I can't think of a better way to introduce you to this project than by whetting your appetite with an entree of Eric's incredible imagination. Click the image below to preview the first book - Crazy Birthday Candle Jungle. Enjoy!
After 17 years of patience, my passion to help kiddos NOT fear math is on the cusp of reality. My eleven book series of ten Mathamanimals celebrating their birthdays in the Crazy Birthday Candle Jungle has reached its final edits. Here are a few paragraphs as to what drove me and the many roads and detours taken along the way.
Did mathematics ever scare you?...or your kiddo? Well, math had the opposite effect on me. (until Calc 3!) I loved it from the git-go! So later in life, as a volunteer parent tutor in the hallway, I'd get frustrated when a kiddo would back away and convince themselves that math was too scary/hard to mess with. I just sat at that little desk wondering what friendly flashcards would look like? How about disguising them using birthday cakes, birthday candles, birthday bananas, and birthday colors? I know for sure that kiddos' are not scared of birthdays! I could call them "Flashcakes".
And better still, what if instead of "flashing" them, the kiddos could deal out the cards and play games like Go Fish, Old Maid, War, and Concentration? After all, kiddos having fun learn pretty darn well.
And even better yet, what if a kiddo could have fun practicing to read while this is all going down? Score one more for passion and patience! Because each of these 100 flashcakes are introduced to the kiddo on the 10 birthday pages in each of the 10 mathamanimals' birthday books through fun bouncy rhyme. Not as those scary "ones through tens" but as One-a-Roo-Sues through Ten-ti-pede Petes!" Each of these 48 page full color books take the kiddo on a 10 birthday journey through the Crazy Birthday Candle Jungle.
And then there is the icing on the cake. These books are laced with little life lessons like brushing/flossing your teeth and washing your hands, to Three-ba Rebas' teenage self-esteem issue on her sixth birthday when she turns eighteen (six candle three's on her cake)! As the reader/parent/teacher, you can bounce out of the rhymes and double-up these moments to teach the kiddos a lot more than math and reading. (And if you really want to play, the ten birthday colors the kiddos will get used to with each birthday are in alphabetical order...have fun!)
These are not textbooks, though. Just a bunch of ideas that are finally forming the fun I figured from them! While my ideas were ripening, I bothered just about anyone who would listen for their feedback. These many parents, teachers, and librarians were crucial in the evolution from sloppy copy to now. The last few years, I took the next logical step, and sought out feedback from my target audience. I formed the Ditto Kiddo Club and sent a sloppy copy with a set of homemade flashcakes through the mail to each kiddo. The comment cards they sent back, with that genuine kiddo perspective, were priceless.
So many folks along this journey would joke around with me and ask where I was when THEY were reading and learning math? I would just laugh and shrug, telling them I would try my best to be there for their kiddos. If this Kickstarter campaign is successful, you will help me keep that promise.
But the biggest personal thrill I will get if you all help jump-start my dream, is this. The Ditto Kiddo Club had five 'graduates', each getting through all eleven sloppy copies. Each of these five kiddos had their own favorite book. They don't know it, but I decided to dedicate each favorite in their name. Imagine their surprise and sense of self worth when I show up to present them an actual published copy... (If they can beat me in a game of Go Fish!)
Risks and challenges
Barring Mother Nature or Father Time speaking out, this 17 year project is virtually risk adverse to you as a donor. I hope that does not sound over confident. It is just that this project is that close, needing only that final big push from believers such as yourself. Sure things can happen. I guess I could announce the unlikely disclaimer of divorce here, whereas I can only guarantee 50% of your pledge rewards. This could be one half of the books you are entitled or all of the books you are entitled ripped in half. But all in all, I've got your back..umm books!
Over 17 years, many challenges have been overcome getting here. The biggest one remaining is not with the books, but with the Flashcakes. Except for the Ditto Kiddo Club 'homemade sloppy' copies those Kiddos got to keep and a complete professionally printed deck the illustrator gifted me, the Flashcakes only exist virtually on the website games. FULL DISCLOSURE: Those three steps forward for the Flaskcakes felt pretty damn good! But I want kids/adults sitting around tables dealing out the cards to each other! (maybe a stretch goal?). However it shakes out, I am convinced Kiddos having fun playing Concentration, Go Fish, War and Old Myrtle multiplies the chance they will learn their math facts with each new shuffle. (Next challenge: Bringing the Crazy Birthday Candle Jungle board game to life!)Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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