How many PEEPS does it take to make a 7 foot dragon?

This Easter, I spent a sweet afternoon admiring art. But not just any art. This was Carroll County’s annual PEEP show. Yes, an entire community center filled with sculptures made from those ooey-gooey candy confections: PEEPS. As I admired PEEP-created palm trees, life size princesses, bats, various characters, and other amazing creations, I got to thinking about math. How many PEEPS would it take to build the grand prize winner, the dragon? Hmmm…

Peeps4.2017

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Notes from NJ SCBWI

I attended the New Jersey SCBWI conference last weekend for my first time. In a word: FANTASTIC! Not only did I learn a ton, but it was great to meet so many open, dedicated, and like-minded people. Here are a couple of highlights from my favorite workshops.

The Query Letter with Ben Grange

Ben was open, specific, and helpful in his Saturday afternoon talk about what works– and what doesn’t– in the query letter. One line that resonated was “cut to the chase.” Yes, yes, yes! Nobody has time or desire to read a longwinded query letter. Brevity is key. Also, character, he says, needs to be the focus of the query. What are that character’s goals and desires? We need to love the character above all else, or at least be intrigued by who he or she is.

Ben went on to remind us that agents are real people. Not only that, but they represent real people. An agent wants to know who you are. After all, the relationship may (and hopefully) last for years, decades even. Be personal, Ben says. He wants to know who he’ll be working with for many, many years to come. So, a query letter must be personal. Not jacket copy, he says.

Here’s a synopsis of the DO NOT’s:

  • No main character point of view queries. Total turn-off.
  • Don’t use a lot of adjectives, and especially don’t use words like ‘fast-paced’ or ‘thrilling.’ You are not a critic of your novel, he says.
  • No blow by blow descriptions. Also, cut out the backstory and subplots. Save those for the novel.
  • Don’t be vague. Every line, every word, counts!

Thanks so much, Ben. This was very helpful!

Off to the day job–more on the conference later. 🙂

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WJLA News Shows Students Eating Homework!

What a thrilling day today! Kellye Lynn and cameraman Brian Hopkins came to my school to do a news segment for WJLA news. My kids and I watched it on TV eating “Revolutionary Honey Jumble Cookies.” What a thrill!

Students Eat Homework on WJLA

And yes, I had to do it: I took a picture of me on TV!!

WJLA_TV1.11.16

 

 

 

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Great Ideas DO Fall from Trees!

Great Ideas DO fall from Trees

GREAT IDEAS don’t fall from trees—or do they? Actually, my best ideas don’t come to me when I’m sitting at my desk with a skyscraper-sized computer screen in front of me. They don’t come to me when I’ve got an open notebook and I’m staring at the walls of my office. Nor do GREAT IDEAS suddenly appear when I have a self-imposed deadline. By XX date, I will have a new book draft completed. Sure, there is something to be said for regular, scheduled time in a chair with screen/notebook open in front of me. I’m not arguing that the habit of sitting to write on a routine, if not daily, basis is futile. Far from it. However, for me, that initial seed of a knock-your-socks-off idea comes before that. It comes when I am out under the trees, doing something outside my house, or at least experiencing real life.

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Nature is a fantastic place for inspiration. A walk or run around my neighborhood often sparks GREAT IDEAS or helps to solve murky issues in already completed rough drafts. The warmth of the sun, the smell of cut grass or rain, the rustle of leaves and small creatures—these somehow fire up new brainwaves in a way that stale, inside air cannot. Even background traffic noises, right there and not muted by the walls of my house, work to stimulate my thinking.

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GREAT IDEAS aren’t born strictly in nature. It’s all about a fresh set of sensory input. Something as mundane as a trip to the mall or grocery store provides much fodder for interesting characters, setting, and conflict. For instance, I was walking past the ‘Lids’ store in the mall the other day—imagine, a whole store devoted to baseball caps! I started thinking about hats. My mind raced in different directions: hats for different purposes, hats throughout history, celebrity hats, special occasion hats, every day hats, a character who loves hats . . . I got excited. Imagine how fun this could be to write about! Maybe this idea will go somewhere and maybe it won’t. I’ll tuck the seed away for now, let it grow a little more before I start to poke at it for possibilities.

IMG_4624.JPGGREAT IDEAS can come to us at the workplace, too. One time a GREAT IDEA came to me while I was teaching fifth grade math. A classroom of young people is jam-packed with story inklings. It was right before Winter Break and I’d given my students an assignment: Create a gingerbread house from graham crackers. Make it mathematical. I was blown away. Really blown away. My clever, clever students came up with things like measuring the perimeter of the roof and the path from the front door. They created geometric shapes for doors and windows and calculated areas of walls and the whole house. They added, subtracted, multiplied, and divided candy. It was incredible—using food to get kids excited about learning was a GREAT IDEA.

And don’t even let me get started on museums, art galleries, hardware stores, ice-rinks, and baseball parks. GREAT IDEAS practically DO fall from trees in those locations.

I love to sit at my desk and write, either on screen or in a notebook. I love my house; it’s cozy, comfortable and home. But if I stay inside too long, my brain turns dull and eventually shuts down. I know that if I truly want to write, I need to take time to get out into the world. Or, in this case, walk under some trees so that all those GREAT IDEAS won’t miss me as they tumble down. Let me know if you want to go for a walk—I’d love to join you.

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2 Happy Teachers Blog interview

2 Happy Teachers posts a yummy interview featuring the “Eat Your Homework” books. You’ve got to love not only the name of this blog, but all of its content. Both contributors also share tons of wonderful lesson ideas on the Teachers Pay Teachers website. Thanks, ladies!

http://2happyteachers.blogspot.com/

 

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“Gravity Bread” shares the Yum!

Please check out this blog post by the uber talented, wonderfully amazing Becca Eisenberg! Her blog is called “Gravity Bread”. Definitely worth checking out! Please click here:

Gravity Bread shares the YUM!

Lost Bread

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We all scream for INDEPENDENCE ICE-CREAM!

Want your kids to become independent AND history-savvy? Have them head to the kitchen to make some Independence Ice-Cream!

Here’s a cold hard fact:  George Washington LOVED ice-cream. And here’s something else: Spending time in the kitchen is a perfect way to learn about history.

Now parents and teachers—and anyone  who spends time with kids—can solve the hum drum of learning history by making it hands-on. Add in food, and kids will be clamoring to discover America’s past—while working to build an understanding future.

IceCream3

Hands-on food experiences not only increase learning, but they provide a delicious connection to America’s past. During the American Revolution, for example, soldiers often ate ‘ash bread’, a concoction of flour and water that was baked in the ashes of the fire. Okay, perhaps not so delicious. But let’s not forget how much George Washington loved ice-cream. Though food, and especially luxuries like ice-cream, was often scarce during America’s fight for independence, this new-fangled treat became popular in the newly formed United States. George Washington supposedly spent $200 on ice-cream during the summer of 1790, an amazing sum at the time. By the early 1800’s the treat became more affordable and only continued to increase in popularity.

As America fought for independence from England in 1776, King George III and George Washington had a serious disagreement!

Illustration by Leeza Hernandez

Illustration by Leeza Hernandez

Now kids can make their own ice-cream in order to enhance learning. Here is a recipe that transcends time and place. All you need are a few key ingredients—and yum!

[RECIPE] Independence Ice Cream

Before You Begin

Prep time: 25 minutes

Yield: 1 serving

Difficulty: intermediate

Ice-Cream6

Ingredients

Ice cubes

1/2 cup salt (Rock salt if you have it, but table salt will also work)

2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

 

Equipment

1 gallon-sized, sturdy ziplock bag

Illustrated by Leeza Hernandez

Illustrated by Leeza Hernandez

2 pint-sized, sturdy ziplock bags

Warm gloves—that ice gets cold!

Spoon

Small serving bowl

 

Method

  1. Fill the larger ziplock bag half full of ice. Pour the salt over the ice.
  2. Place the sugar, cream, and vanilla in one of the smaller ziplock bags. Press out the air before sealing the bag. Place this bag inside the second small ziplock bag ( using two bags ensures no accidents!).
  3. Put the sealed cream mixture inside the bag of ice and close this larger bag. Put on the gloves and shake the bag vigorously for 5 minutes (You can share this task with someone else if you want).
  4. Put the mixture in the freezer for 4 minutes.
  5. Take the bag out and shake again for 5 minutes.
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“Lost Bread”

Eat Your U.S. History Homework: Recipes for Revolutionary Minds

Eat Your U.S. History Homework: Recipes for Revolutionary Minds

The English call it French toast. The French go by the name pain perdu—translate that and it literally means “lost bread.” This delicious treat is named for the main ingredient, stale bread, that might otherwise be thrown away.

 

Try this recipe for “Lost Bread” and learn about history at the same time!

Lost Bread                       LostBread1

Before You Begin

Prep time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4 slices (2 servings)

Difficulty: medium

 

Ingredients

2 eggs

2/3 cups milk

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Day-old bread, cut into 1-inch slices (challah or other firm bread works well)

1 tablespoon butter

Maple syrup

 

Equipment

Bowl

Whisk or fork

Pie plate or another deep dish

Sturdy nonstick skillet

Spatula

Serving plate

 

Method

  1. Whip eggs in a bowl with a whisk or fork. Add milk, sugar, and vanilla and pour into the pie plate.
  2. Place the bread slices in the egg mixture and allow them to soak up the liquid.
  3. Turn the bread over to allow the other side of the bread to absorb the mixture.
  4. Melt a little butter in a nonstick skillet. Place soaked bread slices in the hot skillet. Cook each side until browned.
  5. Remove the bread using the spatula and serve immediately with maple syrup drizzled on top.
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September 16 is Collect Rocks Day!

The excitement of going back to school is underway. The cool, crisp air of fall is just around the corner. Now is the perfect time to go for a walk and start a rock collection– or cook up some Sedimentary Pizza Lasagna (see below for the recipe).

