Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fun With Cuisenaire Rods

Yesterday we played with the Cuisenaire Rods. Pepper was having tears and stress over her math problems. I got out the rods, which ALWAYS results in groans and usually more tears, and wails of "I hate math blocks!" I don't know what it is about using manipulatives to solve math problems that makes my kids crazy, but they all have resisted it.

Unless I can trick them.

I explained Pepper's page to her in about 45 different ways and she still didn't get it, crying the whole time (her, not me). I peeked ahead to the next page, but knew her tolerance for math was shot for the day, so closed the book.

Then I asked Banana Boy, "Wanna play a fun game???????"

I laid out the next page's problem for him with the rods. The question was 7 + 9 = __ + __ = ? where the two blanks must be the same number. (the answer is 8, BTW)

BB started to puzzle it out, when Pepper leaned in, all interested, and grabbed her own rods to try to figure it out. Daisy, too, got in on the action. Suddenly, I was in demand to "make another one for me, Mama!" Go figure.

We completed that whole page of problems. I asked, "Want to do another page?" to a resounding chorus of "NO!s"

Then I got out our rod book Hidden Rods, Hidden Numbers

I made a problem for Banana Boy, but it was too hard for him. Pepper tried it and was able to solve the first one. Daisy wanted to play, too, so for the next half hour, I read them problems from the book and they solved them with rods. Very fun.

Here is a sampling of the problems from the book:

Four rods.
All different.
Longest rod shorter than yellow.

(find the four rods)

Five rods.
Train is longer than purple but shorter than orange.
All the rods are alike.

(find the five rods)

Problems from Set 1, p. 1-30

w = 1
Longest x 8 <> 32
Shortest x 7 > 20
Train of evens = 8

From Set 2, p. 31-60

A) 1 number
B) it is less than 45
C) it is a multiple of 6
D) twice the number is greater than 60
E) it is not a multiple of 4
The number is ______

From Set 3, pp. 61-78

Answers are in the back of the book.

From what I can tell at Amazon, the book seems to be out of print, but is available used. If this looks like a game your children would enjoy, try to pick up a copy.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Math Moments with Banana Boy

Banana Boy got a set of Brain Quest 1st grade cards from a friend for his birthday. He is, of course, excellent at the math questions. Here are some samples:

What is 7 + 7? "Easy! 14"

What coin is 1 cent? "A penny!" (he shouts all the answers)

How much is 8 tens? thinking, thinking, thinking, "EIGHTY! That was easy. I just counted by tens 8 times!"

Rose Bud

Rose Bud's first quarter report card came in the mail. She had 3 A+, 3 A's and 2 A-.

My dad would have looked at it and said, "What's with these A-'s???"

I didn't.


Sweet sweet Sunshine. We have been working with the speech person at Banana Boy's school and we've determined that he will qualify for Early Childhood for speech, so Monday morning (unless his nose is still so gunky), off he goes to preschool!

He IS making progress with his language. Last weekend he told Papa, "Papa, pease, teeth, Sunshine," asking Papa to help him brush his teeth. But that was a LONG sentence for him.

His latest obsession is "This one." "Right here." "There!"

He still is not using any personal pronouns (me, you, him, her, etc.) He uses very few verbs and then only in isolation (like "Run, run, run" when he is running.

He understands EVERYTHING and can follow multi-step directions (go in the bathroom and bring mama the towel)

He also has become obsessed with one of our Signing Times dvds. He watches "Alex and Leah" every day at naptime, sometimes twice. He is picking up all the signs in this video and will do them along with the movie.

The other day I noticed Mr. GT had bought pears at the store. I pulled one out of the bag and showed it to him. "Sunshine, what's this?"

"App-app," he said.

"No," I said, and signed "pear" to him.

"Pay!" he shouted and did the sign back. Pretty smart little cookie, huh?

Here are some pics of his latest adventuresI had to make slings for Pepper and him for their babies. He's obsessed with his baby lately and is quite a good little daddy.He was reading Banana Boy's Bob Books to his baby. Here is how he reads, "Bob sit. Bob cat. Bob waah!" Correction: He is actually reading a Fun Tales book in this picture, but he thought it was a Bob book. So did I, apparently.
Making something out of blocks (up)
and Playing dress-up with Daisy. (down)

Lest You Think About Calling CPS on Pepper...

She and Banana Boy are examining our presidents poster. She's quizzing him on presidents. He found George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, as any good American child should.

Next, she's giving him clues. "Find James Buck an an. He has fives by his name. Warmer....Colder.....Warmer... Warmer!!!! YETH!"

