Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Math with Ten Red Apples

While picking up a stack of books from our local library, I stumbled across the book Ten Red Apples by Pat Hutchins. I was actually looking for another Pat Hutchins book for a different math lesson, but when I saw Ten Red Apples I knew it would make a fun subtraction lesson for Jayden and that Morgan wouldn't mind sitting in on it. Jayden has spent a lot of time concentrating on his addition facts and he wasn't too eager to try some subtraction the other day when I suggested it. So, I decided the best way to entice him was to introduce it again in another fun manner.  I wanted the lesson to be hands on, and I considered putting 10 juicy red apples in front of him (it's apple season here, and they are soo tasty right now) but I figured the eating of the apples would distract from the lesson. I also considered making some felt food apples, but while digging out some other craft supplies I found our meager stash of Sculpey and decided we'd make clay apples instead. And we did, Jayden was quite excited to find clay in his workbox and dug right in. We have (as you can see in the picture above) some oddly shaped apples, but they worked just fine for our project.

Considering the fact that I learned my lesson about introducing math manipulatives and not letting the kids have a play first, I gave them one whole day to fiddle, play, investigate and otherwise use the apples. We lost a few stems, we had a few teddy bear apple picnics. Lego men and star wars figurines pigged out on those apples, but by math the next morning they were as good as new. I pulled out the book, the clay apples, and a math sheet with subtraction facts on it. It only had the numbers 1-10 on it and each fact only took away 1. Simplistic, yes even for him, but that's what I wanted. We read the story and laughed ourselves silly, apparently the boys really enjoyed the empathy voice I used on the poor farmer as he cried, "Save some for me!!"

After we read the story we acted it out with our apples. I considered having the kids use toy animals that were identical to the ones in the book, but I forfeited that idea with some small fears over the Indian math lesson creeping in. Instead I put the apples on the floor and we'd give one to the character in the book as we reread it, then the apple would "vanish". We'd count the rest of the apples and answer the matching math fact on our paper. Jayden caught on quite quickly and was delighted to see it was just as easy as counting down for rocket ships. I'm a bit concerned now as to what may be hiding in his closet..

Then I took an idea from my very favorite math resource book, A Collection Of Math Lessons. Have I mentioned this book before.... The idea was to help children really comprehend what they are doing and how math can apply to their everyday lives let them write out a math question and draw a picture to match that can be used to check the answer. They should also jot the answer on the back of the paper. My long term idea is to have the kids make their own math facts book. They'd love reading it themselves, but they'd also adore testing parents, cousins, grandparents, etc. So, to give them an idea of how it would work I asked them to draw a picture from the book about our math lesson on the back of their math fact paper. They had a lot of fun with this.

Morgan's picture was complex. He drew different colored apples (because he loves using as much color as possible) so that each animal would know which apple belonged to it. As for the house. He figured if the animals could share apples with the farmer, the farmer could share his house.. Yes, he took creative liberties, but that's okay! The idea in having them draw the picture was simply to make them aware that they could draw a picture about math if they wanted.

Jayden's picture was much less complex, and he was quite pleased with it until he saw his brother's neat and tidy picture.  So we took the time to tell him all the fun things in his picture that we liked. Such as the farmer's very funny misshapen (on purpose) hat. We especially loved the very long legs he gave to the cow, which was so the cow could read the very tippy top apple. Jayden doesn't usually like to draw, but he enjoyed this activity so hopefully he'll enjoy helping contribute to the math book. 

All in all it was a really fun math lesson. We spent the rest of the day, much to the confusion of poor Mr Scarecrow, the neighbors, and a few unsuspecting tourist quoting the rhyme from the book. The cherry on top was that Jayden decided take-aways weren't so bad after all!

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