Informal Math Alternatives

Math doesn't have to be boring, and as
home-based educators we are very fortunate because we can choose to use alternative, hands-on activities to help our kids gain a greater understanding of how math works in the real world.
We also have the awesome opportunity to show them how cool, useful, interesting, and fun math can be!
If you're interested in using a real-life math approach, but you are not sure where to begin, I offer the following sparks (activities) and a few of their benefits:


Make Your Own: Candy Countdown Calendar - After designing and making your calendar, count down the days to the holiday you made it for.

Symbols, Shapes, Letters, & Numbers Game - This game helps people to learn symbols, shapes, letters, and numbers in a less stressful way, and offers them a reason to write/draw them. It also offers players a chance to be as creative as they want to be. If the player creates a scene, or a picture, then creative thinking skills is an added benefit.

An Eggcellent Game - This timing game encourages players to compare their progress each time they play the game.

Roll-n-Score - Make and decorate your own game and keep track of your score on a piece of paper.

8 Ideas for Homemade Water & Nerf Gun Targets - Use recycled items in a creative way to make targets to encourage scoring.

Bottle Roll Bullseye - A simple game that encourages score keeping.

Yacht - Dice Game: The benefits of the game Yacht and how to play it. Links and videos.

Building/Constructing (Engineering)

Inspiring People: Cardstacker - Turn a simple deck or two of playing cards into an amazing structure. This activity is a natural form of engineering and requires creative and critical thinking skills.  

Stacking Cup Challenge - How quickly can you stack a bunch of cups and take them down? This activity is also a natural form of engineering and requires players to think and act quickly.


Code Breaker (scroll down to Play Games) - Turn simple to make stamps into a code breaking guessing game that gets players thinking. 

Rainbow Codes - This activity brings science, language, and math skills together in one activity. Players think of what they want to say, write it down in a certain way, and offer it to someone to solve.


Make Your Own: Cocoa Bubble Bath/Body wash - Purchase and measure to make your own, personalized bubbles or body wash. 

Make Your Own Scented Play Clay - Measure the ingredients to make your own clay, then create whatever you like with it.

Marshmallows - Purchase and measure to make these tasty treats.

Spark of the Day: Pom - Pom Shooter - After making a simple pom-pom shooter, measure how far can a pom-pom go! 


Carton Creations - Most creative projects use math to help figure out what the final outcome with will look like. This is an open-ended activity and can be turned into a game, toy, or a useful item.

Glowing Halloween LanternHarvest Thanksgiving LanternGlowing Lantern- Turn an ordinary carton into a holiday lantern. Math is needed to figure out how to cut and place the windows in this project.

Make Your Own Gift Wrap - Use recycled and simple items to decorate your own gift wrap and boxes. Some of these activities include folding projects.

Fall Cut-Outs - This creative craft project can be used for any season.

4th-of July America's Independence Day - This post includes some activities that are mathematical in nature.

Origami/Paper Folding (Geometry)

Paper Planes - Learn how to fold simple and intricate paper planes and measure how far they can go.

Make Folded Hand Puppet - Fold paper in a variety of ways and create a one of a kind puppet. 

Halloween Origami - Have fun folding Halloween icons.

3-D Ornaments - Turn a variety of 3-D shapes into festive ornaments or something else.

Holiday & Winter Origami  - Fold up a variety of winter and holiday icons.


Valentine's Day: Make Homemade Valentines (scroll down to activity) - Turn a simple heart into a mathematical art project.

Pumpkin Face Game (scroll down to activity) - Use a variety of geometric shapes to make a one of a kind pumpkin.

Spark of the Day: Symbols of Fall Twist Balloons - Use simple twist balloons to make unique mathematical shapes.

Make Your Own GravestonesRounded Gravestone - The rectangular stone is a fun and creative project, the rounded one is more mathematically involved.

Pop & Play Dart Game - Make your own dart game with a twist.

