Monday, November 24, 2014

mathing this fall

playing with triangle numbers
I've written about how we "do maths" before, but it's been a while, and though the core of it hasn't changed a lot, there are some new resources about that we're having fun with.

Part of what has changed about math is that Eliza follows a curriculum several days a week. What drives this is a couple of things.  Ohio requires a summary of what we have accomplished over the year, either by standardized test or portfolio review. If that were not the case, I would be letting math unfold for her in a different way.  There is also the possibility that she is going to want to try school at some point, and I don't want her lack of math to be a huge obstacle.  Since I have a harder time just slipping math into whatever we are doing, and she and I are so similar in a way that creates a mini-storm when we attempt to do a few things together (math and piano), taking me out of the equation for the most part has been very helpful.

I heard a mom complaining about long division the other day and wondering how else she could explain it to her child who hates it, and I asked if they were using a curriculum at all and she said "Oh! Yeah! I guess I could farm that one out!" I think it's helpful to know when you need to employ other means of getting something across in order to protect your relationship with your child!! If we're arguing or frustrated, there's no learning happening anyway, so why persist in that direction?

So, she works on Teaching Textbooks, usually alone, and sometimes she grouses about it but I'll tell you what, she never gets more than a couple wrong, if even that. She shakes her head in bewilderment sometimes, and then a grin spreads. How did I do that??

Ani and I do something mathy every day.  Her current bedtime request, before she gets to her own reading, is for a chapter of The Number Devil by Enzensberger.  Oh my gosh, I love this book and I wish he'd written enough for us to read several chapters a week and still not be done.  I don't get all of it, but I love puzzling over the patterns and tricks, and obviously she does too.  I think we'll go through it again in six months or so with a notebook instead of a pillow and play a little more directly with the ideas.

doubling a muffin recipe, on the window
Sometimes her math looks like a card game of war, or a game out of Family Math.  It can also be a bunch of problems I write up on the window for her (at her request) or a sudoku puzzle.  Lately we've all been working on the multiplication tables. Let me tell you, I think what drove us all to learn them when I was a kid was competition!! There is just no drive to learn them! I remember memorizing them, but it's been slow here - until I remembered Schoolhouse Rock and found their videos for 0 through twelve.  YAhoooooo!!! Ani thinks they're the bee's knees and I found her skating in her footies around the living room with her multiplication table in hand, filling in the eights as she sang the song over and over and over...(It's ok if  you're rolling your eyes - it isn't always like that around here, and no, she doesn't beg for spinach over chocolate.)

Why are they learning them if there is no drive? Well, the mistakes Eliza makes in her math aren't generally because she doesn't understand the process but because she doesn't know her times tables and it really slows her down.  Since she doesn't love math, that is a bad thing!  I also love how since it's something we are all doing, we are able to play with numbers all the time...

Which leads me to the dorky games I come up with to practice.  Exhibit A, Eliza, on a freezing cold day, finding a game I'd drawn out and then abandoned because it was so cold.  She actually loved it.  (It's just simple: stand on the heart while I call out a multiplication problem, then jump to the answer. Back to the heart. Repeat.)

I ransacked our 5 decks of cards and merged them into the perfect Multiplication War game: each player has a stack of cards with only the numbers we are working on (2, 4, 8, 3) and a stack with everything else (including 2 of each of those numbers).  For each turn you turn over a card from each pile, and do the problem, and the person with the highest product wins.

Colorku - like Sudoku with colored marbles
We've also been using The I Hate Mathematics Book and Math for Smartypants a little for ideas.  Definitely more to mine there.

math + pajamas = most mornings

My brother-in-law is a whiz and enjoys puzzling numbers over, so he is often eager to check in on what we're doing and how we're feeling about math.  During a long drive home from the coast this summer, he talked to me about what he calls "fuzzy math".  The math that is huge and abstract.  The math that is not just about numbers, or is about numbers but only in one facet. The math that is music, art, architecture, shapes and beauty. Fuzzy math.  So we've been trying to make sure at least some of our math every week is fuzzy.  Eliza calls them "math art days".

Thanks to a couple of new books at the library, we've played with Cool String Art and made tesselations with Cool Paper Folding (all right, so I picked them up even with the lousy titles).  

Which of course led us outside to fix up our dusty and loose geoboards for more math art...

pretty picture of rubberbands. i couldn't resist the colors.

Of course there is Fibonacci, every six months or so, because who doesn't love spirals?

And when the weather throws you a sunny, if blustery, curveball and you have to get outside, there is always the number line, skip, skip, skip...

mathematician clearly rocking out

Writing a post a day for November...

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