I must tell you, I can't believe I'm writing a post about math. I'm so not a math mind. Like most homeschooling moms, it's the one aspect of learning I'd happily leave in someone else's hands. That's the reason I'm such a fan of the quality programs at Teaching Textbooks. It has been totally liberating for both Quinn and me for him to start each day with his Teaching Textbooks lesson at the computer--he loves the style of teaching and learning, has never run into a problem he cannot learn after following the process the program lays out, and I do not have to stress over trying to figure out how to explain processes that quite frankly intimidate me as much as they do him. I am so glad to say that for math this year, he'll work his way through Teaching Textbooks 6--and there's nothing left to explain. Whew! Thank goodness!
On the other hand, one of the advantages to homeschooling is to ensure that my children don't have the same experiences with learning as I did in school. I don't want them to think that math is the one part of the day that we must struggle, suffer, butt heads and be frustrated. I want to introduce them to the world of numbers in a way that is interesting, inviting, familiar, and fun. That is what appeals to me about Waldorf math stories. I really want my boys to be introduced to the mathematical world in this wonderfully creative, gentle way. I have been enamored with Katherine's Gnomes and Gnumbers tale since she first began posting it at Serendipity. I keep hoping the timing will be right for her to finish it one day, but in the meantime, my Gabriel, who is eight, is approaching the end of his introductory years in math and if I'm going to do this with him, the time is now. In addition, Brendan, who is six, is beginning his formal learning adventure this year and this is the perfect introduction for him. So I will begin my year using the six lessons Katherine has already laid out for the first semester. Both boys will hear the stories and do some of the activities together, and then each will complete age appropriate hands-on work, main lesson book pages, and Kumon workbook pages for reinforcement. Next semester, I'll work on writing some stories of our own to introduce the processes of multiplication and division and work with the same rhythm we set this semester.
Here is a sample of the plans for studying Lesson 1 for three weeks of math instruction:
Monday: (Both)Play the gem trading game.
Tuesday: (Both)Listen to story 1, re-enact it, draw the gnomes in main lesson book.
Wednesday: (Brendan) Work on counting out gems up to 20. Practice recognizing numbers 1-20 by counting out piles of gemstones that are given him and matching them to the correct number written on card stock and laminated. Begin modeling numbers 1-20 out of Crayola Model Magic.
(Gabriel) Work on counting to 100 by placing gems on hundreds board, counting aloud as he goes. Practice number recognition by making the number I call out of card stock number card (example: I say "72", he finds a seven card and a two card and lines them up side by side to make the number). Reverse the process by letting him make a number and call it out to me. Begin main lesson book activity of writing numbers 1-100 in the fashion suggested in the lesson.
Thursday (Brendan): Do dot to dot activities with numbers up to twenty. Play guessing game: Have him pour out what he thinks is twenty beans from a large jar into a tray. Then have him count them out and add or take away as needed. Finish modeling numbers.
(Gabriel): Do dot to dot activities with numbers up to 100. Play guessing game with 100 instead of 20. Complete main lesson book page.
Monday: (Both) Gem Trading Game
Tuesday: (Both) Listen to story (acting out breaking of the stick as we read), re-enact it with gnomes and sticks, draw Old Dismas in main lesson book.
Wednesday: (Both) Make roman numerals 1-12 out of toothpicks. Place correct number of gems next to numeral. Match modeled numbers to roman numerals. Begin main lesson book page writing numbers 1-12 in a row, followed by roman numeral, followed by correct quantity of gem stones.
Thursday (Both): Complete assigned pages in Kumon numbers workbooks, finish main lesson book page. Listen to Anno's Counting Book and One Beautiful Baby read aloud. Draw a baby in main lesson book page and label from the story.
Monday (Both): Gem Trading Game
Tuesday: (Both) Listen to story, re-enact, narrate story and place keyboarded version in main lesson book, decorate page.
Wednesday: (Both) Play hopscoth with roman numerals in the boxes. Count out loud as they go. Practice counting to 100 out loud, taking turns saying the next number. Complete form drawing for main lesson book.
We will follow a similar rhythm for the other lessons, alternating the story and main lesson book work with hands-on learning, play, and math-themed picture books. We'll post our plans for those lessons in the weeks ahead. If you're considering using Gnomes and Gnumbers this year and have thoughts, ideas, or questions to share, please consider leaving us a note in the comments for Lesson One over at Serendipity. I'll meet you there!