Monday, November 02, 2009

The Pirates Who Do Aarrrrr-ithmatic

Liza really, really wants to learn addition, but she doesn't quite understand that you basically have to memorize the answers so that you don't have to count on your fingers every time you're asked what 3+4 is. She doesn't want to do the flashcards if we just sit down with them, and she can't do the addition worksheets if she's wearing mittens, so I had to come up with another approach.

That's where the pirates come in. A few weeks ago Liza decided she wanted to play pirates, complete with a boat (sofa), Jolly Roger (silkies tied to a yardstick) and both swords (pvc pipe) and bandannas. I put together a treasure map, hauled Jason's chest-shaped toybox out of the basement closet, and we were in business. We searched for hidden treasure, fought off sea monsters, ate goldfish-shaped sea rations, and tried not to whack each other too frequently with the pipe.

So yesterday I made up a new treasure map. It's a key of which rooms various numbers are in. She gets a flashcard "clue" to start, and she has to figure out the answer, go to that room, and check under the number to see if she's right. If she is, she finds the next flashcard, which leads her to another room, and another, with the final clue sending her down to the toybox in the basement.

You would not believe how fast the kid is catching on to the +3s when there are pirates involved.

Also, she refuses to practice her handwriting ... unless I write out some of the words from a "science experiment" we did this morning, and then she's happy to copy them until they look right. Which is why we've got a sheet of paper that says in very decent preschool handwriting, "rub balloon salt pepper oatmeal electricity." We've also got a journal page with a drawing of me blowing up a balloon, and thanks to the wonders of really crappy preschool drawing perspective, my lips are coming out of my ears. That would be a pretty good trick if I could pull it off, though, wouldn't it?


mlf said...

We had nearly 400 kids at our house on Halloween. We got two of the 150-piece bags and then went through most of the 3 kid's collected candy.

When the older kids started coming, we gave them math problems before we would give them candy.
Quick - what's the square root of 169? 5x25? 35 squared?
For those who objected to math - how to you spell quiche? Or meringue? What document starts with, "We the people..."?

We only had one kid refuse to play. And we had several kids who came back for more questions.

Like pirates, it is all about finding the proper motivation. Candy helps.

Anonymous said...

Your daughter is very lucky to have such a creative mom! Love your approach to math!K's mom