Friday, October 2, 2015

Week 4: Numbers & Letters with Trucks

Did I just write that?  Are we finished with four weeks already?  Wow has this month flown by. DJ did a lot of great work this week but the one theme you'll see throughout is trucks. Very little schoolwork would get accomplished without the cooperation of DJ's trucks.

Oh, well in this case his airplane was keeping watch. This was an exciting thing to watch, at least for me. DJ successfully completed the Teens Board!  He can now count from 1 to 19 and identify the written numbers and bead quantities for number. This took longer than I expected because of DJ's frustration with strange words like eleven, twelve, thirteen and fifteen. He knows them all now though but he still often skips 13 when counting in order. I'm not concerned about that because he did the same with 7 and he never forgets 7 now so 13 will come with time.

So now we move on to the first phases of the Tens Board. This will teach DJ the words twenty, thirty, forty, fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty and ninety.  When I started this presentation, I laid out the two Tens Board with 10-90 printed on them. Then I laid out the 10s cards from the 1-9000 Large Number Cards one at a time and asked him what they said. At that point he knew them as 1 ten, 2 tens, 3 tens, etc.

Next I had him lay out that quantity of golden beads next to each number. In this photo you can see him placing four 10-bars next to forty. So far, he thought this work was REALLY easy and was having a great time.  Then I laid the vocabulary on him and he realized this was a trick to teach him something new. Haha!  He immediately put the boards away and said he was done.

It was Friday before I convinced him to work with me on the new words again. I laid the 10s cards face down in random order on the floor. I told him we each would choose a card, read the number and if it was right, we would get to keep it. Whoever kept the most cards would win. He took the bait and we played the game through four times. To keep it fair, I would guess a number before selecting a card and if my guess was wrong I'd put it back but DJ would select a card, look at it and say the name. That way, I won only about 2-3 cards each time but he heard me saying the words over and over. By the time we were done, he was a pro and was even willingly saying "thirty" and "fifty" instead of "three-ty" and "five-ty" because I wouldn't let him win the card if he said it wrong.

The next time we work with the Tens Board I'll teach him all the other numbers from 21-99 (twenty-one, thirty-two, etc). And I expect that will go very fast because there are no new words.

After all of that heavy work, DJ asked to work with the golden beads but needed a break first so that's when this happened. I believe you could call this "Golden Beads on the Move"!

Since we've been working with subtraction, I rolled the Place Value dice and placed 9,527 beads at the top of the mat. I asked DJ how many of them he would like to take away from me. He chose 1,775 from the small number cards and then began removing that quantity of beads from my pile. He made an excellent choice because this required him to exchange both in the tens category and hundreds category in order to remove the correct quantity. DJ has an amazing imagination so when it came time to exchange at the bank, he imagined a teller's bank window with a small slot at the bottom just big enough for him to slide his hundred through and receive 10 tens back. I think that's really telling on how well he is understanding the concept of "equal exchange".

After we finished calculating how many beads I had left after subtracting what was taken, DJ needed another break so this is what happened. I love the imagery of this scene.  Doesn't it just look like this truck was made to transport these numbers??

While DJ was playing I decided to start taking pictures for my last post on the South America continent box. DJ was immediately interested and wanted to build the puzzle outside of the frame again. He's beginning to get pretty good at this.

Part of the continent box just arrived in our home the night before. DJ's Aunt Kim sent these amazing little dolls to him. She spent some time in Argentina so she likely purchased them there but one of them (in the red dress) has Paraguay written on the base.

DJ and I talked about the dolls, not knowing any of their story. He wanted to know what was in the frame the little red-dress doll is holding. I guessed that she was weaving lace like what is on her dress. I pointed out that a lot of clothing is probably handmade in remote parts of South America. I then pointed to the woven shawls on the two dolls to the left and said that style of weaving is typical of their culture. Then DJ noticed the basket of fruit on the head of doll to the right. He had seen this on one of the outfits in the Brazil Paper Doll book too. I know it's common for women in Africa and Asia to carry baskets on their head for convenience but the dresses these girls are wearing are rather fancy, so I wonder if this basket hat is a decoration.

