Friday, July 30, 2010

Homeschooling Unit Studies

Since this has been a promotional week, I might as well end it by pointing out that I've added a new page to my blog. See that new page heading up above? The one that says Homeschooling Unit Studies?

Check it out, and if you wouldn't mind, please pray for me as I try to finish up my next unit study on St. Ignatius and the Renaissance Era.

July 31st is the Feast Day of this great Saint!

St. Ignatius, pray for us!

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Calculus, the one word in math that strikes fear in the hearts of teachers and students alike! I have to admit that we haven't ventured into the realm of Calculus yet, but if this book is like the others in the math series, I'm sure it will be just as much fun and just as thorough!

In the introduction, the author describes calculus as such:

"The book you now hold in your hands shows that every aspect of calculus can arise in the course of daily living. If you've ever fallen into a vat of cheese soup (Chapter 19) or tried to run a thousand pounds of ammo through a custom's station (Chapter 9) you know what I mean.

So what is calculus? In a sentence: if it moves at a varying speed, if it has a curvy shape, if it has a maximum that you'd like to find, if it involves adding up an infinite number of terms, then you're probably looking at calculus."
This book is divided up into 24 chapters, with a section at the back entitled "Further Ado", which delves deeper into certain calculus topics. The main chapters cover things like, functions, speed, derivatives, curvature, logs, series, polar coordinates, vectors and differential equations, plus much more. This is truly a thorough covering of Calculus!

Hope you've enjoyed taking a look into all these great math books, and I hope you learned a little something along the way. Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about the Life of Fred, I'd be happy to help you out.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Here are the answers to the Geometry questions from the previous post. They weren't too hard, so hopefully you got them both right!

Sure. In fact, if it had one right angle, it would have to have two of them. Otherwise none of the sides would he parallel.

Here we get into a bit of difficulty. I can't see how to draw that. When I try, I obtain a rectangle. Then both pairs of opposite sides are parallel and I no longer have a trapezoid.

The next book in line is Life of Fred Trigonometry. What is trigonometry, you ask? The author states the following about trig at the beginning of the book,

"Trigonometry plays with triangles. Mostly right triangles. Trigon means triangle and metry means measuring (in Greek). someone probably stuck the "o" in trigon-o-metry to make it easier to pronounce."
There are 10 chapters on Trig covering things like: sine, cosine, tangent, trig functions, radians, oblique triangles and much more.

There are also 6 "Looking Back" chapters that cover things that the student has learned previously.

In this book, there is also one "Looking Forward" chapter at the end of the book which looks ahead to Calculus.

Overall, there is a very thorough coverage of trigonometry as well as other things, like Shakespeare, saltimbocca and boxing.

The Trig book also comes with a Home Companion book that breaks all of the chapters up into 94 daily lesson plans. Since this book might not take you an entire year to complete, you can always start the Calculus book early since there are 24 chapters in that book!

Sorry, no questions today, as it is getting more difficult to find questions and answers that I can actually type into this box and have them come out right! You'll just have to take my word for it: If you're ready for Trig, this is an excellent book to get!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


We are almost there! Today's review is on the Life of Fred Geometry book. But first, here are the answers from Advanced Algebra:

f(3)=2(3) + 7 = 13

(x - 5)2 + (y - 88)2 = 144

In the introduction to Geometry, the author states,

"In the usual sequence of the study of mathematics...there is one course that is different from all the rest. In five out of the six courses, the emphasis is on calculating, manipulating and computing answers...In contrast, in geometry there are proofs to be created. It is much more like solving puzzles than grinding out numerical answers...Things in geometry are much more creative than in the other five courses."

I really liked Geometry when I took it in high school, however I will admit that 25+ years later I didn't really remember that much. Thus, we had to pull in outside resources to help my daughter get through this class!

