Making Your Own Foamy Math Dice

April 26, 2010

Teaching Addition to our youngest young man has presented all sorts of challenges that has left me with small bald patches all over my head is giving me wonderful opportunities to learn new things.  One of the things I am learning about is Auditory Processing issues.  The more I learn, the more the pieces are starting to fall into place.  Dianne Craft’s page has been a Godsend – thank you, thank you, Julianne!

I asked my homeschooling friends for ideas on how to teach this.  One particular friend (hi, Vero!) suggested using dice as a manipulative – great idea! – and it worked well.  Then, remembering our awesome success with the Memorare and Pictographs, combined with Dianne’s advice for right-brained/visual learners, I thought that it might be worthwhile to see if I could mix dice with concept of using color, while minimizing sound distraction as much as possible.  Inspiration!  What I came up with is something we call “Foamy Math Dice” and the tutorial is below if you’d like to make your own.  Oh!  There is a pdf in the right side bar for the dice tiles.  Please help yourself.  : )



Materials you'll need to make your Foamy Math Dice


– Laminated card stock PDF (in sidebar)
– Scissors or paper cutter
– 2 Foam blocks  (one to try at Amazon)
– Glue that bonds to foam
– Wet erase pens (even though dry erase is shown – it’s all I had on hand O: )


Step 1:  Following the template, cut out tiles from your laminated card stock.  The blocks I am using are just a smidge larger than 1 1/4″ on each side, so the tiles are 1 1/8″ square.  I left a margin of foam around the tiles so that they stay nice and quiet.

Step 2:  Glue the tiles onto the cubes.  I’ll bet you were surprised by this step.  😉  I did alternate which cube I was gluing, to make sure that each tile had enough time to dry in between.

Step 3:  Draw the dots onto your new Foamy Math Dice.


As far as teaching Addition, why am I excited about this tool?  It allows me to control the numbers that Pip is learning to add.  I can have a die made up of blank sides or a single dot for Zero or 1, and then add dots from there as he learns.  Yes, I definitely love the Foamy Math Dice.  I hope you do, too!


Teaching the Memorare with Pictographs

January 6, 2010

UPDATEDER: It’s now almost a year later, and we all still know the Memorare.  Yay, Pictographs!

UPDATE: It’s now one week later and we all pretty much have it memorized.  I still have the board up and Pip (6), most of all, loves to sit at the table and say the prayer; it’s become his favorite.  This has definitely worked for us – thanks be to God.

We have been needing to learn the Memorare for a long time. As a Catholic homeschooler, I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t yet know it by heart. My soul had about had it with that situation, and I woke up this morning with the resolve that Today Was The Day!

The Holy Spirit, being perfect in all things, gave me just what I needed to teach this: the idea of using pictographs to illustrate the main sections of this short (but powerful!) prayer.  On the white board, I wrote out the first half of the prayer, leaving plenty of drawing space in between the lines (it worked out to be three lines per half). Then we worked together to decide what symbols went with each particular section and I drew that symbol right underneath the section. I also redrew the symbols on the lower half of the board to keep the visual cues for them.

I didn’t get a picture of the first half of the prayer, but here is a picture of the second half:

PS – I’m using straight pins as tiny nails to keep the white board on the wall.  They’re small but mighty!


Here are all of the pictographs for the sections of the prayer:

Remember, O Most Gracious Virgin Mary,

Remember = thought bubble

O Most Gracious = yellow halo w/orange circle

blue “VM” = Virgin Mary


that never was it known

that never = “no” symbol

was it known = book (for things that are known)


that anyone who fled to thy protection,

that anyone = a + a picture of a knee + 1

who fled = we went with the aurally similar “flood” (house under water)

to thy protection = yellow padlock with heart-shaped keyhole (holy, loving protection)


implored thy help,

implored = beggar’s tin cup

thy help = a red cross


or sought thine intercession

or sought = magnifying glass

thine intercession = prayer hands (crossed thumbs with straight fingers)


was left unaided.

was left = L

unaided = a red cross inside a black “no” symbol


Inspired by this Confidence, I fly unto thee,

Inspired by this Confidence = a yellow light bulb with a capital “C” as the filament

