Tag Archives: maths

We get by with a little help from our friends

For Marnie

Today we have had an absolutely amazing day. I think this is mostly due to you, and the amazing things you have introduced our family to.

I’ve noticed some amazing changes in E over the last few weeks. I’d noticed that when we’ve been baking recently, she’s figured out how to use our digital scales. Up until now, I’ve had to stand close by checking she doesn’t go over the required amount. Suddenly she’s able to do it all herself.

Today, after a couple of false starts, she requested worksheets to do! Unheard of in our house! I’ve stopped keeping workbooks, they take up space, can only be used once, and never seem to have the kind of exercises that grab their attention. Attempts at this kind of structured work invariably ends in tears for both of us, so I was treading carefully. Yesterday we had tried out this one which was a free download, and involved doing some simple addition to discover the colour it needed to be coloured, which E enjoyed,but wanted something more interesting, with less colouring!

While perusing Pinterest recently, I followed a couple of links to Teachers Notebook so together we had a look to see what they had to grab her attention. We found this pack. It contained some fun things, some ideas I knew I hadn’t introduced before, and practised some things we’ve done before that we could maybe extend. It wasn’t free, but was about $3, and I could pay using paypal. Bonus!


We started off doing skip counting in 10s, then 5’s, then 2’s. Filling in missing numbers, and using a hundred chart to work things out. I took a deep breath, and started to explain about place value, Tens and Units. I’ve tried before, but she wasn’t interested. This time was different 🙂 We played the game in the pack, and we moved Cheerios around our kebab sticks! Then I thought I’d push my luck and introduce Hundreds. The game was to identify the number of hundreds in a series of numbers. We did a couple with a puzzled look on her face. Suddenly she said “ooooh! Do you mean the first number of the hundred, like three hundred and fifty two has 3 hundreds in it. I know this, I can do it in thousands too”. My jaw was on the floor! She then read the whole page of numbers perfectly. Concepts I’d tried, and failed to introduce had all clicked together in her head. My wonderful friend, Marnie, who had played some games with her with maths cubes had cemented her understanding, while I built parachutes for eggs downstairs with her boys!


It all suddenly clicked. How she was so comfortable with new concepts, eager to learn new ones, and being able to translate these skills into everyday life with reading digital scales. I can’t thank you, Marnie, enough!

Not only that, we then went on to talk about odd and even numbers, comparing numbers using <. > and =, and then a game with cards that had a number to find eg three hundreds four tens and five ones. Then you search in your cards for 345 after working out what you’re searching for! Reading AND maths. The written number 8 was an interesting stumbling block!

Then H wandered in, and wanted a piece of the action!


If that wasn’t enough, I took E to a new club this evening. She has recently given up all clubs and groups, which I was happy with, she had always made the most of things until they’ve come to a point where she is not enjoying them anymore. She stopped doing gymnastics class and swimming lessons a few months ago. They just weren’t working for her, even though she loves gymnastics and swimming! She is hard to understand sometimes 🙂 At the time she was thinking about stopping swimming lessons we looked into other extensions of swimming that might be more fun.

We regularly go swimming at a local pool with several other home ed families, and have a fantastic time, each and every time. Diving has become a brilliant fun skill that they’ve all learned during these sessions thanks to Marnie who has taken the time to show them how to do it, and then given them the encouragement to try out the dive pool, and the scarily high boards (I don’t think I could even attempt the 1m!!). We found that there is a club that meets at the pool that trains kids in waterpolo, synchronised swimming and diving. I approached them about synchronised swimming all those months ago, and they were full 😦 Last week I received an email out of the blue, saying they had a space for E 🙂 The thinking was it combined swimming, diving and gymnastics. It was worth a go!

So I kept my fingers firmly crossed and hoped for the best. Thankfully she absolutely loved it, and can’t wait until the next session in a week’s time! I can’t believe the stuff they just expected her to do, sink or swim (literally!).

Thank you for our awesome day. I hope I can repay the favour very soon 🙂

A x

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Posted by on January 30, 2013 in Home Education


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Many wondrous things!

Yesterday was busy, non-stop, exhausting.  After getting up stupidly early, we had to drop B off at the station, waving him off for the week 😦  We went home to get dressed and have breakfast!  E decided on the way home that we needed to have pancakes, so pancakes we had! Or more precisely, drop scones.  Yum!

We went off out to the library to return our overdue books, and stock up on new ones. I also picked up one I’d reserved: Stray Sock Sewing – fun, fun!

Home for lunch and the enacting of our new rules.  Worked a treat!

After lunch we went to our local market stall and stocked up on fruit and veg.  They also had loads of gourds and mini-squashes as well as indian corn.  E chose several to make an autumn display for our newly clean and tidy table, it looks fab – must take a pic!  Then a customary look at the fish – a wander round the aquarium shop next-door.  Then back to the library to drop off the Tudors box of books we borrowed from the Library Education Service, and on to Tesco for a few bits and pieces.

On the way we managed to add more to my little notebook, including a conversation about eating poisonous things which resulted in ‘what would happen if you ate a raw potato?’, and ‘would you be ill if you licked the outside of a conker, or would you actually have to eat it to get ill?’.  There was another conversation about drinking rainwater, which after a quick synopsis of the water cycle, and me advising that it might not be advisable to drink lots of it, but it can be cleaned.  E now wants to find out how water can be cleaned for drinking.  That should keep us busy for a bit.

E did some random cooking involving herbs from the garden, spices from our kitchen collection, breadcrumbs collected from the bread board and her favourite implement, the pestle and mortar.  She then roasted them in the oven and I had to do the taste test!

Recently E has been asking to do maths, so we’ve been doing some maths games from my new book, I bought her a year 2 workbook last week which she’s been doing, we’ve been doing some online games I found from the Toy Theater and we’ve talked about numbers non-stop, so she now knows her 2 times table, without realising it, understands number bonds, and has been using stickle bricks to demonstrate her understanding of these ideas and also some extra demonstrations of comparison lengths etc.

Last night she announced, as she climbed up to her bunk bed, that she is going to get a learn to read book from the library every time she goes so she doesn’t have to go to school. I haven’t said anything about going to school!!  She reeled off a load of reasons why HE is way more fun than school!  Finally.

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Posted by on September 26, 2010 in cooking, Home Education, Literacy, Maths


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Zip it!

I’m trying a new method of organising myself and making the most of E’s random questions.  Most of the time when we’re out and about, she’ll ask something out of the blue (today’s was ‘how do zips work?’), and usually I don’t know the answer, and am somewhere with no way of answering.  I also have a habit of completely forgetting about her questions by the time I get home, and so does she.

To try and combat this, I have purchased myself a notepad and pen to keep in my bag at all times.  This has mostly been used for noting down things the girls decide they want on their christmas/birthday lists (because I refuse to buy them!), but gradually its filling with useful questions.  The main flaw comes when they ask something when I’m driving…!

So far we have had:

  • what does shark’s skin feel like? (as we watched a reef shark swim over our heads at the aquarium on Tuesday)
  • what does dinosaur skin feel like? (and the pretend skin in our local city museum doesn’t count, says E)
  • what are shark’s teeth like?
  • how do zip’s work? (as E sat in the car zipping and unzipping a pocket on her trousers)
  • what bones are in our wrists and what do they look like?

I’m slowly cultivating a shelf of useful books to refer to when we get home in order to answer these questions!  Internet searches are useful to me, but generally don’t have enough pictures to keep E happy!  The shark questions were easily answered by fishing out this funky little book on sharks we picked up for 5p at a car boot sale a couple of months ago.  Apparently shark skin has the texture of sandpaper, and was used as such in the past.  Many species of shark have several rows of teeth, and regularly shed teeth as they feed, apparently.

The zip question was laid to rest after a delve into my ancient edition of The Way Things Work which I begged my parents to get me when I was about 10 and we’d used it at school.  Its finally coming into its own 😉   E has now explained to B how zips work, and I apologise to anyone else who puts up with E’s zip demonstrations!

Still to work on wrist bones and dinosaur skin!

I’ve also been on a spending spree on Amazon, after getting a dose of inspiration – its catching this time of year, don’t you think?!!  Here are my new library additions:

I am now in love with Amazon Marketplace!  Unfortunately I paid more in postage than I did for the books!  I’ve also downloaded the toolbar, so I am collecting nectar points for every yahoo search I make online.  All going towards my Amazon habit…!

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Posted by on September 23, 2010 in Home Education, Literacy, Maths


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She knows you know

After my small breakdown yesterday…ahem…today has been much better.  Always the way!

I packed H off for her gym class with my friend, so I could go shopping to refill the very empty cupboards.  Poor kids had spent the last couple of days frantically searching for something to eat, and not happy with the random assortment of leftovers gracing the shelves!  Pay day is good – thanks B!!!  This gave E and I some nice time to ourselves, where she felt in charge of things as she knows the supermarket well, and could help find everything while I stopped L trying to wriggle and dive out of the trolley!

I’m all for bribery to get kids round supermarkets, so it was quite easy to say ‘yes’ to most requests from E this time.  Then half way down the fruit and veg aisle she started doing numbers on her fingers.  Look mummy, this is 6 (five fingers on one hand, and one on the other).  This is 7, this is 8, this is 9, and this is 10.  I asked her what she was adding each time to get the next number (just checking!!), and she said one more finger, so I confirmed she was adding 1 each time.  Then, just to test her I asked her if she had 5 fingers, how many more would she need to make 10.  She said, 5 more of course!  Oh my goodness, the girl actually gets it.  I nearly lay down in the aisle with shock!

