Why the Tree of Life?


Math Improvements

The Enki math stories have been great for introducing math concepts, but when it has come to daily practice time or academic movement verses, Kirven and I have done nothing but wrestle. The pattern has been an hour worth of whining and tantruming (and not always by him) for 10 minutes of work, and then a couple of days of good cooperation and then back to whining. And the things to be memorized, such as counting by three's, were just not sticking.

Changes were needed.

Here's what's working awesome now (Fates, I am not tempting you):

For written practice, Kirven likes to use the white board. Instead of me handing him a worksheet of problems, I am writing five problems of one function (addition, subtraction, multiplication or division) on the board, he works them while I do something else, and Ayla gets to erase them. It's a win-win for everyone. He does a set of problems from all four functions each day, Monday through Thursday, and he gets to pick which functions he does in what order (usually he chooses: multiplication, then subtraction, then division, then addition). He seems to like this level of control over things. I am taking my mathematics problems from the Kumon series, by the way. They are completely straightforward and perfect resources for this kind of practice work. Nothing but problems.

Beyond the white board practice work, second grade involves beginning to commit math facts to memory---at least exposure (counting by and multiplication tables, for example). In Enki, academic movement verses and activities facilitate this memory work, but they only work if you are willing to do them. Which apparently, we are not. At all. We slowly abandoned doing any of the Enki suggested activities and fell to just straight out reciting while jumping rope or trampoline, but progress has been slow and painful.

But look what I found: Multiplication Unplugged For the longest time, I have been looking for a cd of math songs, with no real luck. I had been able to find raps of times tables, but I just couldn't stomach it and they seemed to have lots of extraneous verses without just getting down to business. Finally, last week, I found what I was looking for. The thing that makes this cd great is that, not only does it have the multiplication tables to music without a lot of extra words, the chorus is counting by that number. Also, each number is set to an appropriate musical time signature. 2's are quicktime, 3's a waltz, 4's 4/4...

And the beautiful thing is that Kirven listened to it for two days in a row, I didn't have to do anything, and he recited 3's cold to Dad this morning. AYLA can count by threes. And Kirven keeps playing the cd (much to the annoyance of Dunagan) because he *likes* listening to it. The tunes are catchy. Dunagan has 'em down pat; better than Kirven. One reviewer on amazon actually complained that they got stuck in their heads. I thought, are you kidding me? That's exactly what I want! Once we got past the binge listening the first day, I have been putting only one number song on repeat for three repetitions while we're driving somewhere in the car. Multiplication tables are going to be cake. (Ok, that's probably tempting Fate.)
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  1. Oh, thank you for posting this. Though my son loves math, he is resistant to any method that I may try to gently apply - like counting stones. He wants to figure it all out on his own. I anticipate some of the same challenges as we being second grade next month. He loved Strange Family until he figured out (on his own)there was a hidden purpose to the fun. No more strange family for us. I think more of the same lies ahead. Glad you had success and thank you for sharing!

  2. Hi Brynn,

    It's nice to hear from you! The hardest part for me has been letting go of some of the things I envisioned us doing. Once I did, it has been easier to find things that work for us. Bittersweet though. Best of luck!

  3. You are my HERO!!! After 2 years of manipulating coutning stones, my kids are still no closer to "knowing" their math facts (and Zoo Boy is actively resistant to recitation or any attempt at actually learning them). I am definitely going to check out this CD, I think it's going to be a huge help for us, especially since both my kids are so musically inclined. So thank you, thank you for posting about it!!!! (What would I do without other bloggers?!?!?!)

  4. Yay! Glad to help, Harvest Mom! I'm going to post about our reading changes, too, but I know your guys don't need any help with that. :)

  5. We used to have what seemed like endless torture trying to practice arithmetic at home.
    What really worked for us was a math facts game called MathRider (http://mathrider.com). Kids get to ride a horse across fantasy landscapes on noble quests all while practicing math. We only do about 10 minutes a day and after 3 months the kids still love it.
    The best part IMO is that MathRider indicates when a player has mastered an operation and the way that it adapts to kids and ties rewards into game play.