Thursday, August 25, 2011

Negative Numbers

A few weeks ago I wrote about Lucas playing with percentages. He was joyfully telling me how full all of his food centers were, during a one on one shopping trip. Do I think because of this one playful moment he has now mastered percentages? No. Do I think he fully understands the concept? No. But the more he plays with it, the closer he gets to understanding and then mastery.

Lucas is not the only one working to understand new concepts in math. Last year for Christmas I bought each of the boys their very own calculators (mostly so they would stop stealing and losing mine). Recently Nico has started wondering what happens when you subtract a large number, from a smaller number. One day, calculator in hand, he comes to tell me, "Hey Mommy, 2 minus 4 is negative 2." That simple operation sparked an interest, and for the last several days he has been subtracting more and more large numbers from smaller ones, to see what he gets. "Did you know 700 minus 900 is negative 200?" he asked me just last night.

Along with negative numbers, the calculators are also helping both the boys to recognize and learn place values. They type in a bunch of numbers, and then have me read it off the calculator for them. Nico came to me last night and asked if 10,000 was 100 thousand. I said no, it was only 10 thousand, and to make it 100 thousand, he needed one more zero. Later he came and asked me what 90,000,000 was. I said 90 million, and he said "Oh cool, seven zeros to make 90 million.

They think they're just playing when they pick up those calculators, but I see it for what it really is.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Back to School

What does back to school mean for unschoolers? Generally speaking, since there is no distinction between life and learning, there are never breaks from school, and so no need to go back to it.

But things do change for us in the summer, and during other traditional school breaks. Mostly because the other kids are out of school, and the places we like to visit become way too busy and crowded. Also, living in Florida, it's just too hot in the summer to venture out of the house often.

So back to school for us, means we will once again have a full calendar of events. Our monthly field trips to the Oakland Nature Preserve are starting back up on Friday. Other field trips are being discussed within our group, and will be filling up the calendar soon. In early September we start meeting with our home-school group once again, for our weekly co-ops. Some changes have been made this year, and we are looking forward to some fun and exciting classes.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fun with Percentages

I just got back from a trip to the grocery store with Lucas, where I spent the last half hour listening to him explain to me the different levels of his food centers.

See, his sugar center is at 90% because of the ice cream we had after lunch, and no he does not want a free cookie today. If he eats a free cookie, his sugar levels will get to 100%, and then he can't have any more sugar for the rest of the day.

His fruit center is at 50% because he just had fruit in his yogurt, and fruit in his ice cream. But I should really buy him those pear fruit cups because he loves pears, and just one cup will bring his fruit level up to 100%.

His cheese center is currently at 0%, so I need to buy him some cheese sticks, and also cheese balls. Just one cheese ball will bring his level up to 100%, two will bring it to 1000% and three will bring it to infinity, so what ever I do, do not let him eat three cheese balls.

We're having lasagna for dinner, and his lasagna center is way down in his leg, but only a few bites will fill it up to his belly and put him at 100% there too.

His drink center is at 0%, so we just have to stop at a gas station to get him a drink.

Some days that boy just cracks me up!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

In the kitchen

I am not the type of mom who typically cooks with her kids. Generally speaking, I am a very patient person, I'm just not that patient! When it comes to every day meals, I want to get in, and get it done, with out the fuss and the mess of involving the kids. In fact most days they aren't even allowed in the kitchen while I'm cooking. Some days I make an exception, however.

This afternoon, Lucas asked for Mac N Cheese for lunch. Nico asked if he could make it, and I was feeling rather patient, so I agreed. Of course Lucas also wanted to make it, and they do not work well together in these types of situations. So I had two chairs pulled up to my stove, two pots of water boiling, and two boys happily stirring two boxes of Mac N Cheese. My kids were in heaven, cooking their own lunches.

Don't get the wrong idea. My kids are no strangers to the kitchen. They routinely go in to grab snacks, drinks, and have been fixing their own sandwiches and cereal for a while now. But they only get to use the stove on rare occasions.

Lightening struck twice today, because later Lucas asked if he could sit and watch me cook dinner. Still feeling patient, I agreed, and he pulled up his chair as I began dicing tomatoes. He asked if he could smash the tops when I was done, and I saw no reason to say no (I already had a mess to clean up after all). So after I was done with the cutting board, I handed him a mallet, and as the steak was cooking, he happily pounded away at the tomato tops. When he was done, Nico took his place, pounding those tomatoes flat.

Today was one of those days where I really felt connected to unschooling. I said yes, when I would normally say no, and things turned out alright. I like to think I can make that happen more often, but tomorrow they will probably be banished from the kitchen again.