Here you will see students as young as 4 and 5 years old doing algebra and "advanced" math, without ever knowing it's supposed to be hard.
You are invited to learn how to use this method...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

“Mathematics is a language.”

This is a young 3 year old, his language skills are not well developed uses one word at a time for the most part and is still working on enunciation. Many consider this too young to start any type of "math training."


“Mathematics is a language.” ~Josiah Willard Gibbs

As others wiser and more learned than me have observed, math is just more language and math concepts are non-different than language concepts. After having a bit of fun just fooling around with blocks, we got out and named the first five blocks (using a three period lesson); the child started lining them up next to the biggest block (the 5) and then he started piling them on top of each other so they fit making a "truck." I could tell he thought it was a truck because he said "truck" several times while he was building it. So the concepts that are being imprinted and that will be drawn out later are simple: 2 and 3 are 5 and 4 and 1 are 5 and visa-versa. It was simple and he had fun doing it. It took quite a bit of his fine motor skills to get them to balance.

"Works." He said triumphantly after he got them all on there. Then of course he began pushing the truck around and playing with it, if the blocks fell off he put them back on again...

Did we need pencil and paper? As he built them I told him what piece he had, and sometimes he told me...."four" as he put the four on and so on...slowly but surely he got the names of the pieces and some math facts too. We had fun no pressure just goofing off with the blocks. Next time we meet he will most likely NOT remember all the names of the blocks, so far eight, hundred and ten seem to have stuck and the rest come and go. I test this with a simple hand me a three (or whatever) and see what he hands me...often he asks me "this?" as he grabs a 5, I say, "hand me a three that's a five...until he gives the right block."

Then we just had to build tens. Each time he fit the piece in he said. "Works." And often laughed and celebrated a little...most of them he got on the first try because we have played before, however there was no wrong answer, he just got more information. Remove the no from the lesson. Sometimes I would say "too small" or "too big"...and he would get another block. Again, all we did was play blocks and see what went together; he was in the tray so he was in a situation where he could not fail...all he could do was build tens...

Note there are only 5 pairs, or 9 addends for ten. It's never too early to learn the names of the blocks and how they fit together to make the same length as other blocks especially nines and tens. Once in a great while the child said, "same!" as he built them. "Same" is an important concept.

Here he has a 5 and spends some time looking for the right piece to put with it to make a ten. All the blocks want to be a ten. It's the biggest one. A short video for little kids makes it fun and easy. The guys that did the editing got carried away as they were learning how to use features of the editing software but the vid gets the point across, and small children will watch it.

How about a 3 and a 2? He did this on his own I did not suggest it. "Works!" He exclaims...he is using the information he got a few moments earlier. I said "GOOD! AND I want one block that fits in there...that's two blocks..."

So he got out a 4 and a 1....looked at me for approval and none was forthcoming. "That's good, still two blocks and they are the same as a 5. And 5 and 5 make 10 AND I want one block to fit in there. Can you find just one that will fit?" This is common, older students also seem to have a mental block against putting the same block in there the first few times. Sometimes they have no problem, for others it takes a little while to figure it out.

This is perfectly "normal" he tries a few other blocks, and I can tell by the way he looks at me that he is just teasing. He he sees a 6 will not fit with a 5. Neither will an eight.

pre-school math activities, base ten blocks

At last there they all are. He was happy and surprised that the block he was looking for turned out to be another 5. He threw his head back and squealed. Now it's time to put back blocks and the lesson is over. A good lesson on sorting is just putting away the blocks. For more go to Crewton Ramone's House of Math.

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