Posted by: ginki0 | May 16, 2013

“Can we play the game?” “What game?” “The Game of Math!”

I know I haven’t posted much about homeschooling, being sidelined as I have been by life in general. So it’s high time that I posted a homeschool post!

Today, bright and early, Bugsy wanted to “do school”, which means using his school box. The school box has lots and lots of different topics written on construction paper including specific topics like writing letters to send in the mail and general topics like reading. The topics are in the box randomly, so Bug pulls out four at a time and then I read them for him and then he gets to choose one topic to put back in the box. Today he chose “math”, “workbooks”, “Lego architecture”, and “Starfall”. To my surprise, he chose to put back “Lego architecture” (I thought he would reject “workbooks”).

Since Bug has a tendency to want to spend hours (literally) on, I told him that Starfall would be last. He chose to do Math first, and right away I had an idea. I had found a wonderful way to work with numbers, their words, and the concept all at once, and I figured I could do this with both kids simultaneously, since Smiley is beginning to learn his numbers. So I wrote out the numbers 1 through 10 in number form and then again in word form on index cards which were laying around, and then we used Duplos to represent the quantity, being sure to use the same size of Duplos throughout the lesson. Hooray for having gobs and gobs of Duplos!

Arranging blocks

Arranging blocks

Bugsy arranged the numbers in number form from 1 to 10, and then he helped Smiley place the correct number of Duplos beside the numbers in a tower. Smiley was amazed to see how the towers got bigger and bigger as we went down the line, and he was absolutely delighted at the lesson. Plus, Bug, having already mastered this lesson, got to solidify it by teaching it to his little brother.


Then, Bug and I used phonics to decipher the numbers in word form and place them next to the appropriate number in number form. This was difficult for Bug, but he apparently loved it. He enjoyed the lesson so much that in the evening he wanted to repeat the lesson with Daddy. In fact, the title of today’s post is a direct quote from Bugs’ conversation with Daddy! I was thrilled that he thought of it as a “math game”.

Adding block towers

Adding block towers

After that, I chose two numbers at random and combined them with an equals sign and a plus sign to make an addition problem for him, which he then solved using blocks. By this time he was tired of the block towers, so he made block pyramids of the appropriate number and then combined them to count up to the answer. That was fine with me, and Bugs was clearly enjoying himself.

We did workbooks a bit too, which went decently. One thing he did that surprised me was that he counted groups of items up to four without counting individual items- he just looked at the grouping and knew how many were there. He did have to back up and try the grouping of five again, as he thought there were only four there, and that gave his confidence a speed bump, but he quickly recovered and kept going, which was great. Some of the pages were clearly busywork- write 24 x’s in a row? No…. How about practicing writing in a way that matters. So long as I know he knows the answers (meaning he has to demonstrate his knowledge by showing, writing, or telling me), I don’t care at this point if he follows directions in workbooks. But I do think I need to get more challenging, fun workbooks, as the only workbook he has left that he hasn’t finished is one filled with busy work sort of problems that are also a little too easy for him right now.

Back to this evening, Bug and Daddy had some great conversations with math after Bug showed Daddy his lesson. He enjoyed practicing his recognition of numbers in word form again and again, and he and Daddy also counted by tens- all the way up to “ten-dy ten”, or one hundred as most of us know it. 🙂 Daddy also showed him how he could play with numbers a bit, but arranging them in one order on the floor and then flipping the order around, or by doing problems like 3+5 and then seeing how that was the same as 5+3. Daddy and I have different approaches to teaching Bug, and that is a valuable thing I think. I love seeing them learn together.


  1. I like your “math game”!

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