Empowering Parents To Teach- Ninja math

Calling All Ninjas! Nine Ninja Books and Fun Math (and Motor) Activity

Do you have a child that loves ninjas or martial arts?  This is the place for you. I have nine awesome books to delight your little one and a fun way to incorporate math into martial arts. Get ready to turn your child into a math ninja!


*Note: This post contains affiliate links.


First, get your little ninja inspired by reading one of these stories:

Ninja! by Arree Chung

Ninja Bunny by Jennifer Gray Olson


Ninja Cowboy Bear Presents the Way of the Ninja by David Bruins


Dojo Daycare by Chris Tougas

Nighttime Ninja by Barbara DaCosta


Wink: The Ninja Who Wanted to be Noticed by J.C. Philipps


Ninja Boy Goes to School by N.D. Wilson


Little Kunoichi, The Ninja Girl by Sanae Ishida

My Grandma’s A Ninja by Todd Tarpley


Since ninjas must be agile, strong, and mentally sharp they must train their bodies and minds. This activity will have your child feeling like a ninja in training.



There are two options for materials. You can easily use stuff around your home or you can use martial arts gear.  To illustrate the activity, I used store bought gear. We had the items at home already!


Option 1- Store bought gear:

Option 2- Things around your home:

  • Small square pillows to punch
  • Bare hands
  • Post-it notes (for the older kid version of this activity)


This activity is so simple! Give your child a math fact that he or she can do in his or her head. It may be simple addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc.; It all depends on your child’s math level. When your child provides the answer he or she must punch the bags in an alternating fashion the same number of times as their answer. If the answer was seven, your child would punch the bags seven times.


Another option for older kids who may get very large answers, is to assign one bag as the tens and one bag as the ones. You can even label the bags. So, if your child gets an answer of 95, s/he would punch the “tens” bag nine times and the “ones” bag five times. For children learning base ten concepts, this option may be useful.


Empowering Parents To Teach- Ninja math


You can make this activity even simpler for toddlers by just giving your child a number and punching the bags in that same quantity. If your child tries to punch too fast and thus punches too many times, slow your child down and show him or her how to accurately punch while saying each number (1, 2, 3…). It’s about having one punch for each number stated. Your child will be practicing one to one correspondence by doing this.


Keep giving your ninja math facts until you sense they are losing interest or breath. :)


Empowering Parents To Teach- 5 Minute Math

Five Minute Math

I am very pleased to be a part of the Gifted Homeschoolers Forum’s blog hop, Educating Gifted Children: The Many Ways We Approach Their Learning.


My kids have experienced both homeschool and public school.  In this post, I will share one way we supplemented our children’s public school education at home. As parents of gifted children, we know that public school may not always be able to meet every need of our gifted learners so we often need to supplement our children’s education on our own. To me, it can be a tricky balance. I feel like after a long day at school, the last thing I want to do is give my child more work. I want them to play and have time to unwind. In order to keep after school time as low key as possible while still helping my children progress on their level, I started Five Minute Math.


For my children, math is one of their strengths. Their math ability is much higher than the level they are being taught in school.  My goal with Five Minute Math is for them to practice higher level math concepts that they already know so they don’t forget it! The practice time is short. I call it Five Minute Math because it should only take them 5-10 minutes to complete. The set up is really quite simple.  I just take a notebook and write a couple of math problems for them to solve.  I usually write 6-8 math problems covering various topics depending on what they know and what they are not getting practice on in school. Sometimes, the simplest solution is the best solution. For us, just a tiny bit of practice helped my children retain their math skills that may have otherwise been forgotten from disuse.


At one point my oldest son did this every day, but now that both boys get more homework they only do this about once a week. It’s so simple to do and my kids actually ask me for the math. I like that it is so easy to set up. I don’t have to scour the internet for worksheets that often have too many problems and print them out. I can adjust the the type of math problems every day as needed. All I need is a notebook and the knowledge of what my children are capable of and I can completely customize their practice problems.


This is what Five Minute Math looked like when my oldest was in first grade:

Empowering Parents To Teach- Five Minute Math


Five Minute Math worked for us, it may work for you too. It’s short, easy to set up, and keeps your child from forgetting math skills!


Be sure to visit the many other bloggers who share their insight, stories, and advice for parents of gifted children. Click here to read more!

GHF Blog Hop

Follow Gifted Homeschoolers Forum on Facebook: Click here


Empowering Parents To Teach- Squbed

Squbed Game: Learning Squares and Cubes

When my son was in first grade he said to me that he wanted to learn “everything there is to know about math.”  He is now ten and his love of mathematics has not waned.  Mental math is of particular interest to him as he constantly challenges himself to solve math problems in his head.  To help him in his quest, I designed this very simple game to help him memorize squares and cubes of numbers up to twenty.  He wants to have these memorized so that he can tackle harder math problems mentally. I don’t even have these memorized, but he finds this kind of stuff fun, so I’m happy to help! If you have a kid who loves math, s/he may enjoy this game too :)



  • Squbed game boards (4 included)
  • Number cards
  • Squares and Cubes Guide
  • Beans or other small objects
  • Envelope to store the number cards
  • Print Squbed materials here
  • Note: Laminate materials if possible for durability


How to play:

1. Choose one Squbed game board.  This game can be played with up to four players.

2. Place the number cards in the envelope.

3. Players take turns picking out a number card randomly.  Each card contains a number squared or cubed.  For example, one card shows 2 squared. If a player has the equivalent value of the card (in this example: 4) the player should cover the square with a bean or other small object.




