Additional Math Pages & Resources

Monday, April 29, 2013

Poetry for the Math Class

Since April is National Poetry Month, we thought it would be fun to dig up some math-related poetry you can use with your students all year.

To help your class see how mathematics is an integral part of everyday life (and to show your students that you can empathize with those who may be struggling with math), read aloud the poem Arithmetic by Carl Sandburg. Here are few lines:
Arithmetic is where numbers fly like pigeons in and out of your
head . . .
Arithmetic is numbers you squeeze from your head to your hand
to your pencil to your paper till you get the answer. 
Arithmetic is where the answer is right and everything is nice and
you can look out of the window and see the blue sky — or the
answer is wrong and you have to start all over and try again
and see how it comes out this time.
If you take a number and double it and double it again and then
double it a few more times, the number gets bigger and bigger
and goes higher and higher and only arithmetic can tell you
what the number is when you decide to quit doubling. 
Read the rest of the poem at You may want to have your students write their own poems about their love of or struggles with math. Or have them write about how they use math each day of their lives (even when not at school).

Excel Math lessons help students relate math to everyday life. Students become confident in mathematics as they progress through the Excel Math system and are better prepared for higher-order thinking skills and advanced math education. In fact, many students develop a love for math! Take a look at our proven lessons for Kindergarten through Grade 6 at More than just worksheets, these lessons really work! 

Today and tomorrow, the national finals of the annual Poetry Out Loud contest are being held at George Washington University. Created by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, Poetry Out Loud brings together students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Over 375,00 students representing more than 2,000 schools compete in poetry recitation competitions all year long. The top 50 or so finalists travel to Washington D. C. to compete for the top poetry-recitation honors (and these poems have to be memorized). The finals are broadcast only as they occur, so you may want to organize a viewing party. You can watch the live webcast at Read more . . .

You may want to read to your class one or two of these clever poems listed on the Poetry Foundation website:

A Teacher’s Lament by Kalli Dakos
Mrs. Stein by Bill Dodds 
The Creature in the Classroom by Jack Prelutsky 
Freddie by Phil Bolsta  
An Equation for My Children by Wilmer Mills 
Prof of Profs by Geoffrey Brock 

Or this classic from Walt Whitman:

I Hear America Singing
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

The Poetry Out Loud competition has an online list of those poems eligible for the 2012-2013 Poetry Out Loud competition. This  list is a great poetry resource, searchable alphabetically or by author.

Let us know how you incorporate poetry in your classes. Share a comment in the box below and tell us the grade level(s) you teach.

Excel Math lessons for Kindergarten through Grade 6 help build confident, successful math students.  Learn more and take a look at samples at www.excelmath.comRead the glowing reports from administrators, teachers and parents:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Hug a Friend and Have a Pretzel

Thursday, April 25 is not only Take Your Daughter/Son to Work Day, it's also National Pretzel Day and Hug a Friend 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. 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:

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.) 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 a 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 class enjoys 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.

April 28th is poetry reading day so you may want to share a few of your own poems or some favorites from your childhood. Here's a link to a few fun and silly poems from to get you started:

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

Looking for help with the transition to Common Core? Download samples from our Excel Math Common Core Teacher Editions.

Or, if you're from Texas, see how Excel Math is TEKS aligned and helps ease the transition to STAAR assessments. View correlations online.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Drumming to the Beat of Real-World Math

When students ask, ""Why do I need math? I'm going to be a musician!" you can introduce them to world-renowned drummer Ndugu Chancler. This six-minute movie contains amazing drumming, a breakdown of the mathematics of rhythm and a professional musician's opinion on technology and creativity.

Watch the movie and download the classroom activity from the Futures Channel here:

With Excel Math, students learn to develop a love for and proficiency in mathematics. Now that new state and national standards place more emphasis on mathematical practices, helping students see the connection between math and the real world takes on added importance. In Excel Math lessons, students are given hands-on experience using math to accomplish workplace and everyday household tasks. To read glowing reports about Excel Math from the teachers who use it visit

Pianists, guitar players, vocalists and other musicians (not just drummers) spend much of their practice time devoted to perfecting their rhythm skills. And musical rhythm involves mathematical equations and equivalent fractions:

For more on equivalent representations of fractions in music and math, take a look at our previous blog post:

