The Math Inspectors Series Review


Disclosure: I was sent a set of these books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

As a high school math teacher, I love finding fun ways to share math with kids. Recently I have been reading Learning to Love Math by Judy Willis, M.D. In it she mentions how math is the one school subject that conjures up a series of emotions for most people and usually they are negative. I cannot tell you how many times people tell me they can't do math or hated math when they find out I'm a math teacher. One of the things Dr. Willis mentions is we need to change this in society. We need to stop telling kids that adults didn't do well or hate math. Parents, teachers, coaches, etc. are giving kids permission to not do well in math and to not really try. So please if you are one of the people who does not like math or didn't do well, please keep it to yourself. Don't give kids the permission to be like you. It is something we are working on at our school this year. With that said I get to share a great series of middle grades mystery novels about a bunch of math loving students who use their math to solve mysteries!! The series is The Math Inspectors by Daniel Kenney and Emily Boever.  This series is recommended for ages 9 to 12.

Somewhere In Between - Book Review


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Young children can find compromising very hard. They are at an age where empathy isn't really developed. They only see things their way. Today I get to share a picture book released this week about finding middle ground. It is Somewhere In Between by Laan Cham. It is recommended for ages 4 to 8.

Jane Escapes to the Jungle of Individuality -- Book Review with Craft & Giveaway


Disclosure: I was sent a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I am working with Jennifer Nestor and The Children's Book Review to bring you this post and giveaway. All opinions are my own.

Do you know a child who struggles to fit in? They have their own styles and perhaps are smarter than other kids. It can be very hard for them at school. I know, I have one. She often struggled to feel like she fit in or really had friends. There were times where she was bullied at almost every school she has attended. Today I get to share a book for this type of kid. It is all about accepting one's own individuality and I am sharing a craft activity to go with it. Plus, there is a giveaway at the end!! The book is Jane Escapes to the Jungle of Individuality by Jennifer Nestor and illustrated by Victoria Mikki. It is being released on July 29, 2024.

Resources to Teach Kids Personal Finance


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Did you know that on June 29, 2024, California became the 26th state to require a personal finance class for all high school students? Half of our states now require personal finance to be taught in public schools. There are advocacy groups working on the other 26 states. Now as a child I remember my father teaching me about things like checking accounts, credit cards, and investments. Courses really were not offered in schools. In my first teaching job back in the 1990s I did however teach a consumer math class. I was teaching a vocational school and both consumer math and business math were offered. It taught things like banking, taking out loans, purchasing a car, taxes, etc. I remember one of the math teachers giving spelling tests for writing out checks. She made sure the kids knew how to spell the numbers out when they wrote them on checks. I didn't think much about consumer math after I left that school in 1997 until last year. My current job has me teaching consumer math again. I was given an old book back from the late 90's or early 2000's. The numbers are so outdated and really the content is rather boring. I got to come up with my own curriculum or find it. This summer I am taking several of Next Gen Personal Finance's (NGPF) teacher certification courses to help me get better at it. I have used their free curriculum for about a year and a half so far. Next year I plan to mix it in with other curriculum I have found and/or written. Today however I get to share a new book with you for younger kids, though I will be adding it to my classroom library, about financial terms. It is Financial Fun from A-Z by Brooke Lapides. It is recommended for baby through 9 but I see it as a great reference book for older students as well.

Educational Toys at Alphabet Trains & Toys


Disclosure: I was sent this toy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Today I get to share an online educational toy store with you. When Hazel was young, I loved getting educational toys for her and especially loved when they were made from natural materials. Today I get to share with you my experience and a toy from Alphabet Trains and Toys. I was approached to review a toy and share my experience with you. 

New Origami Book with Easy Geometric Projects and Mathematical Explanations!!


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

I am so excited to share with you a new origami book. Now some origami tutorials can be difficult to follow, but this book is amazing!! Now I have posted about how I use origami in my geometry class. Today's book is perfect for the classroom!! The book is Origami Polyhedra for Beginners: Amazing Geometric Paper Models from a Leading Japanese Expert! by Miyuki Kawamura.

Shark Fun Facts & Craft Round-Up with an Emphasis on Great Whites


As I mentioned in my last post I am visiting Cape Cod. Our house is on a marsh, and I shared a bit about saltwater marshes earlier this week. The other big thing in the news on Cape Cod is great white sharks. In fact, on this trip, we visited the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy's Shark Center in Chatham. I learned quite a bit about great white sharks and sharks in general there, but I also got a few books out of the library and did some searches for fun facts for you. There are more than 500 species of sharks and over 100 of them are endangered! Yet sharks have survived all five of the Earth's major extinctions. July 14th is Shark Awareness Day so this post will have you all set for it!

