Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Learning Math

We had a playdate with homeschool friends of ours today. I was recommending my blog to the hsing mom for some of my hs posts and I mentioned that I had done a few on hsing math. To my horror (overstatement), I've noticed that I haven't done a post with resources for helping your child learn math -- I thought I had. Well, now's as good a time as any.

My oldest is 4 years-old and I take an unschooling approach. What this means is I don't try to teach her math, but I do acquire lots of math stuff -- books and manipulatives and toys; we have a 100 chart on the wall in the kitchen that she looks at often and uses as a guide. I try to strew my daughter's path (an unschooling term coined by Sandra Dodd, I think; definitely not original to me) and let her find things she wants to play with or books she wants to peruse. When she has questions or wants to play or read, I'm all hers, or I try to be.

So far, she seems be learning counting, greater than/less than, sequencing, matching/sorting. She's getting interested in adding and realizing that numbers can be added up in various ways -- today she was noting that 4 can be 3 plus 1 but also 2 plus 2. I figure thats progress.

Ah, yes, I must also admit that we have plenty of workbooks lying around the house which she'll pick up and work on when she's in the mood. I'm not thrilled with workbooks, but if she wants to do them and learns something, thats great.

There are lots of books about math out there. One source is the library, under the subject term Mathematics -- Children's Material. Rosemary Wells wrote a Get Ready for Kindergarten Series which has a couple of math books, outside that series but by the same author is Bunny Party and Bunny Money. The Get Ready Series is not as interesting, its not much of a story and its set in a classroom -- something hsers may not want to push if they are worried it will make their children feel weird for not being in school. The Bunny books are cute stories about a big sister and her troublesome younger brother and their ever-understanding grandmother. Definitely cute and worth a look.

I just ordered 10 Friends by Bruce Goldstone -- its illustrates the various ways numbers can add up to ten.

Math Start Series by Stuart Murphy -- he has written a lot of books and sorts them into a few levels. Each book focuses on a single math topic, like sequencing, sets, matching, counting, etc. The stories vary, some are cute, some are sort of lame, but my DD likes them. What I really like about them is that each book has a parent page which suggests activities and a few other children's books that address the same math topic.

Eric Carle has wonderful books, some of which focus more on math than others -- there is one about the zoo thats especially math oriented.

Anno has wonderful wordless picture books dealing with math -- we've used Anno's Counting book, but he also has books involving math puzzles that are more advanced.

Loreen Leedy has written several books about addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. These are pretty active looking books, probably better for older kids.

I think that Bruce MacMillan and Pat Hutchins have books that address math topics. Hutchins has The Doorbell Rang, about a batch of cookies that keeps getting divided into smaller servings as more children arrive at a party.

Greg Tang has several math riddles books that are probably fun for older children. I have another math games book called Midnight Math by Peter Ledwon that might be useful in a few years.

Marilyn Burns has lots of books on math, though they are probably for elementary aged kids. She has some readers with simpler concepts as well.

Playing cards, dice, dominoes -- really basic toys that teach math.
We also have an abacus, which I don't really know how to use, but I was able to use it to demonstrate how 10 can be arrived at by lots of different ways (9+1, 8+2, etc.). This was handy after DD made her comment that only 7+3=10. I think it helped her visualize.

I really love playing cards and even came up with a few games (probably modified from games I'd read in resource books) teaching ordering. I'll post those some other time. If you want them and I haven't posted them, e-mail me and I'll do it. Even basic games like War and Go Fish teach concepts like greater than/less than and matching.

The Leap Pad toy for which you can by books and cartridges. She's asked for a few of the math games, so I buy them and figure she's probably learning something from them. If not, she's at least working on her fine motor skills with the stylus.

Resources for Parents:
These are hsing and other books for parents/teachers and are either all about math or include sections on teaching math.

Helping Your Child Learn Mathematics -- free from the feds.

Eenie Meenie Miney Math, Math Play for You and Your Preschooler by Linda Allison and Martha Weston

Homeschooling the Early Years by Linda Dobson

Peggy Kaye wrote Games for Math to help teachers and parents.

The Complete Home Learning Source Book by Rebecca Rupp

Cathy Duffy and Mary Pride author hs curriculum guides that include math resources.

I love John Holt, and in Learning All the Time and Teach Your Own, he has some hints for unschooling math. One suggestion I really like is doing a multiplication grid -- numbering from 1 to 10 across the x and y axes and filling in the products and the intersecting grids. I love the idea of seeing the relationships of the numbers as opposed to writing them or doing flashcards (ugh).

I saw these listed on a hsing group, I don't know much about them.




Anne Zelenka said...

I really enjoy your posts on homeschooling resources. They inspire me to spend more time thinking about what sort of books and activities would keep my children engaged. Mostly it's at the inspiration stage not perspiration but perhaps when I get settled in our new place I'll come back to this information and act on it.

Marjorie said...

I'm glad you like them -- thanks for the encouragement!

I love to research, its actualizing that is a bit difficult for me. Reading books is great, but setting up activities seems beyond me. I love the Montessori approach of having materials available for the children to use when they want. Its a bit tough to do with a 2 year-old, though! I'm getting there.