Last week we made Fraction Kits, an idea from a book we use for math games, called Family Math. The girls thought this activity was the bees' knees, and Eliza said, "This is math????? It's so much FUN! If I'm ever a teacher, this is definitely the way I'm going to teach math." Glow. (Come on, you've got to savor these moments, right?!)
Using 5 strips of the same length, we in turn folded them in half once, in half twice, in half three times, etc., each time guessing before unfolding just how many new "parts" there would be. You cannot believe how exciting this part was...After halves and quarters, Eliza's next guess was that our three foldings would yeild six parts, which I thought was very logical, but then by the 16ths, she had caught on. Then you label them, and finally cut them along their folds. Voila, Fraction Kit.
The game part comes (what? there's more??) when you either roll a fancy die that we do not have that says 1/2, 1/4, 2/8, etc, or you write the fractions on little pieces of paper and take turns drawing them out of a bowl, hoping to eventually cover your one strip that remains whole before someone else does...They asked me today if we can make another kit.
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A friend of mine recommended a book that she has actually never had in her possession but has looked for since her children, now teenagers, were little. Lo and behold, Dan was able to get it from the University Library, and it is a wonderful book that I covet: Mapmaking with Children: Sense of Place Education for the Elementary Years. Sobel talks about connecting children to the place they are instead of overwhelming them with the abstract bigger picture, memorizing places and names that are not linked to their world in any way. Basically, begin with your home, your neighborhood, the places you are familiar with, and then broaden the scope. Likewise, begin with three dimensional models - blocks or other material - then move to pictorial maps. Play with maps, make treasure hunts, map your adventures, your stories. I love this book. So we took one of the ideas from it and had fun one morning, creating a map of our living room with blocks, hiding an object in the room, and marking on the model the place where the object was hidden. When I had been the map maker a few times, the girls took over, making maps independently of the kitchen and the playroom, and hiding things for me to find. I have heard Anika begin to describe things very carefully in a cartographic way (I made that word up), taking her listener with her using a verbal map, and I can tell that she is envisioning things in a more specific and relational (is that a word?) way. It is cool, and I am inspired to do more with his ideas.
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Besides all that, there is some game-making...
...some hanging out with royalty.