For the entire month of January we have struggled our way through math. Both girls are on lesson 80, which marks the half way point. My third grader had the same experience last year. I think that the mid-point is the peak of new material. Lessons 1-40 are review from the previous year. Lessons 40-80 gradually increase the amount of new material a student is expected to master. Around lesson 100 the material seems to ease off on the new concepts and borrow more often from previous lessons. As I have said previously, I love math. I want to do all that I can to instill in my children the idea that math is fun. Sometimes that is hard. I forget that they are learning a foreign language. I get frustrated that I need to repeat things so often.
Since January I have been expecting the girls to "gut it out." Math was no longer fun; it was a period of time to be endured. We saw more than a few tears hit the school table. Last weekend I took some time to really evaluate my goals for math. I talked with a friend who is several years ahead of me on this homeschooling journey. She confirmed my thoughts. I need to let go of my "finish the book" mentality. I need to grab hold of a mentality that says, "learn the concept well."
This week I did not attempt to teach the girls math separately. I reviewed each of their lessons and choose a hands on activity for each day that combined aspects from several lessons. This week the girls learned about square roots, collecting and analyzing data, symmetry, congruence, and practiced skip counting. Or, as they might tell you, this week for math we built pyramids, counted skittles, made snowflakes, and sang a few songs.
In addition to purposefully choosing a hands on activity for each math lesson, I allowed the girls to grab any "math resource" they wanted as they worked through their written assignments. They both used the hundreds chart several times. My first grader used linking cubes and coins also. My third grader continues to benefit from the base 10 blocks and used the linking cubes a few times too. I enjoyed watching them chose these items on their own. That is a logic exercise all by itself. (I need to solve this problem, what resource will help me solve this problem?)
Math went much better this week. The girls were more relaxed when they started their worksheets. I have been combing the Rainbow Resources catalogue for a few books to help me as I rework our math time. As I find great resources I will share them with you. Here is a short list to work with . . . . .
donnayoung.org - - lots of great things on this site, for math I like the fact sheets
Liz Robinson:musical mathematics - - skip counting songs from 2's to 9's, great for students on the cusp of memorizing the multiplication table
Math Games - - that is the title of a book that I checked out from the library several years ago, it is what it sounds like, a book of games designed to reinforce math concepts, filled with helpful ideas
Feel free to leave a comment about any math resources that you have found to be helpful. May math look a little more like the pictures at the beginning of this post each day.