## Sunday, November 2, 2008

### 52 Days till Christmas

Okay, so I'm not really itching in my shoes waiting for Christmas to come, but we've started a countdown to Christmas to introduce numerals (symbols for numbers, like 1,2,3 or IV, V, VI) and also to explore number personalities (like finding out if a number is a square number [like 4], or a triangular number [like 6], or a prime number, or if it's an odd or even number, how many tens go into it [like 52 has 5 tens and 2 ones] or what numbers it can be divided by [like 52 can be divided by 26, 13, 4, and 2]). In other words, we're going to be doing a lot of MATH in the next few weeks.

I'm really anxious to focus on math and get into numerals because I recently found out that the ability to perceive quantity (the ability to distinguish 98 dots from 99 dots instantly) doesn't last forever even if you were trained with dot cards from birth. I knew that if dot training wasn't started before 2 1/2 or 3 years old then the ability would probably be lost forever, however I always thought that if you made use of that "window of opportunity" then you would always have the ability. But apparently that's not so and the ability does go away, however the ability to perform instant mental calculations, and to have a true understanding of math, never goes away if you're firmly grounded in it. You just won't be able to glance at a pile of toothpicks and say "147!"

So we're going to be exploring numbers, a lot of them, and moving into the big, beautiful world of numerals. Today we had 52 Cheerios with breakfast, and did a bunch of equations involving 52. You can see in the picture above that I taped a number (dot card) to the wall with a numeral and an "equals" sign to look at all day. I also made a long line of red dots with the star of David and the word "Christmas" at the end. I also have a little table set up with a muffin tin with Cheerios in it (10 + 10 + 10 + 10 + 10 + 2) and some math manipulatives (Math U See ones [blue rods] and Multilink Cubes). The little baggie has 52 Cheerios in it.

I gave Hunter a little 3x5 box and told him it was his special box to put his numbers in (to review later on). On an index card I wrote "52" on one side and on the other made 52 dots. I also gave him a big card with 52 baseball stamps on it (see picture). This whole thing has come with huge fanfare and we're making a very big deal about his new friends the numerals. He's loving it, of course.

We did a bunch of equations that equal 52. I was sure to cover all the numbers and go into 52 (2,3,13, and 26) and did some random addition and subtraction equations. We also introduced simple algebra (y-equations) and he seemed to enjoy it.

We also played the candy game to help him with retaining the ability to perceive quantity, this time only using two cards, on the count of three flipping them over and having him point to 52. I was very positive about this and was doing a lot of really easy ones at first (like 25 and 52 or 90 and 52) because he has been a little self-conscious lately saying he doesn't know, or picking the wrong number on purpose. So I made it very fun and did a lot of really easy, obvious ones - always arrange for your child to win. As we progressed a little and did more similar ones, (like 52 vs. 55) he was now shining with self-confidence and picked the right one.

I was a little worried, for a while, fearing that it was possible he had already lost his ability to perceive quantity with the way he was acting towards his math, but today was a good day, a great day, and I think he has gained his confidence back. He went to bed tonight saying goodbye to 52 and looking forward to doing our countdown again tomorrow.

"Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!"
Numbers 23:10

Hunter is 3 years, 7 months old