Sound waves can be described by mathematical equations, the pitch of a person's voice is determined by the resonant frequency of his vocal folds (about 125Hz in an adult male), and strings on musical instruments vibrate at precise frequencies. Mathematics and music are intricately intertwined. 
"There is geometry in the humming of the strings, there is music in the spacing of the spheres." — Pythagoras
The Greek philosopher Pythagoras is credited with discovering the relationship between mathematics and musical sound. The intervals between harmonious musical notes always have whole number ratios. So playing half a length of a guitar or violin string gives the same note as the open string, an octave higher. A third of the string length gives a harmonious note a fourth higher. However, non-whole number ratios form dissonant sounds. Watch a video about the relationship between math and music featuring jazz legend Wynton Marsalis:

The Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, California houses a collection of musical instruments dating from the 1890s to today. The museum explores how and why instruments develop, who makes them and the sounds they make. The permanent display includes hundreds of vintage instruments, audio and video clips, and a hands-on interactive area where you can try out some of the instruments. Through September, the museum will spotlight the harp with an exhibition called, “The Harp: A Global Story of Man, Music and Medicine.” Read more and find out about this weekend's harp concert featuring talented San Diego harpists:

What resources do you use to help your students see the connection between music and math? Leave a response in the comments box below.

New to Excel Math? Learn more on our website

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mathematics Awareness Activities for Kids

Mathematics Awareness Month was started in 1986 to promote math education and careers in math. It began as Mathematics Awareness week, with a proclamation by President Ronald Reagan, who said in part:

Despite the increasing importance of mathematics to the progress of our economy and society, enrollment in mathematics programs has been declining at all levels of the American educational system. Yet the application of mathematics is indispensable in such diverse fields as medicine, computer sciences, space exploration, the skilled trades, business, defense, and government. To help encourage the study and utilization of mathematics, it is appropriate that all Americans be reminded of the importance of this basic branch of science to our daily lives.

Mathematics Awareness Poster
Now celebrated each April, the goal of mathematics awareness month is to increase mathematics understanding and to help people develop an appreciation for math. Around the country, many colleges and universities have month-long activities, often partnering with high schools to educate students about math careers and college coursework. Read more and download the 2013 poster at the Mathematics Awareness website:

During the month of April, you can help parents, students and your community understand the significant role math  plays in our daily lives. (You can continue the trend all year long.) The 2013 theme for Mathematics Awareness month is "Mathematics Sustainability: Balancing Needs and Seeking Solutions for a Complex Changing World." Since Earth Day is also celebrated in April (22), you can tie together both events for a month-long emphasis on math in the classroom. National Geographic has a water footprint calculator that your students can use to see how much water they use in their day-to-day activities: You can challenge them to conserve water at home, school, and in their community with these suggestions from the experts.

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:

Prepare a few short questions and have your students interview their parents to find out how they use math in the workplace. Invite some of those parents to talk to your class about the things they enjoy about math and the ways they use math in their everyday lives. Talk about your own interest in math and your hobbies that involve math (music, baking, gardening, carpentry, collections, knitting, scrapbooking, sports, etc.)

The Children's Nutrition and Research Center in Houston has put together a fun Healthy Eating Calculator you can have your students (and their families) use as a kick-off to Mathematics Awareness month:
The calculator has you enter the child's activity level, age, weight and height and then recommends a daily number of calories, plus the amount of fruits, vegetables, grains, milk products, oils, and lean meat and beans the child should eat each day. Although this should not replace a doctor's recommendations, the chart also shows the sugar and fat content of some of the more popular foods kids eat. Read more about nutrition and children here:

Try a cooking demo, having your students prepare some no-bake cookies (be sure to use ingredients that won't cause allergies). Or use a well-supervised kitchen or toaster oven for baking. First, let the students double or triple the cookie recipe so they have enough cookies to share with another class (students plus teachers and your principal or other administration and support staff). You can use this cooking lesson as an opportunity to thank the custodians or other workers at your school by including them in the final cookie eating. If your students have keyboarding skills, they could type up recipe cards to take home along with thank-you notes to the workers you are including.