Sedimentary Pizza Lasagna

Sedimentary Pizza Lasagna

In fact, September 16 is Collect Rocks Day. Yes, really! And what a great day for some rock talk. Did you know these fun facts about rocks and minerals?

*There are 3 major types of rocks: metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary

*Rocks can change from one form to another

*Approximately 65% of earth’s rocks are igneous

*Petrology is the scientific study of rocks

*Diamonds, affectionately called ‘rocks’ are actually minerals. (Minerals are naturally occurring inorganic (not living) substances. Rocks are made up of two or more minerals and can include fossils)

*The mineral childrenite was named after, not children, but a man called John George Children

 

Your turn. This or That?

Rocky Road or mint chocolate chip ice-cream?

Rock n’ roll or hip hop?

Pebbles or Bam Bam?

 

Scavenger Hunt

Can you find at least one rock in each of these categories?

  1. Brown, yellow, or beige (example: brown chert, brown quartzite)
  2. White or light gray (example: white marble)
  3. Red, pink, or rusty (example: quartz rock)
  4. Black or dark gray (example: basalt, slate)

 

And now for something delicious in honor of this auspicious day!

RECIPE:  Sedimentary Pizza Lasagna       

Sedimentary Pizza Lasagna

Sedimentary Pizza Lasagna

Materials

1/2 pound (8 ounces) ground turkey or beef

2 cups pizza sauce

1 egg

1 cup ricotta cheese

Oven-ready lasagna noodles

Sliced pepperoni

1–2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

 

Equipment

Frying pan

Spoon or spatula

Rectangular pan (8 x 10 inches or larger)

Heavy-duty aluminum foil

 

Method

  1. With an adult’s help, cook the ground meat in a frying pan until it is brown. Drain off any fat. Add the pizza sauce and mix well.
  2. Spread about 1/2 cup of the meat sauce on the bottom of the rectangular pan. Top with oven-ready lasagna noodles, overlapping slightly to cover the whole pan. Top with more sauce—about 1/2 cup.
  3. Crack and beat the egg, then mix thoroughly with ricotta cheese. Spread half this mixture over the noodles.
  4. Arrange a layer of pepperoni next, followed by a sprinkling of cheese. Top with a layer of lasagna noodles.
  5. Repeat the layers. Cover the final layer of lasagna noodles with the remaining meat sauce and a generous amount of mozzarella cheese.
  6. Cover the pan with heavy-duty foil. Bake in a 375°F oven for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes. Can you still identify the individual ingredients?

 

EatYourScienceHomework_JKT_300

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Vesuvius Day is August 24!

August 24 is Vesuvius Day! This day commemorates the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. that buried Pompeii, Herculaneum, and other settlements.
Here are a few facts:
*In 79 A.D. Herculaneum was a popular summer tourist spot for rich Romans
*A 21-mile high cloud of gas, stone, and ash erupted from the volcano.
*A 17 year old named Pliny the Younger wrote about what happened on that day.
*Mount Vesuvius is still an active volcano. The last eruption was in 1944.

In honor of this day, why not bake up a batch of Mashed Potato Lava Cakes (the recipe was inspired by a spice cake recipe my mom used to make that also had mashed potatoes in it. It’s a great way to use up leftover mashed potatoes!)

The full recipe is here: http://www.thehomeschoolmagazine-digital.com/thehomesch…/…/…

lava cakes 018

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Pi? A short video explains…

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What Can Food Teach Children? A Lot!

 

 

Please see this clip from Voice of America. You’ve gotta love those kids with the bunny ears!

http://www.voanews.com/content/what-can-food-teach-children/2546403.html?utm_medium=email

EatYourScienceHomework_JKT_300

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The Old Schoolhouse Dishes on Science Homework

Yum, Yum! The Old Schoolhouse is FREE online and recently published an article of mine: Dishing Up Science: Making Learning “Yum”. In it, I ‘dish’ on how kids can get excited about science through food. I’ve also included an original recipe Mashed Potato Lava Cakes (Thanks, mom, for the inspiration with your Mashed Potato Spice Cake). Please check it out here: http://www.thehomeschoolmagazine-digital.com/thehomeschoolmagazine/2014×6/#pg95

Bonus Recipe!

Bonus Recipe!

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Have Fun Reading– Receive a Signed Artcard

“When Zach Zinsky decides to hide several praying mantid egg cases in his classroom, he has NO IDEA that each sack contains HUNDREDS of nymphs. In this story of praying mantid mayhem, Zach finds out that his teacher is not quite what she seems . . .”

I am excited to report that my middle-grade novel “Double Z: Day of the Mantid” is available in both eBook and print. Whoo Hoo! I am offering two FREE signed artcards to anyone kind enough to post a review (Along with my gratitude!). Please just send me a message me with your address and I promise to pop the cards in the mail asap. Thanks very much in advance! Please go to: http://www.amazon.com/Double-Z-Mantid-Ann-McCallum-ebook/dp/B00LP0NW8Q/ref=la_B001JRZ3L4_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1406310932&sr=1-6

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“Double Z” Launches–now I Bite my Lip!

The proofs are approved! The proofs are approved! ‘Double Z: Day of the Mantid’ will now be available in both print version and eBook format. It is humbling to get to this stage–but this is when I bite my lip and cross my fingers. Will people like the book or will it be a flop?

Like an author-a-holic, this is when I obsessively check to see if anyone else has reviewed the book–only every 10 minutes or so! Okay, maybe not that bad, but I think that every author must go through this secret (or not so secret) stalking of their Amazon page. How many sales? How many reviews? How many 5 stars? Any 3 stars, or, gulp, 1 or 2 stars?

Phew- at least a few people like it so far. Here is some praise for the book so far. Thank you, people!

“I recommend this book as both an avid reader and as a teacher. Your students will giggle and laugh throughout. I don’t want to give away any secrets but the description of the principal taking over the classroom was hysterical. And the ending, showing growth in decision making on Zach’s part, doesn’t hurt either.” –Ann Dallman

“Love it! In a way, it reminds me of The Tale of the Fourth Grade Nothing.  I plan to check out your other books–especially the math and science books.” –Majetta Morris

“Zach Zinsky is quirky and self-conscious in the way that loved children are. As the mother of a boy, I recognized him as real right away, and I think that children will, too. One of the things I liked best was the quiet way the author let Zach and his teacher, Ms Paradise, come to an understanding. Some children’s stories hammer home the message. This one delivers its nuances with delicacy and grace. What an enjoyable way for parents to coax even reluctant readers into the written word.” –Marilyn Kupetz

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Mini Q & A for Double Z: Day of the Mantid

As launch date looms near, here’s a mini-Q&A about the creative process behind DOUBLE Z: DAY OF THE MANTID.

    1. How did the idea for this story start? The three main characters came first: Zach, Yolanda, and Ms. Paradise. I knew there was going to be tension between Zach, a slapdash kind of guy and the way too perfectly organized Ms. Paradise. Yolanda, well, Yolanda reminds me of a couple of know-it-alls I remember from when I was a kid. Ha Ha!
    2. What about Zach? I thought about Zach, a boy who loves a good time, but can’t really understand the purpose of sitting and studying all day in school. B-oring. Oh, he’s smart, but there’s more to life than getting an ‘A’. It drives him crazy to have a teacher like Ms. Paradise. Her organization and structure feels to him like he is on a never-ending treadmill of work, work, work.
    3. How about Yolanda? Yolanda Yernoff is a bossy-boots, teacher’s pet wanna-be. She really annoys Zach. I mean, really, really annoys him. In the end—well, you’ll have to wait and see just how they learn to get along.
    4. And Ms. Paradise, is there really something not quite right about her? For sure, Ms. Paradise is w-a-y too organized and picky. Oh, and then there is that thing about her being a hybrid human. Does she really have antennas under that puffy, way too fancy hair? Is there something a little off about how she can make it sound like she’s right beside you like some sort of teacher ventriloquist? And how does she manage to know everything? Could there be something to that old theory of ‘eyes in the back of her head’?
    5. What was the process for writing the book? Once I knew who was in the story, I planned a meet-in the middle story. Zach had to accept more responsibility and Ms. Paradise needed to calm down a little—a lot. I made Zach into a prankster, just like his grandfather. I researched next, reading up on types of pranks that would be funny, but not mean. I also thought up a couple of my own pranks. Maybe I even tried out a couple. . . Heh, heh! Next was a rough outline of the story and then it was time to sit down and flesh out the details.
    6. What about the other books? I have 5 published books. The second in the EAT YOUR HOMEWORK series will come out August 5. I have two events planned for the launch: the Smithsonian Natural History Museum Aug. 9 at 1:00 and the National Children’s Museum Aug. 10 at 1:00. EAT YOUR SCIENCE HOMEWORK: RECIPES FOR INQUIRING MINDS pairs original and tasty recipes such as Atomic Popcorn Balls and Sedimentary Pizza Lasagna with amazing science concepts.
    7. What do I love about writing? I love being creative. I love engaging kids in something meaningful, either non-fiction, or a novel that will touch them personally and possibly make an impact on their own lives. The creative process is fun, but it is also highly rewarding to know that I have reached a child. Maybe I’ve gotten someone excited about math and science, critical for years down the road when children must do well on the SAT or other high-stakes tests. Or perhaps I have made a connection with a child and helped them to learn and read and expand their mind. It is a powerful privilege to be an author.

      Color cover ZZ4.11.14

      Double Z: Day of the Mantid

 

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Double Z: Day of the Mantid

My all-new middle grade was recently the focus of a successful Kickstarter campaign. (Whoo Hoo!) . . . Which means that now I am busy getting it out to all the wonderful people who contributed to the project.

Here’s a little teaser on the whole mantid/mantis debate.

