Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Math-U-See, Math-U-Do

Our bouncy, baby Joel grew up and as his Kindergarten teacher/Mother I've recently discovered that Joel seems to be kinesthetic learner. I vaguely remember jokingly calling him 'my satelite' because while I stand around talking to people, he literally walked in circles around me. It was fun when he was 2... The traditional classroom would probably 'do him in' with all that sitting still in your seat! We have practiced the Ten Commandments on Sunday afternoons for years, and Joel can finish the sentences if we start them. He knows them all at some level. And yet, could not say them independently. That is, until... we drew stick figures and put them on the floor and had him jump and say each one! Now he doesn't need any help at all!

One day during school I found him doing his 'easy' +0 facts like this:

Well, as you can imagine handwriting is tedious to say the least. Handwriting Without Tears has been fabulous and lived up to its name, but writing eventually pervades every subject in school. We've used Math-U-See for 3 years now and really love it! So Joel is in Math-U-See's Alpha book this year (Gr. 1 ish) and got to writing his numbers in order 0-100. This lesson was tough last year even for his bookworm elder brother, but asking Joel to SIT and WRITE from 0-100 must have looked like death. The first day after an hour of struggle we were at 27. Ouch. The second day we tried poster paper and markers (that's fun, right?!). We got to 53... with marker on the wall. Ouch.

This kid doesn't need Math-U-See, he needs Math-U-Do! There are great manipulatives and he is learning his math concepts and adding facts really quickly when he can start off my building them in blocks, but writing 0-100?! No way. With James I forced him to make it through twice and called it good enough. But Joel didn't seem to have place value down quite as sure, so the 0-100 exercise should be good (is it 36 or 63?) I finally came up with a way! In Reading we had success with the alphabet by laying out all the letters on cards on the floor and organizing them, so why not with math?

I spent a few hours creating 0-100 color coded cards (in his HWT number font), and voila! Happy kid.

(Okay, so he whined and needed help the first two times, but after that he couldn't wait for mathtime!) I think I have a new product for them to sell! 0-100 cards with the correct blocks colored on the back (and nicely laminated and all of course). Then there were tons of other games we could play with them like 'pick a random card and build it in 10 seconds!' Happy kid. I'm sure someone out there has a much cooler name for that one. Or 'pick a row and turn them all over and read them'...

I'm just beginning to unlock the 'key' to happy kid Joel's learning style, but hey!
Happy (learning) kid.


Michelle said...

Nice work! I am quite impressed.

ethan demme said...

what a great picture! May I post it on the Math-U-See blog?


Janine the Bean said...

Great work Mom! I think Dom has some of Joel's learning style. I'm taking all the advice I can get.

It's so fun to be creative and see what helps them to learn.

Another beauty of homeschooling.

Mrs. Hewett said...

Thank you for sharing this great idea. I found your blog through the MUS post. I hope you don't mind if I use your idea with my son. We are also using both MUS and HWOT. My son is VERY active and hands on too, but with a twist - my son is autistic. This will be an excellent tool for him. Thanks so much!


K Hewett

kimom said...

Mrs. Hewett,

Please feel free to use this idea! I hope it works well for your bouncy boy too! Let me know if you want anymore images or ideas. I used to teach in a traditional classroom, but kinesthetic methods are relatively new to me.


Melissa Smith said...

I saw Joel's picture on the Math-U-See blog today and just had to visit your blog. You made me smile today! I, too, have a Math-U-Do son! I have a photo of him arranging plastic tiles numbered 0 to 100 in neat rows on our deck outside. He's almost 8 now and still learns best by doing!
Melissa Smith

kimom said...

I'd love to hear about any other ideas you may have about getting kinesthetic learners moving! Plastic tiles, eh? Got any other tips?

Love your web-ministry!

Melissa said...

Hi Kim!
I, too, was a traditional teacher, and I had read quite a bit about the different learning styles. Eight years ago, when my 3rd daughter began learning to read, I realized that she had some learning difficulties. That launched me into a lot of reading about learning and how the brain processes information. It has been so exciting to learn how to teach with a whole-brain, multi-sensory approach! It works for all learning styles. This is why Math-U-See works so well for most children. In fact, I use MUS for all my children (Beta, Delta, Epsilon, Pre-Algebra, and Algebra this year!), and they are all understanding math more than they ever did when I was using traditional curriculum.
If you want to read more about a multi-sensory approach to teaching language arts, see www.madsenmethod.com. I read your 11/17 post about your daughter, and I immediately thought of the Madsen Method. She's already mastered the concept of "say as you do; recite as you write." : )
I'm sorry to have written such a long comment! If you want to e-mail me, use the address on the scripture melodies website.

Kristina said...

Thank you!!! We are on this lesson now, and it does feel like a cloud of doom has settled on our home. This is perfect.