Daily Puzzle

First-grade students in Hong Kong breezed through this puzzle in 20 seconds.  Can you solve it?

Kindergarten Letter Tracing Workbooks

Kindergarten Letter Tracing Workbooks are here!   Practice capital and lower case letter tracing in two fun workbooks.  Print writing is an important fine motor activity for brain development and great additional to your homeschooling routine .    Get ready for a long summer with these fun workbooks on Amazon:

Welcome to Home School, Mom!

It does not matter whether you agree with the decision to close schools due to COVID-19, the new reality is home schooling for all!  Some U.S. school districts are way ahead of their game, others are lagging behind.   If you came across this post, you are probably looking for meaningful material for a home schooling curriculum.

I have to admit, I started looking into home schooling, as I started researching the new traveling and blogging lifestyle.   Just as I realized that homeschooling is really not for me as a parent, life threw a curve ball.  Now I am a working  and blogging parent with three home students :  we have a preschooler, a 5th grader and a 7th grader in the household.

I gave our school system a chance.  And without criticizing the school system too much, I realized that I need more!

This week we landed on Khan Academy!  They have a wonderful sample schedule for each age group.

In this post let’s start with the preschooler, who is way ready for Kindergarten and started reading Phonics Books.  My daughter loves doing  a preschool style schedule that she still remembers from preschool – complete with Show and Tell and Snack Time!

We are excited the release of our newest product on Amazon!

Sample Schedule:

8 – 9 am     Wake Up Morning Chores: Get Dressed, Breakfast, Make your Bed, Brush you Teeth, Brush your Hair

9am – 9:30am – Show and Tell; then Khan Academy Kids App

Do Khan Academy kids App together with your child.  This App starts at the
basics of letters, numbers, and social emotional learning and goes through the first grade standards in math, reading, writing and social emotional

9: 30 am – 10 am – Music 

Use Youtube to find Khan Academy Circle Time or any other fun songs for kids this age.  Today we did (Masha and the Bear Songs).

10 am – 10:30 am – Snack Time

11 am – 11:30 am – Khan Academy App Math
For students with stronger literacy and motor skills use Khan Academy App or login on your Chromebook.   We started with Preschool Math Lessons.   Ideally a parent or older sibling sits next to them while doing this.

11:30 am – Quick Recess

11:40 am – 12 am – Phonics Book Reading 

I like Apps, but books are a gold standard. I love the Hooked on Phonics Reading Program.

We have a reading reward poster hanging in the living room.  Once my daughter completes each workbook passage and phonics, we get a sticker on the reward poster!  Stickers are magic, when you are 5!

We made it to lunch and outdoor time! Now enjoy the fulfillment of having taught your child reading and math!  Enjoy lunch and head outdoor!  After all home schooling is no fun without outdoor time.  Playgrounds are closed due to COVID-19, but your can bike, roller blade and watch birds … at least in our state.

Stuck in a quarantine – get those workbooks out!

We are excited the release of our newest product on Amazon!

Have a preschooler in the house? Are you getting ready for Kindergarten ?  This fun colorful workbook is here to save the day!  Get ready for Kindergarten Gifted and Talented Programs in your school , or simply get ahead with not your straight ABCs and 123s.

This book features over 165 logic games and puzzles to work through with your bright little one!  Good luck and have fun!

-Smarty Buddy

How to deal with queen bees at school?

Dealing with bullying can be painful and excruciating for both the child and parents.  For parents who still remember bullies from their own childhood,  dealing with their own child’s problems might be even more painful.  I wanted to discuss how to deal with a special friendship type of bully – a queen bee.

The epitome of queen bees have been shown in the Mean Girls movie.  These are girls that at first might appear friendly and nice.  They have a following of minions or lambs who are loyal to the queen bee.  The queen bee manipulates friendships within the group of friends and any new girl is at first loved and welcomed.  Then manipulations start kicking in.


