How Much Does It Cost To Go To Disney World? Project-Based Math Learning

How Much Does It Cost To Go To Disney World?

Project-Based Math Learning


The title of this post was the assignment I gave to my seven-year old daughter, Katie, recently. I am teaching a series of lessons about finance to my kids. I thought this project would be relevant because the kids often ask me and my husband to take them to places like Disney World. When we tell them, “No, it’s expensive to go there,” they often tell us to just use our credit card — they think credit cards are an unlimited resource. As a seven-year-old and a five-years-old, they do not understand the concept of income and expenses yet. This is the first project I have given which is intended to provide an overview of how money works.

First, I asked Katie to figure out how much it’ll cost for our family to go to Disney World. I told her she was allowed to use any tools she needed to figure it out. The first thing she did was to ask “Alexa” how much it costs to go to Disney World. “Alexa” replied that she didn’t know our location, so she couldn’t tell us how long it would take us to get to Disney World.

Next, she got on the computer and googled, “How much does it cost to to go Disney World.” One of the results was about Disney World tickets which was not what she needed — my husband works for Disney, and he gets free passes for our whole family to enter Disney World. Shortly thereafter, she tried to find out “How much does a train ticket cost to go to Disney World” but she didn’t know where Disney World was. She looked that up and found that it was in Orlando. After learning that there’s no train from our home to Orlando, she searched for plane tickets to Orlando instead.

A google search for plane tickets lead her to She learned how to use the calendar picker, and figured out which airports are close to our home and which airport in Orlando is close to Disney World. She found out that it costs around $3,000 to fly to Orlando and stay in a hotel for seven days and that it would take her 50 years to pay for the trip using her $5 per month allowance. During this process, she practiced her month to year conversion and learned how to come up with the equations and use Google sheets to calculate.

It was a very simple question, but she learned a lot throughout the whole process. Katie said that it was a lot more difficult than the math that she did at school because in school, all of the variables were already given. She just needed to come up with the equations.

I think this exercise is very important because she learned that in real life, we need to learn to ask questions in order to get the answers we’re looking for.

At the end of the project, I told her that her grandmother will pay for our flights and hotel for our upcoming trip to Disney World so we don’t need to worry about the cost of flights and hotel stay. I just want her to know how much it costs relative to her allowance so that she will appreciate her grandmother’s generosity and ultimately, I want my kids to know how math is used in the real world so that they’ll appreciate the math that is being taught at school. They shouldn’t have to wonder why it is useful to study math.

Have you tried a project like this with your child? If not, try out this project or something similar! Let me know how it went in the comments.

Who is a Better Queen? Marie Antoinette vs Esther of Persia

Who is a Better Queen? Marie Antoinette vs Esther of Persia

by Katie Denise Fischer


In my opinion, I think Esther is a better queen. Esther and Marie Antoinette were both queens. They were both in an arranged marriage. Marie Antoinette got married because her mom wanted her to marry Louis Auguste of France. Esther was married because the King of Persia thought she was so beautiful so he chose her as his wife.


Marie Antoinette was a bad queen because she spent all her people’s money on herself while her people were poor and hungry. Esther saved her people from Haman who plotted to kill the Jews. Esther was also heroic because she used her influence to convince her husband that someone was plotting to kill her people. While Marie Antoinette did not convince her husband to give money to the poor. She was greedy and selfish.

That is why I think Esther is a better Queen. What about you, who do you think is a better queen?


Daynes, Katie. Marie Antoinette. Usborne Publishing Ltd, 2005.

The Amazing Rescue – A Play by Katie Fischer

Katie wrote this play after reading several plays from Storyworks Jr.  My kids love the plays and so far their favorite is still Yeh Shen from the October 2016 issue.

I love Storyworks Jr. because it inspires Katie to write and be creative.  She wrote this play out of her own initiative. She even made several copies so she and her friends can ask their teacher if the can perform it in class during show and tell.


12 3 4 5

My Reading Challenge!

My family loves reading challenges. Last year, I did a reading challenge at I committed to reading 100 books, and finished my goal. My kids love working on the reading challenges hosted by our public library. The library gave them goodies after they had completed the challenge.

Last year, Katie completed the Mensa for Kids Excellence in Reading Program for Grades K-3. She got a certificate of completion from Mensa and a nice t-shirt. Right now, both of my kids are working on the Mensa for Kids Excellence in Reading Program for Grades 4-6.

When Katie was working on her K-3 reading challenge, I noticed that there were lots of good books that I hadn’t read before. Having grown up in Philippines, these books were not familiar to me. Out of the over 60 books that she read, I only disliked two of them: The Stinky Cheese Man & Other Fairly Stupid Tales and Rabbit Hill. Some of my favorites are All-of-a-Kind Family, The Tale of Despereaux, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Charlotte’s Web, Little House on the Prairie, Ramona Quimby, Age 8, The Cricket in Times Square. I love the last two books so much that I read the other books in the series.

