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.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Homeschool vrs "Real Education."

My kids were home-schooled in the 80s. This was a time when home-schoolers were HIGHLY criticized as well. We were breaching "normal" protocols. ; )

F*** that! Like, I cared? My son's well-being and a REAL education was MY concern.

Back then, my then 7 year son, had a predilection for astronomy and the sciences, so ALL his studies were geared towards his interests. But he got a powerful education that still provided the full range of readin', ritin' n' 'rithmatic, plus things like handwriting, social behavior and civics. It was very organic. It didn't follow classroom procedure. It was more like Aristotle being followed by his entourage of students. A meandering learning process, it had no set structure.

I used the book Teaching As a Subversive Activity by Postman and Weingartener as my guide. His mother complained a lot about how casual it all was. She'd ask me WHEN he was getting an education. I said, "When is he not?"

Yet, he knew things even a majority of adults can't answer. Like the difference between fission and fusion.

My Mother, a teacher herself then and my Mother -in-Law were like, "How is he going to become socialized?"

I'd say something like, "Socialization occurs in the interactions between adults and children, not children and children,... or have you never read Lord of the Flies?

That usually dropped them in their tracks.

By the time I divorced my wife and she had screwed up all the home-school teaching I had arranged in my place, he took a standardized test before she placed him in public school, he placed 3rd qtr of the 8th grade in language communications and the sciences, 3rd qtr of the 5th grade in English and Math.

He averaged out in the 5th grade...

He was 7 at the time.

She apologized to me, but the die was cast.

The school administration put him BACK a grade for his chronological age. So, like 1st grade I believe it was.

He did not thrive until he came back to live with me, wild and free in Mexico.

Imagine that.

Stolen directly off a message board I moderate, written by a poster who goes by the handle

Go here for some mathematics activities on my website that might be of use to home schoolers and parents of public school students alike.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


There is now a Face Book page for Crewton Ramone. Consider becoming a fan...then you can get updates for all the stuff I do here on my website and YouTube...and whatever else comes up.

Am looking into several is a trial at making an internet TV 1/2 a month...think Beakrams World meets Sesame Street meets Monty Python with MTV and Bill Nie The Science Guy, stir in some acid Pee Wee Herman and Electric Company with the emphasis on math only and you get what I'm going for. Will turn math edutainment on it's ear...

Also looking to do a couple webinars for about ten bucks...sign up and we will do 1hour of hard core math education, one for parents and teachers on using manipulatives, one for young students, and one with the focus on algebra...and for ten bucks it's semi-interactive with a chat and then later you can buy the re-cast or podcast for 5 bucks...or free if you were on the webinar...just need to find out how to make it all work and get clear on pricing etc...meantime will keep adding to CRHOM and making more vids.

Also soon you will see some items on the website for sale and more cool stuff you can use that's free or low cost for teaching math. I should also be able to offer the manipulatives soon...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Playing = Learning

Here are a few shots from a recent tutoring session. The child built a big tower. To the casual observer this looks like a kid spent some time building and playing with blocks what I didn't capture was all the computation that went along with it. There was also quite a bit of measurement that went intp placing the foundations so everything would line up correctly. Usually the ten block was used as a measuring stick.

There was quite a bit of multiplication and counting. For example, as the level that contained the fours (the level with the yellow blocks) was built he had to skip count by fours and answer questions like how many is eight fours....?

The tower on top with the blue blocks contains 18 fives...we practiced skip counting by two's and then counted by fives. We skip counted by two's because each level contains two fives, then we counted by fives then he figured out that he could easily count each level because tow fives is ten and counting by tens is easy. He still isn't 100% confident repeating the pattern 2, 4, 6, 8, 10...but that doesn't stop us from counting by nines or sixes or eights...he knows how many 2 sixes are due to the work with addends...and three sixes but then he uses "wanna be a ten" to figure out the rest.

18 + 6....hmmm...8 takes the two out of the six, four left 24, four needs 6, 30...etc...after a while he will know what 6 x 6 is without having to count it...he gets lots of addition and multiplication practice and has motivation because I don't always let him keep building until he answers the questions...the faster he answers the faster he get to keep playing. Most of the time the questions are easy but sometimes he has to stop and think and once in a while he has to get out a marker to keep track...for questions like "how many blocks did you use so far?" Or "how many units would you need to build this or that part?" In kid speak: "how many green ones would it take if you had to use green ones instead of fours (or whatever)?"

Some of the computation was done on the white board but most of it was done in his head.

This student has just turned seven years old. He knows his addends pretty well, and we are practicing multiplication. This tower was fun to build, he did all manner of multiplication and addition as well as measuring and simple counting.

It is paradoxical that many educators and parents still differentiate between a time for learning and a time for play without seeing the vital connection between them. -Leo Buscaglia, author (1924-1998)

After we had built the tower we practiced a little more math, here we are doing subtraction. Looks like this kid is a genius; no borrowing, and note how he is going from left to right. That's because he knows how to employ addends to solve this simple subtraction problems.

Then, and only because he asked nicely, we did some algebra, by far his favorite subject. He has some work to do with regard to making the symbols neatly but certainly he is well ahead of most 7 year olds when it comes to understanding math concepts. "I'm not even going to get out the blocks!" he exclaims. "I'm just going to draw it, okay." Because drawing on the white board is still very fun for a 7 year old.

And before you know it the hour is gone and all we did was play around with blocks.