## Saturday, January 12, 2008

### Math - Number families and gnomes

When I mentioned Math to Nightowl her first response was the joyful yelp of: "Gnomes!" Ah, yes we love the gnomes here. It is abundantly clear to me that the Gnomes will be an integral part of our math for some time.

So we began with a short review of the processes. For this we used our new little felted Gnomes. If you don't have actual Gnomes to work with I highly recommend them. My girl really loved the little guys and they made math very, very fun.

After our review we began the serious work of number families - using David Darcy and Dorthy Harrer's books as inspiration. For example the number family for 3 is 0,1,2,3 as these numbers make up the variety of addition and subtraction sentences for 3 (1+2=3, 3-2=1, 0+3=3 and etc.). Nightowl really grooved into this concept. We spent lots of time challenging each other to list the family for various numbers.

Harrer's second grade lesson on the "Richest Number" was surprising to me. It seemed so esoteric that I wasn't sure Nightowl would get it. But I plowed through watching to see what would happen. She loved the story and had no problem dividing the numbers into their respective parts. If you haven't seen or used this resource check it out, it's great.

All of this flowed pretty naturally into beginning the times tables. Again we used the Gnomes. I created little stories and we wrote problems out forwards and backwards (3 x 2 = 6, 6/2=3 etc.). All of our clapping out rhythms and counting by 2s, 3s, etc. really paid off here. I plan to go back to the times tables later in the year.

One other note on the Gnomes. Using story to relate these important concepts really made me a better teacher. I haven't considered the quality of these concepts in ages. They are so integral to how I think and get through the day that they seem almost ridiculously easy and basic. If I'd had to approach these concepts just as number facts I would have become completely impatient when Nightowl struggled to understand. In short I'd have been limited by my own experience. Using the stories and the manipulatives forced my thinking into the magical and the wonderous. I know I was more patient and this made all the difference. Nightowl hardly even knew she was learning - it was a natural extension of the play/work we were doing. Very cool.

After each lesson she put a drawing/representation of what she'd learned into her main lesson book - which fulfilled her almost constant need to draw. Finally, to help solidify these concepts I gave her daily assignments in a variety of math work books that I picked up at Barnes and Nobel. She did these after we'd moved onto Geometery and it was really good daily practice.