## Math Can Take You Places – #Fractonia Included

FRACTONIA is a short novel for young readers that was intentionally created as an informal learning experience. This story takes a topic from mathematics (fractions, in this case) out of the classroom and into an imaginary world of exploration and discovery. The reader is encouraged to leave behind his or her mental image of what a fraction is, in order to consider a completely different image of what a fraction could be. Changing the way a student imagines a concept or topic can open the door to a “clean slate” relearning experience. When preconceived ideas are no longer posing as formidable obstacles to learning, the educator is given a second chance to lay a solid foundation in the fundamentals.

I wrote FRACTONIA in response to how some young students I know were experiencing fractions. In battling the fraction monster, some students had sadly come to believe that they were simply incapable of understanding fractions or how to work with them. Once a student is convinced they cannot have victory over the monster, there is little teachers and parents can do to change the student’s mind. Young learners with this view grow into older students that fear and hate mathematics. I set out to write a story that would help the readers repaint their mental image of the fraction monster. Fractions should not make anyone feel stupid. Most people have the capacity to understand and work with basic fractions.  I wanted to share a story that would get the reader to be able to look past the intimidating numbers and mathematical operators, and allow them to see that mathematics is a language communicating ideas and describing images of the world we live in.

A short except from FRACTONIA (Chapter 4):

“Where is Miss Brady and the rest of my class?” Matthew decided it was time to outsmart Miss Brady’s hypnotist. Matthew was determined to show the crafty man that he was not entirely under his spell. Yes, he couldn’t explain why the man looked more like a giant mosquito than a man, but that didn’t mean he had to pretend that he had lost the ability to think.

“Miss Brady?” A small, silver plate about the size of a credit card suddenly appeared in the hand (or would it be the paw or the claw?) of Merc. The plate vibrated, buzzed a little, and then vanished. Merc looked up and confidently announced, “No “Brady” in the Royal Service Extraordinaire, and no “Miss” amongst the Numo Regulars, either.”

Matthew’s look of bewilderment elicited another hearty laugh from Merc. “This must be your first time in Fractonia. You don’t know what I am talking about, do you?” Merc asked.

Matthew sighed deeply, suddenly feeling overwhelmed and unsure of himself. He shook his head vigorously as he sensed the threat of tears. “No. No, I don’t have any idea what is happening to me. Are you a hypnotist? Am I dreaming or hallucinating?” Matthew felt torn between his mind’s interpretation of his experience and what his physical senses were telling him was real. What was Merc? Could someone make him imagine something as sophisticated and extraordinary as Merc?

“No, Math, you are not dreaming. You did not imagine me. I am not a hypnotist, although I did once give a speech that put a bunch of entities to sleep. You are not hallucinating. You have simply been translated.” Merc stopped for a moment to let his words sink in.

“Right now, you are in Fractonia. Judging by your appearance, I can guess that you are a human male from the Earth world. Juvenile. Perhaps somewhere between ten and fifteen Earth years in age. Am I right? I am quite the expert, you know. I can identify over fourteen trillion species from over eight million realms. By the way, I am the Communications Officer with the Inter-Realm Royal Service Extraordinaire. I have been working at the Fractonia Outpost for the past seven million three hundred and forty-nine thousand two hundred and fifteen yonkinots.” Merc smiled reassuringly. “Do you still feel as if you are dreaming?”

FRACTONIA is available in print and digital format. (Use the links on “print” or “digital” to buy the book directly from Lulu, or google the title to find it at your favorite online booksellers.) To create a special Fractonia gift set for a young reader, I recommend combining FRACTONIA with the accompanying paperback coloring book: COLOR the REALM of FRACTONIA. The coloring book includes many of the illustrations that you will see in the novel, plus some extra characters that are mentioned, but not illustrated, in FRACTONIA. Additional FRACTONIA goodies, such as t-shirts, hoodies, water bottles, stickers, stationery, and pillows (which are ideal as gifts or classroom prizes) are available from Café Press.

## Colorable Christmas Cards in the Color the Carols BIG COMBO

The Color the Carols BIG COMBO is a sensory experience that focuses on coloring and listening. This COMBO includes a colorable Christmas card, in addition to a Christmas-themed, adult-friendly coloring book. This post addresses some of the questions asked about the Christmas cards included in the BIG COMBO.

