During the second week of math block we met Gnome Plus, a green little fella that likes to add up more and more jewels! I continued with our story of the two young women traveling through the Land of Numbers with Ancient One. The first day they meet the gnome and his verse. The second day they discover his “sign” in the scene we have set up on the cabinet. There’s lots of hands on activities in this block and while I make a plan for some of our practice, I’m often coming up with amusing “problems” on the fly. It is after all, all about practicing! I try to insert items of significance into our storytelling and thus our “problems.” A few more of their wooden animals made their debut this week which made things interesting and to that I added an old favorite watercolor of an autumn tree that they have enjoyed playing with since they were toddlers. With another story layer, this painting and new animals were a hit! Several forest animals were trying to put together fruits, nuts and all sorts of food they’d found, thus adding it up to make a communal cache (seen in the tree hollow)! With some simple touches, they connect more with what we are doing and appreciate the way it is being done. Learning through meaningful experiences!
After lots of adding and some sharing (dividing from last week) with rocks, gems, food (green food since Gnome Plus is GREEN!), sticks, books, whatever we had around I introduce equations. First I draw out what we are talking about…Gnome Plus had 5 gems (I draw him and the 5 gems), then he found 4 more in his pocket ( draw 2 more). How many gems did he have all together? Beneath that I write the numerals and signs (+ and =). This block is meant to get them hands on experience and exposure to these concepts. We will come back to them a little more in-depth after our next LA block. At bedtime they will ask what our plans are for the following day and when I answer we will be doing a morning lesson, they honestly cheer!
I continued the theme of stories with numbers as a way to end main lesson. I resurrected some oldies but goodies from the past– simple counting books which they LOVED and can now read! Five Little Monkeys, Dots, and Freight Train. Oh the memories! I can almost hear the train’s horn as it made its way through downtown Durham some years ago. I’ve always loved the sound of the train (not too close by) and back then we would often pause to listen and pull out Freight Train!
We have also been hunkering down for more significant reading as we continue with Louise Erdrich’s Birchbark House series. We are on book 3 now and there is no stopping these two girls! Our reading inspired some gorgeous artwork, too. They made beautiful collages of Old Tallow, a wonderful character in the book, whose winter coat is patched and mended, layered year after year. They also wanted to make a map of the island where the story takes place and Omakayas lives. It is currently taped to our coffee table, behaving more like a huge jigsaw puzzle than map. They can stop by at it for a few minutes or settle down for more detailed additions. (Images below: Ada’s Old Tallow, followed by Arlene’s, a picture of the book with Ada, and beginning of the map.)
We had a fun Boulder day later in the week and met friends at the library. We happened upon a wonderful singing story time, too. Afterward Stephen met us since the library is just blocks from his school. We walked the downtown creek path which was deserted in the late afternoon — we enjoyed it all to ourselves!
We ended the week with a fabulous trip to Denver– by bus! I’ve been wanting to shoot for a month without a car and this was a little practice at still getting around, not changing our plans, but without the car. We invested in Eco passes (annual bus passes) for everyone and 2 days after getting them took full advantage! We got down to Denver in 50 minutes on a new route and new bus (had the new car scent and all) and I didn’t have to deal with parking nor the long drive back home. More on our trip to Denver later…