Later on during tea she finishing her baked beans, and she said ‘look mum, I have 4 left, 2 there and 2 there.  2 and 2 make 4’.  Not a workbook in sight!  Oh yeah baby!!

Maths – tick.

This evening she was examining her new tube of toothpaste and asked if all the writing on the back was the ingredients.  I had a look and read it all out to her: directions for use, blurb about how to look after your teeth, active ingredients, ingredients, list of trademarks and logos.  The picture on the front of a blob of toothpaste with a face on was a Nurdle apparently.  Anyway, so looked at the picture, then ran her finger over the word underneath.  I told her it said ‘Lilly’, which looks similar to H’s name, and told her that often when words look alike, they sound alike, like fox and box etc. She then moved onto the words underneath ‘Little Teeth’.  I pointed out the ‘Li’ was the same sound as in ‘Lilly’, so with that, and the ‘tle’ she got the ‘little’ quite easily.  She couldn’t get ‘teeth’ at all.  The nearest she got was ‘teach’ or ‘teech’ I guess!  I told her what sound the ‘th’ makes, and once I’d said that she got it straight away, and was very chuffed with herself!  I asked her what she thought the word t-h-e would say, and she got that!  I went to find a book with ‘the’ in the title, and came back with The Snowman.  She read ‘The Sno…with?’, and I realised she knew what the title should be, but was stumbling over the word.  S-n-o is snow, but w-m-a-n makes not sense!  Her brain is working overtime!

We’ve been through these sounds before, but they’ve never made any sense to her, as she’s never been interested in looking at the words before.  I can see she’s suddenly making all these connections, its absolutely amazing to watch!

Literacy – tick.

We’ve also managed to cram in nice chunk of socialising, painting, drawing, playdough, mr potato head, duplo, playing on the internet, blowing bubbles and making balloons using a funky little kit.


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Today has been an up and down day.  As long as E has had something to do, its generally been ok!  So far this has included playing with playdough (H’s idea), making safari animals from a craft kit I bought the other day (E’s idea), playing on the Wii (E’s idea), mixing up random concoctions in the kitchen from flour, water and anything else she could find (E’s idea again), reading books (H’s idea), doing maths (E’s idea – but didn’t go to plan…), filling the paddling pool (E’s idea), dressing up (H’s idea), making a picnic, which included getting the ancient picnic basket out of the garage which E had obviously spied on a recent garage excavation…and probably lots of other things that I’ve completely forgotten!

I’ve only recently come across the idea of strewing, and have found it a useful way to get E to find things on her own, not just stuff I think she’d enjoy, but that she can not only find on her own, choosing herself, but can also play/discover independently then either involve the rest of us, or just come and show us what she’s done afterwards.  If she had to wait for me to find her, then work out something to do with her every time, she would be a very bored individual!

Today, E and I were talking about HE, as she generally considers herself to be a school girl who doesn’t go to school…which is quite frustrating!  We’ve been talking about who to invite to her birthday party which is suddenly looming, and she just reels off a list of people she went to school with, who she hasn’t really seen for over a year, and if I mention any of her friends she sees weekly at HE meets, she says they’re not her friends.  I think this is down to my social ineptitude, because they don’t physically come to our house, apparently they are not her friends, socially-speaking.

After talking about us, Home Education, and everything (apparently it was her idea to Home Ed, not ours), and her saying she would like to go to school, because our next door neighbour won a beautiful ring from her school fete.  E then said that another neighbour had teased her for not being able to do some maths sum (he is at least 2 yrs older than her), and she should go to school!!  Grrr…I hate school kids!  It was adding up two 2-digit numbers, so we sat and added up some numbers using our fingers, then I wrote down two 2-digit numbers, one above the other, and was going to show E how to add them together, so she put her fingers in her ears, and closed her eyes…why is everything so hard?!!  So…how do you ‘strew’ maths?!  I got a book from the library a while ago, which had caught my eye in the children’s section…I can’t remember what it was called exactly, but it was something like ‘How to teach your child maths’.  It turned out not to be as preachy as it sounds, and worked through what maths was from the earliest age, and how maths in everyday life changes, and how to introduce simple ideas and concepts while giving all the supporting information on why anyone would want or need to know it.  I tested the first couple of chapters out on H, and she could do whatever it was e.g. if you have 2 apples on a table, then put them in a cup and ask how many there are now, below a certain age they will have to count them to check, but after a certain age, they will automatically know that the number of apples doesn’t change, just because you’ve moved them from the table to the cup, iyswim! I think I’m going to see if I can find it again, as it gave me a bit of confidence at least!!  Its really annoying how small things can really knock your confidence.  It took me sitting down and relaying all this to B, to realise that yes, in a couple of years E will be able to add up 2, 3 or 4 digit numbers.  In the 18mths we have HE’d, E has changed so much, grown up so much, and learned so much, without stepping inside a school.  I need to keep telling myself these things.


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