Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Spicing up math

I have no complaints about our math curriculum.  We are using RightStart Level C at the moment.  It meets Tiger's needs as a visual-spatial learner with its manipulatives and math games-based lessons, and has kept Tiger's mathematical interest up since day one.  While we are using still this as our main math curriculum now and will continue with it for the next few levels, I feel the need to add another dimension to how Tiger is learning mathematics.  Specifically, I would like to incorporate more real-life applications to the math concepts that he is learning.  It is going to sound very similar to the 'living math' idea that is very popular among many homeschoolers (which even has its own curriculum to be followed).  However, by now I have realised that I like to mix and match different materials and resources to suit Tiger's learning requirements, so a boxed curriculum will not meet our needs.  I suspect I might be a closet unschooler who's giving my son a Classical Education.  Can the two seemingly opposing educational philosophies work together?  Well, who cares?!  All I know is that regardless of the labels we put on ourselves in terms of educational approach, we are enjoying what we do and how we learn.

I've digressed.  Coming back to hands-on math, my approach is to pick a math topic, find relevant materials that are interesting to us, then apply them!  Our first hands-on math topic is place value.  I don't have any particular reason why this is our first topic (you'd think fractions would be our first topic, given that Tiger is working through it at the moment), except that: (1) we are in the 'Middle Ages' period in our history study, which is our spine for the most part; (2) I happen to have the relevant materials at hand; and (3) we need to have a successful first session to want to continue doing this, so place value is an easy topic to start.

I used the lesson plan here to go with the book, Sir Cumference and All the King's Tens.   All the additional printouts can be printed off there as well to support the lesson.  Since we had already covered place value in our main math lesson, Tiger zoomed through our first hands-on math session successfully.  It also helped that Tiger loved the quirky humour in the book.

The main idea to get across in the lesson is that each digit has a different meaning when put in a different place in a number.  This was the first time Tiger had thought about the difference between a digit and a number, so in this sense he has learnt something new from this session.


After we have gone through the lesson plan, we did a bit of improvisation with the materials.  Tiger played with the digit cards for while, but he quickly realised that to make the biggest number he possibly could, he had to place the digits in descending order.

The other new thing that Tiger learnt from this session was how to read 6-digit numbers correctly.  I hadn't realised, until this session, that although Tiger knew what a 6-digit number represent mathematically, he did not know how to read them in words.  That did not take long to sort out, especially when we were taking turn 'testing' each other at reading random 6-digit numbers.

It has been a successful and enjoyable way to reinforce a math concept.  We will be doing more of this.

This post is linked up to several blog hops, where you can visit to see what other homeschoolers have been busy with.  It is also linked to the December edition of Math Teachers at Play Carnival.


  1. I love this! My Quentin would love it, too. Thanks for the idea!

  2. sounds like fabulous math to me!

  3. This is the kind of math I love! Great job for supporting his learning style!


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