All posts by lspady

#60: Millions, Billions and Trillions

How Much is a Million? by David M Schwartz is one of many picture books I have on my bookshelf.  It’s a great book to help students visualize what a million, billion, and trillion look like.  A Million Dots by Andrew Clements is another one of my favorites.  In the book, you will actually see ONE MILLION dots!  Don’t believe me?  You can count them yourself!  Check to see if you have it in your school library!

I really thought I knew everything there was to know about a million, billion and trillion until I came across this Numberphile video.  If you’re up for a challenge and making your brain stretch a little, then this Math Minute is for YOU!


  1. Print a copy (or have your teacher print you a copy) of this worksheet.
  2. Follow the directions on the worksheet.  When you’re finished, turn in your completed worksheet to the EY Coordinator at your building.
  3. Post a comment below about something new/interesting you learned from the video.

#34 Reading Enrichment: Are Dragons Real?


Dragons have been an important character in fairy tales and fantasy stories for ages.  Fire breathing dragons may not exist, but if you consider a dragon to be a supersize reptile with a wicked bite…then have I got a challenge for you!  The Komodo dragon is the real deal!  How can a Komodo dragon, that weighs about 300 pounds, kill a water buffalo that is over twice its size?  Read this article to find out:

The San Diego zoo has a Komodo dragon named Ken.  Watch this video to meet him:

Take it a step further: Komodo dragons only live in one country in the world, Indonesia.  Indonesia is made up of several islands.  Komodo dragons reside on some of the islands, but not all of them.  This website will show you some other interesting facts about Indonesia—home of the Komodo dragon:

What are three facts you learned about Indonesia?  What else would you like to know about Indonesia or Komodo dragons?

#59: World’s Favorite Cookie

What is your favorite kind of cookie?  Mine is chocolate chip and I especially love my mother-in-law’s recipe that has pudding in the batter.  Yum!

For this week’s Math Minute, you have an opportunity to win a package of cookies for your class.  See the list below for your choice of activities that can get you entered!

  • Watch this video about one of America’s favorite cookies.  Jot down some facts as  you watch the video.  Complete this quiz afterwards.  One response per person.  Duplicate responses will be eliminated.
  • Check out this website listing 15 interesting facts about the “World’s Favorite Cookie”.  Post a comment below with something new and interesting you read.  One comment = 1 Entry for the cookies for your class.  In your comment, include your first name, grade, and school (i.e. Toby, 2, Sunset).
  • Oreo Thins have a diameter of 4.5 centimeters and a thickness of 7.5 millimeters.  Write your answers to the following questions on a sheet of paper with your first and last name, school, grade, and teacher.  Have your teacher put it in the “Pony” to Sunset Hills EY.  One entry per student please.
    •  What is the Circumference (C = pi * diameter) of an Oreo Thin?
    • What is the Area (A = pi * radius squared) of an Oreo Thin?
    • How tall would a stack of 10 Oreo Thins be?

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#58: Math Video A Day

Research has been conducted on the effectiveness of using video in the classroom, and according to one study by Kaltura, video is better than the written word when it comes to information retention, education, and overall experience.

I can vividly remember my 7th grade math teacher showing a video call The Case of the Missing Chick Cows : Adding Positive and Negative IntegersIn the video, the Chick Cows were disappearing all around town and farmers started to blame each other for stealing them, only to find out that at night, the Chick Cows were linking arms and flying away.  Some of the Chick Cows had left wings and others had right wings.  When they linked arms together, they were able to fly away.  Over 30 years have past since I watched that video and I still remember it.  Videos have a way of making information “stick” and we are in a day and age were we have access to a plethora of videos that can help us learn.

For this Math Minute, print off the worksheet, “A Math Minute A Day” and use a QR Code reader to scan the code for each video.  As you watch each video, jot down new and/or interesting information.  What connections can you make?  Which video did you find the most interesting?  Silly?  Entertaining?  Let us know by leaving a comment!

Image taken from:

Battle of the Books 2019 Post #2

Calling all 4th-6th graders!  It’s time to start thinking about BOTB 2019!

