Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A big attitude and a little math (Part 2)

Our next math story juxtaposed the behavior of two eight-year-old girls named Clara. Our regular Clara, the one that Sunburst readily identifies with, played the compassionate helper. The other Clara was mouthy and rude, though she came around in the end. It was an interesting lesson to create because Sunburst's behavior has dipped into this other Clara category lately, and it was remarkable to watch her listening and sympathizing with both Claras. I think it helped.

In this story, the other Clara mouthed off to the King's son. Luckily, her punishment from the King was merely a challenge. She was to report to the royal palace for some sort of mathematics quiz. Unfortunately, the other Clara didn't really know much math, so we spent some time helping her prepare. -- A welcome chance for me to see exactly how much Sunburst has really retained.

First we timed ourselves using holey cards. This was great for Sunburst to practice her time-telling skills timing me. And I noticed that she uses her fingers more often when adding certain numbers, so I had her make a couple of flash cards with those problems. Next we played around with some Math Wrap-ups, printed out a couple of worksheets, and broached the subject of place value again, because you never know just what the King's quiz was going to entail.

Sunburst, being my bigger-faster-louder child, was thrilled with the prospect that the numbers could just keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger. We learn most things under the guise of "Clara's love of learning" so it was really great when Clara shouted from the rootops, "I can count to ONE BILLION!" It certainly got Sunburst's attention.

Then we had another day of gorgeous weather, and not sure what to do next, I ended up creating a game called "The Human Calculator." I gave her the sums, and Sunburst enjoyed jumping from number to number to create the problems. She even game me a turn on the calculator, though admittedly I'm far from being able to jump just yet. All in all it was great! She replayed the scenario for Einstein, her dad, when he came home.

As a last fun thing, I presented Sunburst with a computer game that Einstein came up with using NetLogo. It's actually an Ed/Psych experiment designed to explore learning patterns, but once I saw it I knew it was perfect for our story. He helped me create an interactive Clara at the bottom of the screen that flaps her arms up and down with every correct answer.

As the Royal Quiz approached, everyone in the kingdom fell ill with the same intestinal illness. Everyone except our Clara, that is. The royal well had been contaminated, and our Clara always carts along bottled water wherever she goes. So Clara, with her knowledge of herbs, became the caretaker to everyone in the kingdom, including the king himself. In order to take care of everyone she had to manage her time extremely well. In the end everyone was nursed back to health, including the other Clara. Both Claras were ordered to appear before the King. The other Clara gave a heartfelt, sincere apology and the royal quiz took place. For the quiz I used the Martha and John math story from Path of Discovery Grade 1, which I had meant to use last year but never quite got around to it. Great fun! Then both Claras stayed for the Royal Feast where the King thanked our Clara for her loving heart, hard work, and impeccable ability to manage her time well. As a token of appreciation Clara was given this:

It was a huge surprise for Sunburst, and she has been keeping us apprised of the time every few minutes ever since.


  1. oooo, brilliant!

  2. Hey Sara! I'm tagging you. Check it out: http://leapof.blogspot.com/.


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