Matific: Teaching Math Intuitively Through Interactive Gaming (+ a Giveaway!)

5th

By now you have probably settled into the school year.  Orientations are over.  If you are a teacher, classroom management structure has been established and now you are getting to know the abilities of the students.  If you are a parent, you may be noticing your child struggling in certain areas now that they are in the thick of things.  Particularly in math, it is critical that your child get the extra support he/she needs to succeed.

Why is math important?

Math along with subjects that support STEM initiatives has been a concern in U.S. education.  A recent Pew Research Center report concluded that although math scores have improved significantly in the past two decades, the U.S. still falls in the middle amongst countries in math aptitude.  In 2013, 35 percent of eighth grade students performed at or above the proficient level in mathematics.  What are the possible consequences of this?  Math is considered a cornerstone for learning critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making and other vital intellectual skills to make proficient productive workers.  However, it is projected that there will be a projected 1.2 million STEM jobs by 2018 that will remain unfilled as we currently don’t have the proficiency to fill them.

What is Matific?

Matific is a new math resource for grades K-6 that strives to provide versatile immersive math experiences for students.  Available online as through mobile applications as well (both Android and iOS), Matific delivers episodes which consists of hands-on interactive games and challenges in specific math topics.  In addition, a variety of worksheets are available along with the episodes to provide additional practice.

How does it help students?

Developed by mathematicians and educators, Matific is based on the idea of making math intuitive for students.  It is designed to support math curriculums by providing spiraling activities that build from the fundamental to more higher order challenges.  Students navigate through concepts on their own as positive feedback is delivered.  Each grade level includes a comprehensive list of activities including arithmetic operations, measurement, geometry, data analysis, and even a more challenging area called “brain teasers” for the students who just want more.  Most importantly, the episiodes are fun and all have a gaming element.  My 5th grader likes how it turns concepts like division and fractions into fun play.

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I initially thought Matific was only going to be useful for my 5th grader, but my 2 year old actually loves playing the counting episodes in the Kindergarten module!  This is a great tool in preparing students for kindergarten when you provided guided instruction.

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Parents who are interested in purchasing for your children can start with a 10-day trial. Membership options run in 3, 6, and 12 month increments starting at $18 or $36 annually.  The price is very reasonable for what you are getting.

How can it help teachers?

Whether you are classroom teacher, assistant, or homeschool teacher, Matific is a great supplement to your instruction.  Teachers can start with a FREE account and have students engage with the hands-on activities on the computer or mobile devices as a process activity or attention-getter for a lesson.  With a teacher account, you have free access to all of the episodes, worksheets, tutorials, and teacher guides.  In addition, you can upload a class list or invite students to your Matific account and track everyone’s progress.  Populate performance reports for yourself, parents, or a math administrator in your building.  You can even upgrade to a premium account and have each student access Matific at home.  This may be a good supplement to a flipped classroom.

Now for a GIVEAWAY!

Are you interested in Matific?  I am running a giveaway for the next two weeks for you to get a FREE annual account!  You can have all of the episodes and worksheets, grades K-6, for your children to use for the entire year!  Just enter below!  A winner will be selected at random.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

UPDATE 11/9/2015:  Congratulations to Dana B for winning a year of Matific!

Good luck!
~Lani

Disclosure:  I received a complimentary year membership to Matific to assist with this review.  All of the opinions here are completely my own.

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Creamy Lemon Bars

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Lemon Bars are one of my favorite desserts, but I always feel it is hit or miss whether I like it or not. When I’ve tasted it at parties, cafes, and coffee shops, I either love it or hate it.  Sometimes the lemon flavor tastes way too artificial or way to pungent.  The level of sweetness has to be perfect too.  Most lemon bars to me don’t taste sweet enough to me.  I’ve also tried the lemon bar mixes in a box and have found the filling way too “gel like”.

Why is there so much inconsistency in the taste of a lemon bar?

So here is a recipe for lemon bars that suits all of my tastes and my family loves them too!  The key ingredient?

Condensed milk.

Oh my goodness I love condensed milk.

It makes it creamy and combined with the fresh squeezed lemon juice, it makes it PERFECT!!!  I’m thinking if you switch lemon juice to lime juice, they would make awesome key lime bars!! (boy do I have to try that some time…)

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The shortbread crust is awesome too.  I love the saltiness it brings to the sweet.

Sweet and salty…hmmm…a running theme with my palate!

Here it is!

