Saturday, 30 August 2014

The First Addition to Master

As I discover Montessori Math for the first time with my daughter, things are clicking in my anti-math brain.  Left to my traditional-school upbringing, I would have started addition with 1+1, 1+2, 1+3...
you know, like flashcards?

But in Montessori (and Singapore Math), the 'number bonds' to ten are the first things taught.  
1+9, 2+8, 3+7, 4+6, 5+5.  I love this simple game to help preschoolers master them.

These are the actually the most important ones to master because our number system is based on 10s.  When I read this, a memory clicked: as a student I had been so ashamed how slow I was in adding mentally, that I discovered by myself that the easiest way to calculate was to make tens first and then add what's left. Before that I would literally 'count on' like toddlers do.  I was grade five, people.

So getting preschoolers familiar with number bonds of ten as a foundation is simply brilliant.  Now how to make it click for my math-shy daughter?  Play!

If you know the game "Go Fish" this is basically the only thing we played and my daughter is now a pro at remembering facts to ten.  I adapted this from Education Unboxed here.  

You may already know that we use number sticks, also called Cuisenaire rods.  With all my gradual discoveries on its wonders, I've put together a handy archive here.  You only need these sticks and a deck of cards - only the ones from one (ace) to nine.

I didn't have one, so I improvised and made nines with a sticker label.

The first thing we do is to make our "cheat sheet" of all the number bonds that can make ten:
"How can you make a ten?  Any other ways?"
I even talk in song to make it an auditory trigger "seven and three!  they make tennnn!"  Do whatever works.
She likes stories so sometimes I say "who is the best friend of seven to make ten?"

 Distribute four cards each.  To make this super easy (and fun when they first win), we don't hide the cards.  Now she has to see whether she has any two cards that can already make a ten:
She looks at the guide on her left if she needs prompting.

Then she can "ask" for a card that she needs to match one of hers to make a ten:
Of course she's really scanning my open-faced cards at this point.
Set all the number bond pairs made off to one side for tally later.

If she can't get any more pairs, then the other player says "go to the dump" or whatever fun thing. 
She picks cards to replenish her row of four cards again:

You can make keeping a running tally of scores fun too, if you like:
Here she stuck label stickers to the table representing the number of pairs she's made.  And couldn't resist drawing a happy face on each sticker.
Here we used the unit cubes to keep score.

When all the cards are gone, there's more number practice to be made in tallying the scores:
Here she learned the concept of "a pair" by laying out the cards to tally this way.  "How many pairs did you make?"
I got five (the yellow stick in the middle), and she's counting hers...  
... and showing me that she made a lot more than my 5 - she made 13!
"How much more pairs do you have?  What fits in the space?"
Here she is counting the sticker scoreboard and making the number 15

Within a month of playing this game fairly regularly, she's memorised the facts to ten.  We've since gone on to applying them in problem solving games like these four to six months later:

"Close your eyes!  How many units are these... open!  Haha!"
Surprise there's a whole pile of them!
Prompt how they would solve it first.  And then help if needed by teaching the trick to first make tens.

We do this without the number sticks also to test mastery:

"Circle the number bonds that pair up to make 10s first.   How many tens did you make?  The answer is 30!"

Once the number bonds to ten are mastered, you can use the game to learn number bonds from 9 below.  Here we are doing the eights:

5 and 3 make 8!

It's pretty easy to dial the difficulty up or down on this game.  For perspective, Ladybug Girl just turned five when we started working on addition this way.  It's almost been a year and this game is still going strong and is lots of fun!

Math.  Fun.  Wow.  That actually clicks.

Visit the number sticks archive on the sidebar of the blog:

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Saturday, 23 August 2014

Child-Made Scrapbook: 2 Ways

Kids today are so lucky that travel is much cheaper for their parents.  I didn't travel to another country until I was in high school, nor did I visit Boracay until I was a yuppie!  Nowadays Boracay is a teenage rite of passage, and Cebu Pacific has actually told my husband we are one of their frequent flyers.  

I do worry that children won't even remember the places they go to.  Worse, I'm not much of a photographer when we're on vacation.  Here's a fun way to get preschoolers more appreciative of their travels and a great introduction to journaling:

There's a little spot in her room which I reserve as a memory board of sorts:

Later on I'd like to use this as a geography corner as well - just haven't gotten around to it!

Before you think I'm great at crafts, let me tell you that this is just washi tape:

cover a cork board in wash tape frame: completely doable in fifteen minutes

I let her cut up the brochures I saved on the trip.  It's tempting to take over the choice of memories, but I let her have complete freedom in choosing which ones were dear to her:

We used our stash of hole fasteners here to pin them to the cork.  
She's not too sturdy with her fine motor yet, otherwise pushpins are still the easiest.   

Bring a single-hole puncher in case the fasteners won't pop through thicker paper, like tickets.

Her memories of Thailand: 

clockwise: Siam Ocean World, Kidzania, Siam Niramit show, the Snake Farm

Keep it free-flowing and follow your child's lead completely.  

Afterwards she wanted to do more with the brochures so she decorated the kiddie hat from Siam Ocean World with a glue stick.  She wore this and pretended to be a tour guide of the Snake Farm:

After doing one together as our weekend play bonding, I tried to adapt it as a (what else) leave-behind play activity!  

I have a whole gallery, a talk, and social media accounts dedicated for easy leave-behind play ideas for working moms to keep play going even while we're at the office.  These are basically just invitations to play that are very easy for your little one to understand.

Since we've done one together, this needed no further prompts more than this simple setup:

Find contact paper at the wallpaper and blinds section of Ace, True Value or Handyman

I usually set out the play invitations at night for her to discover and do at her own pace.  But when she saw this one, she couldn't wait to do it.  That's why I have these pictures:

She finished cutting the brochures by herself, stuck the tickets, and started decorating the empty spaces with sequins.  

If you don't have contact paper around, you can use stickers to use as "tape" instead - just make sure your child gets what to do.
But contact paper makes it really easy for even 2-3 year olds to make collages though!

Her memories of her Singapore birthday trip:

Clockwise: Flower Dome, River Safari, Sampan Ride, The Mummy Secrets of the Tomb Exhibit, Cable Car Ride

After I let this work stay up for a few weeks, I snap a picture and throw them away so I don't keep paper clutter.  They'll find their way to the travel photo book soon.  Which really means 'eventually'.

As is most play at the toddler and preschool age, it's about the process rather than the finished result.  Doing this together, or talking about what she chose at the end of the day sparked a nice little conversation, gave me more insights into her, and relived memories of being happy.

Notice it's "memories of being happy" not "happy memories"?  After all, memories fade but the feelings of a happy childhood you always remember.  

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Sunday, 10 August 2014

Overheard Parenting

I get a lot of parenting dos-and-don'ts while observing strangers in toy stores, restaurants, the bookstore and church.  
This pretty much sums up why: