Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Every once in awhile I panic about "what Evie knows." I have dark imaginings about her facing a situation where she needs to rapidly calculate something or she'll get gypped or she needs to write a long essay because she really, really, really wants to impress a circus choreographer. Sometimes I just ride the feeling and let it pass. Sometimes I act on it. That usually involves a page of random math problems I have made up. Today it was addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, some with decimals. She got them all right. I was pleased and puzzled. I never taught her how to do any of that. Sure, I would show her a concept here or there, maybe answer a question or show her a cool math trick. I know I have never formally showed her anything about decimals--then I remember she has been running a very successful pet sitting business for quite some time and has a little experience making change at the lemonade stand. Her spelling is . . . creative at best, atrocious at worst. Then I remember that she hasn't been forced to "practice" by writing every day. She was frustrated when she was typing today, filling out a form for something she really wanted to do. "I want to learn to spell better!" She lamented. I told her the onus was on her, it was a matter of practice more than anything else. So, she sat down and wrote. A lot. I wonder what will happen with that.

Then we sat down to read. As we were reading Evie got out our Cuisenaire rods and hundreds cubes (procured from garage sales in moments of aforementioned panic). We've never really used the materials as intended. But we do use them. This was the result of today's play:

The title is "2,394," because that is how many cubic centimeters it is comprised of. As I watched her calculate that with rapid speed (having already informed me that "it would be an even number because it is symmetrical") because she could literally see the numbers I remembered: don't panic, life and learning are everywhere. Sometimes these kinds of skills are important, other days it is building fires, plantin' trees or shaking hands. It is all life.


Bonnie said...

That sculpture is awesome. That kind of play is worth all the sit-down math in the world.

When I was in first grade my teacher had plastic bins full of Cuisinare rods. We only used them once, and on that day, math was my favorite subject. Every other day I hated it. Here was this neat toy that made kids WANT to learn math, and it was kept away for not being "educational" enough. I still don't get that. Maybe if we could have used them freely, my eyes wouldn't glaze over at the sight of numbers now.

Stephanie said...

Her brilliance cracks me up.

So amazing that she could figure out the numericals (?) quickly and efficiently.

Mine make stairs with them, and build TYE fighters, and such.
That's fine with me. Eventually they'll come to understand some important things.

Madeline said...


Carolyn said...

Yes...I too am familiar with that little beast "panic" that creeps in when I'm not looking. Nice to read your post and see that indeed, learning IS happening, all the time... :)

Sunflower Hill Farm said...

Amen, sister!