Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Learning those pesky math facts

  So here is a "Day in the Life" kind of story.  Imagine if you will 3 of my 5 kids with dry erase boards and dice ready to play the game SNAKE.  At the time of this event my children are:  Miss A - age 16, Mr. C- age 12, Miss J- age 10, Baby A- 15 months.  Buddy C is at his grandmother's house.  We start the Snake game and Baby A is in charge of throwing the dice.  In fact she is sitting on the counter.  In my world, it isn't great to sit on counters, but it is infinitely better than her being on the loose to play in toilets and draw on herself or eat cat food.  Not that she has every done ANY of those things.  Miss A begins with a typical teen comment of "this is stupid" (translate that into, I have Chemistry and other subjects to do that take hours, why do I have to play math games?)  Mr. C is fiercely competitive.  He shouts at the top of his lungs every time he scores points.  He also throws things and stomps when he loses points, which delays the game as I correct these attitudes.   I really can't imagine where my kids get their competitive nature. (Hint: it ain't me, but it might be Daddy C).  So as a bonus, this math game has character training too!  SWEET!  Who doesn't need more character???   Miss J is just thrilled that EVERYONE is playing her game with her and totally oblivious that to a stranger our "day in the life" looks a lot like chaos. 

   As the game progresses, Baby A gets a bit wild with the dice and it turns into part search for the missing dice and part all three running to make sure the dice finder doesn't tell a fib and call SNAKE EYES.  ;-)  I could have videoed this, but I will be honest.  I don't need that kind of evidence to prove my real mom skills.  It's enough that I write it down.  Maybe I should reconsider "sharing" so much.  If you are super organized, then just this image of baby on the counter is enough to mortify you.  However, if you are a mom with 5 or so kids (who happens not to be Type A) and you are struggling to fit it all in each day, then this may encourage you. (There is a house even more crazy than mine!)  You may never have considered having a toddler throw dice in order to add excitement to the game (keeping them out of the potty and eating cat food is just another BONUS).  The kids are learning their multiplication facts and the older kids are learning things like the squares and cubes.  For example, if I roll the dice, Miss J will add or multiply, but Miss A will have to find the square or cube of just one die.  It's my attempt at the one room school house.  In the end, all of the kids are having fun.  Good review and preview has been had by all.  Now if I keep this up, I'm hoping the last two will just know those facts cold by about 1st or 2nd grade from simply hearing them said aloud so many times every single week.  I'll have to let you know how that turns out.  It might just be wishful thinking.  Either way, below I have linked my favorite resources for family math  games.  I can't say enough how much kids LOVE the buzzers.  Beware though, they will drive you insane, so you may want to also purchase a lock box to store them in between games.  Have fun with your kids playing games and learning math facts.  

Mrs. P

Monday, December 1, 2014

Simply Classical Advent

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
Isaiah 11:1-2
     Advent has come.  Last night my family and another family lit the first candle of HOPE and read the verses above.  My older children explained the advent candles to the visiting family.  My youngest smiled and listened carefully too.  The classical model was playing out in my humble kitchen.  My kitchen, with floors and windows in need of a mopping and shining was a classroom.  My kitchen table, that was too small for everyone to sit down was a classroom.  My kitchen, filled with warmth and love and hot chocolate, was a classroom.  Leigh Bortins says in training for CC, all you need is a stick and sand to teach.  It is so true with the classical model.  This is probably the 6th or so year that we have celebrated Christmas with the Advent candles and the Jesse Tree, so my oldest are familiar with the 4 candles lit for 4 Sundays before Christmas and my paper ornaments that I downloaded from Ann Voskamp's website years ago.  They know that the Jesse tree always starts with the creation of the world and reading of the root of Jesse.  Just like in our memorizing of the timeline in Foundations classes, we visit the Jesse tree each year and each year my kids become more dialectic and rhetorical about Christmas through the simple daily activities.  We hang up the ornaments, read the short devotional and they hear and learn the timeline of Jesus.  I love to see the 4-6 year old group take an ornament and tell a younger sibling about it.  I love seeing the one room school house even when some of the children are too little to sit still and listen, others want to boss everyone else, and others might think they are too old.  In reality, it is just those times that the one room school house works.  The too littles are gleaning more than you know, the bossys are practicing review work and grappling with being dialectic while teaching everyone else the "right" way to tell the Jesse tree story.  Even the bigs that think they might be too big?  They get in on the review in a dialectic and/or rhetorical level as they are sure to jump in and correct a bossy, or explain it once again to a too little in words or actions that they can understand. 

       It is the same way with our Foundations and Essentials work.  As a family, we all work through the weekly memory work.  There are too bigs, too littles, and bossys in every home.  Even an only child can exhibit all of those personalities and sometimes, all in one day.  When you think that this thing called home school isn't working, remind yourself that it is working exactly as it should. When I directed Challenge, I had a saying that it was a safe place for messy conversations.  Our home school is a safe place for the students to work through the memory work from the grammar stage to the rhetorical stage.  We see them daily go from grammar level to dialect and back to grammar as they take the information and make it their own.  Some days we are proud of our school day and how it went off without a hitch.  Other days we want to crawl back in bed wondering what were we thinking.  It is likely that on those days, the messy days, that our students are gaining the most with their learning as they wrestle and make the learning their own.  We are just providing the information and the place for learning.  We can trust that we are bearing fruit in our schools, because of the Branch that first bore fruit and guides us in our homes.  

Many blessings in your home school or after school because we all home school to some extent, even if it's only in the after hours when we help with with their home work.  Moms and Dads at home make all of the difference in the world in the lives of their children.

Mrs. P