Today was the first day I busted out Math U See to work with all of the kids. I have to admit, today was a total fail with Luca. I pulled out the manipulatives, turned to Luca, and went, “Not today, Little Bear. Maybe tomorrow.” Luca, of course, was fine with that.
I think the lesson for Sander was really too easy. I probably should have started him further into the book, but I wanted to make sure he had a solid grasp of the manipulative system before we got into the nitty gritty. I have a feeling we’re going to cruise through this book and be ready for the next book by the end of the year. I’ll be honest, I expected it to go that way, so this isn’t totally unexpected. Tomorrow I think we’re going to try and cook through two lessons given the first one took almost no time at all.
Then there was A.J. Let me tell you, today’s lesson was meant to be a review of multiplication, and to introduce the concept of area. It was totally great to see the way he just lit up when the light bulb went off on what area is. They’d only done perimeter in school and hadn’t started on area yet. Then there was the light bulb over what rectangle means. Then he joked about what a “wrecked angle” would be like.
I’m really liking Math U See. The best part is the kids actually want to do it, so I don’t feel like it can’t fall into unschooling. They get to play with blocks instead of just solving problems. They get to build their answers. Best of all, they get to do it in their pajamas. This particular time we were doing it on my bed. I like to stay in my room when Luca’s on the computer (that happens to be set up in my room), so that’s where we set up and we just stayed there. I think that was the fun part, being able to sit in an unconventional place and do math. (Though, now that I think about it, we spend a lot of homeschool time in my room on my bed! It’s the most comfy spot to work in the house!)
I’m really enjoying this program and I’m glad A.J. is too. I’m really liking that everything is so visual, and that the math concepts are applied to every day life. Most of all I like that A.J. is doing division and he doesn’t even know it! It’s also laying the groundwork for algebra as well. I even told him that.
Me: Algebra is all about solving for the variable.
A.J.: What’s a variable?
Me: An unknown number represented by a letter, like the ones here.
A.J.: Wait? I’m doing algebra?
Me: Sort of, on a very basic level, but it’s like the start to algebra.
Yes, those are the moments I missed and loved, seeing A.J. light up about a subject. He’d been working on his times tables but never got to do it broken down like this before. And reverse multiplication is really just division. I had never thought about teaching division in terms of finding the factors like that. I can definitely see where this is going to lead, both in division and in algebra.
Then there was the concept of area. It was a great way to show why you would actually need to use multiplication in the real world. I loved the way they described how you come to sq ft and sq in. They represent it as ft x ft or in x in, which is exactly what it is, but no one had described it to me when I was that age. It was just “When you multiply these two things, end up with this measurement as a result.” It makes more sense that:
3 ft x 5 ft = 3 x ft x 5 x ft = 3 x 5 x ft x ft = 15 sq ft
That may look a little mind-numbing when all typed up, but trust me, it works and it makes a lot of sense. It explains why you square the units of measurement. AND it gets the idea in your head about squares, so when they get to squares it’s already seeded into their memory. They come back and say, “Ah! We did that with area!”
I was kind of on the fence about starting a math curriculum. I hated that word, “curriculum,” it just sounded so wrong for our family. “Curriculum” means structured lessons and a structured lesson plan. That’s not who we are. At the same time, this is actually kind of fun, for them and for me, so I’m totally feeling like this works for us. Best of all, we don’t have to do it every day. If I wake up tomorrow and say, “You know what? Let’s not be bothered with math.” I can do that. If the kids get up Saturday morning and go “What about math?” we can do that.
And, no, I’m not going to be posting about what we’re doing in math every day. Today we just started so it was new and exciting. We’ll definitely be talking about other things too, but I was so excited that this program seems to be a win!