Tuesday, January 5, 2010

# The Math Box – Craft Sticks and Bottle Caps

I always liked math. In fact, I spent all 10 of my own school years attending the school for mathematically gifted. My husband is even more logical than I am and always beats me in the tasks that don’t require thinking quickly, but require thinking deeply. We both hope that Smarty will not fall into the famous Math is too hard for girls trap, because it shouldn’t be. There is a lot of fun to be had with puzzles, manipulatives, board games, etc.
Even though you see a worksheet in the picture, I just used it to encourage Smarty make some common shapes – activity that I have seen on many blogs and liked. I was too lazy to make control pictures myself and figured that she can just copy the shapes. I put some craft sticks and bottle caps into her math box, and she literally entertained herself for an hour with building various shapes. As always, even though she looked at the worksheet, she chose to do what she wanted to do. She built ladders, tall buildings, Christmas trees and letters. She also asked me build some words for her and read them. And she had even more fun with bottle caps that after years of languishing in the plastic box finally saw the light of the day. We were talking a lot about patterns, and she is clearly getting them now. What’s best is that she is getting them more abstractly – she understands that ABAB is a pattern, but AAB is a pattern as well. She had a lot of fun building her pattern tower as high as she could and then asking me to play “a big bad wolf” and blow it down.
One thing with my daughter as probably with any other young child is that novelty disappears after a couple of days. So now the sticks and bottle caps are out of the math box. A month from now I will put them back in and see what she chooses to do with them then.
Stay tuned next week for more Math Box posts. And, if you are a homeschooler and pondering math curriculum, I wanted to share this post: Homeschool Math Curriculum Guide. It popped up in my reader from one of the blogs I read - I didn’t realize just how many curriculums are out there. Yikes – no wonder poor homeschoolers are struggling choosing something that works for their children.

Annette said...

I have also thought about doing the craft sticks to make shapes and such. Some day...

And I have lots of bottle caps too!

Mari-Ann said...

Great activities! I think it's wonderful you're working to encourage a love of numbers with Anna.

Our James loves numbers, too. He didn't get this from me though - I'm terrible at math (try as I might I just don't "get" it). I think my husband, who's an actuary, must've passed on the math gene. :)

Can't wait to see your math boxes!

Christy said...

This is fantastic! I look forward to more math posts from you. I was always in honors math classes, but I never liked math. I tend to spend a lot more time or reading skills with my children, but I have to make sure that I incorporate math too. I don't want them to pick up on my dislike of the subject.

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

It sounds like Anna took this math activitiy, and turned it into cross-curricular fun. I love that she wanted to make words, and incorporated story book characters into the play. It's so much fun when all the subjects merge, naturally, into one.

Debbie said...

What great ideas! Anna looks like she truly was having fun with the craft sticks and bottle caps.

My Boaz's Ruth said...

Any ideas where "math is too hard for girls" comes from? Cause I'm a girl and I LOVED (and love) math. And I don't remember ever actually hearing this other than as a phrase that "everyone knows girls believe this"

Mom and Kiddo said...

good idea! I also like to give Kiddo a bunch of identical triangles. You can make some great shapes!

Diana said...

What a fun idea. I know I have to do lots of rotating with manipulatives and activities to keep my boys interested. I need to pull out the sticks again...

vidhoo21 said...

I always loved maths throught my life and would like my daughter to have the same passion. Glad to read about Anna's math activities..Way to go.

Natalie & Anna - Wish you a happy new year 2010. I wish you could drop by sometime in IV at 2 & 3 year olds to say Hello :-) to all of us

Susana said...

OK, I have to admit, I fell into that girls "math" trap and do not like math.

That said though, I do want my children to enjoy math and I hope to get from homeschool a love of math that I never had.

I so look forward to your math posts and hope there are lots of them:-).

Thanks for this awesome link too!!

Nicole {tired, need sleep} said...

This is amazing... I'm going to try this with Matthew too. And, how neat is it that your entire name can be made with craft sticks?! I need some curvy ones for mine. :) This is such a super idea - thank you, thank you, thank you! I always knew you were brilliant. ;)

Autumn said...

That's a great idea, I'll have to try that with Tommy!

I didn't fall into any "girls can't do math trap", I just naturally stink at math. No amount of positive thinking would make me good at it, I'm just much more words-minded.

Our Little Family said...

Oh, I'm loving this idea, too! Maddie had fun with making shapes, but like you said, it lost it's novelty and got put away. I think I'll bring them ALL back and we'll follow suit.

I also need to get our bottlecaps out again. I'd put them away, but we'll have to try some patterning with them (instead of just building towers!).

Great post!

MaryAnne said...

Looks like Anna had a lot of fun with those popsicle sticks and bottle caps! I look forward to seeing what else you put in Anna's math box. You are right that math can be a lot of fun!

The girl who painted trees said...

Bear gets bored after a very short time with a new material. I am so hesitant to buy Montessori materials because of this. I'd spend all that money for one day of play. No way!
I love how out-of-the-box Anna thinks:)

We are obviously language-heavy in our learning activities. I have to remind myself to add more math and science into our day. Diego is drawn to building, constructing, and other spacial manipulation type activities. I think that we may be raising an engineer or architect. :) I look forward to reading more of your math ideas.

Ticia said...

Who says you always need to make your own control? If you've got a worksheet that does the job, then in my mind why make another one.......
I love the picture of her stacking the lids. So much fun. And you showed great wisdom in taking it out once the novelty wore off, I'm not as good at that as I'd like.

Cathy said...

Great post!

I have noticed you mention various subject themed "boxes" throughout your blog. (Like a "make-it" box, "art box", and math box for example) I was wondering if you could describe your box system in more detail. Maybe even a special blog post about it some day if you ever have the time. I would love to read more about it. ;)

I am specifically curious about how you present the various boxes. Are they literally work boxes? Or just a grouping of subject matter? Do you bring them out at special times and encourage her to use them? Or are they always available to her in a place where she can get to them and work when she is wanting to? Also, how do you store them? And finally, what subjects do you currently have boxes for.

Anyway, sorry for so many questions. I am just very curious about the details! :)