Creamy Lemon Bars

For the filling…

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 can of condensed milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  •  3 Tbs flour
  •  3/4 cup lemon juice or juice from 4 lemons
  • a pinch of salt
  • grated lemon zest

For the shortbread crust…

  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter (12 Tbsp)
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cups powdered sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter a 13 X 9 baking dish.
  2. Cut the butter into separate tablespoons into a bowl and let sit for 10-15 minutes to get to close to room temperature.
  3. Once the butter is close to room temperature, add the remaining ingredients for a crust.  In a food processor or using an electric mixer.  Lightly pulse/mix until everything is blended into a grainy meal.
  4. Press the mixture into the bottom of the 13 X 9 pan.   Bake the crust for 20 minutes.
  5. When the crust is done, remove it from the oven and lower the temperature to 325 F.
  6. Mix all of the ingredients for the filling using an electric mixer.  Pour over the hot crust.  Bake for 25 minutes (or until center is firm).
  7. Let cool for 30 minutes.  Sift powdered sugar on top.

Enjoy!

~Lani

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Mornings with The Mutts Winter Diaries (and a giveaway!)

Mutts Comics

Lately I’ve been trying to figure out ways to approach my days differently to break the routine.  Working from home and taking care of my 6 month old and 2 year old littles has started to take a toll on my daily attitude.  Not that I can’t stand it, I love it with all of my being!  But I’m finding that I barely spend any time for me.  I’m not looking to get my hair done, a massage, go shopping (although all of these things are nice!).  I’m just talking about time for my mind to decompress.

So I’ve adopted some new “mandatory” activities to do daily.

Prayer.

Gratitude.

Exercise (really trying stay motivated on this one!).

…and making myself laugh.

Yup, If each day includes some laughter, how can you not be happy?  I incorporate watching comedy shows, funny YouTube videos, even movies.  However, not every day has the time and flexibility to engage in something lengthy.  So that’s why I’m falling in love with comic strips again.  Reading comic strips was a Sunday routine for me.  Growing up, we only received the newspaper on Sundays.  So comics were the first thing I snagged to read before church!  My favorites were Family Circus, Cathy, For Better or for Worse, Blondie, and of course, Peanuts!

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Flash forward to 2015.  The laughs and smiles from comic strips are still the same.  I’ve particularly grown fond of Mutts Comics by Patrick McDonnell.  Described by Peanuts creator Charles Schulz as “One of the best comic strips of all time.”, Mutts is an award-winning series that has been bringing the laughs since 1994.  The series shares the crazy antics of Mooch and Earl, a cat and dog, along with their many friends.  Mutts Comics are so popular, that they have an array of kids books, calendars, mugs, apparel, and more.

So I’ve been reading through an advance copy of their newest book, “The Mutts Winter Diaries” (which is being released October 13th!) this past week and have been finding myself laughing every morning.  It’s part of my morning routine.  I grab my coffee, breakfast, and sit down with several pages of the Mutts Winter Diaries.   The story centers around the winter season where Mooch and Earl a normal topic like hibernation and turn it into a funny adventure.  It’s been a great preface to the upcoming holiday season and I’m actually finally looking forward to possible snow, cozying up in blankets, and the colder temperatures.  Best of all, it’s been helping my mind get relaxed and ready for the day ahead.  I’m not as grumpy and I’m actually a bit perkier!  It has definitely been influencing my social-emotional well-being.

To celebrate my new found love for Mutts Comics and a chance to bring some happy laughs to your own mornings, here’s a giveaway where you can win your own copy of The Mutts Winter Diaries and a fun Mutts Comics Night Shirt!  To coincide with the release of the new book, Richard Leeds International has designed a cozy nightshirt to give you the sweetest of dreams.  Whether you are trying to win for yourself or for your children, it’s sure to bring someone a smile!

The Mutts Winter Diaries

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Creator Patrick McDonnell has received numerous awards for this strip, including the National Cartoonists Society’s highest honor, The Reuben, for Cartoonist of the Year. MUTTS also won awards for its environmental and animal advocacy: two Genesis Awards from The Ark Trust, The HSUS Hollywood Genesis Award for Ongoing Commitment, the PETA Humanitarian Award, and a Sierra Club award.

Already a fan of Mooch and Earl or want to become one?  Learn more about their latest at the Mutts Comics website, Mutts Comics on Twitter, Mutts Comics on Facebook, and Mutts Comics on Instagram.

I hope you always find the time to laugh each day!

~Lani

Disclosure:  I received a copy of The Mutts Winter Diaries and a Mutts Night Shirt as part compensation for this sponsored post.  I am not affiliated with Mutts Comics.  The thoughts and opinions here are completely my own.  The Rafflecopter giveaway is hosted by and will be fulfilled by Mutts Comics.  

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