Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Living Math

For some time now I've been considering a living math approach, but I haven't actually taken the plunge. We've added living math approaches to our daily math, but haven't let go of the textbook. So last week while preparing school plans for this week I spent a lot of time reading some information about living math.

Something you have to understand isn't that we aren't not doing math anymore, but rather the way we choose to teach the boys is different. Instead of pulling out the textbook and following their prelaid plans, I might pull out a manipulative or game to teach the kids a new skill. There are many upsides to this form of learning. For one thing Morgan is a hands on learner and this means that he sees the how and why of learning the skill. It also means the boys can share in the same math lesson and we just break Jayden's down a bit more if he needs it.

So this week I pulled out a few resources from around the house and we lined up our lessons. For a day of skip counting I threw half of our linking cubes into each child's workbox. I asked them to make groups of ten and left them to it. Then we counted by ten's to discover how many we had in all.

This worked as some good counting practice for Jayden in the ones area too, not that he needs much help counting to ten, but he got it all the same. It took them about 20 minutes to get them all linked up, but that might be because we had a package delivery and that always attracts a lot of attention.

Morgan worked on patterns as he went. Not because I told him to, but because Morgan lives for patterns and order. He chose all the patterns on his own, and as he neared the bottom of his box (and disposed of a dead bug) he realized he didn't have enough to make an AB type pattern anymore. This frustrated him until I pointed out he could easily make an ABC type pattern instead.

Jayden lost a bit of steam, so he also got addition practice in because I started linking some of his cubes together and placing them on the table. I made groups of 1, 3, 2, 4, and 5 with a couple of 6's as well. He had to decide how many more he needed. When all was said and done we stacked all our links on the table and counted by tens a few times over. I let Jayden have free time with his while I asked Moragn to break each of his linking cubes in half. I wanted 12 groups of 5 so he could get some practice in there. Then we broke them down to 2's and counted that way as well before packing it all away for the day.

For double fact practice we used this handy little printable which came from the Fall Math book I purchased in the CurrClick sale. The book suggested you draw a spider on the blackboard and let the kids draw their own. Um, I don't own a blackboard and I probably NEVER will. I HATE the sound of chalk on a blackboard, it's always given me the chills. Instead of drawing I simply copied the spider onto white paper, and then put another one on the same paper as well. I told Morgan that I wanted him to find ways to come up with ALL the double facts from 1+1 through to 9+9. He ended up having to add some things to his spiders. Like extra eyes and spider eggs. He had fun with it, and that's the important part. It also proved that while he may not always be quick with the higher doubles, he knows how to get the answer.

On Wednesday I decided to prove to Morgan there was a reason for learning his 5 family. You see, Morgan likes skip counting, but he has issues with the 5 family. When his front two teeth were missing he said 15 in a way that sounded like 50. Thus he's now in a very bad habit of saying 5, 10, 15, 55. It's not because he doesn't get the pattern or know, it's simply a bad habit we have to work through to "fix".

I took some flash cards we've had laying around and set them up like a clock. The 1's cards came with our math curriculum (Saxon), and the 5's were freebies I printed and laminated ages ago. I set each 5 card next to the proper one card so that the boys could view minutes and hours all at once. (Morgan's watch is set up in the same fashion, but the 5's are quite tiny!) Then I gave him a big marker and a small marker. He all ready understood that minutes on a clock were often counted in groups of 5, add the cards on the floor and I was able to call out odd times and he could go to them.

I had Jayden set up with the learning clock so he could do both analog and digital time. I was mostly giving Jayden whole and half hours to work on, but he wanted a trickier one. He's got the concept right, even if the 5 is upside down! By the time he called me to officially check the clock time, the 5 was right side up. After a while I had them switch so Morgan worked on digital while Jayden got the chance to sit on the huge clock and use it.

Last, but not least, we've also played a game called Ten's Concentration. (For the record, I did not make this up. I found a sight with math games on it and this was one of them.) Morgan has requested to play this game every day since I first introduced him to it. The idea is to play memory (aka concentration) but your two cards must equal ten. I suspect Morgan will know his ten facts far better then any other facts by the end of the week.

After seeing the way Morgan has responded to math this week, something he's always enjoyed, I think we'll be keeping this up for some time to come. This doesn't mean we're writing off math just because we don't crack open the manual every day. Rather I'm using my manuals as a guideline of what we should cover. We do still use our worksheets, but we do them after so much hands on application that Morgan has has no problems with it. He's even noticed a few "secrets" at figuring out patterns and answers.

You can read More about living math from these sites:

  • Living Math -- the sight is full of resources from books to websites. Games, links, and even a prelaid out lesson plan if you're so obliged.
  • Let's Play Math -- a website loaded with math information, games and resources as well. This is where I got the Ten's Concentration as well as a few other fun games from.
  • Squidoo Lens -- this is another great lens that Jimmie put together and it helped me find a few of my missing links. It also encouraged me to do what I really felt was the right thing for our family. (You can also read about some of their fun Living Math lessons over on her blog.)
  • Family Math -- this one has been on my wish list for over a month now awaiting my next Amazon order. After reading some raving reviews from other homeschoolers who use it I can't wait for my copy to arrive.
Be sure to check your library for books as well. Our library has a huge collection of math books. In fact when we checked a few out this week the librarian wrote the names and barcodes down so she could check them out for her own daughter.


schmobes said...

What GREAT ideas! I am always looking for ways to make math (which my son loves) even more inviting! I'll be using some of these ideas!

Tricia said...

So glad I'm not the only one who hates chalk & chalkboards!
Tricia O