Sunday, October 25, 2015

Week 7: Multiplication & More Writing

So as the school year progresses on, I presented Golden Bead Multiplication to my almost 4-year old this week! I would NEVER have thought to introduce the concept of multiplication in preschool but seeing the way Montessori does it, it makes SO much sense.

I started off by giving DJ a number, 1,324, and asking him to build the number with beads. Then, I laid out the same number two more times and asked him what he noticed about them. When he realized they were all three the same, I said to him, "Right, we're going to take 1,324 three times. That's multiplication."

Then I asked if he wanted to see what the total was. So he combined all three piles and added up the totals, to 3,972. I took away the two extra sets of small number cards and added a different card with a #3 on it to reiterate that the problem we had solved was "1,324 times 3 is 3,972". The next time we do multiplication, we'll skip the three sets of number cards and only use a single card for the multiplier.

In other exciting math news, my wonderful husband finished a new DIY Hundred Board. Yay! I had received the 100 tiles in a Craigslist lot of materials that ended up essentially being free to me. I really wanted to use them but there was no board, which I felt was important. DJ's dad, cut the back out of extra hardboard that we had in the garage and we bought about $2 of wood pieces from Michael's for the trim. The lines are just drawn on with a sharpie.

And this is why I am so glad I decided to make a board instead of trying to use the tiles stand alone. DJ is still working on learning the numbers from 21-40. I put the Hundred Board on the shelf and let him discover it and explore it on his own without any presentation. He immediately started to place the tiles on the board randomly and didn't stop until he had filled every slot. He was so surprised and excited to see that he had just enough tiles. I smiled and said, "That's right, there are 100 spaces and 100 tiles. Do you want me to show you something?" When he agreed, I pulled out the number tiles 1-20 and started placing them in order with #1 in the top left slot. I'd only made it to #3 when DJ took over and filled in all the way to 20. Then I pulled out 21-40 and we worked slowly through those numbers together.

I had planned on stopping there but DJ pointed to the rest of the board and said, "Let's fill these in too!" So I pulled out the high-end condiment cups that I had stolen from Five Guys Burgers (shhh) and we sorted the rest of the tiles in groups of 10's. DJ wasn't fully understanding what we were doing at first so we fell into a pattern that he would choose a tile, read the number to me (usually in the form of 'five-tens, two') and I would point to the cup it belonged in. As he was doing that, I sorted through tiles as well so speed us along. Even still, when we were done sorting, DJ was done with the Hundred Board, which didn't bother me because I hadn't expected to do that much anyway. On another day, he chose to work with the board again and went back to just placing the tiles randomly. And that is fine too. Connecting the truth of the 1-to1 correspondence with the written numbers 1-100 is a process and he's studying it.

On the writing front, I've been challenging DJ to write 4 letters and 1 number each day for 10 days. With 40 letter sounds and 10 numerals, he'll have written every symbol at least once at the end of 2 weeks. By the end of the first week, he was pushing back on the "assignment" nature of this work when he's used to being able to refuse work. But I'm pushing him because I know him. He's capable of writing these letters at this stage but he doesn't believe he is. Once he has experienced successfully writing each one, he'll be more likely to choose the work voluntarily. I'm definitely dealing with an intelligent boy here who believes everything he does should be easy so if it's hard then he must not be capable of doing it. I'm going to have to teach him that things worth doing as worth working hard for.

Speaking of doing easy things, this is an awful picture, but DJ has been choosing the Brown Stair and Pink Tower every week lately. He worked with these extensively last year. I'm struggling with allowing him to do this as part of "school" versus expecting him to choose something more "appropriate". But I know all primary works are supposed to be available for selection even if they're "too easy".

So while DJ was doing his Brown Stair, I chose to work with the Geometric Solids and these picture cards that I printed. DJ looked at these pictures when I first put them on the shelf a few weeks ago and immediately put them back so I was hoping I could inspire him by working on it myself. It sort of worked. I had matched a lot of the cards when DJ became intrigued and started taking over. He easily placed some of the pictures under the ellipsoid (watermelon), sphere (soccer ball), and cube (dice). But then he struggled with tripod (triangle-based pyramid) and wanted to put the work away. If it's easy, it's fun. If it's challenging, it must go far, far away. Hah. It definitely feels like 7 weeks into the year. Is it time for the holidays yet?

On another day, I read these books to DJ as part of introducing the 5 classes of vertebrates. These books are a little above DJ's level so it takes some of skill on my part to keep him interested. We happened to be in his play room as I was reading and we started with the book on mammals. It was complete serendipity that DJ's basket of jungle & farm animals was out in the floor. I guess he'd been playing with it and hadn't put it back. So when we got to sections in the book about horses having 1 toe, cows having 2 toes and primates having opposable thumbs, DJ was able to check these facts on his animals.

And while he wasn't checking the accuracy of my book, he was busily building this elaborate train set. The joys of homeschooling is sometimes allowing the learning & playing to happen at the same time.

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