How to deal with queen bees:

  1. Get involved – talk and listen to you child
  2. Don’t initiate with the Queen Bee’s parents:  I made the mistake of contacting the mother of a mean girl — she hung up on me.  I  realized that ‘Queen Bee’ girls are usually the daughters of ‘Queen Bee’ mothers.  These mothers can actually turn on your daughter faster than you can get any help.
  3. Encourage your child to make new friends, and separate herself from the bullying clique as much as possible.
  4. Contact  the school  – start with the school counselor.  Do not take the bullying lightly.  Ask your school counselors  exactly how they plan to deal with these types of bullying incidents.
  5.  Don’t reinvent the wheel
    Queen bees and bullying are a generation old problem.  Get some books on pareting and psychology in your books store or Amazon.

    I recommend the book, Queen Bees and Wannabees, by Rosalind Wiseman.


For my daughter, it was very helpful to understand the hierarchies within a clique and the roles the members play.  Seeing the situation with that objectivity made the ‘meanness’ seem less personal to her.  She recognized how the mean girls at her school were using power plays and emotional games that she didn’t want to feed into.




Math Analogies

We all remember analogies from the SAT tests we took back in high school.  But did you know that mathematical reasoning can be trained with math analogies? This is a pretty fun way to work with your child on short math problems.

Check out these sample math analogy problems:

Find the analogy:

2 hours : 120 :: 3 hours : ?

123 : 12 tens :: 567 : ?

Pentagon : 5 :: Octagon : ?

45 : 55 :: 65 : ?

10, 20 : 30 :: 40, 50 : ?

Math Analogy
Math Analogy

For more sample problems check out the Math Analogy Workbook, now on sale on Amazon:

How to get ready for the Geography Bee

Geography Bee

The official National Geographic Bee started in 1989, a time when the world was changing rapidly. Today, over ten thousand schools—12% of the nation’s total—and approximately four million students participate.[1] With such stiff competition, the eventual winner will have to be prepared!

Gather your materials. You will need a world map, an atlas, a geography textbook, and blank map outlines to practice labeling. There are also books dedicated to succeeding in the bee itself. Make sure that all of your materials are up to date.

  • Since many people no longer rely on maps to get where they need to go, reading and understanding one may not come naturally to you. Make sure you know what you are looking at, how different features are represented, and what the map can tell you.
Understand that geography is a broad field and that you will need to know about much more than the Earth’s physical features. At its core, it is about people, the places they live, and how these people and places affect each other. To succeed in the bee, you need to learn as much as possible about how culture, society, and politics have evolved across the globe. Geographers have developed different categories for doing this.[2]
  • Physical geography describes the Earth’s physical landscape, including its seasons, climate, soil, water, and land. It also takes into account how human have changed these systems. Climatology, for instance, is a part of physical geography that looks at both the natural world and human behavior.
  • Human geography is even more interested in humans both affect and are affected by location. It explores where people live and why, as well as how people’s behavior affects those living both around them and across the globe. It also focuses on how beliefs and behaviors travel from one area to another.
  • Geographic techniques involve different ways of describing and representing the Earth’s landscape and processes. Cartography (map making) has long been an important geographic technique, but today the field also involves data culled from satellites and analyzed by sophisticated computer programs.
  • Regional geography involves characteristics of the other categories, but its practitioners focus their attention on a specific region. A regional geographer will use different geographic techniques to study the landscapes and people of their chosen region, be it a continent or a city.


Pay attention to the news. Although the earth’s features usually change slowly, national borders, international relations, and scientific knowledge can change very rapidly—sometimes overnight. Know that any of these developments are fair game in the bee.

  • Newspapers, radio, television, and the Internet are all good sources for news, but make sure your sources are reliable. Consume a wide variety of sources to make sure you are getting the most comprehensive picture possible.

Learn from previous years’ competitions. This will help you learn the kinds of questions to expect and where to focus your studying.

  • Talk to older students who participated in the bee. What was their most effective study habit? What do they wish they had done differently? Take their advice into consideration when planning your own preparation.
  • However, don’t think that you can just focus on the same subject areas as other people. Talking to them can give you a sense of the level of detail exam runners will be looking for, but not the content. You’re on your own for that!
  • Emulate previous years’ winners. 2015 winner Karan Menon has said that he studied for at least one or two hours per day. He also stressed the importance of using different kinds of sources and studying all aspects of geography, including current events.[3]
Involve friends and family. It will be up to you on test day, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get help along the way.
  • Recruit a parent or other adult to quiz you on bee questions. They will probably be learning something, too.
  • If you are studying with a group of friends, stage mock bees. Try to mimic the conditions of the bee as closely as possible. The friendly competition will give you practice answering questions under pressure.