Like most parents, I do not have lots of time to spare. When I pick up a book to read, I want it to be good so that I don’t feel like I wasted my precious time on it. This year, I decided to work on the Mensa for Kids Excellence in Reading Program for Grades 7-8. I did not set a deadline for myself, just like I didn’t set a deadline for my kids. I don’t want to stress over reading. I want to read because it’s fun, not because of a self-imposed deadline.

I finished reading The Hobbit. I have seen the movies and they were spectacular. Watching them made me really want to read the book that they were based on. So, I was really glad to find out that it’s in the 7-8 category. If it’s in the Mensa reading list, then it must be good. And the book was indeed very good. It was better than the movies.

I’m going to try to write about my reading journey. I can’t wait to read the next one in the list.

Yeh Shen, A Chinese Cinderella Story

I have multiple subscriptions to Scholastic magazines. I recently posted my review on Geography Spin. Go read it if you haven’t already! This post is about Storyworks Junior.

Storyworks Junior has several great articles in different genres. It was very difficult to decide which one I should do first with the kids. For several nights now, the kids have been asking whether my husband and I would like to watch their doll show. They usually ask when it was bedtime, so we always said no. This morning, as soon as they woke up, I asked them if they would like to do their doll show. Of course, they said yes. So, I picked a play from the October 2016 issue of Scholastic’s Storyworks Junior: Yeh Shen, A Chinese Cinderella Story. One of the good things about Storyworks Junior is online access to archived issues; even though I haven’t been subscribing since October 2016, I still have access.

Both of them were already familiar with the Cinderella story so they picked out the characters. They decided which Disney dolls would play the characters in Yeh Shen. Katie had read the play so she just explained to Jessica that there’s only one step sister and they didn’t need two dolls for step sisters. After picking out the dolls, they decided on a costume for themselves. They only have one Mulan costume, so one of them became Elena of Avalor instead. Katie said, “let’s pretend that I’m attending a Cinco de Mayo.” Next, we read our lines for practice. Jessica can’t read fluently yet, so I told her the lines and she repeated them. After our practice, I made the video. The finished product is below.

The kids said it was a lot of fun and they would like to do it again. It took us about four hours for just one article. Storyworks Junior comes in 6 issues per year and each issue is 32 pages. I don’t know whether the classroom teachers who have subscriptions are able to go through the whole magazine with their class in two months. The good thing is that if they don’t, the kids get to keep the magazines and can share it with their families for more fun activities at home.

After our first activity using Storyworks Junior, we’re going to try to do all of the plays first. Currently, there are 6 issues available in Storyworks Junior so there’s 6 plays. I think this is great training for the future, for when I plan to ask the kids to write their own play. They are already coming up with impromptu plays (which they call “doll shows”) on their own, but having exposure to plays written by professionals would enhance their play writing skills.

The magazine is marketed to 3rd graders, 2nd-grade readers and struggling readers in the upper grades. However, I think this would be a perfect resource for gifted first graders as well. Most of the kids in my daughter’s first grade gifted class have been reading chapter books but they were reading decodables at school because all first graders are issued the same books, gifted or not. Storyworks Junior would provide highly engaging material to gifted first grade readers. For $7.85 per year per student, this is a great bargain for gifted first grade classes.

The magazine also comes with a teacher’s guide. So far, all of the skills sheets that I have seen in the teacher’s guide are language arts related skills. I have been looking for arts integration into the articles like the coloring sheets that other Scholastic magazines have, but so far, I have found none. The plays could be a lot more fun if there were cutouts for kids to color and pretend to be the characters in the play. However, even without any changes, I think Storyworks Junior is already great for its price. You get more than what you pay for.

Geography Lessons

I recently subscribed to Scholastic’s Geography Spin. I got it as an add-on when I subscribed to Scholastic News Grade 3. It costs $1.09/year (including shipping and handling) which is a great deal considering there are 8 issues per year.  Each issue is 4 pages long. That’s 32 pages per year. But that’s just the start. The best part is that it also comes with online access to the website, which is amazing. The Geography Spin website has a section for the digital version of the issue, video, vocabulary, games, teacher’s guide and printables. It also contains more than a year’s worth of archived issues.