"Find Calvin Coolidge. It starts with a C. Two C's."

Banana Boy wants to see that Marak Obama's picture, but then he reasons to himself, "I guess he's not on there yet because he didn't get there yet and they (all the other presidents) were there for lots of times."

Then they are talking about Theodore Roosevelt. BB asks why there are mountains in the background of his picture and Pepper explains,

"He loved animals and he made lots of parks because people were shooting the animals and then they had a place to live."

*I* didn't teach her that! We haven't even gotten to TR yet. She picks all that up from reading books.

Also this week, in Pepper's world:

She colored her December calendar (and filed all the rest of them in her binder), filled out the dates and announced there were STILL 35 days until Christmas! All with no help from me.

She quizzed BB on sight words. We have a bunch of them hanging on the kitchen cabinet.

She opened the Penguin set and had an Antarctic penguin party.

She worked on discovering whether sums and products of numbers were odd or even. This is in her Miquon Blue book. So for example, she works
2+2, 4+6, 12+30 and so on, a whole column of them and determines whether the sum is odd or even. Eventually, it asks her to decide whether ANY even + even combination will always be even (yes, it will) and then she has to make up 3 or 4 of her own problems following the pattern. She followed this same pattern for odd + even, even + odd and odd + odd, then odd x odd, odd x even, even x odd and even x even. Because of my head cold, it makes even ME dizzy thinking about it.

She and I also played Bananagrams together, making just one puzzle instead of each our own.

If you have grade schoolers and you have not yet purchased this game, PUT IT ON YOUR CHRISTMAS LIST! We LOVE this game.
It's fast to play and anyone can join in. You turn all the tiles face down in the middle of the table and each person picks 21 tiles (for 2-5 players, fewer if there are more players). Someone says "split" and everyone turns over all their tiles in front of them. You each begin building your own Scrabble/Crossword style puzzle using just your tiles. If you get stuck with a bad tile, you can "dump" and exchange it for 3 new ones. Whenever anyone has used all their tiles, they say "peel" and everyone picks one new tile. The first one to use up all their tiles after the middle tiles have been used up says, "bananas" and wins.

Banana Boy gets his own set of 21 tiles and makes 3 letter words, but he's not required to connect them together. It's great for his beginning reading and spelling. Pepper and Daisy are pretty evenly matched, since Pepper is a natural speller and Daisy is not. I am fast at using my tiles, but rather than using my last tile and calling "peel" right away, I stop and help out whomever looks stuck. I spend as much time helping the kids as I do making my own puzzle, but we don't play competitively anyway.

The girls got out their Hands & Hearts Early American kit this week and made pomanders. The skewer, the cloves and the string and ribbon were all included. We just had to supply the apples.

We also discussed the importance of correct spelling and how changing the spelling of a word changes the vowel sound from long to short or vice versa. We explored the difference between exploding the CODE and exploding a COD, being sure you are eating a SNACK and not a SNAKE, and SCRAPPING, not SCRAPING your photographs.

She also colored a picture of Lewis and Clark and read about 4 million books about Sacagawea.

So there you have it. A week in Pepper's unschooling world.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Art

Daisy's MarkerPoint art

She thought this was so cool, especially since she's done cross-stitch on fabric. She worked most of the morning on it and I even caught her doing some math to figure out the placement of some "stitches."

edited to add: I wasn't very clear about the mechanics of this project. We printed graph paper off the computer (5 squares to the inch) and she made the design lightly in pencil. Then she traced over all the x's with markers.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Few More Catch Up Photos

Teaching Sunshine about the color red

Helping Banana Boy with math

I hate math blocks (unless I am not using them for math)

I love math blocks when they are not for math!!!!

Rainforest Activities

Pepper's Toucan

Daisy's Green Anaconda strangling a Capybara

Pepper discovered a new snake species that had heretofore been unknown

Take my picture, too!!!

Catching up on School Photos

Pepper assembles a safari scene

Pack of African Wild Dogs (collie version)

Zebras are good with math

Take my picture, too!!!

Doing spelling another way

Math Moments with Banana Boy

Driving home from a cross-country meet one night, BB was counting by 10s. I had him practice counting by 5s. I asked him if he could count by 2s. I said, "You know, like 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12..."

So he begins, "3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, ...um, 31, ...." He kept going to 109!!! Yeah, he missed one or two in there somewhere. But what an amazing boy!

Nonny and I just sat there (well, I kept driving, she sat there) with our mouths hanging open in amazement! I never taught him that. We never practiced that.

He astounds me every day.