Mantid or Mantis? In Double Z: Day of the Mantid, Zach Zinsky is a big fan of fun and funny practical jokes. So, one day he hides a number of praying mantid egg sacks in his classroom, hoping for a break from the torturous perfection of his teacher, Ms. Paradise. So what about these bugs, anyway? I did a little research to find out more about these incredible insects. [Include pictures] Did you know: • First off, let’s clear up the issue of spelling. There are around 2,000 species of this insect. The whole shebang is referred to as mantids. The word ‘mantis’ focuses on a small subgroup of these amazing insects. And praying? Well, check out the position of the mantid’s front legs. Kind of looks like it’s in a prayer stance, right? • Don’t try to sneak up on a mantid. These creatures are the only insects able to rotate their heads a full 180 degrees. Imagine if a teacher had that same ability? Kind of gives a new meaning to ‘eyes in the back of her head’, doesn’t it? • Ootheca who? In the fall, female praying mantids deposit their eggs on a branch and then wrap these in a protective cocoon that will last all winter. As the weather gets warmer, 100 to 200 small, praying mantid nymphs will hatch from a single egg sack. That’s a lotta little ones! • Yum yum—now I’m going to eat you! If praying mantids could talk, they might say something like this. In fact, it’s true that sometimes female praying mantids eat their mates. Also, if there’s nothing else to eat, the newly hatched nymphs will also munch on their brothers and sisters.

mantis9.11.10 006

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Gravity Bread ‘Rises’ to the Occasion!

Kudos to Becca Eisenberg for this fantastic post on “Eat Your Science Homework: Recipes for Inquiring Minds. Thanks so much, Becca!

View the original here and see this wonderful blog: http://www.gravitybread.com/books-and-mealtime/eat-your-science-homework/

ScienceKids-GravityBread

 

 

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Hot Stuff: Mashed Potato Lava Cakes

PART 2

Ta da! As promised, here is the bonus section part 2 for the upcoming EAT YOUR SCIENCE HOMEWORK: RECIPES FOR INQUIRING MINDS.

Time to make some delicious Mashed Potato Lava Cakes…. And, yes, the recipe really does include a half cup of mashed potatoes. Ready? Pull your apron strings tight and here we go!

Mashed Potato Lava Cakes- The Recipe

These tasty treats involve some pretty intense heat to make the molten chocolate– no putting things in or out of the oven without an adult helper, please. Just like at an actual volcano site, you wouldn’t go stomping around the kitchen by yourself.

Materials– put these things out before you start

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup mashed potato (Yes, really!)

1/4 cup cocoa

1 cup flour

1/2 baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Chocolate chips

 

Equipment

Muffin tin

Paper muffin cups or cooking spray

Electric mixer or spatula

 

Method

 

1.      1. Ask an adult to preheat the oven to 400° Fahrenheit. Prepare the muffin tins by spraying them with cooking spray or lining them with paper muffin cups.

 

2.      2. Beat the butter, sugar, and eggs together. Stir in the milk, vanilla, and mashed potato.

 

3.      3. Add the cocoa, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix thoroughly.

 

4.      4. Fill the muffin tins halfway. Add a generous spoonful of chocolate chips to the center of each.

 

5.     5.  Add more dough to each muffin cup, covering the chocolate, so that the muffin cups are about 3/4 full.

 

6.      6. Bake the lava cakes for 12–15 minutes or until done.

 

7.     7.  Cool on a rack. Cut the cakes open to see (and taste) the lava flow!

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Volcanos- That’s a lot of Lava!

Here it is– a sneak peak at my next book: EAT YOUR SCIENCE HOMEWORK: RECIPES FOR INQUIRING MINDS

Okay, so it won’t be out for another year, but here is a bonus section on volcanoes. Look back for part 2 next week!

PART 1

Hot Stuff!

Lava—love it or leave it? The word lava comes from an Italian word that means a stream formed as a result of pouring rain. When lava, or liquid rock, erupts from a volcano, it flows down the sides of a volcano as if it were water. Just how hot does rock have to get before it turns into lava? Normal lava is between 1382° to 2282° Fahrenheit (750° to 1250° Celsius). To bake a pizza, you would use a hot oven, but even a hot oven is only about 425° Fahrenheit!

Scientists can tell the approximate temperature of lava by looking at what color it is. Orange to yellow is more than 1650° F (900° C). Bright, dark red is about 1165° F (630° C), and light red is around 895° F (480° C). That lava is hot stuff!

Volcanoes are formed from cooled lava. There are many active volcanoes in the world today. In the United States, two of them are found in Hawaii. The first, Mauna Loa, is the largest volcano in the world, rising four kilometers above sea level. It last erupted in 1984. Another volcano, Kilauea, is one of the world’s most active volcanoes. It started its eruptions in 1983 and has been continually erupting since then. Worldwide, about fifty to seventy volcanoes erupt every year (Plus, there are more on the ocean floor that we can’t see). That’s lots of lava!

 

Science Sampler—Fond of Fondue?

The idea of melting cheese and dipping bread in it probably came from peasants in Switzerland and France, who needed a tasty way to eat hardened cheese and stale bread. Nowadays, fondues can also be made with chocolate for dipping.

Which has a lower melting point: cheese or chocolate?

Make a hypothesis.

 

Take an equal portion of cheese and chocolate. Place the cheese in a microwave that has a glass viewing window. Turn the microwave on and watch carefully. At the first sign of melting, turn the microwave off and record how long it took. Repeat the experiment with the chocolate.

Observe and analyze.

What did you learn? (Now, dip a pretzel or piece of croissant into the melted chocolate or cheese for your own mini-fondue. What a treat!)

 

The why of things: Substances undergo change. A chemical change cannot be reversed because the structure of the molecules has been permanently changed (cake dough to baked cake).

In a physical change, a substance can be changed back to its original state (solid chocolate to melted chocolate and back to solid chocolate).

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Feed Your Brain! Eat Your Math!

An article and recipe (YUM!) to share…

http://inkrethink.blogspot.com/

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Dishing Up Math on Alphabet Soup!

The one-and-only, marvelous math-convert, Jama Rattigan, has posted a wonderful review of “Eat Your Math Homework: Recipes for Hungry Minds” on her “Alphabet Soup blog”. Thanks so much, Jama! The review is delicious!

Please check it out here:

http://jamarattigan.com/2013/03/05/ann-mccallum-and-leeza-hernandez-dish-on-eat-your-math-homework/#more-8784

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Parsec Pizza Contest

Okay, so it’s been a little while since I have posted. . . But, I thought I’d do something a little different (and a lot fun). Here is a poem (disclaimer: I’m not a poet so read at your own peril) to get your creative juices flowing. What kind of alien food can you can come up with? That’s it– no rules about ingredients, length, style, or difficulty. Just… a recipe that you consider out of this world! Please leave a comment with your name and recipe and I will randomly choose a winner who will win a free copy of EAT YOUR MATH HOMEWORK: RECIPES FOR HUNGRY MINDS. Whoo Hoo! I can’t wait to see what you come up with. This event will close Feb. 28, 2013. Have fun!

A boy didn’t burp in a world far away

Didn’t sleep in the night, or wake up during day

He didn’t have toenails, so no need to be clipped

He didn’t wear pants, so no need to stay zipped

He didn’t get haircuts; he didn’t have hair

(But his noses were handsome; he had a nice pair)

He looked oh-so-different; his world was quite wrong

He talked in a talk that sounded like song.

There was just one thing that made a connection

A scrumptiously sweet alien kind of confection

Cause that far-away being- his name was Zagook

Loved to eat food and even knew how to cook.

One day came some guests, in two real UFO’s

Zagook ran to his kitchen to make Sloppy-Joes

For he knew that the aliens had made a long trek

They were prob’ly all starving, having come a parsec

Zagook served up a feast to ensure good relations

Between the realm of Zubooks, and all human nations

Will you share all your recipes? We love every one!

Zagook smiled as he said, “Consider it done!”

The following is a cookbook, Zagook put together

(He cut out the pages and bound them in leather)

You can share this good food and some interesting data

Remember: some say tomato and some say tomata!

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Eating Math at the Damascus Library!

A few weeks ago, I had the distinct pleasure of being able to do an author talk at the Damascus Library Sleep Over. Boy, was I in for a pleasant surprise! This cherished event has been going on for years and years– I forget just how many– and I believe the organizers when they say that families plan  around the date of this annual event. The kids were so excited (and so was I!). By the time I got there, they had already staked out their sleeping areas with sheets over the bookshelves to make ‘forts’ and cozy sleeping bags laid out on the floor underneath. I told the story of Fibonacci rabbits and then had participants make Fibonacci Snack Sticks. We next made a probability line where children had to answer questions like “Will you get extra allowance this week?” Or, “Will an alien pop out of the ceiling?” They stood at the appropriate point on the line: beside Mrs. No Way, next to Mr. Yes, or somewhere in between. To enhance the idea of probability, especially experimental and theoretical probability, participants sampled some tasty Probability Trail Mix (And learned about the mathematics of probability). All in all, it was a fun, fun, fun evening. Here are some pictures to prove the point!

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Author Event: Chinn Park Regional Library, Woodbridge, VA

What: Math and Food– Math and Fun!

Rabbits making patterns. Aliens popping up from the book stack– Impossible? Probable? Likely? Tessellating Brownies. Books. Math. Food. . .

These are just a few of the topics and activities to look forward to during this event for ages 6 to 106. The event promises to whet your whistle with tasty math treats while having fun– and learning some pretty neat stuff along the way!

Where: Chinn Park Regional Library

13065 Chinn Park Drive, Prince William, VA 22192

When: Saturday, September 22, 2012 at 2:00 p.m.

Who: Anyone from 6 to 106 years old who likes math (or who wants to like math)

Hope to see you there!

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The Story of Rabbits… and the Fibonacci Sequence

A quick ‘math’ story for you:

Once upon a time there was a girl who loved to garden. This girl liked to work in the garden to plant peas, weed watermelon, and grown all sorts of tasty and interesting fruits and vegetables. In fact, not only did this girl have a green thumb, her whole hand was green!

On the first day of fall, the girl went into her garden to pluck some peas. There in front of her, merrily munching on some carrots, was ONE PAIR of bunnies Well, the bunnies were very cute, and the girl was very kind, so she let them be (A different kind of person may have shoo-ed them from the garden, but not this girl).

