I have a lot of theories about learning. And it’s become clear over my twelve years of parenting that many of them are sound. My children have picked up reading as easily and naturally as speaking or riding a bike. Some earlier, some later. Some with a little more effort than others. But once my children can read, they’ve all become bookworms.
And I fully intended for math to be the same way for my children. In my (pre-children mind) they would learn about the lives of great mathematicians. They would learn the hows and why of their theories, not just memorize facts. Math would not be some far removed subject, relegated to textbooks, having no connection with the real world. My children’s math education would be different.
Unfortunately for many years, the fact that I was, in actuality their math teacher, alluded me. I would have to be the one to teach all of that. And to teach it, I’d have to learn it. The fun parts at least. I do have a grasp of the basics. And I really didn’t (don’t ?) want to learn any more math. Oh, the sacrifices we make for our children…
Here is an activity I created to go along with The Warlord’s Beads, a favorite book around here.
And so I’ve been seeking out fun math story books, and creating activities to go along with them. This Warlord’s series is incredible. Beautiful illustrations and engaging story lines. Suggestions in the back of the books for activities. Here we have all the supplies to make a counting frame (precursor to the abacus) described in the book. I read the book aloud to my children, and had to break up fights over who was going to do this activity first. It’s a wonderful concrete introduction to place value, without sounding too “mathy” or educational. Several of my older children expanded on the idea, and created a thousandth’s place as well. A clear sign that they have mastered the concept.
Four-year-old Hezekiah enjoyed making one on his own. The little guy feels so proud to be able to count such high numbers!
I’ve learned a few things about these activities (from experience and Montessori blogs) and that is to have everything laid out that is needed for a particular project, and to have a sample provided. Yes, this takes time and energy on my part. But I’ve also found a direct correlation between the time I invest in these projects, and the energy and enjoyment of my children. I have yet to lay out a well planned project, and have my children ignore it. They may spend anywhere from ten minutes to ten days on a given project, depending on age, interest level and mastery.