Additional Math Pages & Resources

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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Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Year Math

Perhaps you've heard that this year 2016 is a leap year. How do we know that?

We use the figure 365 for the number of days in a year.

In actuality, the number is closer to 365.25. To compensate for this discrepancy, every four years we have what is called leap year.

In leap years, a day is added to February. Normally February has 28 days.

However, every 4 years, we give February 29 days to  help synchronize the calendar year with the solar year, or the length of time it takes the earth to complete its orbit about the sun,  about 365.25 days.

A leap year has 366 days. The year 2016 is a leap year with 366 days. So the month of February will have 29 days.

Because 365.25 is not exact, three leap years are dropped every 400 years.

These are the end-of-century years that are not evenly divisible by 400.

These rules only apply to the Gregorian calendar currently used by American and European countries.

Several other calendars are used by Asian countries.

Here's a formula we can use to find out if a year will be a Leap Year:

Leap Years are any year that can be evenly divided by 4 (such as 2012, 2016, etc.)

   except if it can can be evenly divided by 100, then it may not be (such as 2100, 2200, etc.)

   except if it can be evenly divided by 400, then it is (such as 2000, 2400, etc.)

In other words:
1. Divide the year by 4. If there is no remainder (so it divides evenly), it may be a leap year.
2. Divide the year by 100. If there is no remainder, then it may NOT be a leap year.
3. Divide the year again, by 400. If there is no remainder, it is a leap year.

Both 1600 and 1700 are evenly divisible by 4. However, 1700 was not a leap year because 1700 is not evenly divisible by 400.

Can you determine which of these years were leap years? The answers appear below.

             1960            1930             1836              1862

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1960 and 1836 are both divisible by 4 and 400. 1960 is also divisible by 100. So both 1960 and 1836 are leap years.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Teacher of the Year: What's her secret?

Susan Vilar credits Excel Math with helping her achieve Teacher of the Year at Hoover Elementary School in Oklahoma. 
We are proud to partner with Susan and dedicated teachers just like her around the country. 
Excel Math opened the door to Susan's students, giving them the tools to be successful with math and providing them with some of the best elementary math lessons available today.

"I was nominated and won Teacher of the Year for my school campus, Hoover Elementary."  Susan told us. "I completely believe this happened because of the EXCELlent Math program you provide!!! Thank you so very much!! I've used Excel Math for many years … and loved it! I started using Excel Math in Texas with excellent test results. Each year produced 95% to 100% of the students passing their Texas State Tests. I’m currently in Oklahoma, and I’m VERY excited to use this program again with my 4th graders. I can’t wait to compare the scores from last school year to this."
Thanks, Susan! We appreciate the great comments and the way you are building success in math among your students.
Beginning a new math program in the middle of the year can be a challenge! 
If you're getting started with Excel Math mid year, here are some strategies to help you get off to a flying start. Take these steps to build student success mid year:
1. Use the Excel Math Placement Tests
Excel Math provides FREE Placement Tests to help you determine where your students should begin in math. Each Excel Math Placement Test file contains six tests that evaluate a student's preparedness for Excel Math.

The tests are labeled A - F, which correspond to first through sixth grade. Instructions for using the tests are included. Save the test to your computer and print it for each student. 

Download the test (in English or Spanish) from our web store:

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