Manipulatives like Math U See? And also ? for unschoolers - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 02-15-2007, 04:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi, I am an unschooler, just so you all know, but am looking at getting something a little more "structured" for math, not to have the kids do it everyday or on a set schedule or anything, but to have a pool of ideas/resources to draw from as a visual when questions come up, or just have things for them to play around with.

Dd is very much a hands on/storytelling type. I think manipulatives would work for her. I have through an aquaintance seen the Math U See program, I think about 2 levels above the beginning level, but I was totally turned off by how much it was so laid out (the workbook/guide) and know that dd would not want to work with it like that. I do like the visual aspect though. Does anyone know of anything that incorporates manipulatives and storytelling>? I am thinking of things like the book Grandfather Tang's Story, or something.

I have Family Math for Young Children (by Stenmark and Coates) for ages 4-8 but I think dd could do 95% of this stuff....the comparisons, things like that. I more keep it around for ideas to explain something, not pick an activity on page 4 to do tommorrow, sort of thing. KWIM? I have considered getting the Patterns Press book that Lillian talks about also. We have Monopoly Jr (we use stones to help her make up her money amounts) and play Go Fish etc too . Any thing like Miqion or Singapore or anything I have heard about on these boards all look waaaay to workbook-y for my dd....believe me, she is very resistant to "teaching"! I have just answered questions as they have come up or pointed out things when the opportunity arises, like hey, that's a nickel, that's like carrying 5 pennies.

For my fellow unschoolers, I know she has number "sense", what's bigger, can estimate etc. But, when I see those workbooks labelled Grade 1 or 2 in Walmart and stuff and see them adding things like 23+4 on paper, it freaks me out...she is nowhere near doing computational stuff like that. I am so stuck, wanting to just have fun with her in this, but worrying that she will be 15 and counting on fingers! But I would feel so stressed sitting at the table everyday with beans and practicing "adding" too. Do any of you have advice? I am so used to from my experience growing up (I'm 36) being drilled and drilled even with addition facts, not just times tables. (and I had a 99% average in Gr 12 math, I am not sure where this fear is coming from) When learning "math in the wild" would that ever be an ability that would be developed (fast computation)?

I am so worried about math at times that I have just stuck my head in the sand and not done anything about it...maybe I just want some more concrete stuff just to reassure me, that I am "doing something?"

Thoughts anyone? I do want some things to try and just mess/play with, but don't want to cross the line of being too "pushy" which would fuel my anxiety even more. I am torn between buckling down and just doing the "activities" as outlined (and both of us would probably hate it), and just leaving it, but can't find the balance.

I have way more confidence in dd reading and writing than math

Any help would be appreciated!

Tina, dp James, dd Stephanie (almost 7) and ds Jonathan (almost 4) here in Manitoba Canada

Tina, RN, wife-y to J, mom to dd (10) and ds (7)
"Beware the lollipop of lick and you suck forever!"
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#2 of 6 Old 02-15-2007, 07:31 AM
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I'm not an unschooler, per say... I'm still new to this, so we are still trying things out.

I do know what you mean- my son avoids worksheet ANYTHING like the plague. I ordered the Math-U-See Demo DVD online (it's free). I was watching it to just see how it worked, and my ds walked in and was just going on and on about the blocks (manipulatives). So, yesterday, I found the blocks and the teacher's manual (used), and I didn't even buy the student workbook.

I just let him play with the blocks at first. He seems to really like it. He was doing his own grouping and stuff. I'm going to really check out the teacher's manual later today. I don't really plan on using the worksheets per se, buy I know my insecurities will probably lead to some math problems being done on paper. :

The teacher's manual (I've skimmed it today) even says the goal is NOT to fill out all the worksheets, but to do problems until the child has the concept. (Still not grooving the worksheet thing, though.) But, if I break down, their website has a worksheet generator I can print out for free.

Hope this helped, and good luck!

Mom, wife, full-time student.  And tired.  DH, DS#1 (9/99) and DS#2 (9/09), and 2 dogs.

