Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dear Math, I fear the time has come for us to part ways....

So you realize I haven't actually broken up with math. Though I have been tempted. It happens to be one of those pesky things in life I can't avoid...like taxes.  And menopause (TMI?).

To say that I have a bit of a Math phobia would be an understatement. It's been a challenge to teach something that has on occasion left me with a strange rash or at least has driven me to tears. If there were a way around using math forever I would be all for it. 

Believe it or not, I nailed College Algebra. I really have no idea how I did it...considering I spent many of my earlier years during math penning perfectly horrid stories. Most involving space travel with (insert teen heartthrob at the time) or a trek across some remote locale with (insert teen heartthrob at the time) in search for an ancient relic.

As luck would have it, I am parenting (and teaching) one who would rather reenact the good parts of the Star Wars Movies (all 6 of them) than tackle long division. And really, who wouldn't rather do anything but long division. Josiah is long on imagination...short on Math Whiz.

I truly wish it hadn't been the case. I need somebody to explain percentages to me when we are shopping. It would have been handy. "Josiah. This says this shirt is 30% off of 22.99. How much is that?" As it is, we both kind of use the "hope I have enough to cover it" approach.

One of the perks of homeschooling is that I have been able to take more time and care with Josiah's personal math woes than I was ever given in my own school days. It doesn't mean I like to teach math, but I certainly have picked up a few tricks of the trade for those of us who really don't care what X or Y need to be. I say live and let live. X and Y can be whatever they want to be.

So how does a girl (who is decidedly more fruity than mathy) teach her son (who is also more fruity than mathy) math without going completely mad?  I have to make it a bit more interesting. We have to do things that help it all stick.

I don't have any firm recommendations on math curriculum. I think everyone is going to be looking for different things. I do, however, think that you can take almost any curriculum and adapt it to fit your needs. You might need to put a little bit of elbow grease into your math lessons, but I know that for us those "out of the box" experiences has made a difference with Josiah.

I want to give you some of my favorite things that we have incorporated into our math day.

Think out of the Box. One of our favorite "out of the box" activities is Menu Math – I wrote a post on this one last year (you can find it here). It is a lot of fun. I do get hungry for a burger now and again, but it is just a hazard of the job. 

Recently, I've taken to putting Josiah's math problems in unlikely places. It's almost an adventure. 

You can't see it, but this is a very long addition problem written on the window. I use a dry erase marker. 

Now that's a happy face. Something I like to see during math class. 

 I've even written math problems on post-its and stuck them around the house. That element of "hide and seek" makes even the most dry math assignment exciting.

Move with Manipulatives. I have used pencils, beans, rocks, action figures, beads, marshmallows, or pretty much anything we might have more than one of. The Dollar Tree is one of my favorite places to look for manipulatives. It made a big difference when Josiah could have something to move around while he was learning even the most basic of concepts. One of my favorites has been using Legos to learn fractions. Lego might as well be a required homeschooling supply. Don't you think?

File Folder Games – File Folder games take me back to my preschool teaching days (which started over 20 years ago). I can remember when I made them with clear contact paper. It would take me days to color all the individual pieces. Nowadays there are so many snazzy options. I have my own personal laminator (which is something every homeschool family needs). I really like using File Folder Fun for free and well-constructed file folder games. She has some really great math games to print and use. These games can be taken out for car trips, quiet time, for review and at Grandma's. I use them quite a bit for review.

Youtube Is On My Tube. Youtube is filled with math teachers and the like just ready to impart their wisdom and creativity on all of us. And I am ready to utilize that genius. We use youtube videos frequently in our schooling. This video on Roman Numerals is hysterical. Josiah loves it. Also, Life is just better when you add a song. That’s the plain truth. Schoolhouse Rock is brilliant. Anybody else remember Conjunction Junction (that’s our function). There are many math inspired Schoolhouse Rock songs. We like “3 is a Magic #.”

Khan Academy is a great resource. I have used them personally just to brush up on a certain concept.

Go For the Games. There is no better way to learn math than to play it. I like this site called, Let’s Play Math. She has hundreds of ideas to play with math. Our favorite game is War.

Josiah and his cousin, Chris are playing War. Or Uno. I can't see the cards. Whatever it is there is learning taking place!

Think about all the games you have lurking in your closet. Mine need their own zipcode. There are so many than either use math skills or can be adapted  for Math class. Who says that learning math has to be boring! 

Josiah enjoys cooking. I really enjoy eating. It's a good match.

Everyday Life has been a great math tool. As tempted as I am to leave Josiah at home when I grocery shop, it's been a valuable learning experience. We get to compare prices, add coupons, make sure we are still on budget. When we cook together he learns about fractions and measurements. We talk about speed limits and statistics while riding in the car. "If Josiah spends 5 more minutes on his video game after Mom told him we need to go and it takes 10 minutes to get to swim team practice driving 30 mph... How late will Josiah be to swim team practice?" It's the little things.

Some more of my favorite "go to" resources include:

 Printable Math Games – Whenever I need a “go to” printable I use this fabulous resource from Jimmie’s Collage. There is a little bit of everything here.

Sizzle Bop - Carol Barnier speaks my language. She has raised my son (or someone like him). I love her site for all sorts of encouragement, but her math tips have really been effective.

Pinterest - My Mathology board on pinterest is one I visit every week. Pinterest is a great resource for "out of the box" learning.

My last bit of advice is to just keep plugging along. I make sure I am always reading up on cool things to try or ways to help cement what Josiah is learning. I don't get the same kind of thrill in teaching fractions as I do when teaching about the Terra Cotta Army (cause that stuff is just plain cool), but what he is learning is valuable and lasting. And as he has so practically informed me, "Mom, I need math to get a job." True Dat.

I am linking up to the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog Carnival. We are all talking about what we struggle to teaching the most. Watcha wanna bet there are a lot of "mathaphobs" out there?

I'm anxious to read all about it! The link goes live tomorrow morning (February 12). You can click on the banner below.

Subject Struggle

1 comment:

  1. Before I get into your post. LOVE your blog design! Very nice!

    Your post has me cracking up! Yes we've taken Math outside the box too. I also added in Math Drills which helped immensely. She also loves using chocolate chips for manipulatives. Thank you for sharing your tips.

    From the TOS Crew.


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