On the second day of fall, the girl went to her garden again. This time, low and behold, those baby bunnies had turned to full-sized adult rabbits! But… they were still cute, so she let that ONE PAIR alone. After all, what were a few cabbages? She didn’t mind if they ate some of the vegetables.

On the third day, the girl couldn’t wait to get out to her garden. This time, she was all set to prune the parsnip. She looked around for her rabbits, but instead of seeing just one pair of rabbits, there were now TWO PAIRS— an adult pair and a pair of babies. Hmmm…

The fourth day of fall was another lovely day, and so the girl went into her garden once again. “Oh my goodness!” she exclaimed. Not only were there the original adult rabbits, but the new bunnies had grown into adults and then the originals had had another set of baby bunnies. Now there were THREE PAIRS of rabbits and bunnies.

You kind of get the picture, right? The fifth day came along and there were FIVE PAIRS of rabbits and bunnies; the next day there were EIGHT PAIRS of rabbits, and so on, and so on, and so on.

If this pattern were to continue, how many rabbits and bunnies would soon be in this girl’s garden?

This story, my friends, describes an adaptation of the rabbit problem that Leonardo Fibonacci, a mathematician who lived hundreds of years ago in Italy, is so famous for. He was studying a math problem not too different from the scenario described here when he stumbled across this special pattern of numbers. Take a look at this interesting sequence:

1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 . . .

What comes next, but more importantly, how do you determine that next term in the sequence?

(If you said that 13 comes next and it’s because you always add the previous two terms to get the next, you would be 100% correct!)

You can read a math fairytale to explore this fun Fibonacci rabbit problem:

Or, you can explore the pattern further by creating a delicious math recipe called Fibonacci Snack Sticks. . .

Fibonacci (and pattern) is just plain fun. Quick, run out and see how the rabbit population is growing in your neighborhood park or backyard!

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Fibonacci- Delicious!

Take a bite of delicious– and explore math at the same time!

Food and math add up to a whole lot of fun! And, pairing these two things is easy. For example, to introduce patterns, you can start with one of the most famous sequences of all time: The Fibonacci Sequence. In this famous pattern of numbers, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8. . . etc, the rule is to add the previous two terms to get the next. Here is a demo of how you can use fruit on a stick to make edible kebobs of the pattern. (Check out the whole activity in EAT YOUR MATH HOMEWORK: RECIPES FOR HUNGRY MINDS)

Challenge:

A kebob stick is only so long. But, how about putting several sticks together and trying to continue the pattern? (Use small pieces of fruit, or raisins, miniature marshmallows, gummy bears, etc.) How long can you go until the numbers get ridiculously large?

What, or more accurately, WHO was Fibonacci? Find out more about this famous man and how, exactly, he became so interested in the sequence that now bares his name.

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Numbers get ‘Knotty’

Minutes until the bus comes, amount of money leftover for ice-cream, number of homework assignments due before Tuesday. . . Every day we have plenty of things to count and keep track of. Good thing we have numbers and paper to help us. But what about a society that had NO symbols to represent numbers? How would they keep track?

Rewind about 800 years and take a trip to the Inca Empire. These people had no way to write down numbers– no paper– and no symbols to represent numbers yet. The emperor of the time lived in the capital city of Cuzco. His huge empire, called Tahuantinsuyu (TA-wan-tin-suyu), was connected by a system of roads that joined the four quarters of the empire. The emperor and his family were very rich because they collected taxes from the people who lived throughout this empire. But how could the tax-collectors keep track of all that money they collected with no written numbers?

In Mesopotamia (Modern day Middle East), people at first used pebbles to represent numbers, and then later clay tablets with number symbols carved onto them. They could carry these tablets with them to keep track of the amounts of things.

In the Inca Empire, it was a long way from each of the quarters of the empire to the capital city. It would be hard to carry around all those heavy clay tablets. What do you think the Inca people used to keep track instead?

Introducing the QUIPU!

There are plenty of llamas in South America, right? Instead of using clay tablets, the Inca people used what was readily available: wool from all those llamas. Now, this quipu might look like a mop, but it was actually an elaborate system of knots to represent numbers. Here’s how it worked:

First, several strings were tied to a top cord. A group of knots were tied in the cord at various positions to represent numbers. The placement of the knots was important. For example, the knots on the bottom of the string represented units (ones) and the next highest cluster of knots meant tens. Next was the hundreds place and so on. In the example here, the number is 586. That is, a cluster of 6 knots in the ones place, a group of 8 knots in the tens place and 5 knots together in the hundreds place.

Like our own numbers, the Inca people used a system where the position of the knots made a difference in what number was represented. (We call this a positional number system)

Can you create your own quipu?

What to Do:

Lay a sturdy cord horizontally on a flat surface. (Give yourself plenty of room)

Tie 3 or 4 pieces of string so that they are perpendicular (vertical) to the top cord. Start at the bottom. Tie a few knots closely together. These are your ones. Leave an inch or two and tie another cluster of knots closely together. These are your tens. Finally, leaving another inch or two of space, tie a third cluster of knots. These will represent the hundreds.

What knotty number did you create?

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Fox5 News promotes EATING MATH at the Gaithersburg Book Festival

The Gaithersburg Book Festival is just around the corner and is even bigger and better this year– I hear that Jud Ashman and the organization committee is going for 20,000+ attendees! Go, Gaithersburg Book Festival!

Here’s a teaser from this morning’s Fox5 news. Mayor Katz and Gaithersburg Elementary fourth graders Nicholas and Giselle help make Tessellating Two-Color Brownies while Fox5’s Holly Morris reports on Eating Math!

Here’s the link:

http://www.myfoxdc.com/story/18435191/holly-morris-visits-the-gaithersburg-book-festival

Here’s hoping the weather is terrific! (But eating math can be done rain or shine!)

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The Gaithersburg Book Festival: Fun for Everyone!

The Gaithersburg Book Festival is just around the corner (Is it really already May?!). Eat Your Math Homework: Recipes for Hungry Minds will make an appearance. Please join me at 11:30 to 12:00 on May 19 in the Willa Cather Pavilion to cook up some tasty math and have some mathy fun. We’ll be sampling probability with Probability Trail Mix and counting bunnies to figure out the Fibonacci Number Sequence. Lots of freebies to give away, too!

And, just to make things even more exciting, please stay tuned for Fox 5’s morning news on May 16. As a pre-festival teaser, I’ll be cooking up some Tessellating Two-Color Brownies. Yum!! See you then!

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Math History Mysteries Part 2: Eenie, Meanie, Morra!

So there you are at a little league baseball game. Your friend is up to bat. Do you find yourself keeping track of strikes and balls by using your fingers? When else do your fingers come in handy for counting and remembering things?

It turns out that people the world over have used fingers (sometimes toes, too) as take-along calculators for a very long time (Hmmm…, is that why our number system is based on tens? I wonder…).

Morra is a fun game that uses fingers and counting to play. In fact, since it requires no equipment and just two people to play, you can pick up a game anywhere! It’s an ancient game that’s been played in various regions of the world for a very long time. Here’s how to play:

Two players stand with closed fists and face each other. Count to three and each player shows 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 fingers. At the same time, each player calls out a number from 1 to 10. If a player calls out a number that totals the fingers on her hand AND her opponent’s hand, she wins a point. Continue playing until one person reaches ten points.

Want to make it extra challenging? Use BOTH hands and call out a number between 1 and 20!

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Math History Mysteries Part 1: Counting using Tally Sticks

Okay, so adding up the grocery bill using the calculator function of our smart phones is definitely something new. But keeping track of stuff–how many animals did you kill today, or, gee, how many hours has it been since half the tribe left to get firewood– is not new at all. In fact, ever since, well, pretty much forever, people have needed to count things. The first calculators were very handy. That is, people could count and compare using fingers and toes. How convenient that there were ten of each! (Ever wonder why our number system is based on ten?). But, to actually record the passage of time or the amount of something, ancient peoples often used tallies (up and down marks on bone or wood) to keep track. Here’s a picture of a very old tally stick called the Ishango Bone (named this because it was found in the village of Ishango in the heart of Africa).

This bone, over 20,000 years old, shows how ancient peoples used tally marks instead of numbers to keep track. Scientists believe that these notches were used to mark off a calendar system. As old as the Ishango Bone is, it is not the oldest known tally stick. The Lebombo Bone is approximately 35,000 years old.

How do we use tallies today? Think of when you would a tally instead of a number.

(Hint: keeping track of points in a game? taking a survey?)

Make Your Own ‘Ancient’ Tally Stick

What you need

a clean chicken bone

a butter knife (or black marker)

What to do

1. Ask for adult assistance to thoroughly clean the chicken bone.

2. Plan what you want to keep track of. (the number of items in one of your collections, a point system for doing chores, how much allowance you’ve saved up, how many birds you see in a certain period of time, or maybe the number of books you’ve read. Choose something that you will add tallies to)

3. Use the example of the Ishango Bone to cut tally notches in the bone (alternatively, you can make tally marks using a fine, black marker)

4. Use the internet or another source to see how people continued to use tally sticks to help keep track!

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Pizza Puzzler

To solve this oh-so-delicious logic problem, please, I beg you: PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD!

Add a little pizzazz to dinner tonight with a easy to assemble pizza puzzler. Not only will you enjoy a tasty dinner or snack, you will also get your daily dose of math fun. Here’s what you do:

Assemble a cheese topped pizza from a ready made crust. I like to use my own spaghetti and tomato sauce for the pizza sauce. Sprinkle the pizza with cheese and place seven pieces of pepperoni as shown in this picture. Bake as directed on the package.

Okay, here’s the fun part… Cut the pizza using exactly (no more, no less) three straight lines all the way across the pizza. Here’s the clincher: Once the pizza is cut using the three straight lines, there should be exactly one piece of pepperoni on each slice of pizza.

Helpful hint, you might want to lay a straw or string across the pizza before actually cutting it. (The answer is further down in this post)

Happy eating!

(Answer below)

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ANSWER:

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Eat Your Math Homework Webpage!