1. 1. How many Christmas cards are in each BIG COMBO?
The BIG COMBO packs are created by including ONE A2-sized colorable card from a set of my Christmas designs. Although the theme is still Christmas, these designs are not repeats of what you will find in the COMBO’s COLOR the TRUMPET CAROLS Christmas coloring book. Each BIG COMBO has a randomly selected card design, so there is no way to guess which card is in your pack until you open your package.
2. Is there a message inside the card?
Each card design incorporates a Christmas-focused scripture on the front, and the card is left blank inside so you can add your own personal message. The designs are easy to color, so feel free to pass the coloring task on to one of the younger members of your household, if you don’t have time to fill the card with color. You might even twist the little someone’s arm to write the message inside for you. Seeing your child’s handwriting in a greeting card can make the experience of receiving a card in the mail an extra special experience for a loved one.
3. “What will the design on this mystery card look like?”
I thought it best to let the set of six designs speak for themselves. Two of the six designs are in landscape format, and four are portrait styled designs. There are angels, Mary with the baby Jesus, word play abstract designs, the wise men, and a three-panel nativity scene. The COLOR the CAROLS BIG COMBO will only contain one randomly selected, colorable card. If you would like to purchase the complete set of cards, they are available from my ETSY store. (I packed six designs in the set, so the whole family could sit around the kitchen table and color together. If your family has more than six members, order a couple of packs, invite the neighbors, and turn it into a coloring party. Or cut costs by printing a set of colorable cards on your home printer. )

## International Artists Day – 25 October

Do you practice any of the creative arts? Do you dance? Write poetry? Paint? Sculpt? Sketch? Compose music? Doodle? Capture moments in photographs? Perform on stage? Busk at the train station? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you can consider yourself an artist.

The 25th of October is devoted to celebrating artists and their contribution to the world we live in. Michelangelo and Beethoven and Shakespeare had their day. Yes, their creative efforts do continue to impact us in significant ways. But with every passing day, new artists are born into our world. They add to the influence and the capacity to influence. If you have made and continue to make art in any form, then you are an artist, growing in your craft. We celebrate YOU today #InternationalArtistsDay – and look forward to how you will continue to change the world in your own way.

If there is someone whose creative expression inspires or encourages you, copy the image from this page and post it on that person’s Facebook page or Twitter feed. Take a moment to acknowledge their creative contribution to your life. Express some gratitude to the creative people who help to make the world a better place by opening our eyes and ears to the beauty they experience.

#InternationalArtistsDay

## Bigger is Better for Christmas Gifting

If you have spent any time with me, then you know I struggle to get through a conversation without asking questions. How. Why. When. But it seems I am not the only one with a case of the dreaded questionitis. You have questions, too. And it only seems fair that I should spend some time answering your questions. (By the way, if you would like to ask me a question, feel free to use the contact form on this website to connect with me.)

I am going to devote a few blog posts to answering questions about our family’s newest creative project: the Color the Carols COMBO. If you are not already familiar with this product, you can read more about it how this project evolved in earlier posts on this blog. In this post, we are going to explore why there are TWO versions of this COMBO, and which one is the best fit for YOU.