The Life of Fred Geometry book has 13 full chapters and 6 - 1/2 chapters. The full chapters cover things like points, lines, angles, quadrilaterals, area, triangles, solid geometry and coordinate geometry to name some of them. The 1/2 chapters explore other areas of Geometry and can be skipped if the student wants to stick to "just the basics".

Here are two simple problems from the chapter on Quadrilaterals:

Can a trapezoid ever have a right angle?

Can an isosceles trapezoid ever have a right angle?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Advanced Algebra

I hope you all had a very nice weekend. Now, it is back to math :) Here are the answers from the previous post on Beginning Algebra.

(x + 3)(x + 7)

There is a common factor involved. x3 - 18x2 - 40 x = x(x2 - 18x - 40) Now to find the two numbers that multiply to -40 and add to -18. They are -20 and +2. So the original equation factors into x(x - 20)(x + 2).

The first step in solving a quadratic equation by factoring is to put everything on one side of the equation. this has already been done. To factor the original equation we get (x + 3)(x + 8) = 0. Now if two numbers multiply to zero, then one of them has to be zero. so x + 3 = 0 OR x + 8 = 0. Then x = -3 OR x = -8.

I'm never quite sure which book comes next since I've seen it done both ways. Is it Advanced Algebra or Geometry????? For this post I am going to talk about the Advanced Algebra book next because that is the one I picked up (although that is the order that we've done them in.)

The Advanced Algebra book also comes with a Home Companion book that lays out the entire main book into a daily lesson plan format. This book has 10 chapters and is divided into 101 daily lessons which cover some pretty intense Algebra. Things like: radicals, logarithms, graphing, systems of equations, more factoring, linear programming, sequences, permutations and much more.

The book ends with a section entitled, "The Hardest Problem in Advanced Algebra". It also has "Looking Back" chapters that take some time to go back and revisit topics from Beginning Algebra. The chapters are numbered as 1/2 chapters, so I guess that, technically speaking, there are more than 10 chapters.

Due to my limited knowledge of how to code things properly, I am somewhat limited to the types of problems I can put up here since many of them involve square roots and graphs and complex fractions and I'm not sure how to get those to look the right way. I have, however, found a few function problems which do not require anything too complex, so here goes:

Let function f by given by the rule f(x) = 2x + 7. The domain and co-domain are the real numbers. What would f(3) equal?

What is the equation of the circle whose center is (5, 88) and whose radius is 12?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Beginning Algebra are the answers from the last post on decimals and percents:

Each family member would get 11.6 lbs of meat.

$156.18 per person


The next book in the Life of Fred series is the Beginning Algebra book. Along with this book I recommend purchasing the Home Companion book, as it breaks down the main book into 108 daily lesson plans.

This book has 12 chapters, broken down into 108 daily lessons, and covers all the basics of beginning Algebra such as: equations, motion, problems with two unknowns, exponents, factoring, fractions and everyone's all time favorites - quadratic equations and functions and slope!

This book gives you an incredibly thorough overview of beginning algebra - and the author makes it interesting and relevant to every day life. I remember finally understanding the "why" of algebra after reading this book and going through it with my oldest daughter.

I'll take some sample problems from my favorite chapter; the factoring chapter. Have fun!!

Factor x2+10x+21

Factor x3+18x2+40x

Solve the quadratic equation x2+11x+24=0

I think I'll give you the weekend to work on these. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Decimals and Percents

Here are the answers from yesterday:


"There is no way to undo that function. Washing that pizza or putting it in the freezer won't take the burned mess and turn it back into an unbaked pizza"

"The opposite function is not "Divide by six and then subtract twenty-four". Instead the inverse function is subtract twenty-four and divide by six."

"There are several different answers that would be correct. Many readers will say that the inverse to "multiply by one" is "divide by one". This works. But another correct answer is "multiply by one". Take the number 955 and multiply by 1 to get 955. A third possible correct answer is "Do nothing". Take the number 345 and do nothing and you still have 345."

Okay, how did you do? Were these problems a breeze or did they require some thought?