Fast Facts:

  • Students will form teams of three or four students. Teams may have five students, but at most four students may compete in any round.
  • Each team will provide at least one parent volunteer to assist during part of the competition in March, in addition to a team parent to accompany the team on battle day.
  • Since this is a team event, individual students do not have to read all of the books on the list to participate.
  • This event is open to all 4th through 6th grade students in the District.
  • Registration will begin in October
  • The battle will be held on the morning of March 30, 2019 at Westside Middle School.

Check out the September Flier for additional details and bookmark the BOTB website to get the most up-to-date information!

BOTB Book List: 2019 Golden Sower nominees

1. Soar by Joan Bauer

2. The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

3. All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor

4. Moo: A Novel by Sharon Creech

5. Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes

6. Slacker by Gordan Korman

7. Wish by Barbara O’Connor

8. Maxi’s Secrets: (Or, What You Can Learn from a Dog) by Lynn Plourde

9. Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes

10. Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan

All of these books are available to borrow from the Omaha Public Library and will be available in the school libraries. If you would like to purchase books, check out The Bookworm, Half Price Books, or


#57: Polyhedron

Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 1.20.10 PMAn icosahedron is a polyhedron that has twenty triangular faces.  A stellated icosahedron has each of those faces raised to a triangular pyramid.

Wow!  There’s a lot of big words in that sentence!  Find out more about polyhedrons by visiting this website:

How can you spend your Math Minutes this week?
  • Post a comment and share something new you learned about polyhedrons.  You are not limited to the website listed above.  When posting a comment, use your first name and school (i.e. Tyler, Sunset).  Do not publish your email.
  • Make a Modular Origami Stellated Icosahedron by following these directions:  Email a picture of your completed stellated icosahedron to your school’s EY Coordinator.
  • Find instructions for making other polyhedron.  Here is one resource:  Email a picture of your completed polyhedron to your school’s EY Coordinator.
  • Post a comment and answer the question:  How is origami related to math?  When posting a comment, use your first name and school (i.e. Tyler, Sunset).  Do not publish your email.
  • Find instructions to make an origami animal using the WWF Together app on your iPad.  Email a picture of your completed origami animal to your school’s EY Coordinator.

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We will post pictures of your origami creations on our Student Showcase Wiki.


#56: Math and Animation

In the Numberphile and TED Ed videos linked below, Tony DeRose from Pixar talks about 3D animated characters and the math involved to make them look so smooth.  It turns out there is a TON of math behind some of our favorite animated films, and it starts with some of the math learned in middle school!

How can you spend your Math Minutes this week?
  • Watch the videos linked below and then post a comment sharing something new you learned about math and animation.  When posting a comment, use your first name, grade, and school (i.e. Tyler, 5, Sunset).  Do not publish your email.
  • After watching the videos, click on this link and answer the questions.
  • Create your own animation using an app on your iPad.

Numberphile Video:

TED Ed Video:

#55: Coordinate Geometry


Coordinate Geometry is one of my favorite areas of math.  There’s just something about getting a sheet of order pairs and carefully plotting them on graph paper…connecting the dots to reveal a picture.  If that’s your sort of thing too, check out Option 3 below.  Happy plotting!

How can you spend your Math Minutes this week?
  1. Learn the basics of coordinate geometry by watching this video (you have to scroll down the page a bit).  Read through the text underneath the video too.  Post a comment about something new you learned.  When leaving a comment, type your first name, grade level, and school (i.e. Trevor, 3, Sunset).  Do not type in your email address.
  2. This video gives a musical explanation of the inventor of coordinate plane geometry, Rene Descartes.
  3. Print out (or have your teacher print out) these worksheets.  Plot the ordered pairs on the graph paper and reveal a warm surprise!  Take a picture of your completed drawing and send it to the EY Coordinator at your building.
  4. Hopscotch is a free programming app that utilizes coordinates plane geometry.  The video link below explains some basics of Hopscotch and another way to spend your Math Minutes this week.  NOTE: Due to app updates, the Hopscotch video may not match perfectly with the up-to-date-version of the app.  After watching the video, create your initials/name in Hopscotch.  Take a picture of your completed program and send it to the EY Coordinator at your building.  We would love to post it on our Student Showcase Wiki!

