Homeschool Math Newsletter, Vol. 40, May 2010

Every Child is Spatial
Every Child is Spatial Math Curriculum: a spatial, holistic, relevant approach to learning math (and much more!). Challenge your students and let them have fun at the same time! Visit Every Child is Spatial today for more information and special promotional pricing.

Welcome to the May/June edition of Homeschool Math Newsletter! The reason I call it May/June edition is because there won't be a separate newsletter for June. I have lots of stuff in this newsletter, so please save it! Or, read it online from this link and bookmark it.

I may send you a notice in the summertime when we finish my newest Math Mammoth book for the Blue Series (Percent!). I know percent is a difficult topic for many students and teachers, so I hope this new upcoming book will be of help.

In this month's newsletter:

1. Long division
2. Subtraction with regrouping
3. Calculation Nation math games
4. New Math Mammoth books: British Money and Fractions & Decimals 3
5. Math Mammoth end-of-year sale
6. Tidbits

Free Curriculum Week is Here! Will you miss out on 15 FREE Unit Studies? Don't miss out! The Simple Schooling Classroom is having an OPEN HOUSE to celebrate Homeschool Expo week. Get 15 FREE Simple Schooling interactive unit studies just for stopping by. All ages and grade levels will be included - BONUS SNEAK PEAK of the new interactive Middle School Physics and a totally FREE 100+ page printable!

1. Long division

In this article I explain how to teach long division in several steps. Instead of showing the whole algorithm to the students at once, we truly take it "step by step".

These ideas are also explained in my YouTube video below:

screenshot of video on long division

Before a child is ready to learn long division, he/she has to know:

  • multiplication tables (at least fairly well)
  • basic division that is based on multiplication tables
    (for example 28 ÷ 7 or 56 ÷ 8)
  • basic division with remainder (for example 54 ÷ 7 or 23 ÷ 5)

One reason why long division is difficult

Long division is an algorithm that repeats the basic steps of
1) Divide; 2) Multiply; 3) Subtract; 4) Drop down the next digit.

Of these steps, #2 and #3 can become difficult and confusing to students because they don't seemingly have to do with division—they have to do with finding the remainder. In fact, to point that out, I like to combine them into a single "multiply & subtract" step.

To avoid the confusion, I advocate teaching long division in such a fashion that children are NOT exposed to all of those steps at first. Instead, you can teach it in several "steps":

  • Step 1: Division is even in all the digits. Here, students practice just the dividing part.
  • Step 2: A remainder in the ones. Now, students practice the "multiply & subtract" part and connect that with finding the remainder.
  • Step 3: A remainder in the tens. Students now use the whole algorithm, including "dropping down the next digit", using 2-digit dividends.
  • Step 4: A remainder in any of the place values. Students practice the whole algorithm using longer dividends.

Continue reading: How to teach long division

2. Subtraction with regrouping

In this lesson I show how to teach regrouping (borrowing) in subtraction. We start out by teaching the actual regrouping separately, and then transfer that step-by-step into the subtraction algorithm.

This article has lots of images and a video, so rather than put them in the newsletter, please continue reading it online: Subtraction with regrouping

SpiderSmart's renowned Reading & Writing Program is now available online.
READ — Select books that excite you from the library of 1500 titles. (You will love receiving books in the mail!)
WRITE — Explore themes, build vocabulary, improve reading comprehension, and strengthen writing skills.
REVISE — Get detailed feedback from our caring, experienced teachers.
Enroll now. Go to today!

3. Calculation Nation math games

Calculation Nation is a new, free, math games website from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).

It currently has 8 games, each of which you can play against the computer or against other players that are online at the same time as you. You will need to register first (free).

All of the games are educational and well made. They include:

Ker-Splash introduces students to algebra as they try to rack up points by combining like terms.
A ball goes down a series of ramps and grabs either x, y, or plain number tokens. You need to figure out the best route for the ball, and combine like terms. The more points students earn, the more control they will have over the game board, which consists of trap doors. My kids really liked this one. I liked it alright as well. It's not very difficult - more for prealgebra level than algebra 1.

Square Off — Drag a rectangle to cover as many spaceships as possible, calculating the perimeter.

Factor Dazzle Find all the factors of a number to earn points. Then, choose a number for which your opponent must find the factors. Create and locate fractions on a number line to tell your shovel where to dig. Earn points for the amount of dirt you collect and the number of jewels you discover.

Times Square — Exercise your skill with factors and multiples! Try to get four squares in a row vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. I liked this one! I've played it before somewhere else as well.

Dig It —Create and locate fractions on a number line to tell your shovel where to dig. Earn points for the amount of dirt you collect and the number of jewels you discover.

Drop Zone — Make sums of 1, using different unlike fractions, and prevent your opponent from making sums of 1. I liked this one!

Slam Ball — Slam the ball into the sides of the game board, and use your knowledge of angles, symmetry, and reflections to choose the best path

Fraction Feud — In each joust, earn points by creating a larger (or smaller) fraction than your opponent.

See some screenshots on my blog - or go directly to to play.

4. New Math Mammoth books: British Money and Fractions & Decimals 3

I have two new books available for the Math Mammoth Blue Series:

  1. British Money
    Math Mammoth British Money is a worktext that covers money-related topics usually encountered during years 2-4. The book contains both textbook explanations and exercises, and is designed to be very easy to teach from, requiring very little teacher preparation (you do need to find practise coins before the lessons).
    Read more, and see free sample pages.

  2. Fractions & Decimals 3
    Math Mammoth Fractions & Decimals 3 continues the study of fraction and decimal topics, on the 6th grade level. This book assumes the student already has studied fractions and decimals in the past, for example using Math Mammoth Fractions 2 and Math Mammoth Decimals 2. The goal of the book is to go through all of the fraction and decimal arithmetic, using up to six decimal digits and larger denominators in fractions than what is commonly encountered in 4th and 5th grade materials.
    Read more, and see free sample pages.

5. Math Mammoth end-of-year sale

ALL Math Mammoth downloadable products are on sale 20% off at Kagi store only. Enter a coupon code MMSALE2010 on the shopping cart page at Kagi to receive 20% off. The sale is valid from May 10 till June 1, 2010. This includes the CDs and the Spanish versions.

Order pages at Kagi:

6. Tidbits

  • An alternate subtraction algorithm (video)
    This subtraction algorithm avoids the borrowing or regrouping that you need to do in the regular one. If a subtraction cannot be done in the ones, tens, etc., instead of borrowing, the answer is marked as a negative number. In the end, this is taken into account (negatives are subtracted).
  • How to help a student that is behind in math?
    This is an old article of mine, but still very relevant. Some of you may find it helpful if you plan to have your kids catch up in math during summer.
  • Keeping math skills sharp during the summer
    This is an old article of mine, but still very relevant. If you're interested in summer math, check out LeapAhead! Online Summer Math Program as one possibility.
  • Science freebie download
    Download a free, quality PDF file explaining several neat science experiments, including a free access to videos about them. Includes detailed project steps, explanations and key concepts, tips & tricks, and access to instructional videos. This freebie is provided by the folks at 
  • Shopping City game hints
    Shopping City is an addictive type of game at I spent nearly a week playing it every day, until I was able to finish all 9 levels. My kids liked it too. See my hints for gameplay.

I wish you a good summer!
Till next time,
Maria Miller

Miss something from the earlier volumes? See newsletter archives.

Feel free to forward this issue to a friend. Subscribe here.

Home    Blog    Math Mammoth books    Math Worksheets    Curriculum Guide    Newsletter Archives
Lessons & Teaching Tips    Reviews    Online Math Games & Tutorials