Saturday, December 15, 2007

School Silliness

Let me preface this post by saying that I don't think that all institutionalized schools are silly. Some have some great teachers and administration that cares about the students and not just filling the seats and collecting their per student grant money. Some schools see the person behind the desk, rather than just a number.

But apparently that's not the case at Sunrise Elementary School in Ocala, Florida. A 10 year old girl was arrested and charged with felony possession of a knife. Was she threatening another student? No. Was she flashing it around or using it in an unsafe manner? No. She was using it to cut up her food in the lunch room.

What is happening to putting the situation in context? When will the Zero Tolerance madness end?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Math Product Review: Rat-a-tat-cat

I thought I'd put up a review of a product that we've been playing with at our house lately. I got A. a new card game called Rat-a-tat-cat.

The basic rule of the game are:

Each player is dealt 4 cards face down. They peek at two of the cards and leave the other two face down, unless they think they can get away with peeking at those ones while Mom is distracted. Hey! hang on, those aren't the official rules! Put the other two down!

Anyway, the goal of the game is to trade out your high number "rat" cards for lower number "cat" cards. You take cards from the draw pile and discard from your face down cards, always aiming to replace your highest numbered card with lower numbered cards. When you think you have a lower sum than your opponent, you yell "Rat-a-tat-cat" and all players turn over their cards. Each player adds up the sum of their four cards and the person with the lowest score wins that round. Continue playing rounds until Mom has to make supper or younger sibling starts giving the cat a haircut.

It builds skills in determining greater than/less than as well as basic addition. The recommended age on the box is 6 and up. It's an Oppenheim Toy Portfolios "Best Toy Award - Platinum", as well as Mensa Select winner.

A. and I like to play this game. She hates games that aren't really games, in the true, competitive sense of the word. What can I say...she's her mother's daughter and we both like to play where someone actually wins! I've seen many educational activities labeled as "games", but unless there is a competitive component, it doesn't quite seem like a game to me. We both give it a two thumbs up!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Plant, water, and leave it alone to grow

We're pretty eclectic around our house. On more Mommy-structured days we do literature based unit studies or Charlotte Mason style reading and narration. Today was an unschooly flavored day though. I thought I'd share with you an example of doing math, without even really noticing it.

At lunch, A. noticed that the magnetic fridge letters were one of four different colors. The vowels were all red and the other letters were either yellow, green or blue. She sorted the letters by color, making long lines of color down the face of the fridge. She noticed that each color ribbon was the same length as the next and then counted each letter, arriving at a total of 21 consonants.

I pointed to the fridge and said, "Did you notice that you actually have three groups of seven letters?", pointing to the shape she had made. She noticed and agreed that it was so. I took this opportunity to plant a little seed about multiplication and offhandedly commented that once she was old enough, she could memorize her multiplication tables and she wouldn't have to count out each letter anymore, she could memorize what the answer to three groups of seven was.

I moved on, clearing the lunch dishes. Plant now, water a bit and leave the idea to grow.

She protested that no, in fact she was old enough to memorize her multiplication facts now. I responded that usually one memorized the addition facts first and she asked me to start today. So I showed her the pattern that it makes if you start with one number (say 2) and add an escalating number to it (say first 1, then 2, then 3) that the result forms a pattern of being one larger than the last one. It looked like this:

2+1 = 3
2+2 = 4
2+3 = 5

She thought that was interesting and we played around with ascending sums for about 5 minutes.

Patterns, it's all about being able to recognize patterns. She wanted to do more sums at bedtime and so we laid down together and talked about different patterns 2+2, 3+3, 4+4, etc

Plant, water, and leave it alone to grow. I predict December with be a math-heavy month around here. 'Cause watered seeds can't help but sprout.

Into the Mouths of Babes

Heard in my kitchen today:

Me: "S....(who is youngest daughter and almost 4), Is that your sister's candy cane you're putting in your mouth?"

S: "No, I ate my sister's already. This one is mine."

Saturday, December 1, 2007


I will blog everyday. That is my new mantra. I was a little busy in November. I attempted and WON NaNoWriMo. For those that haven't heard about it, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month I can't begin to type how excited that makes me. I had serous doubts whether I could write 50,000 words in 30 days. Apparently I can. Actually, it turns out that I can do it in about 25 days. That works out to 2000 or so words per day. So a blog entry each and every day should not be too hard.

I also discovered that we can survive just fine on boxed/frozen food and that my husband rocks.

More later.