I fly unto thee = an eye with stick birds for eyelashes


O Virgin of Virgins, my Mother;

O = same halo with orange “O”

Virgin of virgins, = blue “V” for Virgin and small white “v” inside halo

my Mother; = “M” made out of pink hearts


to thee do I come,

to thee = number “2”

do = a dew drop

I come = a stoplight with only green filled in (“arriving” or “traveling”)


before thee I stand,

before thee = a bee with a number “4”

I stand = stick figure standing

sinful and sorrowful.

sinful = black heart <bleah!>

and sorrowful = sad and crying green face


O Mother of the Word Incarnate,

O Mother = purple “O” around the pink heart “M”

of the Word = dotted “W” in a solid line box

(If I had it to do over again, I’d make this a Chi Rho on the cover of a book)

Incarnate = n + followed by a car with an “n” + the number “8”


despise not my petitions,

despise = mad, red face

not = red “no” symbol

my petitions = a stack of petitions with a green check box


but in thy mercy, hear and answer me.

but in thy mercy = borrowed the mercy symbol from Divine Mercy (no, we know that Mary isn’t Divine : )

hear and answer me. = a question mark inside an ear



Amen. = “a +” and a little crowd of men


I hope this helps explain this lesson.  Please share your ideas and improvements if you try this with your own children!


Jennifer +

New Lesson Plan File Uploaded

July 9, 2009

Instead of labeling days Monday through Friday, many prefer the labels of Day 1 through Day 5.  I did a little tweaking and the new pdf is in the green CLIPPINGS box on the right if you’d like to use it.  Look for “NumberDays” as the end of the file name.

Happy planning!

Lesson Plan Book for Workboxes

July 8, 2009

After much struggle brainstorming to figure out how to get a whole week’s worth of lesson plans onto a single page Workbox-style, I stumbled onto a format that is easy on the eyes and super simple to use.  Praise be to God for the inspiration!

This is a Legal-sized plan book, and although it’s a little bigger than I’m used to, I love the visual peace on the page.

Project Tools:

  • PDF file to print
  • Legal size printing paper
  • Binding (either supplies or a service)
  • Cover material (either construction paper (cut and assembled) or Legal size cover stock)

The PDF for the file is right there in the widget in the right side scroll bar; feel free to use it to your heart’s content and share it with your friends if you find it helpful.

This plan book is blessedly simple.  Here’s a look:

One week of Workboxing at your fingertips

One week of Workboxing at your fingertips

I grouped the 12 boxes into three groups of four, which reflects how we break up our our school day; we’ll work through these from top left to bottom right, just like reading.  There is plenty of room for family duties and fun.  The Notes box is to record problems & tweaks to help for the next week.  I have a global plan for the year, but plan in five 9-week quarters (we’re year ’rounders).  You can click the images for a better look, just hit the back button to return to the post.

Cover (very, extremely homemade O: )

Cover (very, extremely homemade O: )

Blessings to you in your planning days!

– Jennifer

ps–apologies for the dark pictures; hard disk error and not all of my software’s been re-installed.  Soon, hopefully. : )

Workboxes Redux

June 26, 2009

I loveLoveLOVE the concept and practical use of Workboxes.  But I’m short on space and tried to innovate another solution.  It only took two days to learn that theory vs. practice crashed and burned, so I jumped ship and have been treading water ever since.

I know that there is something huge to Workboxes and that it will benefit the citizens of Boyville greatly, but couldn’t wrap my brain around how to make it work in a tight space.

We live in a very remote location and so when I had a chance to visit the closest Walmart, I jumped at the chance to browse and brainstorm.  Three hours and two very achy legs later, by George, I think I’ve got it!

