I am still working through this block and I am a little behind with Donna’s curriculum. I’ve been giving a breather to my lessons, which I should say has been helping my children and myself to digest what we are all learning. I’ve been realizing more and more how I would like to implement a more natural way of learning. Yet i’m not comfortable just yet of letting go of leadership. Making the lessons more concrete and hands-on always seems to make them easier to offer. My boys willingly jump into a game even if the game has school written all over it. Here’s something I want to share with you other homeschooling moms (& dads), even school teachers looking for some visual aid with placement value.
In Waldorf circles, math is approached with little gnomes as manipulatives, aiding the children to visualize abstract mathematical notions. Donna has suggested the use of squirrels instead, since gnomes have been overused in the community. They are also easily seen by children everyday just by stepping into their own backyards. Donna give’s a short story about these four squirrels, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division and how they came about getting the names they each hold. Lesson by lesson you reintroduce the children to these characters, and as your child develops a relationship with them, enthusiasm will embody each lesson. This second block of Math was about the introduction of placement value. In the gnome world this would take place down in a crystal grotto with special chambers holding the jewels for the king. Squirrels being a forest creature, we had to adapt it to its habitat. Donna suggested the use of a grandfather tree.
Here’s where my imagination left off from Donna’s inspiration.
The squirrels spent most of their days collecting nuts and seeds for the upcoming cold winter. They had heaps of nuts and seeds everywhere. By and by they started to feel bewildered, and they were running this way and that in their panic frenzy. Owl who was sitting high above watching carefully the unravelling scene below,bellowed out a
“OOO” “Dear, Oh! Dear! What is the matter my friends, you seem confused and worried” said Owl.
Addition who was nearest answered first,
” Mr. Owl, we love collecting nuts and we have enjoyed counting them all summer long but we are not able to add them all up without getting confused, there is just too many piles everywhere. I seem to be able to count quickly a pile up to 10 but anything above 10 gets difficult and I worry of making a mistake. When I have many piles to count all at once I forget how many I had counted in the previous piles and I get all mixed up.”
“I see what the problem is” answered Owl. ” What you need is compartments to separate the piles you have already counted.” He directed them to a very old tree, Addition had never seen such a large tree before, the trunk was very big. Carved on the side were holes that a woodpecker had hollowed out.
“Here on the left will be your first compartment called the “ones”, any nuts or seeds collected today are placed here. Each compartment cannot hold more then 9 and so at the end of the day you will need to place the nuts in piles of ten. Every pile of ten that you make can be replaced by 1 stick that you place in the second compartment called the “tens”. When the “tens” compartment gets too full you will exchange a bundle of 10 sticks for 1 pine cone that you will place in the third compartment called the “hundred”. This should bring order to your calculations.” Owl replied.
After introducing the concept which was still very dry at this point, we played some games involving the beans (nuts) popsicle sticks (sticks, and pine cones). While using two dice, he rolled out the number and correctly placed the required amount in each category. We also used a deck of cards omitting the ace, face cards and jokers.
On day two, we revisited the story above and played the placement value game. On the board I drew four trees with problems for Evan to solve. To give him a challenge, Addition had counted and left numbers without any visual manipulatives in the compartments while the other two had the visual aid but missing the counted numbers. Evan had no difficulty figuring out what to do.
Continue on page 2…