Link to Hopscotch Video Tutorial:


#53: Cribbage


My family enjoys playing pitch,  31, sevens and trash.  However, my absolute FAVORITE game is cribbage!  It involves strategy and math, which is why I like it so much!

How can you spend your Math Minutes this week?
  1. Do you know how to play cribbage?  If so, leave a comment below with a “thing to remember” when playing cribbage.  When leaving a comment, type your first name, grade level, and school (i.e. Trevor, 3, Sunset).  Do not type in your email address.
  2. In cribbage, the Jokers are removed from the deck.
    • The Ace is worth 1
    • The face cards (Jack, Queen, and King) are each worth 10
    • The other cards (2 through 9) are each worth their number value
  3. Here are some of the ways you can earn points playing cribbage:

One of the ways to earn points in cribbage is to have cards that add up to fifteen.  In the picture below, the King and one of the 5’s make 15 so that is 2 points.  The King and the other 5 also make 15, which is another 2 points.  You might notice that there is a 5 that is face up on the deck.  This can also be paired with the King for 15 for another 2 points.  Finally, the three 5’s (2 in the hand and one on the deck) add up to 15.  This is an additional 2 points.IMG_8825When you have a pair of the same card, you earn 2 points.  The pair could be in your hand, or one of your cards could be paired with the card that is face up on the deck.  If you have 3-of-a-kind, that is worth 6 points.  In the picture above, there are two 5’s in the hand and one 5 face up on the deck.  Not only does that make 15, but it is also 3-of-a-kind which earns you 6 points.

A “flush” is when you have 4 or more of the same suit (clubs, spades, hearts, or diamonds).  If you had 4 hearts in your hand, you would earn 4 points.  If the card that is face up on the deck is also a heart, you would get 5 points.  The hand below shows 5 clubs so you would get 5 points.


A “run of 3” is when you have 3 cards in numerical order.  You could also have a run of 4 or 5 cards.  Let’s say you had a 3, 4, 5, and 6 in your hand.  You would have a “run of 4” which is 4 points.  If the card on the deck was a 2 or 7, you would have a run of 5.  The hand below shows a run of 5.


The pictures below show several cribbage hands.  See if you can add up the points correctly!  Leave a comment with the “hand #” and an explanation of the total points.  You can also post a question if you’re not sure.  Check back often to see if all the hands are correctly totaled.

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What is another way you can earn points in a cribbage game?  Do a little research and post a comment.  Would you be interested in having a cribbage tournament?

#49: Cool Jobs that Involve Math

Yep! That job requires math!

Tony DeRose is a 3D animator at Pixar and in his TED-Ed video,  he talks about how math plays an important role in his job.  Nafees Bin Zafar is also in the movie making business.  He is a visual effect expert who has helped create some of the most memorable smashes, crashes, and dashes on the movie screen.

How can you spend your Math Minutes this week?
  • Read Cool Jobs: Math as entertainment from Science News for Students.   You can also download a .pdf version of the article by clicking here.  Pick out one of the jobs mentioned in the article and leave a comment about how math is used in their job.  When posting a comment, use your first name, grade, and school (i.e. Tyler, 5, Sunset).  Do not publish your email.
  • Magician Arthur Benjamin mentions that his favorite number is 2,520 because it is the smallest, yes I said smallest, number divisible by all the numbers 1 through 10.  Prove this on a piece of paper by doing all the division problems and then take a picture of it.  Send the picture to the EY coordinator at your building or send it to your teacher and have him/her forward it to the EY coordinator.  BTW…Arthur Benjamin has a super cool TED Talk.  Watch it if you have time!
  • Describe the difference between a 2-D and 3-D printer.  What are some advantages of 3-D printing?  If you had your own 3-D printer, what are some things you would like to make?  If you’re really interested in 3D printing, here’s a link to another Science News for Students article on that topic.  Feel free to leave a comment about something new and interesting you learned!
Math is so much more than a bunch of problems on a worksheet or even a series of problems on a website or app.  Begin to imagine the creative ways in which mathematics plays a role in a variety of careers!