Q & A: What kind of questions will the judges be asking me?

The questions change every year. Remember your capitals, bodies of water, mountain ranges, and mountains, as well as currencies and demographics.

What should I study for the geography bee?

Know the locations and facts about countries, cities, capital cities, continents and major bodies of water.

What if you study a lot, and lose the school bee?

That’s okay. A lot of people are going to study a lot, but only one person can win. Just do your best and accept it if you don’t win.

Where is the national geography bee located?

Washington DC, at the National Geographic headquarters.

*Source: Wikihow, 2019

Elementary GT Identification and Instructional Recommendation Processes

Today we continue posting information about gifted and talented identification at one of the largest school districts in the country (*Source MCPS publication):

During the second semester, all Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) grade 2 students will be screened as part of the Student Instructional Program Planning and Implementation (SIPPI) process.  Additionally, during the second semester, students in Grades 3, 4 and 5 who are new to MCPS are screened as part of the New Student Screening process; students who have been recommended for rescreening by parents or school staff in Grades 3, 4 and 5 are screened as part of the Rescreening process.  The elementary GT identification processes are designed to capture data about students’ strengths for gifted and talented designation and for instructional planning for the next school year. Regardless of the recommendations made, students’ strengths that are demonstrated through these processes and through students’ daily instructional performance will be supported and extended. Although students do not need to be formally identified as gifted and talented to receive enrichment and/or acceleration, this process allows schools
to look at a student’s profile more holistically. With support, effort, and good study skills, all children can excel academically.

At the end of the screening processes in June, parents are provided with a Parent Report that summarizes their student’s performance on the InView ™ cognitive assessment, instructional recommendations for the next school year; and gifted and talented identification designation.

What cognitive assessments are administered?

All Grade 2 Students:
Grade 2 students take all five subtests of the InView™ Level 1: Sequencing, Analogical Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning-Words and Verbal Reasoning-Context.

New Student Screening:
Grade 3, 4 and 5 students, who are new to MCPS, take all five subtests of the InView™ Level 1 (Grade 3) or InView Level 2 (Grades 4 and 5): Sequencing, Analogical Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Verbal Reasoning-Words and Verbal Reasoning-Context.

Grade 3, 4 and 5 students can be re-assessed on all five subtests of the InView™ Level 1 (Grade 3) or InView Level 2 (Grades 4 and 5) if they did not meet benchmark on any subtest. Students are identified for rescreening by the local school committee or by parent request. Rescreening occurs during the school’s specified assessment dates.

What data are gathered in the elementary GT identification processes?

The elementary GT identification processes use data gathered from a variety of sources. Multiple sources of data allow for emerging strengths to be noted and nurtured. Students who demonstrate strengths across several of these areas can be recommended for gifted and talented identification.

Specific data sources include:
 Staff advocacy
 Teacher survey
 Parent Input form
 InView™ cognitive assessment data
 Classroom performance data in reading and mathematics

What does the cognitive assessment data mean?
Cognitive assessments measure developed, not innate, reasoning abilities. The InView™ cognitive assessment can help guide teachers to adapt  instruction and provide appropriate critical thinking learning

What do the InView™ scores mean?
InView™ scores are reported as age-normed national percentile scores. A score of 60 indicates that a student performed better than 60% of students of his/her age that took this assessment. For purposes of using the score as a factor in gifted and talented identification, MCPS considers a score of 80 or higher as one possible

Students who show strength in sequencing comprehend a rule or principle implicit in a pattern or sequence of figures, letters, or numbers. These students can analyze the pattern established in a row of figures, letters, or numbers, then select the answer choice that would continue or complete the pattern.  Students demonstrating this strength should be given opportunities to infer, recognize special patterns  and progressions, and make sense of parts in relation to a whole. As this is a non-verbal assessment,  students may demonstrate this strength while still developing verbal and quantitative skills.