Fun activities and lotsa math! Please check out:

www.eatyourmathhomework.com

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Author Event: Eating up Non-Fiction

What: Please come for an afternoon of Tessellating Two-Color Brownies and hands-on fun. I will be speaking about my path to publication, but also, everyone will be encouraged to get their own hands in the pot– with Probability Trail Mix, that is. My latest book, Eat Your Math Homework: Recipes for Hungry Minds is the highlight of the event, but everyone will be encouraged to write and play and share their own experiences. Books will be available for purchase.

Where: Twinbrook Library  202 Meadow Hall Drive, Rockville, MD 20851

When: February 11 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Also, please check out the new and improved website: www.eatyourmathhomework.com

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Musings on Kids and Math

I’ve been thinking a lot about kids and math these days. Certainly, there’s been a lot of work to promote Eat Your Math Homework and with it, I’ve met lots of people who either, a) Love math and love the idea of pairing something wonderful–food– with the topic, or b) Would rather read anything else, do anything else, be anywhere else than in a room where the topic is math.

I started getting serious about writing books for kids about math probably eight years ago now. Then, as now, it seems to be a hard sell to at least a large segment of the market. (Evidence: recent popular T-shirts with ‘allergic to algebra’ or ‘I’m too pretty to do math’ on them). People don’t naturally gravitate to math books. To many, I feel like math still conjures up pages and pages of deadly math worksheets that are either so darn boring that they are a cure for insomnia (Thanks, Bill, for that saying), or they are too complicated to figure out and so avoidance is the key to success. Don’t think about math and it will go away.

I’m not a genius math student at all. I do love math and I find it fascinating, but my skills are limited. Let’s just say that if I had to take a college-level math course, I’d be in trouble. Like anything, math can be tricky. My sincere hope with the books I’ve had published so far is to get kids to really, really love math. Just like broccoli in cheese sauce (Would we enjoy the plain, steamed variety as much– I think not), math and food or math and anything fun is a winning combination.

Here’s a writing (or thinking) exercise to do for fun.

Let’s start with fairytales, a genre that is beloved to most of us: Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White… How does math figure into these stories? How could you do a retelling where math is the main attraction? (Or at least, it figures prominently– oops, no pun intended!) That whole issue of the time countdown until midnight is a great math connection for Cinderella. Sleeping Beauty, well, how about something about how long her hair grows if it grows x inches in y number of years? My image of that fairytale is of her long, long gorgeously golden hair. Oooo– how about Snow White and the seven dwarfs? If every dwarf  mines seven feet of rock per day and every foot holds 7 precious stones and they do this for a week, how many precious stones will they accumulate?

Okay, so maybe that’s too complicated, too much work. How else can one make math fun? Projects, cooking (For sure!), every day math? Attitude is key. I feel like if one is enthusiastic about the topic, children will be too. It’s the holiday season. How about making mathematical gingerbread houses? If you start with the easy-peezy graham cracker kind, (put 6 graham crackers together in a house shape with gingerbread house icing which will dry and keep the pieces together solidly) the fun will be in how to decorate it in a mathematical way. Ie. How many gumdrops are there around the perimeter of the roof? What shapes are the windows? How long, exactly, is the path from the door?

Lots of rambling today. I hope these ideas sparked your interest. Happy holidays and best math wishes, Ann

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Triangular Number Christmas Tree

Okay, okay, so it’s a little early… Well, a lot early. Still, before we know it, it WILL be the season! Here’s something to try in a few weeks…

Triangular Number Christmas Tree

1, 3, 6, 10… What’s the pattern?

Hint: If you can’t crack the code, try making a drawing of each number. Do you notice that you can make each number into a triangle?

1                           3                               6                                       10                                       15  . . .

These numbers are called triangular numbers. To model the pattern, why not whip up a Triangular Number Christmas Tree out of melt-in-your-mouth, black-bottom cupcakes? Here’s the recipe:

½ butter (1 stick)

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 ½ cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup milk

Large, dark chocolate chips

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare cupcake tin by placing paper liners or greasing the tins
  3. Mix the butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla thoroughly.
  4. Add the flour and baking soda, alternating with the milk
  5. Put several chocolate chips in each cupcake paper. Fill ½ full with dough.
  6. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cupcake comes out clean.
  7. Assemble the cupcakes as shown in the photo
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Estimation Cookies

How many? How much? It’s a practical, necessary skill that we use every day. How many minutes left before we have to go? How much spaghetti to cook for dinner tonight? Estimation is important for children, too. What better way than to introduce or reinforce the concept with a batch of ESTIMATION COOKIES? With these easy-as-1-2-3 cookies, children can estimate how many M&M’s are in each cookie before enjoying a melt in your mouth treat (Use M&M’s because they stay more intact than chocolate chips do and therefore, are easier to count).

Estimation Questions:

1. How many steps is it from here to the classroom/kitchen door?

2. How long will it take to pick up everything from the floor? (Ha! Ha! A beauty of a question because it serves a double purpose!)

3. How many full tiles are there on the floor? (Maybe multiplication can come in handy here)

4. How many grapes in the bowl?

5. How many cups of milk in a glass?

The thing about estimation is to get kids to feel comfortable making a guess. At first, children may be hesitant to make a random guess and their estimates might be way off, but it’s so important to encourage an attempt. Estimation, like any skill, gets better the more you practice. With very young children, estimating how many cheerios in a spoonful or how many raisins in a box is a terrific way to promote counting skills, too. As children get more sophisticated, they may opt for a more efficient way of counting– ie, by 2’s or by 5’s. Estimating followed by checking by counting promotes number literacy. But an estimation ‘lesson’ doesn’t even have to be that formal. Whenever you’re at the grocery store, make a game of estimating how much the groceries will cost that day. Children might have no idea, but to try and then to learn the correct answer is to develop a sense of number, crucial for a solid mathematics foundation. It also makes the task of estimation a familiar, and therefore less scary, practice.

For a fun idea about estimating, try making these ESTIMATION COOKIES. They’re perfect for a rainy day or a make ahead weekend project for lunch boxes the following week.

RECIPE

Estimation Cookies

1 stick butter

1 egg

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 1/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup instant oatmeal

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup M&M candies

Cream sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla. Add other ingredients and stir well. Stir in M&M’s. Bake around 10 minutes in a 375 degree oven. Let cool and harden on the tray before moving the cookies to a tray. Estimate how many M&M’s are in a cookie and then, well, eat it to find out!

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WUSA Channel 9: Eat Math Recipe Demo!

Want to see how EASY it is to cook up math? Please check out the following links to see Fibonacci Snack Sticks in action during WUSA channel 9’s news segment. Peggy Fox really does a great job, doesn’t she?

http://dc.momslikeme.com/members/JournalActions.aspx?g=190035&m=18073903&source=stream_home

http://reston.wusa9.com/news/news/69567-helping-kids-love-math-eating-it

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Kids Eat Math!

It’s a long weekend– and only Saturday so it feels like I have all the time in the world. Bliss! I checked my email this morning to find a message stating that a Pat Zielow Miller reviewed my book Eat Your Math Homework: Recipes for Hungry Minds on her blog. Always leery of opening unknown web addresses, I did a little investigating first. Low and behold, the address was legitimate and the review, terrific. Thank you, Pat. The best thing about the post, however, is that there are pictures of kids with Fibonacci Snack Sticks and about-to-be-assembled Tessellating Two-color Brownies. How gratifying to see my book’s intent in use by happy children! Go, math!

Please check out the post at the following address (And check out these amazing math kids!):

http://wp.me/pDio9-Ay

Thank you, Pat. I hope those kids enjoyed eating their math munchies!

With best math wishes,

Ann

Posted in Cooking with Kids, Math Recipes, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Kitchen Symmetry

Symmetry has to do with being equal.

Sort of like 3/4  and 6/8?

Nope, symmetry is not quite like that. It does mean equal, but in a different way.

Do you mean something like 3 + 4 EQUALS 7?

No, not that either. There are three kinds of symmetry, actually, but the easiest one is called line symmetry or reflectional symmetry.

Reflection? As in looking at yourself in a mirror?

Yes, that is getting closer. A two-dimensional figure has line symmetry when you fold it in half, and the two sides match up exactly (coincide). Here’s an example:

Imagine if you folded this letter A at the line, the two sides would match up exactly. This letter is said to have one line of symmetry. What other letters have at least one line of symmetry?

Another kind of symmetry is called plane symmetry. If you had a ball and cut it exactly in half, the two sides of the sphere would be reflections of each other.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-USZOKQfpbP4/TXtoxX_BqwI/AAAAAAAAAqM/I-WY_EISIL0/s1600/two%2Bdiscs%253D%2Bsphere.png

What things can you find in your kitchen that have symmetry? Maybe the two sides of a hotdog bun? Maybe an apple, cut in half? Or, how about two pieces of bread, laid out side by side? What else can you find?

For more information on symmetry, you might want to follow this link:  (or use a search engine to find other examples of symmetry)

http://www.mathsisfun.com/geometry/symmetry.html

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Featured Chef in Olney!

If you get a chance, please visit the Olney Farmer’s and Artist’s Market August 28 at 11:00. I will be doing a hands-on demonstration with food and math samples! Check out the link to this great event.

www.olneyfarmersmarket.org/

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A Fibonacci Summer

Is it just me, or have the days of summer added up like… the Fibonacci sequence? You know, the first day is day 1 of summer break, and the second day still feels like day 1. There’s all the time in the world, after all. Two whole months! Then, it’s day 2, then 3, but then suddenly it’s day 5. Faster than you can say ‘Leonardo Fibonacci’, it’s day 8, then 13, then 21. Spending quality time with family, writing, traveling, seeing friends, getting long-standing projects done around the house– or at least thinking about completing those long-standing projects… But now as the days blast past, the end of summer vacation seems to be closing in awfully fast. Gasp– the end of summer is just around the corner! This is when I dig my heels in and implore the days to go more slowly. S-L-O-W  D-O-W-N, uhmmmm, uhmmmm…

But, back to the Fibonacci Sequence. What is the Fibonacci Sequence anyway?