I think Geography Spin is an awesome way to learn about geography. We start our lesson with the vocabulary section. It has a definition (read aloud by the computer) and a picture of each word. After listening to the word and its description, I ask the kids (six and four year old, respectively) what it means in their own words. I want to make sure that they understand these words because it will help them understand the video and the magazine later. Next, we watch the video together. I do not stop when we watch it the first time. But when we watch it for the second time, I stop it from time to time to ask questions to make sure that they comprehend what they are hearing. I also ask questions that are relevant to the video. For example, have you been there? Do you want to go there? What do you think of ……? I ask questions that require more than a yes or no answer. Sometimes when they do offer their own commentaries, I pause the video so that we can talk more about it. The videos are amazing. It’s quite engaging for me and the kids. It’s also very short – no more than 5 minutes – so it’s great to keep their attention. Plus, it takes us about 20 minutes to watch the video, re-watch it and discuss it, which is just the right amount of time for me.  Afterward, we listen to the magazine. Just like the vocabulary section, the magazine can be read by the computer. I love it because I don’t have to read it aloud. I like to save my voice for discussion. Also, the narrator is very good. It doesn’t sound like a robot at all. It’s probably a human recording. When the kids start to goof off and stop listening, it doesn’t yell either. I just click on a section that the kids missed and starts again. Sometimes, my 6-year old daughter reads the magazine so it’s also great for practicing her nonfiction reading skills. There are some words that are very unusual in fiction so the magazine really helps widen her vocabulary.

From time to time, I pair the lesson with arts and crafts. Arts and crafts always makes the kids happy. Furthermore, I use this time to have my own peace and quiet. They’ll spend at least half an hour working on their art project while I do whatever I want at the same time.

Scholastic's Geography Spin lesson.
Scholastic’s Geography Spin lesson Make Way for Monarchs

I originally got the map below to teach my 6-year old, Katie, about states. I ask Katie to search for a random state each day for two weeks. I also used to ask her which states we had visited, but that became too boring for me. After subscribing to Geography Spin, the map is relevant again and it’s more interesting to study the states when paired with a story and a purpose. I love this map. It’s very colorful as you can see. I can use a dry-erase marker on it and wipe it off after our lesson is done. There are also not a lot of city names which is great for little kids starting to learn geography. It can be quite frustrating to search for a specific location when there are too many details. As an added bonus, it  is also great for hiding children’s fingerprints on the wall. 🙂

Monarch Butterfly Migration Pattern
Monarch Butterfly Migration Pattern

Geography Spin is not just good for learning about geography but also science, reading/listening comprehension and arts integration. For the April/May 2017 issue of Geography Spin, Make Way for Monarchs, I was also able to insert a Bible lesson. When the video talked about how nobody knows how the second generation of monarch butterflies are able to go to the same trees in Mexico that their parents originally came from without being there before, I told the kids that there is somebody who knows and that is Jesus because he’s omniscient. Jesus knows everything.

I think Geography Spin is a must whether your kids are homeschooled or your kids go to a traditional school. If the school does not subscribe to it nor have the budget for it, it is definitely worth sponsoring the whole class for a classroom subscription. It’s quite difficult to find a Geography resource that is as engaging as Geography Spin. Scholastic is offering a free 30-day trial on their website. Check it out here.

Products used for this lesson:

Afterschooling My First Grader

When my daughter started kindergarten two years ago, she was initially excited. It was her first year in a “big girl” school. However, it didn’t take long before she got bored with the lessons at school. She was able to read and write before she entered kindergarten, so most of the lessons were just a review to her. By the time half of her kindergarten year had gone by, she didn’t like school at all. She wanted to be homeschooled because she said that she wasn’t learning in school. She told us that they were doing baby stuff in kindergarten. So, I looked into homeschooling and decided that I really didn’t want to do it. I loved going to school when I was a kid. It was fun to hang out with the other kids. I don’t want her to miss that experience. But at the same time, I do not want her to hate school either so my husband and I found a school for her that offered a gifted program.

The school that Katie is in for first grade is a lot better than her kindergarten school. Her teacher provides her more challenging material than the regular class. However, when we had our first conference with the teacher, she suggested that we move Katie to a gifted magnet program. She needs more challenging lessons and she thinks it’ll be good if Katie can be with other kids who are closer to her level. There’s probably two or three other kids who are about the same level as Katie in her current class, and while the rest are advanced compare with the students in the regular class, the variation in skill level is still wide. Fortunately, her teacher is awesome so Katie is not bored in class. When Katie finishes her work, she does not give Katie more of the same work just to keep busy. She let Katie play with educational toys that she has in her classroom, or read books.