Learning About Salt Marshes


I have spent much of my life visiting a house on Cape Cod that is on a salt marsh. I never really looked into what a salt marsh is or its value as an ecosystem, but lately have been thinking about it. Today I am delving into a salt marsh, and we will start with what it is and why they are important.

What Is a Salt Marsh?

A salt marsh is a wetlands ecosystem that is flooded and drained by the ocean's tides. They are formed where rivers or creeks meet the ocean. They are composed of deep mud and peat. Peat is a spongy, root-filled material composed of decomposing plant material. They can be low on oxygen which allows certain bacteria to grow, and this bacteria can give off the smell of rotten eggs often associated with salt marshes. I found this interesting since I have early memories of coming to visit my grandparents at night and the awful smell of the marsh always made me hate arriving. Then in the morning the smell was usually gone. 

The marsh has creeks that run through it, but they can change over time depending on tides and more. The marsh also filters out pollutants and provides places for oyster reefs as well as mussels to live. The salt marsh can take the carbon dioxide and sunlight and create carbon and new life. It cleanse our world and provides essential places for fish, shellfish and birds to begin their lives and live. There are also salt-tolerant plants that grow in the marsh. There are two parts of salt marsh: low marsh and high marsh. The low marsh gets flooded every day whereas the high marsh only a couple of times during a month. 

Low Marsh

In the low marsh there is cordgrass or Spartina alterniflora. This grass grows in deep mud that has low oxygen levels. It has strong roots and is flooded and drained of salt water twice a day. The cordgrass does many things important to the ecosystem as well as the surrounding environment. It actually protects the mainland from storms. Yep!! That salt marsh actually helps protect our house. It also helps collect more sediment (from the ocean) and build more marsh. It is also food for some of the wildlife and provides habitats. 

In the summer the marsh is nice and green. However, cordgrass is a perennial and dies off in the fall and winter.

The low marsh is where the creek is and provides a home for crabs as well as a nursery for some fish. 

High Marsh

In the high marsh there is more diverse life. It is only flooded about twice a month. Saltmeadow cordgrass or Spartina patens (commonly called salt marsh hay) and salt grass or Distichlis spicata grow in the high marsh. Many of the plants can store the salt and help with the habitat. 

There is not as much about the high marsh available as it has more dry plants that can handle the salt but not as often as the low marsh plants. More plants can grow here.

Our marsh is surrounded by phragmites. Phragmites also called common reeds are an invasive species. Phragmites can grow up to 14 feet tall by summers end. They can grow thick and take over some of the marsh. I have also seen they can have positive effects on the marsh. There are actually laws about cutting them here. 

Our phragmites serve as a landing place for many of the birds and especially the red-winged blackbirds. 

When I was young my grandfather took me into the marsh. It is hard to walk in and you really need boots on as the mud is messy. Now we tend to stay out of it since it is a breeding ground for deer ticks and yes, there is Lyme disease out there. My parents and I have all been treated after finding ticks on us. In fact at one point my parents' doctors would put them on the antibiotics right away when they found a tick on them because Lyme disease was so prevalent. 

Climate Change and Threats to Salt Marshes

Salt marshes are found around the world. They are on every coast of the United States. There are threats to them due to climate change and how people have interfered with them in the past. In Massachusetts as well as elsewhere there are groups trying to protect these important ecosystems. People's desire for land, farming, and more is slowly destroying them. When my grandparents built this house, they were told they had to build it along the edge of the marsh. Today the town realizes that is a mistake and tries to protect the marsh more and would not permit the house to be built as close as it previously demanded. As we worry about the eroding coastline we worry about our closeness to the marsh. Our house is in a flood plan and had it been built farther back it would not be. But we love the views and watching the changing marsh. And of course we love the sunsets!

To learn more about marshes check out this video.

To learn more about the wildlife check out this video as well. And to learn about the high marsh you can check out this video


Books & Other Resources:

I found a few books about salt marshes at the library if you would like to go that route.

1) 24 Hours in a Salt Marsh by Christy Peterson shares about a day at a salt marsh on the Oregon Coast.

2) Marvels in the Muck: Life in the Salt Marshes by Doug Wechsler shares about the life found in northern salt marshes (New Jersey is mentioned). Some of the wildlife shared I do not see (or know about at least) at Cape Cod.

3) A Day in the Salt Marsh by Kevin Kurtz takes the reader hour by hour naming various wildlife found in a marsh. It has some activities and more information at the end including why salt marshes are important and information about spartina and its adaptations.

4) Salt Marsh by Paul Fleisher shares about a salt marsh in Chesapeake Bay. 

Activities, Crafts & Lessons

Teach your kids more about salt marshes with these lessons, activities and crafts.