1. Why create TWO versions of COLOR the CAROLS COMBO?
It is said that variety is the spice of life, is it not? We know people like to be able to exercise their freedom of choice, plus we wanted to create variations that would work for a variety of different folk. But we didn’t want to offer too many choices – that makes shopping stressful, and this COMBO is all about de-stressing. So we settled on two variations: the basic COMBO, and the BIG COMBO. Both COMBOs are currently sold and shipped (domestically and internationally) by the Tiger Music Store in Texas. Both COMBOS are ideal as gifts (or to treat yourself) – the BIG COMBO simply packs a few extras into the parcel.
2. What is the difference between the COMBOs?
The basic COLOR the CAROLS COMBO includes the following items: a copy of the UNADORNED TRUMPET CAROLS CD, a copy of the COLOR the TRUMPET CAROLS adult-friendly coloring book, an insert that lists all 49 tracks from the album in alphabetical order (so its easy to find your favorites quickly), and a letter from the creators of the product.
The COLOR the CAROLS BIG COMBO includes the following items: a copy of the UNADORNED TRUMPET CAROLS CD, a copy of the COLOR the TRUMPET CAROLS adult-friendly coloring book, an insert that lists all 49 tracks from the album in alphabetical order (so its easy to find your favorites quickly), a letter from the creators of the product, PLUS a set of colored pencils, a pencil sharpener (because it’s easier to color with sharp pencils), and a ready-to-color Christmas card (and envelope – so you can mail it as soon as you have finished coloring the card).
3. Which COMBO should I get?
The COMBO you select for yourself depends on what you already own (or can borrow from your children’s school supplies). If you already own a box of colored pencils or markers, then you probably don’t need a set that contains these items – the basic COMBO will suit you. The colorable Christmas card is a fun item to add your own creativity to, but note that the BIG COMBO only contains one such Christmas card. (The basic COMBO does not include a colorable card.) Need more than one card? You can buy a family-sized set of these ready-to-color Christmas cards directly from my ETSY store.
If you are buying a COMBO as a gift, and don’t know the recipient too well e.g. you have no idea if they already do a lot of coloring or not, consider buying the BIG COMBO. It includes everything the gift recipient needs to get started right away with coloring. (A coloring book without crayons is a bit like a battery-operated toy without batteries – not so much fun.) The major advantage to purchasing the BIG COMBO is that you can start coloring as soon as you unpack your order. No need to make a trip to the store to get colored pencils or a sharpener. You are ready for coloring action, so there is no excuse to put off starting your relaxing countdown to Christmas.

## National Color Day – 22 October

Happy National Color Day! Today we celebrate color, how it influences us, and how it allows us to express ourselves. Ditch the black and white outfit for today, and wear something vibrant – choose a color that says, “I am alive and loving life!” Then take another bold step and use color to be creative. #NationalColorDay is a day to indulge in activities like painting or coloring. If you have never colored as an adult, today is the ideal day to give this relaxing activity a try. You can try your hand at coloring, and it doesn’t need to cost you a cent. Feel free to download a FREE coloring page here, pull out that dusty box of crayons, and fill spaces with crazy blends of color. Perhaps share the LOVE – invite a friend or family member to color with you.

Or turn over a new leaf today, and invest in your wellbeing. Challenge yourself to 30 days of coloring, starting today. Download a meditative, scripture-inspired coloring book that lets you soak up inspirational scriptures while you start your journey into the world of colorful expression. Or take a moment today to place an order for a physical coloring book – for yourself or as a gift to inspire someone else.

How we experience life is often the result of how we to choose to see it. You can choose to view the world as a miserable, unkind, grey world – or you can choose to paint over the greyness with your choice of vivid colors, and learn to LOVE LIFE. You choose.

To celebrate #NationalColorDay, here is a video (MOVING in MIRACLES by Eddie Lewis) that let’s you flow with a river of color:

## MERRY CHRISTMAS Family Coloring Pages

Coloring is not just for kids PLUS it’s good for your health. How many times have you heard that said recently? You know it’s true, but your nine-year old is adamant that he is too old to color, and dad… well, dad thinks he outgrew crayons before the turn of the century. Then grandma wants to color, but she says the adult coloring books are too detailed for her eyeglass prescription strength. The solution?

## FAMILY TIME

The MERRY CHRISTMAS FAMILY COLORING PAGES were created to bring families together around the kitchen table (or on the lounge floor if you don’t have a big table). The set of pages uses just one basic illustration built on the words: MERRY CHRISTMAS. The basic illustration is further evolved to include three additional skill levels. The result is an easy-to-print,  coloring activity that is suitable for the whole family. Print one page for each member of the family. Choose the page that is appropriate for each person based on their age, attention span, dexterity, and ability to take on a challenge.

## BEGINNER LEVEL

BEGINNER (Level 1): This is a basic, broad-lined illustration built on the words “MERRY CHRISTMAS”. There are large open areas to color, and the shapes are a mix of gently rounded and facetted. This illustration can be comfortably colored with wax crayons and colored pencils or markers. This illustration is best for the youngest members of the family or those with impaired eyesight.

