Saturday, January 21, 2012

This is not a lesson!

One of the greatest things about being unschoolers self-led learners life learners who we are is the fact that we do our learning every minute of every day. Very rarely do we sit down to do worksheets, lessons, or any sort of formal learning. Yes, sometimes it happens, but not usually at my suggestion, and often times by accident. 

For some reason lately (possible because I have no control over most of what is going on right now- or so it feels), I have felt a need to actually "teach" Emma. I know she is learning all day every day. I am aware enough that I can see her mind absorbing, processing, and utilizing all that she soaks up. But sometimes, I feel like I should do more. Yes, I need to get over it. 

In the mean time, I think we are going to have some fun with a program called Five In A Row. Here is my interpretation of it, for those that may not have heard of FIAR (I hadn't until just recently). 

The "manual" for the program is just a book (actually there are 4 volumes) with a list of classic children's picture books in them (such as "The Story About Ping," "Madeline," and "Katy and the Big Snow.") For each book, there are suggested activities that can be done that teach different subjects (math, geography, art, etc). The basis of the program is that we read, say, Madeline once a day for 5 days in a row. After each reading, we do one of the activities suggested. 

Today we read Madeline after which I suggested we try out one of the activities. Emma declined. 

As I have stated, we don't typically sit down to do formal lessons. One reason is that Emma really hates to be taught to. It might have something to do with the fact that she already thinks she knows everything. 

Anyway, a bit later I was looking through the activities and I found a math one that I figured she would enjoy. It was about grouping, multiplying, and dividing using the number 12 (because that is how many girls there are in the story). I mentioned to Emma that I found an activity I thought she would enjoy. 

She still wasn't super thrilled about the idea.

So, to sweeten the deal a bit I bribed suggested we use mini M&M's instead of the suggested blocks or marbles. Emma decided giving the activity a try was worth it for some mini M&M's.  

Here is the activity we did: Math: Beginning Grouping and Dividing Skills

"Take forty-eight blocks, pennies, clothes pins or marbles. 

I started off with Emma counting out 4 groups of 12 mini M&M's (which she quickly realized meant two of each M&M color). Then using pencil and paper, we worked out what 12+12 was. When she saw that each 12+12 = 24, she immediately knew what I would ask next- 
E- "So we have 44 M&M's!?" 
M- "Super close! Lets look, how much is 4+4..." I thought it was pretty awesome that she got that close in her head. 

Using the first twelve to represent the girls, see how many groups of girls you would have if Miss Clavel divided the girls up into groups of two to walk down the stairs. 
6 groups 
(please ignore the random group of three off in the upper left corner)

Now, using the second twelve items, see how many groups would be required if Miss Clavel makes the girls go to the sink in groups of three. 

4 groups (now also color coordinating them)

Now, using the the last dozen, see how many groups Miss Clavel would have if she has the girls eat in groups of four. 
3 groups 
("I am picking the colors that go best together.")

Finally, line the "girls" up in two straight lines of six. How many groups are there? (two groups of six)"

2 groups
"Now can I eat them?"

As Emma was working through the activities, I had her make some guesses about how many groups she will get for each step of the activity and she was correct most of the time. 

Lucky girl seems to have a math brain. She surely did not get that from me.

All in all, the activity was pretty quick (10-15 minutes) Emma did have fun. We will see what we see about the whole thing tomorrow, but I'm sure I can come up with something enticing enough to get her to give it another try. 

Have a great day!

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