## Friday, March 9, 2007

### Dots and Numbers and Words on Sticks

The morning started with Math Mammoth. Catherine finished a page, grumbling as she did. She was excited about going to her cousin Kyle's for the night and so a little too distracted for math. So I took away the workbook and plunked down a bunch of art supplies. I told her to pick an equation from the pages she'd just done and then use the supplies to make different expressions of that equation. She glued down beans to represent all the ones, used sequins for the same thing, drew tally marks to show it in groups of five and so on. I worked on my own project beside her and we compared our works after. We went back to do one more math sheet after but she approached it with a little more focus. I also brought in our abacus for the last sheet and it seemed to help her quite a bit.

Next was Easy Grammar 34 and more on prepositions. Again, it was fun for her. After that was done she did a couple of sheets of copywork. She likes copywork in small doses and it's remarkable how much a little bit of practice improves her printing.

While she ran off to play with clay and watch cartoons I started organizing our little homeschool area. I, of course, got sidetracked when I pulled out a bag of popsicle sticks. There was probably some residual inspiration from unschooling guru, Sandra Dodd's Thinking Sticks idea at work but I decided I should write a bunch of words on the sticks. I ended up with 47 nouns, 28 prepositions and 50 'others' (we'll sort the others when we cover other stuff in grammar). When Catherine wandered back into the kitchen I showed her the sticks and she pulled some out of each bag and made a story up out of them. So I guess that's what they're for. Please don't assume that because they were inspired by Sandra's idea they are a reflection of her thinking sticks. I really don't know what her thinking sticks are all about other then words on popsicle sticks. :)

Anyway, after she'd picked out all the nouns and read them we somehow decided to skip-count with the sticks. So they're language arts and math tools.

After that activity I realized I'd been getting rather anal about curriculum and I pulled out a Childcraft book called 'Mathemagic'. We sat together and I read a puzzle at the beginning. We got out the same popsicle sticks we used earlier to put together 'matchstick square' puzzles from the book and constructed and attempted to deconstruct a moebius strip. After that we read about a little about each number, from zero to ten, and had a great time drawing numbers as dots and arranging the dots into shapes.

It was a bit of a trip back into unschooling that I needed. I realized we hadn't been unschoolers for awhile before our shift to curriculum, we'd just been bored and stale. In my shift to curriculum over the past fews weeks I've become a little too enamoured with worksheets and lesson plans. I feel like we're coming back to some of our unschooling ideals (though I certainly can't call myself a radical unschooler anymore) and starting to find a bit of balance with the kitchen table work. Or at least I've realized I need to work at that balance.