What Is Afterschooling and How We Do It

For the past year, I have been afterschooling Katie. If you haven’t heard of the word afterschooling, basically, it means homeschooling after kids go to their regular school. Katie has been reading chapter books since kindergarten. She likes reading a lot. I subscribe to so I just let her choose any books that she likes. She also has great comprehension. has comprehension questions, which she gets right most of the time. The good thing about Raz-plus is that the books are for K-5th grade so Katie can choose any reading level she wants. She tends to pick books from 2nd grade and higher. The books are longer so they have more interesting story lines. I also take her to the library and let her choose any books that she wants to read. If a child is reading books that are interesting to them, you won’t need to force them to read. Since her reading and comprehension skills are several grades ahead of her math skills, we mostly focus on her math skills. She uses a program called ST Math, which is a visual game-based program. We play math games such as monopoly, abacus, card games, ten-frame blocks, legos, and etc. It is a lot easier for her to remember her math lessons when she is having fun so I try my best to find materials that would make math learning fun. Below are some of the items that we use for our math lessons. In addition to her afterschooling, she also goes to swimming lessons and piano lessons. She loves to play in the water with the other kids. She gets a lot of exercise while having fun as well. I love her swimming lessons because it helps regulate her sleeping schedule. The school that she’s going to does not provide music lessons in first grade, so I just signed her up for piano lessons for half an hour a week. It’s quite interesting to hear her play. She also has Bible lessons from me. I want her to learn about God. We have been listening to the NIRV version of the Bible. We listen to Bible stories, and recently, we started memorizing Bible scriptures. Go to the bottom of this page for a list of products that I am using and have used in the past.

Benefits of Afterschooling

I believe that parents are their children’s primary educators. In my case, I afterschool my child in order to provide her with lessons that are interesting to her and for her to continue her growth. She goes to a class where the reading levels of the kids span multiple grades. Even if the kids in her class are advanced, most of them are not as advanced as my daughter. Her teacher is amazing. But it is quite difficult to provide instruction that would make sure each child is challenged to his/her level. The core curriculum that the school provides is for their grade level. Schools do not have the budget to provide multiple grade levels that would be just right for all of the kids. Imagine: if your kid starts reading at first grade level at the beginning of the year and decides to keep reading at home for pleasure, chances are your kid will be reading at a level that is higher than the other kids who were not reading at home in just a few months. At home, I can easily look for programs that match my daughter’s level since I do not have to consider whether twenty four or so other kids would benefit from it. I can also tailor the content to whatever subject my daughter is currently interested in. There’s a lot more individualization that I can easily provide at home compared to she gets from school. No matter how great the teacher is, it is quite difficult to know each kid at the same level that a parent can.

If you are reading my blog, chances are you and your spouse are working full-time because I usually put the links to my blog in Facebook and most of my friends are working. So, if you are interested in afterschooling, my best advice to you is do it every day even if it’s just 5 minutes a day. Find something that is interesting to both you and your child because it’s quite difficult to keep on doing something in the long term if one of you is not interested in it. You will be surprised at how much of a difference five minutes each day can make.

Finally, if your first grader is still not reading chapter books, please check out my posts How to Convert Your Reluctant Reader to an Enthusiastic Reader and How My Non-Reader Child Came to Read Charlotte’s Web in 8 months.

List of Products has two components: early reading and reading comprehension. For kindergarten, Katie used the early reading section. For first grade, she is currently using the reading comprehension. The reading comprehension section of Headsprout is for 2nd-5th grade level readers. I like that they introduce different genres. It includes fiction, non-fiction, poems. It also teaches map skills, analyzing charts in addition to reading strategies.

ST Math is an online game-based program that teaches math. Katie is a visual learner. This program has definitely helped her understand math concepts easily. is an online reading program. It literally has thousands of books. It has both fiction and non-fiction stories. I like it a lot because the stories are very interesting.

This NIRV audio Bible is great for little kids. It’s an easier version. It’s a great introduction to kids to the Word of God.


I love these toys. I bought them because I figured if my kids are not interested in them, at least someone else would be. It turns out that they like them as much as I do!

Common Core Math Is Hard… Or Is It?

Before my daughter started school, I read news articles and viral Facebook posts about Common Core math questions. One question was 5 × 3 = 15. The student was penalized because he answered 5 + 5 + 5 instead of 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3. Here’s the link to the article.

At the time, I thought that it was really stupid. Now, my daughter has been in school for more than a year, I have bought multiple math programs based on Common Core math, I have read the standard itself… and it seems like a lot of the Facebook posts that were supposedly Common Core math were not, in fact, Common Core math. This is why it is important to read the standard itself.  Here’s the link to the Common Core State Standards Initiative for your reference.

As for the problem above, Common Core specifies the commutative property of multiplication so the student’s answer is right.


Apply properties of operations as strategies to multiply and divide.2 Examples: If 6 × 4 = 24 is known, then 4 × 6 = 24 is also known. (Commutative property of multiplication.) 3 × 5 × 2 can be found by 3 × 5 = 15, then 15 × 2 = 30, or by 5 × 2 = 10, then 3 × 10 = 30. (Associative property of multiplication.) Knowing that 8 × 5 = 40 and 8 × 2 = 16, one can find 8 × 7 as 8 × (5 + 2) = (8 × 5) + (8 × 2) = 40 + 16 = 56. (Distributive property.)

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