Tuesday, July 18, 2006

What about Math?

Melissa over at The Lilting House is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling. You still have time to submit your entry this week, so get a move on!

Weather update: current heat index 113. What else to do but blog? ;)

"OK, ok - enough about unschooling reading for now! (Here and here if you missed them) I'm getting the idea now!" - you say?

So what do you want to know about next? Typically it's math. "How do you work math in? What about those kids who detest math?" you ask. Brace yourself for my answer: I don't think kids will learn to detest anything if they are able to discover it on their own, in their own time and they have someone who serves as a research assistant (me and hubby and Grammy and Grandma and Grandpa, you get the picture?) through it all.

Yes, they have the typical number counting books that every other toddler acquires from someone along the way. At some point, they realize that numbers are important and they get interested in counting first. Rose has been very interested in counting and identifying numerals lately. How do you know? She puts an emphasis on numbers in almost everything. "Mommy, I have THREE (3 fingers held up) cats in my bed!" and "I put BIVE (5 fingers held up) legos on this and it's a baceship". So I see that interest and I jump. I get out Jade's baby counting books and strew (that's a fantastic article) them around, I ask her to get three cups to set the table, I read some great "math story books" (there's a superb list over at livingmath.net), and we cook.

As a full-on girly girl (with a little tomboy in her too), Rose loves to help with girly things like cooking and unloading the dishwasher and doing the laundry. She counts the socks, she matches the socks, she separates them into groups of "Matthew socks" and "Daddy socks", etc. Granted, I could get the laundry done MUCH faster without her help but where would the fun be in that? At least this way I have an excuse for leaving it all over my dining table. "But Rose wanted to count the socks, dear." And I'm sure her version of counting and matching and sorting is much more fun for her than boring old dry worksheets.

Cooking is a whole other subject and I could (and probably will) go on and on about for days. Matthew loves to help me cook as well. Just out of pure curiosity one day when we were making cookies, I needed 1 cup of sugar. I showed Matthew that I had the 1/3 C measuring cup out and asked him how many of those would I need to make a whole cup. (We have never discussed fractions that I can recall.) He thought for about 2 seconds and then said, "Three," with confidence.

He loves to pour and mix and measure and just yesterday, he cracked his first raw egg into a bowl and didn't get one piece of shell in it at all. (Of course, his loves-to-cook-mother watched while grinning like the cheshire cat with pride.) Is that more fun than doing equations on a white sheet of paper? Yep. Will he ever need to know how to do equations? Probably, and I'm glad you asked. He's also been interested in numbers lately. He sees them in the books he reads. It seems story books aren't just about stories these days - they all try to be [that nasty "educational" word (but that's another post)]. I'm sure he's seen them in Amelia Bedelia books and his Ranger Rick magazine and on some more of those great books listed at livingmath.net and he's seen them on Cyberchase, etc.

The other day, trying to beat the heat, we headed to the mall with Grammy. In the bookstore, the kids busied themselves with reading and playing on the Thomas train set. (Rose had picked a book out for her stuffed cow to read and had the book opened and the cow looking at the page. Man I wish I'd had my camera that day!) I was perusing through the aisle and found the neatest little math set of books. I bought the addition one. It has a sliding wheel and makes equations for you - for instance the format is x + 1 = y. When you slide the x=1, the y shows as 2, and when you slide the x=2, the y shows as 3, etc. It looked like something that would make a good tool. So I bought it and casually handed it to him a few hours later when we got home, "I bought this book today, thought you might like it". He was quite impressed with it and soon started asking me & Grammy to write some equations down for him so he could look them up with his new book. Voila! Equations. ;) He thinks it's a fun game instead of "uuuuugh, I have 3 pages of math homework tonight!"

If I could only figure out how to work in long division by cleaning his room...hmmm....

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