## INTERMEDIATE LEVELS

INTERMEDIATE I (Level 2): The BEGINNER illustration is upgraded to include some smaller areas. The use of wax crayons may become more challenging with this illustration. This illustration is best for colorists who are comfortable with staying inside lines and need a little more challenge than a BEGINNER colorist does.

INTERMEDIATE II (Level 3): The BEGINNER illustration now has many small regions begging for color. Fine pointed pens or pencils work best for this illustration.

ADVANCED (Level 4): This page takes the BEGINNER design to new heights. You will find LOTS of small details to color on this page. The small, open areas seen in the other illustrations now boast small patterns and embellishments. If you have a family member that thinks coloring is for little kids, THIS is the page you hand to them. This is a very detailed page and likely to be overwhelming for the youngest members of the family.

## MAKE IT A GAME

Get the family together, open that extra big box of colored pencils (or invest in a couple of 12-pencil sets so there is no fighting at the table), and distribute the page assignments. The entire family will be working on the same illustration, just in varying degrees of detail, so everyone can feel that they are part of the same project. The activity can be made more fun by adding restrictions for the older family members. For example, let the youngest colorist choose the colors of the letters. Everyone else must stick to this color choice for their bases colors, but are  challenged to use their imagination to integrate those colors in a creative and eye-catching way. If you have ideas for creative coloring restrictions that make this activity more enjoyable for the teens and adults, please add them in the comment section below.

## CHRISTMAS BOOT CAMP

Coloring together stimulates conversation. Have you been longing for family chats, but have a family that is too glued to their phones to remember the archaic activity called conversation? Announce a Christmas Preparation Boot Camp (just don’t call it “boot camp” or they may take to the hills) for the family, set aside two hours after a weekend dinner (those “I am so bored” rainy days work best for families that are new to coloring), and just do it. Inevitably, conversation will flow. It’s difficult to maintain silence for a couple of hours when you are using your hands for more than just “swiping and clicking”. It might start with “stop stealing my red crayon!“, but eventually the debate about which color to use may lead to other more interesting topics. Give it a try. Download your MERRY CHRISTMAS FAMILY COLORING PAGES from Zisubu Artique.

## Come Shepherds Rise from #ColortheCarols

This new video includes music and images from the COLOR the CAROLS COMBO. “Come Shepherds Rise” is track 17 on the COMBO’s carol CD, and the imagery in the video is extracted from the “Good Tidings” scene from the Christmas story.

## SHEEP LOOK TO HEAVEN

The video unveils sheep and their shepherds, enjoying a quiet evening in the countryside. A sound from above captures their attention. With eyes turned heavenward, the men and animals listen to the announcement of the angel, calling them to rise and go and worship the newborn king.

## CHRISTMAS COMBO

If you have not already acquired your copy of this Christmas COMBO, we recommend ordering the COMBO before the Christmas rush. These combo’s make excellent stocking fillers for family and friends of all ages. If you want a gift set that includes stationery plus coloring extras, rather opt for the Color the Carols BIG COMBO from Tiger Music.

## CHRISTMAS SHOPPING DONE EARLY

Yes, I know it’s still a couple of months until Christmas, but there is something soothing and inspiring about Christmas music, so why save it to only play for a couple of weeks a year. The COMBO’s CD (Unadorned Trumpet Carols by Eddie Lewis) is a beautiful collection of 49 carols, all played without musical ornamentation – the music is simple, refreshing, and deeply relaxing to listen to.

Play the CD as you navigate the crazy, stress-magnifying traffic to work. Play it as you settle down to relax and color the book of Christmas scenes. Put it on while you are cooking dinner. Hum along to the familiar carols, or sing with gusto as if you are in the shower and no-one is listening. If you are not a big fan of coloring, you can purchase this CD as a stand-alone digital album from CD Baby. Currently, the only way to purchase the physical CD is to purchase the Color the Carols COMBO (or BIG COMBO) from Tiger Music (an online music store that ships worldwide).

