Tuesday, September 4, 2007


AJ is settling into his school routine a little better. He's still struggling a bit with the structure of the day, but he is coming home happy, albeit tired.

After hearing from AJ's teacher about his reading level, we were feeling better. But the math homework that's been coming home has been alarmingly basic. AJ is bored. I'm pretty sure this will be sorted out before too long (and if it isn't, the school will be hearing from me) as they are able to check on each kid's individual levels. But in the meantime, I thought I needed to get some math going at home.

The challenge, though, is that the school day is already long for AJ. How could we add some more academics at home without wearing him out?

Since I don't have the burden of following a curriculum, we've decided to keep it as fun as possible. Since the Everyday Mathematics curriculum used by AJ's school uses a lot of what they call "manipulatives," and what AJ calls "toys," we decided to invest in a few things to explore spatial relations. AJ requested a geoboard, which they use at school for exploring shapes. I voted for a few sets of tangrams. And then, as a way to connect his chapter book reading, which he'll need to start doing as homework, with some math, we picked up a copy of Blue Balliett's Chasing Vermeer, which features pentominoes as part of the plot. And we got some pentominoes to go with it. I'm still looking for idea for how to use these things, but already AJ's been having fun making shapes out of rubber bands on the geoboard and trying to figure out the tangram puzzles in the book that came with the sets.

I'm feeling kind of haphazard about our whole approach to learning at home, but I'm also feeling okay about it. Because AJ is so motivated and because he's in a school with a formal comprehensive curriculum, I'm fine with the idea of self-directed and parent-guided learning at home. AJ gets ideas and we follow them. This morning's idea was to research chromosomes. I hope I'm up to the task.


FreshHell said...

Tangrams are on Dusty's Xmas list. Does AJ have MasterMind?

I loved this as a kid and want to get it for her. AJ might like it if he doesn't have it already.

FreshHell said...

Oh and also there's a game called Equate that's a math version of Scrabble that might be right up his alley. MindWare sells that too.

Harriet said...

I haven't tried Mastermind, but that's a great idea. I loved it too, although I'm pretty sure my copy of the game is long gone. I used to get the Mindware catalog, but I haven't seen it in a while. I'll check out their website. That equate game sounds like fun.

As for Tangrams, I found great and cheap stuff at our local teacher supply store. But Barnes & Noble had a book plus Tangram set on sale this week. The book has something like 1000 puzzle shapes of varying degrees of difficulty with answers in the back. But the sets from the teacher shop were something like $3.50 for 4, each a different color. Can't beat that. I'm hoping to try working with an abacus at some point.

Thanks for the grea ideas!

Eleanor said...

I remember tangrams. They were definitely a challenge. I still recommend a series we found for our daughter called “Math Builders” or something like that, a series of graded workbooks with stickers and little prizes. She loved them and would work on them independently just for fun.