Monday, April 18, 2011

Free U: Physical Math

It's dinnertime on Sunday night. Lovely evening on the screen porch. Until ... Fiona shows Daddy her food. Daddy says stop. She does it again and smiles.

Time out.

One person down.

Danny takes inventory.

Hey. There's four now, he says.

That's right. Five minus one equals four, I say. He's been asking about the word equal a lot lately. I figured now would be a good time to start using the word in context.

Daddy gets up.

So, four minus one equals? I ask.

Three, he says.

Daddy and Fiona return. Three plus two equals?

Five, he says.

Then he runs giggling from the table on the screen porch into the backyard. Normally, this would be a major infraction. But it was Sunday night and we were eating outside and he was engaged in a physical math activity. I thought it was pretty cool, actually.

When he came back, he said, four plus one equals five.

And that concludes today's lesson on addition and subtraction. 

I really can't imagine anything more boring than looking at numbers on a piece of paper and puzzling out the answers to addition and subtraction problems. In fact, thinking about it makes my head hurt. To this day, I couldn't tell you what algebra was all about. I probably use the principles in my life every day without knowing it. (If someone has an illustration of this, I'd love to hear it, because, as I said, I wouldn't know what real-life algebra application looks like.)

My son is a very physical little boy who is in a very literal phase. Although he recognizes most numbers and can count, he also needs to see what numbers look like in real life. And it helps if he can physically add and subtract himself from the mix.


Kelley said...

It must just tickle you to death when you get these moments. It would for me.

Josee said...

It really does tickle me! It's so much fun to see how he learns and what he's interested in.