Monday, September 13, 2010

Playing with Numbers

Emma loves to play the rhyming game in the car. We take turns picking a word then trying to come up with as many words as we can that rhyme.

Some days she really wants to play, but isn't in the mood to think of real words, so makes up words. The made up words do still rhyme, but for whatever reason this annoys me (I need to let it go, I know).

This was the case last weekend on our trip to Gramma's. So, instead of arguing with her about real words, I asked if she would like to play the numbers game (we do a lot with words, but not a lot with numbers). She was curious enough to ask what it was.

Umm, I had no idea. I just didn't want to play the rhyming game anymore. So, I decided to wing it (like I do in all areas of my life).

Me- "Ok Emma, lets say you have 3 horses and I have 2 horses. How many horses to we have together?"

I looked in the rear view mirror and saw her counting her fingers. Hmm, this might just work.

Emma- "5! We have 5 horses Mama! Ok, my turn."

So we took turns.

Emma- "Mama, if you have 3 apples and I give you 4, how many apples do you have?"

Me- "If I had 3 apples and you gave me 4 apples, I would have 7 apples!"

It was not limited to horses; we had apples, street signs, hay, cows, etc.

After adding for a while I wanted to see if she would be able to subtract. So, on one of my turns I asked her this:

Me- "Emma, if we had 6 horses and 4 ran away, how many would we have left?"

Once I again I peaked at her in the rear view mirror and I saw her using her fingers to figure it out.

Emma- "We would have 2 horses left."

She was a unsure with the subtraction, and only asked me one subtraction, but she loved asking addition questions.

The lesson I learned from this trip is that annoyance can lead to good things, as long as you know how to wing it.

Here is a fun picture of something spied (on a different day) from the rear view mirror.

Yes, she is asleep in that odd position.


Yes, that is a penny balanced on her nose.


Yes, she can apparently balance a penny on her nose, while sleeping, with her head tilted to the side.

(and yes, I do like to take pictures while I am driving, shame on me)

What fun/ sneaky games do you play with your kids, and what interesting things have you seen in your rear view mirror?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Hidden Alphabet and Other Unschooling Ideas

My mother-in-law is a genius. Really. Well, maybe not literally, but Emma and I think she is pretty smart.

Yesterday, Emma, Gramma, and I were driving back from an impromptu trip to La Cross when Gramma and I starting talking (well, started would not really be correct, I don't know if we ever stop talking when we are together) about homemade notebooks and the alphabet. We arrived at this topic after looking at the really fun pictures Emma had drawn in her homemade notebook on the way to Gramma's house.

Anyway, before Gramma retired, she was a 3rd grade teacher. A really great 3rd grade teacher. She did lots of fun things with her kids to help them have fun learning. Lucky for me, she remembers just about everything she has ever tried in the classroom, which means I can pick her brain for ideas of things to do with Emma.

That is where the hidden alphabet comes in. She was explaining to me that she made small notebooks (1/4 of standard 8.5X11 paper) for each child in her class. These books kept the kids busy when they had down time.

There was a page for each letter of the alphabet. Starting with A and working to Z, the kids would draw a picture and hide a letter in the picture.

So for example: A might have a picture of a playground where the supports for the swing set form the letter A.

Gramma had the kids go in order so that it was easier to view their progress. For Emma, I would probably have all of the letters printed on the front or back of the book and she could just mark each letter off as she goes. Emma likes some letters better then others, so having the letters printed for her to see would serve 2 purposes:

1. She could do the letters she is comfortable with first without forgetting which ones she had already done.
2. If she wants to try out "tougher" letter, she can see what the letter looks like because it is printed on the cover.

This would be a notebook that is always available to her, but not something she has to work on. We actually don't plan on having anything she "has" to work on. Her interested are pretty rounded, so we really don't need to give her much direction.

Fun random picture:

Emma "Wula Hooping"