Tangrams - Various geometrical shapes form a variety of interesting shapes.

The Circle - The circle is a fascinating and versatile shape. The activity in this post encourages fraction use.

Polyhedrons - This post offers a variety of projects that can be explored.

Christmas: Make a Christmas Shape ElfMake a Heart-faced Santa - Use your imagination and creativity to turn simple shapes into interesting holiday icons.

10 Fun Projects You Can Do With Symmetry - This post gets your creative juices flowing with geometry.

Spirals - Find spirals in nature and make your own spiral art projects.

Geometric Designs - Explore a variety of geometric designs. Make your own coloring/art projects.

Fractals - Look for fractals in nature and make some of your own.

Star Shape - Turn an ordinary circle into a star, learn about different types of stars and make a variety of stars.

Heart Activities - Origami and craft projects with a heart theme.

Magic Square Puzzles - Resources for Magic square puzzles include: Printable and online puzzles, and information about how to solve them.

Yacht - Dice Game: The benefits of the game Yacht and how to play it. Links and videos.

World Math

Spark of the Day: Roman Numerals - Learn Roman numerals, add, subtract, divide and multiply with them.

Logic/Thinking Activities/Games/Observation

Make Your Own: Tic-Tac-Toe Game Board - Tic-Tac-Toe offers players a logical challenge. This activities challenges player to make their own unique game board and playing pieces.

More benefits to come...

Solitaire Challenge #1: Peg Solitaire - 

Make Your Own: 'What's Missing' Picture - 

Last One Standing

Stacking Cup Challenge

Card Flipping Challenge

Petals Around The Rose

Bottle Cap Memory


Science Math


Mini Marble Run

Cook Your Lunch Outside

Snowflake Activities & Resources

Snowflake Math

Language & Math

Create Comic

Follow Me

Symbols, Shapes, Letters, & Numbers Game


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Note: If this, or any other post on Fran's World of Discovery, has inspired you in a positive way, or you have featured it in a blog post, please comment and link back to where it can be found! Thank you!

Sea Turtles

Sea Turtles
Defenders: Sea Turtles - Basic facts about sea turtles: Diet, population, range, behavior, reproduction, etc.

SeeTurtles: Sea Turtle Facts - Habitat & Diet, Human Threats, Life Cycle, Species

World Wildlife Federation: Sea Turtle - General information.

Sea Turtle Conservancy - Information about sea turtles, their habitats and threats to their survival.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment - Habitat & Distribution: Distribution, habitat, migration, population, etc.

National Geographic Kids - Green Sea Turtle - General information.

Wikipedia: Sea Turtles - Description, taxonomy and evolution, distribution and habitat, life cycle and more.


Connect with Fran's World of Discovery!

Note: If this, or any other post on Fran's World of Discovery, has inspired you in a positive way, or you have featured it in a blog post, please comment and link back to where it can be found! Thank you!

Ways To Repel and Control Whiteflies, Naturally

Signs of Whitefly
Whiteflies can be really hard to get rid of once you get them, especially if you live in warmer climates! Personally, I do not like to use any kind of chemicals in my garden, so finding natural solutions to common pest problems like the whitefly is really important to me.

How to repel and control whiteflies - Naturally 

Here are some of the solutions I've been using and finding effective to keep whiteflies mostly under control.

  • Spray leaves with water to remove any whiteflies currently on the plant, then spray the top and bottom of all the leaves with a natural insecticidal soap. Commercial or homemade. 

  • Pick off any leaves that have the swirling signs of whitefly larvae. Crush and mash them up before discarding. If you put the infected leaves straight into the compost bin as they are, they will hatch and cause a bigger problem! (Guess how I know that!)

*If you choose to put infected leaves in the compost bin as they are, break them down with a shovel, then cover them completely with compost dirt and don't disturb them for a few days!

Once the infected leaves have been removed, spray both sides of the plant's leaves with a homemade solution of insecticidal soap and neem oil. There are natural commercial brands available as well, but I find having the ability to make my own much more convenient and cost effective.

