Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Subject I Enjoy Teaching Most

Before I tell you my most favorite subject to teach, let me take you back a few years...

I was in high school (like I said a few or *cough* more years ago) and there was this subject that I simply showed up for and, though at one point I was a straight A student, this particular subject confused me to no end and I was thrilled to get a D.  Yes, I may have done better if I studied but, *sigh* I did well in the other subjects without studying and I didn't like this one, so why would I work on it at home?  (yes adult me would like to give high school me a swift kick in the rear, but oh well!)

Fast forward a few or ten or 15 years later (go with the few, I couldn't possibly have been out of high school for over 15 years-nope not me!) and I'm a home educating momma.  Do you know what that means??  I have to teach that subject to my children, and if I want them to actually learn it, they are going to have to like it and so am I!  Uh oh??

Actually, I am happy-and surprised-to tell you my favorite subject to teach is the one that I used to hate....

Ready??  It's MATH!

Honestly, it's 125% due to the fact that we use the Montessori Math Materials in our home.  So, here's a little bit about why I love using the Montessori Math Materials.

About a week and 1/2 ago, I was sitting on the floor doing math with Charger.  I look over and realize we are having fun!  We are bonding!  He is getting this!  And, we are doing math!  I was all sorts of warm fuzzy.  Seriously.

Here is the material we were working with when I came to this realization.  The Golden Bead Material.  You may have seen unit blocks that were similar, but the Montessori Method uses them in so many more ways then I have seen the unit blocks used.  Let me show you a few.

Oh before I go further, you can see that there is one gold bead for a unit, a ten bar, hundred flat and thousand cube.  This is an early presentation.

A few lessons later, we layout numbers and match the quantities to them.  Charger is counting to 900 here, visualizing it and internalizing it, but he is only 5 and not yet even Kindergarten age by the public school standards.

And, for goodness sake, what child giggles wildly when you hand him math?  Charger when he held the thousand cube for the first time, that's who!  BTW-this is the precise bonding moment I mentioned above!

Taking the beads a few steps further, now Charger is placing the correct number of beads with each number.  Here he got quantities for himself, Optimus Prime, and Bumblebee.  After the each got their correct number of beads, we added them together.  In the end, Charger got to see that 2132+2132+1253=5517.  Did I mention he is 5??  Now, it is true he doesn't yet have his math facts memorized, so it's not like he knows how to truly 'do' this math on paper.  But, he sees it and this has a very lasting effect!

As you will notice, this problem required carrying.  We teach carrying at a very early age through something called the exchange game-one of his favorites!

For this game, I give him a pile of each type of bead material-the bigger the better in his opinion.  

Starting with the units, he counts to ten and then exchanges with the bank (me) for a ten bar.  When he counts the ten bars, when he reaches 100, he exchanges for a 100 flat.  The same if he reaches 1000 with his hundred flats, he would exchange for a 1000 cube.

You can see that he is enjoying it.  What you can't see is Mini Cooper (3 years old) hanging on to every word I am saying and asking over and over if she can play the game, too.  Because, math looks like fun!

We can use these materials to add, subtract, multiply and divide! Within the next few weeks, Charger will have been introduced to all 4 equations and their symbols. 

Here is another material that is unique to the Montessori Method.  This is the long 8 chain.  Mustang is counting the chain and labeling it.  There is one arrow with each number needed to count by 8's all the way up to the cube of 8 which is 512.  Every square of 8, so every 64 numbers, she places a square to help her visualize the squares and how they turn into the cubes.  There is also a large cube of 8 that did not make it in the photo.

Here, Mustang is building a tower with the cubes of 2 through 7.  

Last year sometime, a member of my homeschool co-op sent around an email asking for help on how to explain the difference between the area (surface area) of a cube and the volume of a cube.  These little models help to visualize concepts that even adults have a hard time explaining!

And, speaking of cubes...

In this picture, Mini Cooper is putting together a sort of puzzle that we call the Binomial Cube.  She thinks it is just a mind game of sorts, but really, it is the visualization of the formula of a cube!  The sides are color coded to represent a^3+2a^2b+ab^2 on one level of the puzzle and then a^2b+2ab^2+b^3 on the other level (the ^ means that the number should be power, I don't know how to type that!).  Seriously, talk about teaching things I hardly understand and having my 3 year old internalizing it without even knowing it is awesome!

These math materials are just the very tip of the iceberg of Montessori Math Materials.  I can (and do) mix and match other curricula with Montessori in the other subjects, but I absolutely won't do it with math.  I love the way I teach math, I love the way the children learn math, and I love that I am using the word love anywhere NEAR the word math :)!  

This post is part of this week's Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog Cruise.  So, if this is your first time stopping by my blog, thanks for the visit!  I hope you'll come back again and read my Montessori math (and other) ramblings.  If you are one of my readers (love you all), I encourage you to come check out other Schoolhouse Crew blogs as they also tell their favorite subject to teach.

Have a great week and God Bless!!


Discovering Montessori said...

Nice post! It is always hard for me to decide which subject I like to teach the best since all of the Montessori Materials are so beautiful and the kids just "get it" when they use them. I have to admit that Math and Practical Life are tied for first, but then there on the puzzle maps for geography,etc.

Love all the math work your children have been doing!!

Thank you for sharing.

Debbie said...

I think it is interesting when the subject we did not like and do well in school is the subject we enjoy teaching.

Anonymous said...

What a great post about your Montessori math! So glad you have come to love math with this new teaching style.. I love math and I hope Sammy will too.. at this point he is pretty neutral :-P

Renata said...

Hi Lisa
Maths is my favourite subject as well ( it helps that all my children are mathematically minded). I found you through your mention of needing 15 more followers to get to 500 on the crew forum. I can only help with one follow, but it still counts :)
Have a lovely day