The next book in the series is Decimals and Percents. Some people do both the Fractions and Decimals and Percents book in the same year, others divide it up over two years; it all depends on the student and how much they want to tackle in a day.

The Decimals and Percents book has 33 chapters and covers all the necessary skills you need to learn about decimals and percents as well as sets, bar graphs, area, pie charts, ratios, graphing and probability to name a few.

In this book, the author also includes little tidbits on Isaac Newton, verb usage, alliteration and history.

Chapter 11 is about dividing a decimal by a whole number. Here are some sample problems from that chapter. Good luck. The answers will be in the next post!

What if you had a family of 32 to share the Half Cow Special (which is 371.2 lbs of meat!). How much meat would each receive?

There is a Junior Half Cow Special that is not listed on the menu. It is designed for a family of seven. The Junior Half Cow Special is priced at $1,093.26. How much would that be for each person?

Round 777.077 to the nearest whole number.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Thinking about Math

It is that time of the summer again when we really should start thinking about what we will be doing for the upcoming school year. To help you with that adventure, I would like to spend a few posts introducing you to the "Life of Fred".

"Life of Fred" is an interesting, new way to approach a subject which frustrates many a mom and student...math. The author, Stan Schmidt, wrote a series of math books that revolve around the life of Fred, a five year old math genius who teaches at a university. Each book is a story telling about one day in the life of Fred. Unfortunately, it isn't until you reach Calculus that you get to find out how Fred came to be a professor at the tender age of five. I guess that is incentive for your kids to make it all the way to Calculus!

The first book in the series is Fractions. Any student who has about a 5th grade reading level and knows addition, subtraction, multiplication and division can take on the fractions book. There are 32 chapters that cover all you need to know about fractions, as well as an intro to Geometry, estimating, lines of symmetry, opposites, area and much more.

What I like about these books is the way in which the author will insert into the story great little lessons from other subject areas. For example, on page 93 the author writes,

"When the top (of the fraction) is greater than or equal to the bottom, this is called an improper fraction.*"

*Who ever uses the word improper nowadays? Our great-grandparents might have said that someone "had engaged in improper conduct", but the word is used less frequently today - although a lot of improper conduct is still going on. (Did I just prove that I'm as old as my great-grandparents?)

Just to give you a taste of the kinds of problems there are, here are some examples from the chapter on opposites. (Don't worry, throughout the book, there is ample opportunities to review previous lessons.)

6 2/5 x 6 1/4 =

Is there an opposite to "take a pizza and cook it in a 450 degree oven for an hour"?

A function is any fixed, unchanging rule. Suppose the function I'm thinking of is "multiply by six and then add twenty-four." What is the opposite? The opposite of a function is called the inverse function.

What is the inverse function to "multiply by one"?

Take a whirl at these problems and I'll have the answers for you in the next post, as well as some highlights from the Decimals and Percents book. As always, if you are interested in purchasing any of these books, just go to my page at the top of the blog that says "Life of Fred", and thanks for the support!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The halfway point!

Summer is half over...the month of August looms heavily in the air...thoughts of the new school year should be bouncing around in my head, but yet they are not...there is no room for them to bounce around, or even find an entry, as there are too many other projects and ideas still bouncing around in there!

All the chicks are back in the nest for this week...girls home from another great summer camp hosted by the wonderful ladies of Miles Jesu...I always know it's been fun when we pick them up at the end of the week and they are all sobbing!

This week we are being plagued by summer fun for anyone...hopefully they will depart soon!

Next week begins yet another event for two of the camp in the morning...ballet camp in the afternoon. Oh well, at least it is summertime!

In the meantime, my brain is being occupied with thoughts of my next unit study (St. Ignatius), getting my organizational workshop into book format, and a new website for my soap! Think I can finish all that before the end of August???