Analogical Reasoning
Students who show strength in analogical reasoning are able to recognize the nature of the relationship  between two items and select an answer that will produce a parallel relationship. These students should  be given opportunities across all content areas to build classification and problem solving skills. These  students should be given many opportunities to explain relationships and connections in their learning.

Quantitative Reasoning
Students who show strength in quantitative reasoning often have the ability to:
 Draw logical conclusions
 Identify arithmetic patterns
 Model complex relationships
 Infer relationships among data
 Apply deductive math reasoning
Students demonstrating strength in this area should have a math experience that routinely includes enrichment opportunities.

Verbal Reasoning – Words and Context
Students who show strength in verbal reasoning show potential in logic, inferencing and complex  reasoning. Students who perform well in this area do best when they are encouraged to talk and/or write about whatever it is they are learning. They should be provided opportunities for in-depth textual analysis  (i.e., interpreting symbolism and figurative language of stories) and writing.

How are decisions about instruction and gifted and talented identification made?
Each school convenes a diverse committee of professional school staff members to review all data gathered for each student. Committee members note strengths that have been demonstrated and make instructional recommendations for the next school year accordingly. Next, the committee reviews the data to make a gifted and talented designation for each student. Students not identified gifted and talented can be rescreened at
least one year after their initial screening when requested by parents or school staff.

Is previous identification as gifted and talented from another school district considered?
If a student has been given a “gifted and talented” designation in another school system, MCPS will accept that designation. The parent/guardian should submit the assessment data and gifted and talented designation
information to the local school. It will be requested that these students still participate in the MCPS’ screening  process(es) described above so schools may gather additional data to inform instructional decisions.

What’s the InView™ Test?

In many school districts January is the month of gifted testing!  Let’s talk about the InView™ Test.

The InView™ Test is a cognitive abilities aptitude test that aims to measure cognitive skills and abilities that are essential for academic success.  It is frequently used as an entrance exam for gifted and talented programs throughout the United States.

Currently, all second graders (and new students) in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) in Montgomery County, Maryland take the Inview Test  to be screened for the gifted and talented  programs in elementary schools. School districts in North Carolina, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin,  and Wyoming also use the Inview test to assess 2nd graders (and in some school districts  5th graders) for gifted and talented programs.

The Inview Test Format

The Terra Nova Inview Test has been designed to assess students in grades 2-12.   While many of the placement tests such as the SCAT, CogAT, OLSAT tests are computerized, the Inview test is a  paper and pencil test.   The test is divided in to five  sections: sequences, analogies, quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning-words, and verbal reasoning-context.

The Inview Test Difficulty Levels are as follows:

  • Level 1: Grades 2-3
  • Level 2: Grades 4-5
  • Level 3: Grades 6-7
  • Level 4: Grades 8-9
  • Level 5: Grades 10-11
  • Level 6: Grades 11-12

Typically, for a gifted and talented placement test students are offered a test with a difficulty level one grade ahead of their current grade.  So for example 2nd graders will be offered a Level 1, and 3rd graders a Level 2 test.

The Inview Test Content

The test assesses students in verbal and nonverbal questions. The nonverbal sections are the sequences, analogies, and quantitative reasoning sections.  Each section is approximately 20 questions long. All of the questions are multiple choice questions.

Sequences:  The sequence section contains sequences of  letters, numbers, shapes and/or figures.  The student must select the answer that logically completes the sequence. They are provided with four possible answer choices.

Analogies: This section aims to test the concept of analogies in a non-verbal format.  The question will contain  a table with two rows of images. The first pair of images will have a specific logical relationship. The student will need to determine the relationship between the first pair of images and then choose the image that has the same logical relationship with the third image.

Quantitative Reasoning: For these questions, your child will need to understand basic numerical concepts like “more,” “less,” “most,” and “least.” She will then need to be able to apply this understanding to images and figures. For example, she may be asked to determine which of four grids has the most black area shaded.

The verbal score is comprised of the verbal reasoning-words and verbal reasoning-context sections.