*A series of numbers

*Made famous when Leonardo Fibonacci wrote about the sequence in his book Liber abaci (Over 8 hundred years ago!)

*Calculated by adding the previous two terms to get the next term. 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55…

Yes, definitely it’s been a Fibonacci Summer. Perhaps a Fibonacci Snack for the Fibonacci Summer might be in order? It’s hot out. All kinds of wonderful, fresh fruit is in season. Everybody is always thirsty and hungry. All that swimming and having fun really works up an appetite. Luckily, putting together Fibonacci Snack sticks is as easy as 1, 1, 2, 3!

Here’s what you do: Start with a kebob stick (Easily found in the cooking utensils section of your favorite grocery store). Skewer one piece of fruit on– perhaps a strawberry? Now, you need one more, different piece of fruit– a slice of orange? How about 2 chunks of banana next, followed by 3 plump grapes? Can you fit 5 blueberries next?

Each Fibonacci Snack Stick makes a scrumptious, refreshing snack. AND, each stick models the very cool, very fun Fibonacci sequence. What else can you learn about the Fibonacci sequence? (Wow– doing math in the summer! Who would have thought it could be so fun?)

Disclaimer: Okay, I do like to complain that summer is almost over, but, honestly, I’m looking forward to the fall, too. All that hustle and bustle makes for busy days, but it is exciting, too. Besides, then I get to work on back to school lunchbox recipes!

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Eat This Fraction…

For an easy recipe that solidifies the concept of fractions for kids, check out this article from the Chicago Tribune. (The recipe, along with further exploration and more math recipes, can be found in Eat Your Math Homework: Recipes for Hungry Minds— Charlesbridge, 2011)

http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/food/sc-food-0729-kids-math-20110803,0,258572.story

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Mayan Number Cookies

1, 2, 3’s are not the same all over the world!

Yes, so we all need to count– and ‘two’ always means one and one more. But… number symbols themselves are not always the same wherever you go. Have you ever wondered just HOW people the world over developed their own unique number systems? Take the Mayans, for example. Starting in about A.D. 250, these people (Who lived in southern, present day Mexico, and parts of Central America), developed amazing ways to keep track of things. The first system was a series of picture glyphs– a real form of art. Imagine how long it would take to write down your birthday!

The second system of numbers was quicker to write. This one was a series of dots and dashes, with a special symbol for zero. Here are the first few numbers:

Can you figure it out? The dashes, or lines are worth 5 units each. The system was organized mostly in groups of 20. (Hmmm…could that number have been chosen because we have 20 fingers and toes?)

So, how about making some Mayan Number Cookies?

What you need:

1 package ready-made cookie dough

1 1.55 ounce chocolate bar

zip-locking bag

candies for the numbers (malt balls and licorice works well) + icing to ‘glue’ them on

What you do:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the unwrapped chocolate bar in a zip-locking bag. Crush it with a rolling pin (an unopened can also works well)

2. Put the prepared cookie dough in a bowl and add the chocolate crumbs. Mix carefully.

3. Place some dough between two pieces of waxed paper and roll to about half an inch thick. Cut the dough into rectangles (to represent stone tablets).

4. Bake the cookies according to the package directions.

5. Once cool, construct the Mayan numbers. (See chart above) Use candies such as malt balls or M&M’s and licorice. Use icing to attach the candy Mayan numbers to the cookies.

Something else to think about…

What other number systems do you know? (Hint: How about Roman numerals: I,  II, III, IV…etc?) How about Egyptian hieroglyphics or ancient Cuneiform? (Check these interesting number systems out on the web, or at your local library. Very awesome!)

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Eat Your Math Homework: Summer 2011 Events

Chomp down on math when you attend these events this summer…

One More Page Bookstore 2200 W. Westmoreland Street #101, Arlington, VA 22213

  • Kensington Park Library– July 25→ 4:00 p.m.

4201 Knowles Avenue, Kensington, MD 20895

  • Taneytown Public Library– July 26→ 2:00 p.m.

10 Grand Drive, Taneytown, MD 21787

72 Main Street, Califon, NJ 07830

2801 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney, MD 20830

  • Booktopia Bookstore– September 10→ 2:00 p.m.

6912 Arlington Road, Bethesda, MD 20814

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PBS Parents Posts article for EAT YOUR MATH HOMEWORK

I’m so excited that PBS Parents posted this article in their Kitchen Explorers! Thank you Aviva Goldfarb for the wonderful review and photo of Tessellating Two Color Brownies. I am honored! Please check out the article here: PBS Kitchen Explorers (and enter to win a free copy of the book EAT YOUR MATH HOMEWORK: RECIPES FOR HUNGRY MINDS)

Recipe is from book 'Eat Your Math Homework'

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Summer Reading the Kids are Craving!

Bunny eats Milk and Tangram Cookies

JUNE, 2011— The countdown to summer is on. Kids are eating up an exciting new book that helps satisfy hungry minds and fill in the gaps between camp, vacation, or days too hot to spend outside. Eat Your Math Homework: Recipes for Hungry Minds (Charlesbridge, July 1, 2011), is the coolest math book for kids, filled with the hottest recipes for one gourmet summer.
This collection of nutritious recipes and fun math facts tempts taste buds and challenges young minds at the same time.” — Kiwi Magazine
Spice up summer with sizzling Fracton Chips!
Create a pool party with Variable Pizza Pi. Freeze fruity treats with Fibonacci Snack Sticks and re-energize kids with some Probability Trail Mix— and meet the original masters of math with factoids and appeteasers.
Refresh your taste buds with fruity Fibonacci Snack Sticks!
Written by Maryland-based author and teacher Ann McCallum, and illustrated by New Jersey-based artist
Leeza Hernandez, the book breezes through the season with simple but delicious recipes that help kids explore math and add a little sizzle to long, lazy summer days—as well as encourages kids to READ about the masters of math from history.
“Mischievous, gap-toothed bunnies rendered in mixed-media collage explore math in the kitchen in this clever activity book.” — Publishers Weekly

“Tasty is the name of the game with this mathie/foodie concoction…Bunnies. Edibles. Math. Yum.” –School Library Journal
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Summer reading the kids are craving!

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Common Denominator Cupcakes

What do fractions and these delicious cupcakes have in common? Well, for one thing, they both are a ‘whole’ lot of fun!

Here’s a question: One day a rabbit came and munched on ¼ of Leeza’s garden. Another rabbit came along and chomped through 2/4 of the garden. How much of the garden did these bustling bunnies eat altogether?

(What’s the common denominator—number on the bottom—in the number sentence ¼ + 2/4? That’s right, it’s fur… er, four!)

When ADDING fractions, the denominator stays the same. That’s because the denominator is the marker, or kind of fraction you are adding. So, ONE fourth plus TWO fourths equals… THREE fourths.

Adding fractions is a piece of cake!

Make Your Own COMMON DENOMINATOR CUPCAKES (The bottom stays the same and the top part is different for each cupcake!)

What You Do:

½ cups butter

1  ¼ cups white sugar

2 eggs

1 cup + 2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ cup rainbow sprinkles

Oreos (one for every muffin cup)

What you do:

  1. Cream butter, sugar, vanilla and eggs.
  2. Mix in flour, baking powder and baking soda, alternating with milk.
  3. Mix in the colored sprinkles.
  4. Grease a muffin tin (or use cupcake papers) and place one oreo cookie in every muffin cup. Pour dough on top so that each muffin cup is ¾ of the way full.
  5. Bake for about 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

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Triangular Number Cake by Jancakes.com

Triangular Numbers--mmmm!

Jancakes.com recently made this lovely concoction. Doesn’t it look delicious? Scroll down  to find out more about triangular numbers… (BTW– how many triangles in total can you find in the picture of the Triangular Number Cake? Hint: think big AND small triangles)

She even contributed her own, sorta-family-secret recipe. This one is a little more involved, but it looks like it’s worth it, doesn’t it? Thank you, Jan!

JAN’S TRIANGULAR NUMBER CAKE

unsweetened cocoa   3 Tbs + 1 ½ tsps

boiling water                           3 Tbs

vanilla                                     1 ½ tsps

eggs, large                               3

cake flour                           1 ¼ cups

sugar                                    ¾ cups + 2 Tbs

baking powder                        ¾ tsp

salt                                          ¼ tsp

unsalted butter (softened)     13 Tbs

Preheat oven to  350 degrees.

In mixing bowl whisk together cocoa and water until smooth.  Cool to room temperature, then add eggs and vanilla

In large bowl combine remaining dry ingredients, mixing on low for 30 seconds.  Add ½ of the chocolate mixture and butter.  Mix on low speed until dry ingredients are moistened.  Increase speed to medium, beating for 1 minute.  Scrape down the sides.  Gradually add remaining chocolate mixture, one half at a time, beating for 20 seconds after each addition.  Scrape down the sides.

Place batter in greased and floured 8” square baking pan, smoothing the surface with a spatula.

Bake 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of batter comes out clean.

Let cake cool in pan 30 minutes, invert on cooling rack.  Let cool at room temperature for 30 minutes, then cover and chill in refrigerator until cold.  (Cold cakes are much easier to cut.)

To form the triangle, place cake on a flat surface and with a sharp knife cut through the cake from top left corner to bottom cake center.  Then cut through the cake from top right corner to bottom cake center, forming a triangle.  Remove left and right triangle halves, placing them straight edges together on flat cake plate.  Spread with frosting, top with whole triangle. covering entire cake with frosting, decorating with candies.

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Book Giveaway from ChopChop Magazine!