As the students eat the treats, talk about the math skills necessary to do everyday tasks such as compare grocery prices per ounce, count change, take out a 3-year car loan and find the lowest interest rates, modify recipes, calculate square feet of a room (to order tile or carpet), divide liters of soft drink between the entire class so each student gets a 6-oz cup, measure fabric for an apron or window drapes, determine how many miles per gallon a car gets if it travels 150 miles on a tank of gas, figure out on which day the first day of summer will fall this year and next, estimate by rounding up to determine how many cans of soup you can purchase with $5.00, calculate the amount of interest you would earn if you put a $200 tax refund in an interest-bearing account that had an APY of 5%, use a map to find the distance you would travel if you biked from one of your state parks to a nearby river or lake, decide the time you need to get up if you have to be at school at 8:00 and it takes you 2 hours to get ready, etc.

You may want to use a few links from our website to help your students develop an awareness of math with games and online resources:

Since May is National Fitness Month, get a jump on active math activities with ideas from our previous blog post: National Fitness Month—Get Moving With Math.

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

Looking for help with the transition to Common Core? Take a look at our Excel Math Common Core Teacher Edition.
Or, if you're from Texas, see how Excel Math is TEKS aligned and  the perfect transition to STAAR assessments. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Create Your Own Math Certificates & Awards

Excel Math Achievement Award
This is the time of year when students may need some extra motivation. Now that spring break is over, and summer feels like it's a long way off, give your students an incentive to keep up the hard work. We created this Math Achievement award to start your creative juices flowing. Click here to download it from our website. It's our gift to you for all you do for your students. Watch for more certificates on our website:

Excel Math Star Student Award
You may want to set up a chart in your room so students can keep track of their Basic Fact Practice or math skills. After completing the chapter or ten pages of Basic Math Facts with 95% correct (or whatever skills your class is working on for bell work or during "preferred activity time"), add a checkmark to the chart.

When a student has received 20 checkmarks (or whatever number you decide), award him or her with an Achievement Certificate and post his name on your bulletin board under the heading "Grand Master Level 1 Math Students." Create a Level 2 certificate for students who move ahead quickly. Simply type to fill the blank spaces. When you're done, print the certificate for your student. Just change the student's name as you print each award.

With Excel Math, many students begin to develop a love for math. Encourage their new enthusiasm with colorful incentive certificates and awards that mark their progress. We've checked out a few websites for you.

Activity Village Certificate
You may also want to recognize students who show a certain character trait such as kindness, happiness, etc. The printable certificates from Activity Village also include star student, best mom (dad, teacher), sports certificates, blank ones so you can add your own wording. They are not customizable online, but you can print them in color or black and white before adding your information (leaving the student names blank so you can fill them in individually).

Read more . . .

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

You may also like these articles:

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

TEKS Aligned & STAAR Ready: The Excel Math Solution

Excel Math is TEKS aligned and STAAR ready. Visit our Texas Connection to see the features and benefits of Excel Math and the ways our lessons support the revised TEKS to be implemented in 2014. We are pleased, but not surprised, at how well our Excel Math materials correlate to TEKS requirements. (TEKS = Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills.)

Excel Math is correlated to the TEKS plus other State Standards. Within each grade level, we correlate the Excel Math LessonsStretches, Activities and Exercises to each standard. Our correlations allow you to focus on the standards or go even further, with additional concepts we provide. At the bottom of each TEKS correlation, we list additional concepts covered by Excel Math that go beyond the Texas requirements.

If you teach in a state other than Texas, visit our Excel Math CCS and State Standards page to find the group of standards for your particular state. Then click on the grade level button to see the correlation between that set of educational standards and Excel Math. These are printable PDF files that you can download and email to your colleagues.

TEKS aligned STAAR ready

Excel Math is an excellent tool for transitioning to the upcoming STAAR testing. Current test results will remain strong for students using Excel Math. At the same time, Excel Math will provide students with powerful support, in-depth practice, and frequent assessment for the move to STAAR.

Although Texas is now beginning to teach personal finance in elementary math classes, financial literacy has always been a part of the Excel Math lessons. Beginning in Kindergarten, students learn to identify coins, count money, and use coins to purchase items. This is a Projectable Lesson slide from our new Kindergarten Projectable Lesson CD, asking students to use their play money to count the correct change for each item shown:
Excel Math Projectable Lesson 102 Slide 1 Kindergarten
Projectable Lessons can be projected onto a white board, electronic board, screen or wall. One student can come up and point to or circle the correct change while the other students use their play money to find how much is needed to buy each item. The subsequent slides for each Projectable Lesson show the correct answers:

Excel Math Projectable Lesson 102 Slide 2 Kindergarten
These slides let the teacher and students focus on the lesson of the day together. The teacher can help the students discuss alternate ways to solve each problem (using 5 pennies instead of one nickel for the gum, for example). To learn more about our Projectable Lesson CDs for each grade level K-6, visit our website: The Kindergarten Projectable is now available in Beta version for a reduced price. Call us for details: 1-866-866-7026.