Verbal Reasoning-Words: This question type measures the ability to understand relationships between words.

For example, your child may be given a list of words like the following: “Cool, cold, freezing,” followed by, “Warm, ___, boiling.” Four choices would then be provided to fill in the blank, with the correct choice being “hot.”

Verbal Reasoning-Context: These questions involve the ability to make logical inferences based on provided information.

For example, your child may be given two statements such as, “Alice likes all of her teachers. Mrs. Lee is Alice’s teacher.” Based on these statements, your child would need to choose the most logical conclusion from a list of four choices. In this case, the correct answer would be, “Alice likes Mrs. Lee.”

InView Test Scores

After your child takes the TerraNova InView test, you will receive a score report with her NPA (percentile by age) and NPG (percentile by grade), both overall and for each individual section. Percentiles range from 1-99 and represent your child’s performance compared to a national sample of children in the same grade and of the same age. For example, if your child scores in the 90th percentile, she scored as well or higher than 90% of children in her age and/or grade group.

You will also receive a CSI (Cognitive Skills Index) that provides a measurement of your child’s overall academic aptitude, based on the cognitive skills assessed with this test. The CSI has a ceiling of 141, a mean of 100, and a standard deviation of 16. Typically, a child is considered “gifted” if she scores a 132 or higher.

The TerraNova InView test scores that qualify for admission to gifted programs vary by school district. In many cases, your child will be required to score in the 97th percentile overall. However, it is always best to call your district and ask about qualifying test scores in order to know for sure.

In many cases, the TerraNova InView test is administered as a component of the TerraNova 3rd Edition, an achievement test that measures abilities in core academic subjects. If this is the case, your child will receive an Anticipated Score and an Achievement Score. The Anticipated Score is an average of what a student with your child’s age, grade, and ability level should be expected to achieve. The Achievement Score is your child’s actual performance on the test.

Comparing the Anticipated Score and Achievement Score can give you an idea of whether or not your child is reaching her full potential academically. If the two scores are close, your child is making expected progress. Scores that are significantly different from expected are indicated with “above” or “below” on the score report.

Benefits of the TerraNova InView Test

The TerraNova InView Test provides an accurate and reliable measurement of deductive, inductive, and quantitative reasoning abilities, all of which are crucial to academic achievement. For this reason, it gives teachers, parents, and schools insightful information about student skills that can be a valid predictor of the student’s academic capability and success. It is a useful tool to identify students for placement in the most appropriate learning group.

How to Succeed on TerraNova InView Test

Assessments such as this one are meant to be resistant to preparation, but you can still help familiarize your child with the question types and build her confidence. Work on practice questions related to analogies, sequences, basic math concepts, word relationships, and inferences. Work test concepts like “more” and “less” into everyday conversation, or give your child a pair of words and ask her to determine how they are related.

Most importantly, remind your child that one test cannot fully measure her abilities and certainly not her worth as a person. Text anxiety can overwhelm children on test day and dramatically impact both their stress levels and their scores. Help your child feel prepared and confident about the test without putting too much pressure on her.

Hopefully we’ve answered all of your questions about the TerraNova Inview test. Begin practicing about two months prior to the test to give your child the best chance of success and, if applicable, admittance to your district’s gifted program.

We designed the Smarty Buddy App and Smarty Buddy Inview Books to help kids get familiar with test format.  Let’s face it, sometimes an unfamiliar test question in a stressful test situation that 2nd graders are not used to can really ruin a child’s performance!  Every child deserves to be offered a spot in the most advanced programs.  The pacements tests are a subjective determination created by a school system administrator.  We as parents and educators believe in offering parents and their children the opportunity to learn about the test format and have a positive test taking experience!

The Smarty Buddy App was designed based on the types of questions a child might encounter on the Inview and similar gifted placement tests.

Smarty Buddy App
Smarty Buddy App

The full version game features 3 grade levels, 5 test topics, and 3 levels of difficulty. With over 670 questions to play, this fun game can complement or replace any worksheet test preparation. Now on all App Stores!