ChopChop Magazine has great things to say about EAT YOUR MATH HOMEWORK: RECIPES FOR HUNGRY MINDS!!  (See below). They are also doing a book giveaway to the first ten readers who come up with a recipe that explains a mathematical process. Email the recipe to: info@chopchopmag.com

ChopChop is a fun cooking magazine for families. Don’t forget to check them out on the web!   www.chopchopmag.org

Here’s what they have to say:

Eat Your Math Homework

Submitted by Sally Sampson on Friday, April 22, 2011

Julien, one of our models from the first issue of ChopChop, told me that he wasn’t good at math. He said that he was particularly bad at division, which he was then learning. If you knew Julien, who is smart, quick, curious, sophisticated and playful, you wouldn’t believe this and neither did I.  I asked him how many kids were in his class – 18 –  and how many strawberries each kid would get if he brought in 36 strawberries. Two, he replied. And what if I brought in 9? I went on to ask him all sorts of division questions, but always about food and cooking, each one getting more and more complicated. He answered them all.  When I told him he was good at division- really good-  all of a sudden he blushed: he understood that he was.

I wish that Ann McCallum, the author of Eat Your Math Homework: Recipes for Hungry Minds (Charlesbridge, 2011) had been with me when I talked to Julien. She could have added so much more to the conversation. Something as simple as making a kabob can be an opportunity for a math lesson. There is no question that cooking involves math skills, from simple addition to the more complicated concepts like infinity and tessellation, that McCallum whimsically explains in her book. With lessons/recipes for Fibonacci Snack Sticks and Probability Trail Mix, you’ll eat well and learn something in the process. I know I did.

We’ll send a copy of Eat Your Math Homework: Recipes for Hungry Minds to the first 10 kids who send us a recipe (info@chopchopmag.com) that explains a mathematical process, like addition, subtraction, multiplication or division, or even something more complicated.

Available NOW from Charlesbridge

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Cylinder Roll-Ups

 

These hearty cylinders are perfect for breakfast, lunch, OR dinner! And, they are as easy to make as it is easy to say ‘I love geometry’.  (I LOVE GEOMETRY!

Cylinders are interesting shapes and very popular. Look around the house for other examples of cylinders… What did you find? A tuna fish can? A pencil holder? The trash can in your bedroom? It’s really fun to find the surface area of a cylinder– that is, the total area on the outside of the shape. Take the tuna fish can, for example. It’s pretty easy to figure out the area around the can. You can just take off the label and multiply the length times the width of the flattened out label.

How about the top and bottom of the can, though (The top and bottom base) ? What shape are they? How do you find the area of a circle?

Area of a circle=  

 View Image

Soooo, the surface area of a cylinder is actually two circles + the flattened out ‘label’ of the height.

Ready to make the Cylinder Roll-Ups?

What you need:

1 egg

1 cup milk

1 cup pancake mix

1 tablespoon taco seasoning (optional)

pre-cooked turkey or beef breakfast sausages

What you do:

1. Spray a non-stick pan with cooking spray and allow to heat.

2. Mix all ingredients except the sausages. Beat thoroughly.

3. Have an adult pour about 1/8 cup of the mixture onto the warm pan. When the pancake bubbles, use a spatula to turn it over.

4. When the pancake is cooked on both sides, carefully place a sausage inside and roll it up.

5. Make a stack of Cylinder roll-ups, but be careful. They might not stay ‘around’ very long!!

 

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Tis the Season for Book Events

‘Tis the season for book events…!

With the release of EAT YOUR MATH HOMEWORK: RECIPES FOR HUNGRY MINDS in just a couple of months (July 1), we’re working hard to create lots of buZZ! I will be doing several events where the book will be available prior to its release date. Along with the books, we’ll be giving out free bonus recipe cards, food samples, and fun bookmarks! Yay!

Please join me at the following:

April 17– Kensington Day of the Book (11- 3)

May 7– Cedar Lane Nursury School Arts Festival (10- 5)

May 21– Gaithersburg Book Festival (Author Panel is at 10:30-11:00)

May 26– Book Expo America in New York City (10-11)

 

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Multiplication Meatballs

Recipe by www.jancakes.com

Yum times ten! Figure that these Multiplication Meatballs (Recipe by Jancakes– www.jancakes.com) will be delicious! But, first what’s an array? 

You guessed it! An array is an easy way to learn your times tables. You can use just a few meatballs to make your multiplication model, or lots to make a bigger product. Basically, an array is a rectangle of meatballs. For example, a 5 by 6 rectangular arrangement of meatballs is how many meatballs? (Hint: rhymes with dirty…) Or, in the case of the photo here, a 4 by 3 array gives you… That’s right, 12 meatballs since 4 x 3 = 12.

Hooray for arrays!

Make your own Multiplication Meatballs here (Thank you, Jancakes!).

What you need:

2 pounds lean ground beef or ground turkey

1/4 cup grated Romano cheese

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons chopped onion

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

Your favorite marinara sauce

What you Do:

1. Mix all ingredients thoroughly and shape into balls.

2. Saute until browned well and slightly pink in the center. Drain on paper towels.

3. Serve over pasta, along with your favorite marinara sauce.

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Chocolate Pretzel Counting Rods

Imagine a day with NO numbers! Sure, math class might be cancelled, but how could you take the schoolbus five miles to your house, or eat a double cheeseburger? Nope, any way you figure it, people everywhere count on numbers… But wait– did you know that not everybody uses the same system of numbers? In China, counting rods (sticks) were invented over 2,500 years ago. Even today, some people use these rods instead of digits!

File:Countingrod.png

There are two positions for each number. They are either written vertically (see the first row above), or they are written horizontally (see the second row above).

Make your own Chocolate Pretzel Counting Rods with a recipe that’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.

BEFORE YOU BEGIN:

Prep time: 10 minutes

Yield: 12 positive rods and 12 negative rods

Difficulty: easy

TOOLS:

2 small, microwave-safe bowls

Cookie sheet or large cutting board lined with wax paper

INGREDIENTS:

24 thick pretzel sticks

Cooking spray

2 squares semi-sweet baker’s chocolate

Chocolate sprinkles

2 squares white baker’s chocolate

Rainbow sprinkles

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Spray each microwave-safe bowl with cooking spray. Put two squares of semi-sweet chocolate in one bowl and melt in the microwave according to package directions.
  2. Dip 12 pretzels, one at a time, in the melted chocolate so that about an inch of the rod is covered. Roll in a plate full of chocolate sprinkles.
  3. Lay each dipped pretzel on the wax paper. These chocolate pretzels are the positive numbers.
  4. Repeat steps 1 to 3 for the white chocolate, using rainbow sprinkles instead of chocolate ones. The white chocolate pretzels are the negative numbers.
  5. Place the sheet of pretzel rods in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

 

Math Appeteaser

The rods that are vertical are called tsungs (ZONG). The rods that are horizontal are called hengs (HENG). To get the hang of these hengs and tsungs, create the following number:  3,524

Thousands Hundreds Tens Units
       

  *Note that the units and hundreds are placed vertically and the tens and thousands are placed horizontally. Why do you think they are positioned this way?

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Perimeter Pound Cake

Perimeter Pound Cake by Jancakes

Perimeter Pound Cake (Created by Jancakes)

Wah Lah- here is Perimeter Pound Cake at its finest!! I recently teamed up with Jancakes to help create some of my math recipes. (Check her out at www.jancakes.com) This yummy Perimeter Pound Cake uses oreos to illustrate the concept of perimeter. Here is Jan’s ‘come-around-for more’ cake recipe. Mmmmmmm… Doing math was never so delicious!

Before You Begin

Prep time: 15 minutes + 45 minutes to bake

Oven temperature: 350

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups cake flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 extra large eggs

Topping: homemade or ready-made icing, 16 oreos

Instructions:

1. Prepare an 8 inch square pan by putting some butter in the pan and rubbing it all around with a paper towel. Dust a large spoonful of flour on top of the butter to  prevent the cake from sticking to the pan.

2.  Place the sugar and butter in a large bowl and mix well with an electric beater. Add the eggs, one at a time.

3. Add half of the flour (Um, half of 1 1/2 cups is…. 3/4 cups) and all of the whipping cream.

4. Pour in the rest of the flour and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat on high speed for 5 minutes.

5. Pour the batter into the pan and put it in the middle of a cold oven. Set the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake the cake for 45 minutes to one hour. (Toothpick trick to check doneness: insert toothpick. If it comes out clean- no gooey cake dough on it- the cake is done)

**** while you’re waiting for the cake to finish baking, check out the perimeter activities on the rest of this blog!

6. Once done, let the cake cool for 20 to 30 minutes (Don’t take it out of the pan).

7. When the cake is cool, cover the cake with icing and arrange the oreos around the perimeter.

Delicious!!

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Getting Around with Perimeter…

Perimeter means the distance around something- like the fence around a garden to keep the deer from pilfering your plants. Or, the boards around a sandbox that keep the sand from seeping. Or a picture that frames your family. Okay, enough annoying alliteration… Now, get your head around this idea: how many Oreos (or other cookies or candies) is it going to take to go around the perimeter of your own Perimeter Pound Cake? Ten? A Hundred? (I hope not- that’s a lot of Oreos!) Try it out and while your cake is cooking, plan on a perimeter party. (Sorry- additional alliteration!)  Take a tour around your house. What examples of perimeter can you find? Look down onto the floor. Look up onto the walls and ceiling. Look inside and out. How many perimeter examples can you find in five minutes? Oh, and don’t forget to check on that cake. I hope it tastes terrific!

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Triangular Number Know-How…

Triangular Number Know-How

What is a triangular number? It is easy to see what a triangular number looks like, but isn’t there some way of figuring them out without drawing a picture?

Actually, triangular numbers are created by adding consecutive numbers.

For example:  1  =  1

1 + 2  =  3

1 + 2 + 3  =  6

1 + 2 + 3 + 4  =  10

Here’s a challenge for you: What is the 100th triangular number?

ASIDE:  The Great Gauss

How would you go about finding the sum of all of the numbers from 1 to 100? If you don’t feel like spending your whole afternoon with a pencil and paper, you can do what Carl Gauss did to solve this problem in less than a minute.

Carl Gauss, mathematician-extraordinaire,  lived from 1777 to 1855 in what is now Germany. When Gauss was in elementary school, his teacher asked him to find the sum of the first hundred counting numbers. Instead of adding 1 + 2 + 3 + 4… etc., Gauss saw that he could find the answer much quicker if he added pairs of numbers: 1 + 100,  2 + 99,  3 + 98… etc.  When he added the pairs, he always got 101. Since there are 50 total pairs in the numbers from 1 to 100, Gauss simply multiplied 101 x 50 to get 5050. His teacher was astounded! Are you?