Of course, it is summertime, so we can't forget to have some summertime fun...swimming, visiting, play dates, the zoo (only if it isn't too hot:), baseball and relaxing! Hope your summer is going well!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Introducing Our First Unit Study Offering!

This past week I've been busily preparing my website for the new release of our first Catholic Unit Study. I'm proud to announce that it is all up and ready to go.

When we first began doing more unit studies and less workbooks, I noticed that there was a lack of unit study material that was Catholic based. For that reason, I never really purchased that many unit studies, instead we just made up our own and made sure to include some Catholicism in it. For example, our archery unit study included a section on St. Sebastian.

Since then it has been my desire to produce authentically Catholic unit studies. When my girls had to do a major work for a club they are in, we decided a unit study would be a great thing to do.

So I introduce to you the fruits of their labor: "John Paul II, A Unit Study on the Greatest Pope of the 20th Century".

This study covers the life of JPII from his early years through his papacy and includes activities in subjects like reading, comprehension, history, fine arts, sports, art, music and religion.

There are book recommendations, field trip ideas, movies and family fun activities, as well as ideas for a JPII unit study wrap-up party.

We tried to write this so that a variety of ages could be included in this study. Many of the activities will be best appreciated by students in grades 3 - 12, but the younger ones will enjoy the read aloud and other activities as well.

I don't think you'll be disappointed! We've offered this in three formats: Download it right away, receive a CD in the mail, or we can mail you the hard copy version.

For general information about Catholic Unit Studies and to give me your own ideas and experiences with unit studies, you can go here.

To purchase your copy of this unit study on JPII, you can go directly to this page.

I hope you take a few moments to check it out and consider using it as part of your curriculum for the coming year (or as a great summer time activity!).

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July

May America turn to God
so that
God will continue to Bless America!

Friday, July 2, 2010

7 Quick Takes

Click on the above graphic to join the fun!


It has been quite a busy week around here. The four older girls got home from a week in Virginia and now are trying to get ready to leave for camp on Saturday. They seem to be having a hard time transitioning from one event to the other. Usually we have an excited countdown to camp going on but right now they are still mourning the fun they left in VA. I remember feeling like that when I was young and carefree....:)


Ms 7 yo has been enjoying having all her sisters back for the week as the bedroom is full again. She spent all last week sleeping in the room by herself during a week filled with some nasty storms. The poor girl was terrified of looking at the weather report on the computer for fear of what it might show. Of course this week has been absolutely beautiful; not a storm in sight. Next week's 10 day shows more storms - and an empty room again.


While in VA, the girls were lucky enough to get the advance copy of Regina Doman's new book "Alex O'Donnell and the 40 Cyberthieves". I started reading it and it looks like it is going to be another good one! I hate starting a good book when I don't have the time to just sit and finish it! Pure torture.


Speaking of reading, we became victims of our library's summer reading club last week. It has always been my policy that we not join these because I have a hard enough time getting my kids to put down books and actually get out to DO something. Now they have the incentive of prizes to not listen to me :) Mr 9 yo is really taking it seriously as he sits there with the stop watch timing every minute that he reads. You see... the grand prize you can try to win for reading 12 hours over the course of 6 weeks is a new bike (which he would like). After his first week in the program, he has read 13.5 hours :)


Our holiday weekend is shaping up to be a marathon. Saturday - Farmer's Market, come home dump the trailer, fill up the van, drive 2 hours to drop girls off, eat dinner, watch fireworks. Sunday - crawl out of bed, get to church, drive 1 hour to a graduation party, eat too much, watch more fireworks, drive home and collapse into bed. Monday - rejoice that my husband has the day off so we can recuperate!


My hope is that next week, while the house is a bit quieter, I can finally get the pages up on my website that highlight the unit study that the girls wrote on Pope John Paul II. I'll let you know when it is ready so you can figure it into next year's school curriculum :)


Have a wonderful, safe 4th of July holiday. For a change of pace this weekend, try praying the patriotic rosary. Here's a link to show you how.