For my homemade solution, I put 1 tsp of neem oil into a spray bottle, add warm water, then 1T of a liquid dish soap with lemon, and shake well before spraying the leaves. 

Plant flowers and herbs that repel or deter whitefly.

Another solution that I've been trying, and have found successful, is to plant flowers and herbs around the garden that deter or repel whitefly. Here are some of the flowers and herbs that keep whitefly away:

Flowers: Artemisias, Marigolds (French & Mexican), Nasturtiums
Herbs: Basil, Peppermint, Thyme

Here are a couple of sites with some other strategies for repelling and controlling whiteflies:

Choosing to garden by using a chemical free approach is time consuming, but totally worth it in my opinion.

If you know of some other ways to repel/control/prevent whiteflies naturally, please feel free to leave me a comment about it!

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Peas are a cool-season crop that come in three varieties: A garden pea with an inedible skin, and snow and snap peas, both with an full-sized peas and an edible pod.

How to grow: Instructions for zone 9, more information can be found for other regions (3-11) in the "more info" section below.

Growing Information

Planting time: Cool-weather


Direct Sow Outdoors: September- Feb/March in other areas 4-6 weeks before last frost date.

Germination Time: 7-14 days depending on variety and soil conditions.

Grow Height:
Garden: 28-32"
Snap Peas: 48-72"
Snow Peas: 36+"
Spacing: Plant: 2" Thin to 4-6" apart, Rows: 18-24"
Tip: Use a trellis, netting, wire, string, pole, or tomato cage to support plant as it grows.

Spread: 6-8"

Soil: Loamy. Compost and manure can be added to the soil.  PH: Neutral
Fertilizer: Peas do not need a lot of fertilizer, but like phosphorus and potassium.
Tip: Before planting, add wood ash, and a little bonemeal to the soil.

Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun

Hardiness: Can handle moderate freezes. Light damage can encourage secondary shoots.

Harvest: Eat within 5 days of picking.
Garden: 60-65 Days
Snap Peas: 70 Days
Snow Peas: 58 Days

Fruit Size: 3"

Companion Plants: Beans, carrots, celery, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, lettuce, melons, parsnips, peppers, potatoes, radishes, spinach, tomatoes, turnip, marjoram, sage
Avoid: Onion, garlic, leeks, shallots, chives

Pests/Problems: Aphids, Mexican bean beetles, woodchucks, fusarium wilt, powdery mildew can strike in warm weather. Pea enation mosaic virus, pea leaf roll virus, root rot
Solutions: Plant disease-resistant pea varieties. Practice crop rotation to prevent root rot. Nasturtiums can help repel aphids, Mexican bean beetles and whiteflies. Control fusarium wilt disease. Deter woodchucks with pepper spray, talcum powder, or dog urine. Powdery mildew can be treated with a neem oil solution, or a sprayed with a solution of 1T baking soda, 1 gallon of water, and 1/2 tsp of liquid soap.

Water: Water deeply once a week and never allow soil to dry out totally, as this will reduce pea production. In hot weather, water daily if needed. Never water log plants. Don't allow soil to dry out when peas are germinating, blooming or when pods are swelling.
Plants need 1/2" of water weekly until they bloom, then 1" a week until pods fill out.

Propagation: Pick mature peas, remove the seeds and allow them to dry out.

Nutrition Facts: 1 Cup Serving: 118 calories, .6g fat, 21g Carbs, 8g Protein, A good source of: Vitamins A, K, C, & B vitamins, Iron, Potassium, Magnesium, copper, phosphorus, folate, and dietary fiber

Health Benefits: Peas are low in fat and contain nutrients that may prevent: stomach cancer, wrinkles, aging, heart disease, osteoporosis, and other diseases. They can also help regulate blood sugar and reduce bad cholesterol.

How to grow, prepare, & eat:


More Information:

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