Same as learning chemistry is not just about making cookies.
Or even home-ec, for that matter.
(Of course, that's not to say that a child with a fire in the heart for baking and pastries would not learn all he needed to know, just by living by her passion everyday. And how delicious for the rest of the family!)
So some families read Living Math books. (Things like stories and biographies about mathematicians, and tales about finding information through formulas.)
Some enter dice clubs.
Some have a passion for fractals.
Since this page is about my family, and the way we do things, I'll first mention a fascinating article by David Albert, Just Do the Math!. In it, Mr. Albert talks about how a child can learn math - all of it, k-12 - in eight weeks. Yup. (How's that for encouragement?)
Unschooling Tools : Games, I love the words of Mr. John Bennett as he talks about the value of thinking well over that of memorizing complex formulas.
And if you need more, go read A Mathematician's Lament, by Paul Lockhart.
Wonderful things such as the magic of "1089". (Which is very cool. Go check it out.)
And the fact that any number that can be added until it's broken down to the equivalent of "9" is divisible by 9. (18, 27, 36, 1,269, etc...)
And learning how to add and subtract using a soroban abacus.
And even learning about seemingly obscure things such as binary arithmetic (that was me).
And can learn number recognition, addition, and even multiplication by jumping to numbers written in chalk around the edge of the trampoline, if that's interesting.
We can make games like our geo-dice game, and invent others.
We can show them beauty in mathematics by watching with them wonderful films like Between the Folds.
And we can know there's no reason to worry about how to teach them complicated theories and formulas that elude us (when they're curious), thanks to brilliant and giving people like Sal Khan and his Khan Academy.
We can just Play.
We can play with:
- -or learn how to solve- a Rubik's cube
- Cool Math Games (website. There is even one for the littlest kids.)
- creating tessellations
- building with clay (or gumdrops) and toothpicks and skewers
- pattern blocks
- dice games
- jigsaw puzzles
- trampoline games
- a balance scale
- a weight scale
- a soroban abacus
- board games
- fun software (Zoombinis, Math 1-2, Mazes, Carmen Sandiego Math Detective, Cluefinders, JumpStart, Math Blaster, Timez Attack
- drawing accurately-sized dinosaur or Godzilla footprints with chalk on the driveway or street in front of our house (or other animal footprints, for size... chimpanzee? elephant? zebra? How many? How far apart are the feet?)
- looking up sizes of buildings in our city, then driving around, making observations ("So that one is about sixty meters tall!" and "There it is! The tallest one! 422 feet... 129 meters!")
- rulers, measuring tapes, and one inch blocks
- Venn diagrams
- cuisenaire rods
- measuring cups and spoons
- counting out money in a piggy bank... enough for a slurpee :)
- doubling recipes for favorite cookies
- weight, using pulleys
- building cubes and pyramids, and finding minimal surfaces (inverted angles)
- timing things with a stopwatch
- launching things with a catapult
- spirals in nature; sunflowers, pinecones, the centers of daisies, and bumps in pineapples
- learning about what The Golden Ratio is, and then looking for it (faces? buildings? seashells?)
- making an inclinometer, then going and measuring things
- making a parabola on grid paper, or even with nails on a board with string.
- a trebuchet
Mandatory worksheets? I think not.
Next week for Unschooling Tools...Television! (Movies, documentaries, netflix faves, pbs shows, etc)
This post is part of the Unschooling Tools series.
Other posts are Unschooling Tools : Games
Unschooling Tools : Television
Unschooling Tools : For Creativity
Unschooling Tools : For Reading