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#3 of 6 Old 02-15-2007, 09:56 AM
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We have the MUS blocks, cuiensaire blocks, base ten have a lot of blocks LOL! The only thing I have a book to go with are the cuisenaire blocks and that's an activity book and a book of games using them. DS uses them quite a bit and he also likes to have a number line to look at if he's doing addition/subtraction problems. If you are looking for a fun way to do addition and subtractions might I reccomend Knockout? It's a math game that my DS LOVES and if you get it with Muggins on the back it's a really good investment (muggins uses multiplication/division as well).
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#4 of 6 Old 02-15-2007, 10:20 AM
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My youngest likes to dump her zillions of pennies and other coins on the living room floor and make 'families'. That is always interesting and fun to watch. She learned fractions a long time a go (4 , maybe?) from cutting pizza for her sibs, giggling, "If I give C 1/8th of a piece, and say it's 1/8th but don't show it to her, do you think she will think it's bigger than one half, because one half is a 2?" That just made me laugh. She got that all her own. She also made made a number grid that she rolls up as a treasure map. "I could make this miles long and it would still never end".

My teen does do a math program. She may want to go to high school later on and wants to test out of any math classes (need two years to graduate, so she wants to be done with that), to focus on art, as their studio is the only reason she is interested in high school. (That and track).
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#5 of 6 Old 02-15-2007, 10:45 AM
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If you haven't already you should definitely check out livingmath which is a website and yahoo group that focuses on incorporates math into everyday life through books, games, manipulatives. There is a huge list of picture books and books for older kids that feature the major math strands (ie like Grandfather Tang, the Sir Cumference series etc. ) Definitely worth reading through.

I think manipulatives are a great idea. We have a tonne. The ones that get used most are:
cuisenaire rods, pattern blocks, fraction circles, tnagrams, pentominoes, play clocks, measuring tools of any type (measuring tapes, scales etc) DIME blocks (hard to find but definitely worth snapping up if you see them), geoboards, habba geomix, laminated graph papers, and smart squares (math puzzles).

Games that are well used here:
overtly math
Mayan math (adding and subtracting negative numbers)
Mad Math
dino math tracks
hive alive
snakes and ladders
mythmatical battles

not overtly math
labrynth jr
connect four
chess and checkers

There is also this great site which I just found this week.

I doubt I "qualify" as an unschooler because I am pretty intentional about what I introduce to our home and kids but I think it is pretty easy to integrate math into everyday without the drill and kill. You might want to take another look at Miquon. The workbooks are the least important part of the program. If you can, borrow a copy of the first grade diary and the lab annotations to see how the program actually was conceptualized and used in the lab setting. It is essentially discovery based. The program itself is inexpensive and it introduces math in a really intuitive way, progressing through the operations and major ideas in first grade.

Your post has a lot of references to being stressed about math and not wanting to subject your daughter to workbooks etc. It sounds like you are projecting a lot of your feelings about math on your daughter. Humans as a species are not genetically predisposed to have a fear of numbers (unlike lions, or tigers or bears ) and math is such an amazing thing to explore. I think it's great you want to explore math. I would just caution you about discard entire categories of math tools based on your own feelings and not your daughter's needs/learning style.

Blessed partner to a great guy, and mama to 4 amazing kids. Unfortunate target of an irrationally angry IRL stalker.

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. ~ Buddha

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#6 of 6 Old 02-15-2007, 06:29 PM
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I second Living Math. We do that program along with Math U See.

Living Math is literature based with lots of games and projects. So far we have done things like learn to count in multiple languages, built and played Mancala, built and use a sundial, etc.

Math U See is the program that we started with but I didn't like how structured it was. So we pared down to doing the C, F and Test page in each unit only. (A, B and C are the introduction of the new concept, D, E and F are the cumulative review) We don't treat the test page as a test we treat it as just another cumulative review page. It is also handy for putting in the portfolio! We only buy the student book and the manipulatives. I don't feel I need a Teacher's Manual to teach addition or subtraction. And I know no one would watch the video.
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