Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Making Maths Moments.

A friend asked me today how I do Maths at home?  I was stumped.... how do I explain what we do?  I'm not very consistent about teaching maths....most of our maths happens through day to day experiences, not seat work. 

I'm still battling with my teacher conscience and the reality which I see playing out in front of me daily: do I follow a progressive curriculum or do I let the learning happen naturally?  

I loved teaching Maths at school.  I used a problem solving method which, in theory, is taught through real life experiences....... make maths relevant.....make it relate to what you're learning....let the learner discover their own method of solving a problem.  However, there was always a progressive curriculum you needed to complete within a year......I'm not so sure there is really a need to tick off every progressive step anymore.

But I do believe in making Maths relevant.  Using materials which we use in everyday life, like a calendar.

Charlotte Mason speaks of a Calendar of Firsts in her Nature Study notes.  (The idea is to record when one sees something in nature for the first time in a season and as the years go by you add your finds to it.)
With this idea in mind I introduced the calendar to my kids this year....maybe one day we'll get to that Calendar of Firsts, but in the mean time this is what we do....

record the weather, birthdays and special events....(the kids do the drawings most days)

Maths? Yip, data handling.  And a whole lot more....

Number recognition/concept: find the day/date, what came before, after?

Time: what day is it? what is the date? which month are we in? (Sometimes we even sing a days of the week/months of the year song-with actions!!) Which season? What day will it be tomorrow? Yesterday? Today?
Which month came before? Will come after?

Counting: How many days in the week/month?  How many have we had?  How many are left? Counting forwards, backwards, from a number. Introducing ordinal numbers (first, second etc.)

Jenna has been interested in Afrikaans lately so we've also used the calendar to learn the days of the week, months and counting in afrikaans.

You could also use it for:
  • making a graph of the different weather types-a simple picture graph or bar graph.
  • counting in 2's and 5's (seven's if you're adventurous)
  • recognising odd and even numbers
  • how many sleeps till? since?
As you can see we haven't been very fancy with colours-I'm not a frills kinda gal-but I do get bored with the same old, same old so next month I think we'll colour code the weather types.  A step up in recording and data handling skills ;-)

We've also, just this week, started another calendar on which we are recording the daily rainfall.  I'm thinking of using it for:
  • comparing numbers (more, less, same as)
  • problem solving (adding totals, how much more rain fell on...?)

This is probably one of our more consistent activities we do daily..... nothing fancy, but a whole lot Foundation Phase maths, and it doesn't take more than 15 minutes.  Which is great because that means on good weather days we can head out the door a lot quicker!