Test Topics: Number Sequences, Picture Sequences, Picture Analogies, Quantitative and Number Puzzles

Features: Positive reinforcement through game badges; progress reports for parents.

The Smarty Buddy CogAT Practice Book is a workbook designed to give any child the opportunity to get familiar with CogAT question format.  For a hands on approach of testing at home with mom and dad – try practicing with our workbooks and apps.  Your child will feel more confident on test day, and you will feel assured that you provided the best educational resource  for your child to get ahead!

Check out our products on Amazon and All App Stores!

Good Luck and your opinion is very important to us! Leave us a review!

Elementary school aged kids:

  1. Smarty Buddy Inview Practice – Level 1 
  2. Smarty Buddy Inview Practice – Level 2
  3. Smarty Buddy CoGAT Practice
  4. Smarty Buddy SCAT  Practice
  5. Smarty Buddy Gifted and Talented Test  Practice
  6. Smarty Buddy App on Ios, Kindle, Android
  7. Smarty Buddy Multiplication App on IOS, Kindle, Android
  8. Smarty Buddy Division App on IOS, Kindle, Android
  9. Smarty Buddy Grade 1 Math App on IOS, Kindle, Android

Pre-school aged kids:

  1. Smarty Buddy My First Analogies

Math Olympiad (Kangaroo or other)

Math Olympiad questions can seem rather daunting. And rightly so – a well set Olympiad question will test your fundamentals and analytical skills, and challenge your way of thinking.

In solving Math Olympiad types of questions, you generally need to be able to think quickly on your feet – one factor that makes these questions harder is that the time available to you is limited. A second factor is that you may have negative marking for wrong  answer, so sometimes it would seem better to leave the question rather than putting in an answer you are not sure about. To add to the confusion, sometimes it is possible that more than one answer is correct.

So how do you tackle this. The first step is of course is “Don’t Panic”. Take a deep breath, relax, read the questions and do your best.

In this article we talk about some general practices you should follow. In the next part of this article, we’ll talk about some specific mathematical techniques that could help you tackle such exams better.

The first step is make sure all your resources are there with you – pencils, erasers, spare paper for computations (if allowed). It seems trivial, but these are things that you don’t want to worry about once the test starts. Now, start reading the test.

Math Puzzle


There’s no standards here – different people do it in different ways. Some people start from a fixed location, typically the beginning of the paper, but some folks even like to start at the end (the theory being that the examiners would have gotten tired of finding tough questions, and would start putting easier questions towards the end – of course, no sensible examiner would set papers that way). Some other folks like to look for questions in topics they are familiar in, and try those first.  Whatever approach you are comfortable with is fine.

The most important thing, and this is where a lot of people make their mistake –  read the question completely and carefully. Spend as much time you need on this part. Any mistake you make here will ensure you get the wrong answer.

Let me repeat this – read the question carefully and completely. Find out what the question is really all about. Take careful note of all the values and data provided in the quesion.

Then, and only then, should you start trying to find the answer.

And once you have solved it, or think you have – check that your answer indeed is what the question is asking for (If, for example, the question asked for speed of a car, and you have 121 seconds as your answer – something has gone wrong)

Second, keep track of the time. Keep a general idea of how much time you have per question. It need not be exact – for example, if you have 2 hours and there are 50 questions, just think that you’ll have about 2 minutes per question. Of course, you may do some questions faster, but keep this general timeframe in mind per question. If you are completely confident of a question, you could take a little more time (say 3 minutes) on it, but generally try not to spend more than the computed time per question.  In fact, ideally you should target leaving the last 10 minutes for a quick revision.

Now, if you haven’t attempted all the questions when you find there are 10 or so minutes left then it’s time to start picking and choosing from the remaining questions. Run through them quickly to see which ones look easiest for you to solve. Then try those. The next tip is on using your spare paper effectively. It can get very messy quickly, so you should mark off specific areas for questions for which you need to use the spare paper for computation. You could use a grid kind of structure if that helps – but the aim is to use it effectively and neatly. And make sure that for questions where you use it, copy all the values correctly to the spare sheet. Double check it, and triple check. Do the same thing while copying the answer back.

(Source: Edugain Blog)