Excel Math includes weekly and quarterly assessment along with a proven spiraling process and spaced repetition of concepts to prepare students for testing. Read more about student testing with Excel Math. With Excel Math, students learn higher-order thinking skills beyond state and TEKS requirements. You can use these additional concepts to provide accelerated learning for your students who are ready for more. Excel Math provides increased rigor and a proven way to increase student engagement with mathemathics—all while giving students a solid foundation of math skills. Read more and take a quick tour of Excel Math here.

If Texas is not your home state, click on the Common Core Standards or one of these states to find your correlations:

Looking for Professional Development help with the transition to STAAR testing or CCS requirements? Give us a call to schedule a few hours of training. We provide Professional Development at no cost to you—you pay only for our travel expenses from San Diego. What a deal!

The Excel Math Professional Development gives teachers instructional strategies (best practices) for effective direct instruction and tips to take full advantage of the three components of Excel Math. Plus, you will learn how to utilize the regular assessment in Excel Math for maximum instruction. Watch Bob in action here:
1. Professional Development [8:05 min]
Introduction to Excel Math 

Because Excel Math emphasizes Critical Thinking instead of fill-in-the-blank answers, the Excel Math lessons are an outstanding bridge to the new requirements of the STAAR Readiness Standards. Additionally, this in-service includes how to effectively blend Excel Math with an adopted core curriculum for maximum instruction in cases where Excel Math is used as a supplement. Generally, each session is a little under two hours in length.

If you know of additional websites and resources we should include in future posts, please leave us a comment with the information (click on the word comment below).

New to Excel Math? Learn more about how to start building confident math students with Excel Math lessons. View samples here.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Financial Awareness for Students

 Since April is Financial Awareness Month, we've pulled together some lessons on money, coins, dollar bills, and finances for you to use with your students.

On April 2, 1792 the U.S. Congress passed the Coinage Act to regulate the coins of the United States. The act authorized $10 Eagle, $5 half-Eagle, 2.50 quarter-Eagle gold coins, silver dollar, dollar, quarter, dime, and half-dime to be minted.

In Excel Math, we teach students how to add dollars and coins, become financially literate and make sense of monetary calculations. Here's a coins worksheet you can use with your students to help them recognize coins from a penny to a dollar. Click here for a larger version.
Coins worksheet from Excel Math
Give a page of coins to each of your students. Have each student cut out the coins along the broken lines and stack them according to their value (all pennies in one stack, nickels in another, etc). Use the rectangle of coins at the bottom of the worksheet to talk about each coin, its distinguishing features, and how much it is worth.

Let your students place the stacked coins on top of their matching pictures. Now have them find the one coin worth 25¢. Next have them find three coins whose sum equals 25¢ (two dimes and a nickel). Continue practicing any skills your students need to review (making change, adding and subtracting coins of various values, etc.). Point out the presidents shown on the coins: Lincoln - penny, Jefferson - nickel, Roosevelt - dime, Washington - quarter, Kennedy - half dollar. Read more lesson ideas with on our post: Making Cents of the Coinage Act.html. Shown above are some Washington dollar coins with George Washington's face on the obverse side.

Pictured below is a Guided Practice page from the Excel Math Second Grade Teacher's Edition. See if you can solve these problems without looking at the answers. Section E uses coins of various values. Can you recognize them? (We've provided the answers so you can check your work.) Read more about various U.S. coins: Whose-Head-Is-on-That-Coin.html

Excel Math Grade 2 Student Lesson Sheet

The first time that a woman (other than a mythical figure) appeared on a circulating coin was not until 1979, when the U.S. Mint issued the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin. Read more about Susan B. Anthony and the Dollar Coin Act of 1997 on our post: Counting-All-Coins-Dollars.html.

According to some sources, even toddlers and preschoolers are not too young to begin traveling down the road toward financial literacy. Here are some tips for helping children of all ages begin to learn to manage money: How do you teach financial literacy to children? Leave your suggestions in the comments section below.

To develop confident, successful math students, use Excel Math lessons for Kindergarten through Grade 6. Much more than just worksheets, these math lessons really work! Learn more and take a look at samples at