Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Week 14: Contagious Math

DJ has a lot of friends. He is a very social creature. But he has known one of his best friends, A, since they were both just a few months old. A hasn't been to preschool yet except for some awesome outdoor preschools that have taught her wonderful things about nature and herself. But a couple of weeks ago her mom asked if they could do a day of school with DJ for me to show her some math.

I asked her mom what A knows, could she count to 10 or recognize the numbers, in order to know where to start with her. Her answer was "I'm pretty sure she can count to 10, but I don't know if she would recognize any numbers". So I started at the beginning with her, first presenting just the Number Rods alone. A identified the length of every Number Rod like a pro and immediately put them in proper order when I mixed them up. She was so sweet, so attentive, and answered every question I asked without hesitation. Such a difference from my also sweet, but VERY rambunctious boy!

So I brought out the Sandpaper Numbers, thinking this might be the new information for A to learn. Again she identified every number symbol right off the bat, even when asked out of order. Yes, mom, she knows her numbers to 10!

I asked if she wanted to do more and she said yes? So I moved on to the next step of matching the Number Rods to the number cards, first with the rods in order and then randomly. DJ and A quickly turned it into a group activity, trading off putting the numbers next to the corresponding rods. Just like with DJ, A immediately recognized the shorter rods by sight and began counting segments to figure out how long the longer rods were.

All of that had taken such a short amount of time that I decided to show her the Spindle Box. Once again, she took right to it and DJ jumped right in to help her. I find this amusing because when it came time to do this work, DJ wanted no part of it! But as long as A is interested, he doesn't want to be left out. A may have been learning about numbers, but DJ was also learning how other students approach school work, something he hasn't seen before.

We didn't manage to get a picture of A working with the Cards&Counters at DJ's house, but this is where the contagious math comes in. A's mom sent me the above picture later that same afternoon saying A asked to do the Cards&Counters work as soon as they got home. I love this work because you can write 1-10 on pieces of paper and collect 55 of any small object and you have yourself an "official Montessori material".

After A left, DJ also still had the math bug. He went straight to his shelves and completed the 45-Layout by himself AGAIN! I've lost count how many times he's done this. I laugh because so many online comments about the 45-Layout is that it's a task children do once, maybe twice, over a couple of days and then never again. I understand the point. This is the ONLY time you need more than 9 thousand cubes and 45 cubes are expensive. But I lucked out and received about 90 Thousand Cubes free from Craigslist and sold the extra. If I did not have this material I would have no idea how much it could inspire my son. As far as I'm concerned, he can do this work as many times as he'd like.

On another day we did some more phonetic object matches to words that I write with the Movable Alphabet. This is easy work for DJ and I'm thinking I need to challenge him with objects all having the starting sound.

I also presented a second "sight" word to DJ, the word "the". I told DJ that it is one of many words that "break the rules" but it is such a useful word, we just memorize what it looks like and how to spell it. We also practiced reading some of the words in this little "story" that I copied from "Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading." DJ was able to sound out the words written with the Movable Alphabet but one I showed those same words to him in "book form" he froze up and said he didn't know anything, not the words, not the sound the letters made, not even what the pictures were. Hah!

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