Ky and I finished reading Meet Kaya: An American Girl, the first book in the series.

She loves this book, because they have the same name (in fact Ky has started spelling her own name Kaya instead of Kyah).

Kyah can relate even further with Kaya because she is a girl with brown skin like her, and is an adventurous girl that loves horses (Kyah is adventurous, she bungee jumped at age 4).

It's been fun for us to read this book together, and learn about the history and culture of the Nez Perce (or Nimipuu) Native Americans.

So when we finished the first book, we decided we needed to order the others.

Visiting and, we searched for the additional five books in the Kaya American Girl Series, and added them to our cart.

Also noticing the complete set, we decided to analyze what would be less expensive - to buy them individually, or to buy the set.

Getting out a notebook and pen, Ky wrote down the price of each book, then added them one by one.

This simple exercise provided a great opportunity to review:

  • place values
  • addition skills
  • carrying
  • decimal place
  • handwriting
  • number form

After adding up the individual books and finding the price ($13.92 ), we added the cost of shipping - $10.48.

Our total cost buying the books individually would be $24.40.

Next we added the cost of purchasing the complete set - $11.66, plus $2.62 in shipping, for a grand total of $14.28.

I asked Ky which was a better deal, and then asked her how much we would save by buying them in the complete set.

We subtracted $14.28 from $24.40 to discover that we would save $10.32, which was "a lot" to her, almost as much as just the shipping alone if we bought them individually.

She was most excited about receiving a package in the mail, and wanted to ensure that I put her name on the mailing address.

It took us anywhere from 30-45 minutes doing this activity together, a lot of math, comprehension, logic and other skills were practiced and developed, but if you asked Ky if we did 'math' today, she would probably say 'no'.

In her mind, all we were doing was buying something that she wanted to get.


Here's a few techniques to make sure this approach to math is a success:

    • Make sure your 'math problems' are applicable to real life. I didn't look for a way to 'do math', I recognized that we would be using math in something we were already doing, and too the time to involve Ky in it instead of just doing it myself.


    • Do it with her along the way. Don't say, "Here, you figure this out, I'll be back when you're done." What makes this effective is that it's something you're doing together, which is what your children LOVE to do.


    • 'Feel out' where she is - if she gets stuck, you can let her work it out on her own, but if she starts to get frustrated, she may really need some help. Most kids want to show you how much they know and will do as much as they can on their own if they feel your support and enthusiasm. On the other hand, if they feel that you're 'testing' them or 'pushing' them, they might tend to 'give up' or get a 'brain fart' because they're focused on the external pressure instead of their internal knowledge.


    • Emphasize rules as you go - mention and/or repeat "This is the ones column, this is the tens column;" "start on the right and move to the left while adding;" etc. Only offer what they're ready to handle. They don't need to drink from a fire hose. If they started getting a glazed look, then maybe you've offered too much.


  • If you're doing something they aren't familiar with or ready for, simply show them how it's done, with simple explanations as you go. No need to pursue it any further unless they express an interest or ask for more.

What techniques do you use for learning math at home or on the road?



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