Workboxes set-up for Kinder/1st Workboxes

Workboxes set-up for Kinder/1st Workboxes

What a blessing, a grace and a sigh of relief.  I love it–and it works.  Here’s how it came together:

  1. The shelf from Walmart was $24.88 and I found it back by the hardware/home storage/shelving area.  It’s 30″ high x 23″ wide x 13″ deep.  I can’t find it on their site online, though.  Phooey.
  2. The Sterilite boxes were $3 each (approx 4″ high x 6″ wide x 7″ deep.  They came with clear lids and squarish teal-colored handles (and those handles sure put up a great fight! ; ).
  3. The hooks on the boxes are 3M Command strip hooks, about $3.25 for a pack of 6.  I didn’t use the sticking strips, but hot glued them instead to keep them as invisible as possible (see below).  Those babies aren’t going anywhere.
  4. The number tags were made very simply from what I had on hand (foam sheets & glitter glue).  I used magnets on the back instead of using velcro dots (I cut two self-adhesive business card magnets to size and simply stuck them on the back of the tags) .  When Pip’s done with a box, he takes the number off the hook and moves it to his “All Done” magnet board (see below).  Easy peasy!
Hooks and number tags

Hooks and number tags

"All Done" magnet/dry erase board

"All Done" magnet/dry erase board

Now, this side of heaven, nothing is perfect; what are some problems that I see with this set up?

  1. I’m pretty sure that the shelf is too small.  There was a longer, slightly deeper 4-shelf version right next to the 3-shelf version I got.  I think for Middlin (rising 5th grader), I’ll get the bigger 4-shelf version and just not put the last shelf on (very possible with the adustable assembly method).
  2. Cost.  This sweet set-up cost $25 for the shelf, $18 for the boxes and $3 for the hooks (I had everything else at home), so it was $46+ when all was said and done.  That’s almost twice the cost of some set-ups, but only a fraction of my heart’s desire, Ikea’s Trofast system.  I think it’s a great compromise.

I am so very excited to move through the rest of our light summer schooling schedule to see if I need to make any tweaks along the way before we hit the new school year on August 15th.

If you’re blogging your own Workboxes set-up, please feel free to leave a link in the Comments section.

Blessings to you!

Workboxes: My Variation on a Theme

May 5, 2009
If you haven’t heard the latest buzz in the homeschooling world, it’s all about something called the Workbox System.  This stroke of genius is the brain child of Sue Patrick.  Patrick, whose son was diagnosed with Autism at the age of two, studied, struggled, theorized, practiced, tried, erred and tried again to find methods and practices that would support her son towards a fullness of life and hope that doctors simply didn’t give.  The result?  Sue Patrick’s Workbox System.  It wasn’t only a tremendous success for her own son, it’s been a boon to many families who are home educating their special needs children, and to a great many other families and home schools as well.  Sue’s eBook is a great investment to have in your resource cache; lots of wisdom and know-how that you can’t find anywhere else.

When I first saw the Workboxes, I knew that it would be a great help for my supremely tactile bunch.  My only problem was the space issue; we’re already pretty full up here in this house.  After a lot of brainstorming, inspiration.  This is my version of Workboxes.

my Workbox variation: a hanging strip of 12 laminated cards per student

my Workbox variation: a hanging strip of 12 laminated cards per student

Cards on laminated so that I can write assignments on them with a Wet Erase pen

The laminated cardstock allows me to write assignments with a Wet Erase pen

Cards 1-12 hang on the wall; finished assignment cards tuck in pocket

Cards 1-12 hang on the wall; finished assignment cards tuck in pocket

Thick watercolor paper is a strong base.  I cut the slits where the cards are placed.

Thick watercolor paper is a strong base. I cut the corner slits where waiting assignment cards are placed.

Simple card stock folded and stapled at the bottom makes an easy storage pocket for finished lessons.

Simple card stock folded and stapled at the bottom makes an easy storage pocket for finished lessons.

I used 3M pull tabs to hang these on the wall.  Simple and works great.

I used 3M pull tabs to hang these on the wall. Simple and works great.

This is my “variation on a theme” of the Workbox System.  We’ve only just started with “tactile checklist”, but I can tell you that it’s brought motivation and peace for us already.  Boyville loved hidden surprise activities that they discovered upon turning over the assignment card; that was great fun and they were extremely focused on getting through their lessons. 

If you love the idea of the Workboxes but are short on space or it’s just not in the budget, there are other creative adaptations that can make it work for your space and budget.  This is just one way; I hope that it helps you to brainstorm what will work for your school.