Triangular Number Trivia

What can you notice about triangular numbers?

Here are a couple of triangular ticklers.

  • A triangular number never ends in the digits 2, 4, 7 or 9.
  • If you add two consecutive (side by side) triangular numbers, you’ll always get a square number. Square numbers look like this (1, 4, 9, 16):

*                      *       *                          *     *      *                      *     *     *     *

                        *       *                          *      *      *                     *     *     *     *

                                                              *      *     *                      *     *     *     *

                                                                                                      *     *     *     *

Incidentally, square numbers are a great way to memorize some of your multiplication math facts. For instance, above, you can see that 1 x1 =1, 2 x 2 = 2, 3 x 3 = 9,  and 4 x 4 = 16.

  • A prime number is a number that can only be evenly divided by 1 and itself. There is only one prime triangular number: the number 3.
  • A palindrome is a number that can be read the same backwards or forwards. Here are a few triangular numbers that are also palindromes: 1, 3, 55, 595, 3003.
  • There are only 4 triangular numbers that are also Fibonacci numbers.  Can you find them? (Hint: they are all under 60)

(Answer is 1, 3, 21 and 55)

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Triangular Number Cake

Triangular Number Cake

What do bowling ball pins, an unbroken set of pool table balls, and a flock of birds have in common? They can all represent triangular numbers, that’s what. Triangular numbers get their name because, well, they look like triangles when you model them. For example, here are the first few triangular numbers:

Triangular Numbers | Ann McCallum Books | Math recipes

Triangular Numbers

 

* =1                 *                                  *

                     *     *  = 3                    *      *

                                                      *      *     *  =6

          In terms of tasty math desserts, Triangular Number Cake takes the cake! Not only is it a delicious treat, but you’ll make one heck of a triangular number to boot! Get ready to treat your taste-buds!

What you Need:

A square or rectangular cake pan

1 cup margarine

1 ½ cups sugar

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup ice-cream- any flavor  ← secret ingredient!

2 ¼ cups flour

1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

Icing and decorations

1 container of ready-made frosting- any flavor

Miniature marshmallows (or small candies such as m & m’s)

 What you do:

  1. Ask an adult to preheat the oven to 325˚ Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare the cake pan by using a paper towel to dab some margarine or butter onto the bottom and sides of the pan. Dust a spoonful of flour on top of the margarine to make sure the cake does not stick.
  3. Carefully measure and then mix the margarine and sugar together. Add the eggs and vanilla. (Take a deep smell of vanilla… Mmmmm….)
  4. Add the dry ingredients and the ice-cream and mix everything well.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and ask an adult to put it in the oven. Check the cake after 25 minutes. If it is done, ask the adult to take it out and allow it to cool on a baking rack.
  6. When it is completely cool, cut the cake diagonally in half so that you’ve made two triangles. Turn one of the cake triangles over and join it to the other piece so that you’ve made one big triangle.
  7. Spread the icing all over the sides and top of the triangular-shaped cake.
  8. Make a large, triangular number. Use the marshmallows or candies to create a triangular number pattern.  

YUM!

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Little Old Lady Gingerbread Pi

Arithmetica: Here again and feeling hungry (for some math munchies)! So who’s in the mood for pi… er, pie, that is? Hey, have you ever been in a pie eating contest? Would you like to participate in a pi-calculating contest- or, make this ‘pi’ and eat it, too?

Little Old Lady: Eh? What are you talking about? Speak up, missy! 

Arithmetica: Uh, yeah. Pi is a number that you get when you divide the length of the outside rim of any circle- the circumference– by the length of a line drawn exactly through the middle of that circle- the diameter.

Little Old Lady: A number, eh? I remember a time… Zzzzzzz…

Arithmetica: Um, yes. Well, back to pi. It is written using the symbol π and starts 3.1415926… Throughout history, lots of people have tried to figure out how many decimal places there were for  π by using division.  And, here’s the scary part: THEY DIDN’T HAVE CALCULATORS! Luckily, computers were invented and so, recently, one mathematician was able to calculate over 200 billion (Yes, BILLION) decimal places for pi. You could say that throughout history, finding the exact value of pi has NOT been as easy as pie.

Little Old Lady: Ah, yes, as I was saying…I remember when we didn’t have paper. That’s right- not one sheet! You youngsters have it easy now!
Can you imagine figuring out your math problems on a table dusted with sand? It would be pretty hard to hand your homework in. Heh! Heh! And, if you didn’t do your homework, you would have a great excuse: “My little brother sneezed away my homework.”

Arithmetica: No paper? A sand table? Teachers would have to shovel the homework at you! You’ve have buckets of it to do! 

Little Old Lady: Let me tell you- if you lived long ago in Persia (Present-day Iran, mind you), you would indeed do your math calculations on a table of sand. Jamshid Al-Kashi was a mathematician born around 1380, just a little before my time. He was one of the first people to make use of a a new invention imported from China; it was called… da dum…PAPER! Before this, people had to memorize the steps in math problems because they didn’t have a lot of room on the sand table to show their work. Not such a bad idea- all that memorizing. Kids these days… well, don’t get me started! Al-Kashi is also famous because he joined the world-wide pi-calculating contest. You see, he wanted to figure out the circumference of the universe. (In the olden days, people weren’t afraid of a little hard work!) So, Al-Kashi worked out a value for pi to 14 decimal places- a record at the time.  This record was unbeaten for over 100 years!

Arithmetica: Maybe we should just let our readers have the recipe for Little Old Lady Gingerbread Pi now.

Little Old Lady: Okay. But first, here’s a little trick, MY grandpa showed me. If you want to remember the digits in the number pi, just remember the phrase:

May I have a large Container of Sweets? Each word has the same number of letters as the first several digits in pi. Take a look: 3.  1   4   1   5    9   2  6

Arithmetica: Very interesting. Now, about that pi?

Little Old Lady: Yes, it’s very tasty if I do say so myself. But don’t forget to measure the circumference and diameter and to figure out pi!

Little Old Lady Gingerbread Pi

1 package instant butterscotch pudding

½ teaspoon ginger

15 gingersnap cookies- crushed

3 tablespoons margarine

1-2 teaspoons water

1.  Prepare the crust. Place 15 cookies in a sturdy freezer bag. Use a rolling pin or an  unopened can to crush the gingersnap cookies. The cookies will be fine crumbs.  Set aside 2 tablespoons of the crumbs.

2.  Melt the margarine or butter. Mix into the crumbs. Add the water. Press this mixture into the bottom of a pie plate.

3.  Prepare the pudding according to package directions, adding the ginger while mixing. Pour the pudding into the ready pie shell.

4.  Sprinkle the rest of the gingersnap crumbs on top of the pie. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

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Just Right (Variable) Pudding

Come along for walk to Goldilocks’ woodsy cottage. Oh no! Goldilocks is fretting over her Just Right Porridge, worrying that it will turn out just wrong. Our reporter, Arithmetica Subtracto, from the Wand and Globe is on the scene now.

Arithmetica: Good morning, Goldilocks. Can you tell our readers where you got the idea to make Just Right Porridge?

Goldilocks: Oh, I’m partial to porridge. Ever since the time I visited the Three Bears, I’ve loved porridge. It’s delicious when it’s just right.

Arithmetica: What makes your porridge ‘just right’?

Goldilocks: Oh, dearie me. I’m not sure it is. First I added ice-cream but it melted something awful. I tried adding mushroom soup mix too, but it seemed to make the porridge too… earthy. Then I tried a bunch of other ingredients until it was just right.

Arithmetica: I see. So you have some variables in your porridge?

Goldilocks: Oh, yes. The constants are the oatmeal and milk, but I have five suggested variables.

Arithmetica: So, your winning equation is: oatmeal + milk + x = Just Right porridge!

(Helpful Reader Hint: Variables are those numbers in an equation that change, and constants are the numbers that always remain the same.)

Make your own: Just Right Porridge

1 packet instant oatmeal- plain

½ teaspoon vanilla flavoring

½ cup milk

1-2 teaspoons sugar

List of suggested variables: (Choose one)

• 1 Oreo cookie, crushed

• Dried fruit such as apples, banana chips,

or apricots (sliced or broken into smaller bits)

• Yogurt-covered raisins (Allow oatmeal to cool before

adding)

• Fresh berries (Place on top)

What to do…

1. Place the oatmeal in a microwave-safe bowl.

2. Add the vanilla, milk, and sugar. Stir.

3. Microwave for 1 minute or as directed on the oatmeal package.

4. Add the variable ingredient.

5. Serve immediately.

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Kitchen Tips

Wait, wait, wait! Before we go crazy in the math kitchen, a word of caution is necessary. Afterall, there are hot stoves and sharp knives out there.

Remember:

  1. Always ask an adult’s permission to cook or bake anything.
  2. Only an adult should deal with a hot stove or oven.
  3. Adults should supervise all knife use.
  4. Wait until things cool down before you taste or touch anything.
  5. Please wash your hands- with soap!

And now… let the math magic begin….!

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Introducing Magical, Mathematical Recipes

Cooking with Kids | Math Games | Kids in the KitchenWelcome to THE place to get your very own delicious, mouth- watering, math-smacking recipes! In this blog, you will have access to monthly MATH recipes such as:

  • Snow White Dwarf Cakes (In which Snow White makes triangular numbers)
  • Just Right Porridge (In which Goldilocks adds variable ingredients)
  • Princess and the Pea Casserole (In which the Princess makes estimates of really big numbers)

You will also get a SNEAK peak at my latest book: EAT YOUR MATH HOMEWORK: Recipes for Hungry Minds. (Coming out July 1, 2011 from Charlesbridge)

Lastly, you will get to meet Arithmetica, a charming, if not COMPLETELY MATH-OBSESSED girl who will follow along with us.

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