Empowering Parents To Teach- Squbed


4. The first player who covers his or her entire board first is the winner.



  • I included the square and cube guide to help facilitate play until the squares and cubes are memorized.
  • I made each board a different color so that your child can keep track of which board or boards he or she used. After playing four times, with the four different boards, all of the squares and cubes will have been practiced at least once.


Have fun!






Make Ten

Hands-on Math: Make Ten (with free printable materials)

Ten is a special number. Because we use a base ten math system, it is important for kids to have a good understanding of ‘ten’. What does ten look like? What are its parts? For parents, I have included links at the bottom of this post to three articles about the importance of ten. I encourage you to read them before you try the activity with your child. They are incredibly informative and can help you guide your child at home.


A good working knowledge of ‘ten’ helps students with mental math.


One way teachers help students gain this ten knowledge is with ten frames and dot cards. Both of these visual devices help students conceptualize the number ten.  Ten frames typically look like a small 5 by 2 chart with five squares on the top and five on the bottom, all conjoined. Dots cards are simply different arrangements of dots on a piece of paper or flashcard.


In this activity, students will use a ten frame variation. The framework I created uses the same 5 by 2 arrangement. Instead of conjoined squares, I used circles. Think of it as a merger of the ten frame squares and the dot cards.



1. Dot frame (laminate if possible)

2. Number cards- two sets in two different colors (laminate if possible)

3. Record Page

4. Bear counters or other small object (preferably using two different colors)

5. Pencil

6. Small bowls for bears and one set of numbers

Dot frame, number cards, and record page can be printed FREE from here: Make Ten Printables.



1. Present your child with the materials. Show him or her the materials and count the circles together. Let your child know that s/he is going to use these materials to figure out what numbers can add together to make the number ten.


Red bowl: Red bears   Purple bowl: Purple bears Pink bowl: Red numbers

Red bowl: Red bears
Blue bowl: Blue bears
Pink bowl: Red numbers


2. Have your child choose a number from the bowl.

3. Place the number in the first dashed rectangle.


Make Ten


4. Have your child place the corresponding number of bears in the circles starting on the top left, filling the circles from left to right, top to bottom. *Note: The bears should all be the same color to distinguish this set of bears from the set they will use in another step.


Make Ten


5. Have your child fill in the empty circles with a second color of bears.




6. Have your child count or subitize (quickly recognize the number quantity without the need to count) the second group of bears.


7. Have your child place the corresponding numeral in the second dashed rectangle.





8. Have your child record the number combination on his or her record sheet.


Use math language. The two numbers that your child is finding are called addends. In this example, the 3 and 7 are addends.



Make Ten


9. Continue this procedure until all of the number cards have been used. Keep recording!



Once your child is ready to move past the concrete stage of manipulating the math bears, you can take away the bears and practice using just the number cards. Line up one set of numbers. Have your child pull out a number from the cup and match it with the addend that would make ten.


Make Ten


Make Ten


Make Ten


Is it getting easy? Your child may have the ten pairs memorized. Now you can simply give your child a number orally and ask what number s/he would add to make ten.  This will only take a minute or two. Ask your child to do this every day until you think she or he has them solidly memorized. This will make mental math easier :)



Don’t forget to read these articles first:

1. Number Sense Series: Developing Early Number Sense from  NRICH (click here)

2. Number Sense Series: A Sense of ‘ten’ and Place Value from NRICH (click here)

3. Ten Frames and Dot Cards from K-5 Math Teaching Resources (click here)  Great game suggestions too!


Remember, have fun together and follow your child’s lead! It’s ok if your child does things a little differently.  With the knowledge you’ve learned from these articles you will know what is important and why.  Focus on the big picture. There are many paths to understanding, trust your child and trust yourself.
Linked to:

Montessori Monday




Empowering Parents to Teach- Divisibility Rules Activity

Divisibility Rules Activity

As your child progresses in math, divisibility rules come in very handy. This activity focuses on the divisibility rules for 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, and 10. There are rules for more numbers, such as 8, 9, and 11 etc., however, I will focus on the ones previously listed. With these first seven rules learned your child will have a strong start with the most commonly used, and taught, divisibility rules. There are many uses for divisibility rules, such as prime factorization, fraction work, and of course division.


First, print out a divisibility rules chart for your child to use a reference. I created a very simple chart that is small enough to cut out and paste in a math notebook if needed. Show your child how s/he can determine if number is divisible by either 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, or 10 by following the rule for each one listed. I would go through them one at a time, making sure your child understands as you go along.



Materials needed:

Divisibility Rules Chart (click here)

Activity Printout (click here)

3 Dice




  1. Roll 3 dice.
  2. Put the dice together in a line. Use the numbers on the dice to form a three digit number.
  3. Referencing the divisibility rules chart, determine if the number is divisible by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, and 10.  Your child may need your help for the first one to get the hang of it.
  4. Put an X in the box of any divisible factors. For example, 246 is divisible by 2, 3, and 6 so the child should check the boxes for 2, 3, and 6.
  5. Repeat the process with more three digit numbers.


By the end of the activity, your child should become more and more comfortable with the rules and may even have them memorized.


Here’s a picture of my son doing the activity.  As you can see he modified the instructions by using check marks and Xs :)

Empowering Parents to Teach- Divisibility Rules Activity





Try this activity next:


Empowering Parents To Teach: Factor Trees

Click here for the activity