Thursday, July 14, 2011

Baby Genius

Today I met with a student for some math tutoring. We used Cuisenaire rods for some of her instruction, and E was really interested in them.

After lunch, reading time, and putting Baby down for a nap, I told E he could play with them. He played for a while, then told me he was done, and as I was cleaning up in the kitchen he said to me "When I grow up I want to buy some of these for me."

Ha ha kids say the darndest things, don't they?

So I told E that he could just play with the set we have. So he opened the box again and I noticed that he had perfectly sorted all of the rods. Then he told me he was going to make the designs on the lid. A few minutes later, he came downstairs super excited and told me I had to go upstairs and see it "right now".

This is what I saw -

Notice the pattern on the box lid? He did that without any help! I'm so proud of my little cutie :)

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Counting in the Kitchen

Disclaimer: we had just returned home from the city pool and the kids decided they wanted a bedtime snack before taking baths, so they were running around in their underwear while we had the snack. I am not normally the type to let the kids run around in their undies, let alone photograph them in such a state. Just so you know...

While the snack (quesadillas) was cooking on the stove, I decided now would be as good a time as any to practice meaningful counting (that is, when you count a group of objects, the number you "end on" corresponds to how many there are - so that the number 3 has meaning).

I just started playing a game with my fingers - I hid both hands behind my back, chose some fingers to hold up, then whipped them out and asked Little E to tell me how many there were. Lately we have been talking about how "5 is our one hand number, and 10 is our two hands number". So to mix things up I made sure to have fingers from each hand and to avoid sequential fingers. E did really well counting the fingers, and he seems to really understand that when he finishes, that number means "how many there are" - although he does like to get goofy with his counting sometimes and purposely mixes up his numbers. He thinks he's hilarious. Silly kid.

Then we moved on to "which hand has more fingers standing up" which E was really goo at spotting, and we reinforced meaningful counting by having him count each hand and then we would say "4 is more than 3" or whatever. When I held up all five fingers on each hand and asked "which hand has more," E surprised me by pointing to both hands. I don't know if I was more surprised that he knew they each had the same, or if I was surprised because he did t know how to describe the situation with words (he is usually quite loquacious - if he doesn't know how to tell us something, he usually makes up a new way to tell us). So I told him the had "the same" number of fingers and that led us to talk about number conservation (that 3=3, even if you've got apples and oranges... Or kiwis in our case).

I set out three apples and three kiwis and asked E which there were more of, apples or kiwis. You may remember we did this with our sensory tub a while ago with the beans. True to form, E picked the apples. Then we paired them up together, counted them, and discovered there were the same amount of each.

Meaningful counting and number conservation and two very important pre-math skills (remember one-to-one functions from algebra?). Developing these math skills while kids are still young will help them tremendously later in life. Now is the time for us to build all those processes in the brain.

I love doing activities that require nothing but me and the kids and whatever is within reach. You could do this activity with toy cars and balls. Or toothbrushes and hairbrushes, or pillows and blankets.

How do you find ways to play and learn?

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Find more great preschool activities over at

I Can Teach My Child

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Uma Corrida

What does racing toy cars have to with learning?


Which car is faster? What colors are the cars? How many cars are racing?

These are all classification questions to talk with your kids about while they are playing with ... well, with anything, really.

Classifying objects is an important math skill.

I've started a blog about math and I'll be posting some more about classification and other pre-math skills over there. Be sure to check it out.

*the title is "a race" in Portuguese

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