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The Count

March 25, 2010

Monkey’s latest learning streak has been about counting. I am not formally homeschooling him right now, but whenever he shows interest in something I try to expand upon that. Lately he has been counting everything. He’s got a placemat with the numbers 1-10 on it and plays games with his food. He has had some informal subtraction lessons during snack time the last couple of days. =) We’ve even done some division when he had 8 pieces of food (4 crackers & 4 pieces of cheese) and we combined them to make 4 sandwiches. Of course he isn’t actually getting the subtraction and division aspects of it yet, but he is starting to see that things can be grouped differently.

This morning while he was eating breakfast, he told me that the orange juice container was wrong.

“What do you mean, bud?” I asked.

“It says three, but there is only one,” he replied confidently.

Since he couldn’t read the word “points” he assumed that the “three” was referring to the orange juice container pictured below. So this morning we had a little lesson about units. I told him that the three meant you get three points when you get one orange juice container. The mastery of units is a topic that is quite important to me as a former science teacher. In science if there is no unit with a number, that number is meaningless. I had so many students who could not do simple conversions because they just never understood what to do with the units! Stopping to teach Monkey about units this morning was something I was glad to do.

After explaining that you get three points with one OJ container, I pointed to the six and asked:

“How many OJ containers do you need to to get six points?”

“One, two,” he answered as he finger-pointed to each one.

Then, before I could even quiz him about the next one, he said:

“And you need three containers and nine points.”

“Hold on, kid. I need to get my camera. Ok. Show me again how many containers you need to get nine points?”

“One, two (click), three.”

I was really surprised. He got that the pictures of the containers and the written numerals above were each different things that went together. He just missed that it was the containers that got you the points.

When he wants to know about something he learns it really quickly. It’s a good reminder to me to keep paying attention to his interests and expanding upon those. Right now I just want him to learn as much about the things that interest him so that he will learn to love the act of learning. Then (hopefully) it will be a little easier to teach him about things he’s not so interested in.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 25, 2010 1:55 pm

    You are totally motivating me as a mother! I think it’s easy to just get through the day, but I want each day to be a learning, fun experience. I know mine is only 1, but we can still start learning, right? 🙂

  2. March 25, 2010 3:16 pm

    wow multiplication, that’s pretty good!

  3. March 25, 2010 5:44 pm

    Ok, you FLOORED me with this one. I would have completely glossed over the unit conversion with a three-year-old. Your wisdom in tackling it according to his curiosity is very motivating. How many times do I assume a concept is “above” my child rather than take the time to explain it simply and effectively like that?

  4. Squirt's Mom permalink
    March 25, 2010 7:40 pm

    as the math teacher, i like the multiplying part! good work, mom!

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