## What Child is This from #ColortheCarols

“What Child is This?” is a familiar and beautiful Christmas carol, evoking soothing feelings and possibly even a rush of nostalgia. Most people recognize the tune – it’s Greensleeves, a traditional folk song of English origin. The lyrics for this carol were penned back in 1865 by William Chatterton Dix. You will find the instrumental version of this carol played by trumpeter, Eddie Lewis, on the UNADORNED TRUMPET CAROLS album – it’s track 26. This album comes as part of the COLOR the CAROLS COMBO. Track 26 is the audio you will hear in this video:

The illustration used to create this video is scene 5 in the COLOR the TRUMPET CAROLS coloring book (part of the COMBO). The inquisitive animals gather around the manger, eager to learn who the new comer is. As they peer over the manger’s edge to catch a glimpse of the Baby Jesus, their curiosity is rewarded as the glory from above shines down on the little one. The illustration attempts to capture some of the fascination and awe experienced by these speechless, four-legged onlookers.

If you have purchased the COLOR the CAROLS COMBO and would like to celebrate Christmas by submitting your coloring of any of the scenes for possible inclusion in this website’s gallery or a future video, please use the contact form on this website to connect with me. If you haven’t yet purchased the COMBO, you can click here or on the image below to go directly to the music store that is currently selling these packs.

## O Sing a Song of Bethlehem from #ColortheCarols

COLOR the TRUMPET CAROLS is an experience best coupled with listening. Not just any listening, mind you. This adult-friendly coloring book was designed to be colored in tandem with music playing – specifically the music from UNADORNED TRUMPET CAROLS by Eddie Lewis. Each of the 49 carols in this album retains its original simplicity – no flowery ornamentation or trendy beats. Boring? Not at all. The music is hauntingly beautiful and will help still your mind as you take a colorful journey through the Christmas story.

The video below showcases track 30 from the UNADORNED TRUMPET CAROLS album: “O Sing a Song of Bethlehem“. The imagery in the video is taken from two illustrations or scenes in the COLOR the TRUMPET CAROLS coloring book: “Reflecting on Jesus” and “No Room at the Inn“. The coloring book and the CD are available as a combo deal from Tiger Music.

## #ScienceMustFall

Science and mathematics are objective, genderless, race-blind subjects that can effortlessly bridge language and cultural differences. But is that really true? This week saw online outcry to the #sciencemustfall proposal, an unexpected sidebar to the decolonization and #feesmustfall campaign currently raging on university campuses throughout South Africa. In a seemingly spontaneous statement (you can watch the video here), a “fallist” addresses the science faculty of the University of Cape Town, and calls for “western” science to be banished from African education.

This begs the question: “Why would this student (or anyone else) feel that something as universal as “western” science has no place in the culture they best identify with?

## Can Mathematics be Decolonized?

Karin Brodie, professor of Education and Mathematics Education at South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand, in her article “Yes, mathematics can be decolonized. Here is how to begin“, hints at a possible reason. Mathematics apparently presents itself as a subject that is not, or should not be, accessible to all people (at least at higher education level). The perception is that, even with significant effort, if you lack the right kind or level of intelligence, you are doomed to be a mathematics outsider. Not everyone believes this, but the perception remains, and has done much to scare the less obviously gifted away from the subject. Possibly the sciences suffer from a similar “elitist” reputation. Professor Brodie says that “as teachers, my colleagues and I need to believe – to know – that all students can do mathematics. This knowledge must be transmitted to them. They must be shown that mathematics is a human enterprise: it belongs to all, and it can be taken forward to transform society.”

## THE UNIVERSAL VALUE OF SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS

If students are to come to understand the universal value of subjects such as science and mathematics, they must come to believe they can own these subjects. They must believe they can be part of the process of generating new knowledge to build on what already exists (and has been gathered by people of all cultures and races). If students view these subjects from a distance, they are more likely to associate them with something foreign and threatening. Reduce the distance and the image viewed will not be so distorted.

Should science (and mathematics) “fall” or be removed from a particular cultural group’s education system, because students see these subjects as discriminatory? Surely a better approach is to change the attitude and perception that people have of the subjects instead of the content of the subjects? Why reinvent the wheel when the wheel doesn’t judge and doesn’t mind who owns it?