Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Additions and Updates - What's New at Letter Learning

We've been hard at work expanding our line of kid-friendly, educational greeting cards and are pretty darn proud of our newest additions.  (With a baby due any second, expansion seems to be a big theme around here.)  Anyway, here's what we've added.

All Capital Letter Cards:  We had some very thoughtful customers write in and let us know that they're kids' preschools start by using only capitals. The idea is that the upper- and lower-case letters together is a bit too confusing for the youngest writers, so they simply focus on one strand at a time.  We happily obliged with the following two new cards.  (More coming in the near future).

Teacher Appreciation Cards:  As a former teacher, I can't believe this one slipped under the radar until now.  What teacher wouldn't want to receive a thank-you card from her student?

We also have some pretty sweet new Valentine's Day cards and have updated a few of our other classics.  See everything at http://www.letterlearning.com  We couldn't possibly show you everything here, so take a few minutes to check out our site. 

You can save 20% with promo code "THANKYOU20", so what are you still doing here?!

Got other suggestions for cards?  Please share!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Make Math (Even) More Magical!

We all know kids learn more when they're having fun (I feel like a broken record saying that over and over and over again), so let your little Einsteins go hog-wild with this fun math game!

Write each digit 0-9 on its own scrap of paper and have your kids crumple them up. 

Depending on the age/math proficiency of your kids, have them choose between 2-5 scraps from the pile.  Tell them their job is to use each of the numbers they have randomly chosen in a math expression, working toward some goal (largest sum, an even number, a multiple of 12) that you set.

So, for example, if you have a 5th grader, you may say to him, "Pick 4 scraps of paper.  Make (two) 2-digit numbers that, when added together, give you the largest sum possible."  If your child pulls a 2, 4, 1 and 5, let him play around with the numbers realizing that it doesn't make sense to make the numbers 24 and 15 (sum of 39), when he could make 51 and 42 and get a sum of 93.  Would changing the numbers to 52 and 41 change the sum?  Why or why not?

If you have a 1st grader, change the game to something like, "Pick 3 scraps of paper and add all of the numbers together".  While this may not seems exceptionally fun to adults, most kids will like the novelty of moving the papers around and the fact that they're written on pieces of paper instead of a math worksheet.

Other ways you can change this up:
- use a die or 2,3,4, dice to get your random numbers (kids automatically think "game" when dice are involved!)
- have your kids play against one another to get the largest sum and have them explain their thinking ("I made 42 instead of 24 because 42 is a larger number.  A large number plus another large number will get me a larger sum than 2 small numbers added together....")
- add more pieces of paper and have repeated digits
- let your kids set their own goals for the math expression
- have your kids pick 3 pieces of paper randomly and then have the option to choose which number they'd like to have for the 4th digit, depending on that round's goal

What else can you think of to make this math game even more fun!?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

House of Cards - Fun, cheap, easy way to learn more about your kids

Here's a fun/easy/cheap/educational activity for all you parents, caregivers and teachers out there!  Give your kiddos a stack of playing cards and a roll of masking tape and tell them that the "best" castle wins.  That's it.  They can't use anything other than the cards and the tape and they have to build a castle. "Best", of course, is relative, so you can judge the winners based on cooperation, design, strength, aesthetics, or give a prize in each category.  Gauge your kids to see what will be best for them.

If you're a teacher, use this as a team-building activity for your cooperative groups.  If you're a parent, use it at a birthday party to keep the kids engaged, or just use it with your own kids and see how creative they can truly be.  The kids can work independently, in small groups, or in large groups.  You'll be amazed what life skills start shining through during this oh-so-simple activity.  If the kids are working in a group, you'll immediately be able to pinpoint "the leaders".  They're the ones who take the masking tape and the stack of cards and demand their teammates listen to their plan before anyone does anything. You'll soon find your creative cats, too.  They're the ones who quietly and artfully create a architectural masterpiece that has multiple levels, staircases, spindles. and use alternating diamond/spade patterns  The peace-makers will emerge, well, as the ones who keep the peace and keep everyone involved.

The great thing is that clean up is easy, the cards can be re-used and this activity can be done repeatedly since no two castles will be the same.

Try it out and share what you find -- we'd love to hear what you discovered about your Aces!