The next day, we had some extra time and DJ had pulled out the Trinomial & Binomial Cubes. Hoping to inspire him to get into language works again, I brought out the Movable Alphabet and began working with it myself. I had written hat, cat & bat when DJ stops his work with the cubes and starts saying "b-b-b". He paused and then, looking at the word said "b - a - t bat!"  I just stared at him. Then he said "c-c-c-a-t cat!" and "h-h-h-a-t hat!"  He's getting it. He can do it. He just hasn't had an interest in coming up with his own words to write. I was very pleased. Then he blew my mind by saying, "Write 'cube,' mommy."  He almost never suggests words to write!

So I indulged him but in a tricky way. I asked him to tell me the sounds to get from the box. After we wrote cube (phonetically cueb) he asked to write yellow and he was pulling the letters from the box before we finished. You'll notice at the end of yellow (phonetically yelloa) that he insisted on connecting the lines of the o-a even though the o doesn't finish down on the baseline where the a would start. That is one of the disadvantages of a cursive movable alphabet but I think it's also a huge advantage that DJ sees the letters in a word as connecting together, working together.

Then, on a roll, he asked to write red, black and blue together. This was not at all independent work. In many ways it was more the last stage of sound games (sounding out all the sounds in a word) than it was writing. But they were his words and they had meaning to him in the context of what he was working with.

The next morning started with breakfast. DJ is almost exclusively eating his apples like this now. I cut them into slices and then he cuts them into "triangles" (as he calls them).

And then this happened. I had asked DJ if he was ready to start school and what he wanted to do first. To my surprise, he scanned the shelves and said the Brown Stair!  He hasn't worked with that in awhile and has basically completed all the work he needs to do with it. But still it called to him. His fleet of trucks helped to transport the pieces to his workspace. Then he actually built the stair, using the smallest prism to check if each step was placed properly. I had fully expected he just wanted cargo for his trucks so I was quite pleased when he did the traditional Brown Stair work too.

Then he wanted to do the color wheel activity again. This led to playing with his glitter glue and cutting some paper into tiny pieces as well.

But he did do one shape of the Metal Insets in the midst of the art. He is using the proper pencil grip very consistently now so I'm happy with his work. I do wish he'd do more writing though.

We found this leaf on the front porch from our cottonwood tree so I brought it inside and had DJ find it both in the Botany Cabinet (drawers with leaf shape puzzle pieces) and on the control sheet that has the shape names. I told DJ that this leaf is a cordate shape, although I think it just looks like an upside down heart.

Then we sacrificed a small leaf from his peace lily plant and he identified it as a lanceolate shape. I can't imagine that I'm ever going to actually know these names well enough to use them in context!  But maybe DJ will.

Then DJ explored both leaves with his magnifying glass.

After lunch and some play time, DJ and I began racing these two monster trucks (the green one is faster). Again attempting to entice him into the world of the written word, I brought out the movable alphabet and began writing truck. DJ was instantly interested in participating. Wow!  After writing truck, DJ wanted to write green and orange. He elicited the help of the trucks to transport the letters to their word. Here he has ee on the truck. At one point when he was looking for a j, he wasn't sure where it was in the box so he had the truck driver (his fingers) get out of the truck and walk around the box looking for the letter.

Before we could write the word orange, I thought DJ might need a refresher for the or letters. I brought out the sandpaper letter without explaining and DJ surprised me by saying "that says or!"  I guess he didn't need a refresher. But I had him trace it anyway.

And if you were wondering why DJ was looking for a j, orange is spelled ornj when your taught phonetics. And as you can see, DJ was quite happy with his work as he gives himself a little cheer.

So I am encouraged. DJ continues to learn in leaps and bounds. I don't think I can keep up in math!  He is constantly talking through basic math facts like "2 & 2 are 4" or "1 & 4 are 5". He asked me the other day what "2 & 2 & 1" make. At the same time, I hear him working through the sound games on his own when he thinks I'm not listening and he was really engaged with the movable alphabet work. So tune in next week for more fun! (And probably more trucks too).

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