-Spangled Banner” was recognized for official use by the Navy in 1889 and the President in 1916, and was made the national anthem by a congressional resolution on March 3, 1931 (46 Stat. 1508, codified at 36 U.S.C. § 301), which was signed by President Herbert Hoover.

The fourth stanza includes the line “And this be our motto: In God is our Trust.” The United States adopted “In God We Trust” as its national motto in 1956. This motto is included on the head side of our coins.

If your students need help identifying coins and U. S. Presidents, try the presidents game at U.S. for a fun way to practice. Several presidential coins or portraits are pictured along with related questions. Your students answer questions such as, "This president was elected in 1960." Students drag the correct coin or portrait into a box to answer each question.

Excel Math lessons give students lots of practice learning coins, counting money, working with decimals, and much more. Take a look at sample lessons on our website:
and visit our web store to place an order:

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