Numbers, numbers, numbers!


Secondus is practicing numbers over 10. I had my number turtle from my teaching days, but it would be easy to find your own version because it doesn’t matter exactly how many number tiles you have. Secondus and I played simply. We took turns to pull a tile out of a bag and put it in the right place on the turtle track. This was a good chance to model strategies for counting on, check his understanding, and most importantly 🙂 spend some one-on-one time with my growing little on.




Patterns are a big deal in the curriculum for younger children. It seems to fade in importance later, which is a shame because it’s underneath so much higher level mathematics. Noticing, playing with, and creating patterns is a stage a lot of children seem to go through. After all, noticing and responding to patterns is what our brains are supposed to do.

And so they do it. Without a worksheet in sight, I am watching Secondus develop and refine his ideas about patterns. There isn’t much for me to do in this process. I am glad I get to observe and record.

Cusinaire Rods


There is something about their retro colour scheme I quite like, but these just don’t get used as much as I would think they would be.

Cusinaire rods are visual representations of numbers 1-10. Each rod represents a different number represented by the length of the rod – one centimeter for each number.

Aside from helping cement the concepts of quantity, cuisinaire rods are great for operations, illustrating how addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division work is a very visual manner. In fact, there are mathematics curriculums based entirely on them, such as Miquon Maths.

As such they were on my list of home education materials list pretty early on, but really they haven’t caught on with my children. I am not exactly sure why, but I suspect that it’s for the same reason they are not a hit with me – they don’t have the divisions of the numbers marked on them. Now I am sure that is deliberate and has an appropriate pedagogical reason, but it doesn’t really suit the way my brain works.

Oh well, they make passable castles. And you never know, Tercio might be really into them yet.

All Hail the Place Value System!

Place Value is the system that allows us to use the same 10 digits to represent any number by using the position in the digit to represent it’s value. That means 5 in the ones postion means five, but the same digit in the tens position (50) means fifty.

I won’t rant and rave about how amazing a step forward a place value system is. Or the awesomeness of the concept of 0

I will point out that having a good understanding of the place value system is an important key component to actually GETTING mathematics. (As opposed to being able to follow the steps in solving a problem, but having no idea how it works!) And while there are plenty of other ways to learn place value,  I really like the good old MAB blocks.

MAB blocks have been around for ever. You probably used them. They are still around because they work.

As with any new manipulative, I usually just introduce them in free play first. I try to let the child discover what they can in the material. What does it do? Then you can use them in a great variety of games to practice trading and place value. As children grow, MAB blocks can be used for decimals and percentages too, as well as learning algorithms. As far as manipulatives go, they aren’t too badly priced for something with such a long useful lifespan.


Stanley F. Schmidt, I could kiss you!

Well, maybe not literally. But figuratively, yep, I could. And Sal Khan too.

Life of Fred: Apples by Stanley F. Schmidt is kind of a maths text-book, kind of a story, and with a bizarre sense of humour and an absolute resistance to ‘dumbing things down’, but you really have to see it to get it. (There are sample pages at that link) As well as providing a fun practise for maths concepts, there are so many conversation starters as well, snippets of information with no real bearing on the story, but great fun for us to share.

Afterwards I set C up with the Khan Academy while A and I played with some bean pouring and melon-balling.

The Khan academy (thanks to another friend for convincing me try it!) is a fabulous free resource begun by Sal Khan for maths learning. It is very no frills, but has a video and practise questions for many, many topics. When you register, you are shown a topic tree, you choose a topic and it will display questions on that topic. From this screen you can watch a video, or use a ‘scratch pad’ (think “Paint”) to help you solve the question. When you get enough right, you have mastery and the computer recommends the next topic for you.

Its lovely when you find something that works.  🙂  It’s even better when they are free or affordable.

Our Garden

Sometimes its great that we still have to paint some of the walls in our house! Today we put up a mural we have been working on. Each of the flowers is the same height as the person who made it. We are going to add to our garden, too.  I already have found some flowers with the numbers counting by tens to 100 on them to add across the bottom, and I have plans for some minibeasts, or whatever we can dream up.

In case you are wondering, LE did two, that’s not the height of the baby or anything 😉

This idea came from one of my old teaching resources, Maths on Display.

Building Numbers

Remember this?

After LE and A had finished building, we tried this! It was actually quite good fun, and we just played until LE was done. Gotta love the sun streaming in and the coffee too. Ahhhh!

Previous Older Entries