Tuesday, November 27, 2012

One, the Sun!

One, the sun!

The Quality of Numbers main lesson block is perhaps my most favorite part of teaching Grade One.  As for Kitty Bill, I think it's his favorite homeschooling lesson yet.

I know I've shared a bit about my alphabet story in the past, but I don't know that I've ever shared my story for the Quality of Numbers main lesson.  I wrote the basic idea out for a friend a few years ago.  Like everything else, it changes each time I teach it, but it's nice to have it written down to refer back to for story ideas.  And as far as stories go, this one is pretty wild.

For starters, there is an enchanted cave that can only be opened by solving riddles.  I borrowed the opening idea and the riddles from Eric Fairman's Pathway to Discovery (Grade One).  Inside the cave is a dragon, but luckily it's a friendly dragon who is under an enchantment.  He can't fly or leave the cave until someone solves the riddle of the twelve tunnels.

Since it's a continuation of our alphabet story, our three traveling characters are up for any adventure.  To help the dragon break the enchantment, our travelers must explore the twelve passages in the cave and bring back "treasure" from each one.  Each journey into a particular passage is fraught with interesting discoveries... passages that wind in circles or fork into separate directions.  Sometimes they are very dark or smelly or impossibly small.  Sometimes only the main character, the one my child identifies with the most, is the only one who can fit in a certain passage.  I vary it widely to keep it interesting and entertaining, because above all, I want math to start out as being a grand, entertaining adventure.

As we journey together we discover something at the end of each tunnel.  I then enlist my child's help in working out what the treasure is (and what it signifies) based on what the characters find, and they make suggestions as how to "capture" the treasure to bring it back to the dragon.  My one caveat was the treasure MUST correspond with the number of the tunnel.  Naturally, we converse about what each number signifies and we look to find other representations of each number in the world around us.  Sometimes these representations come out within the story itself, and other times I ask the question, "What else can you think of?"  It really helps us embody the spirit of each number and its place in the world.  When we make a relationship with the numbers they become truths that live inside of us.

With each discovery we draw two pages in the main lesson book.  We draw the treasure in each tunnel, and then we draw the number-- with straight lines or sticks (Roman numerals) and then in Arabic numerals.  We spend a bit of time practicing to make sure we get the numbers right.

Kitty Bill knows that as we travel down each tunnel that leads away from the dragon, we're looking for something that embodies the number of the tunnel.  The beauty of this block is that it grounds the number in whatever is found, and thus gives the number a picture quality that brings it to life.

Here's what our characters found in the tunnels:
1 - The sun reflected in a pool of water  (One, the Sun!)

2 - Nothing! .... but ah, upon closer inspection there is a reflection of the two child characters, who began the adventure as extreme opposites and have grown into friends... (Two, Me and You!)

Two, me and you!

3 - A pile of garbage (which is always good for a laugh!)... an old shoe, a holey mitten, something unrecognizable and gooey.... and eventually a picture of a mother, father, and baby (Three, Family)

Three, family!

4 - At the end of a very dark tunnel, high above on a ledge... something icy, wet and cold; something soft and sweetly scented; something dry and crumbly; something small, round and juicy OR small and smooth with a bit of grit inside.  This one is a bit tricky depending on the child.  Kitty Bill wasn't quite sure, so I sent his characters falling through a trapdoor where they landed in the snow and had a snowball fight.  When they got too cold, they made their way out of this new tunnel where the temperature kept changing, as did what was under their feet.  Eventually he figured it out.  (Seasons Four)

Four Seasons

5 - This tunnel leads out to the night sky, filled with stars - they can't bring a star back, but finally one character realizes he/she has five points like a star.

Kitty Bill can't wait to find out what's in the next tunnel.  What about you?

If you would like to hear the rest of the story, be sure to leave me a comment.  If enough people are interested I will post the rest of the story as we go along.


  1. Thank you very much!! I had already admired these lessons when Eva wrote about it and had decided at that point that I'd like to enjoy something similar with S and I. So thank you very much for the additional info and explanation.

  2. This is so clever and beautiful. I wish I had a little one now so I could teach them with this lesson! Please do share the rest, that would be wonderful.

  3. I love how wholistic your learning is, and how creative! Even though my kids are too old for me to use this particular learning method, I would definitely like to know more about the numbers story, and how Kitty Bill solves each tunnel/number.

    1. Thanks, Teresa. You can't resist a good story, eh? I will definitely post the rest.

    2. I surely can't. LOL!

  4. I love this and would love to know the rest of teh story! I am off to find your alphabet story now.

    1. Thank you, Cynthia. I hope you enjoy the alphabet story!

  5. love this, can't wait to hear the rest of the story !

    1. Thanks, Something Lubely. :)

  6. Yes. Please post the rest! :)

    1. Thanks, Rachel. I will post the rest soon.

  7. Anonymous3:33 AM

    I'm so happy to have found this post. I'm just beginning the journey with my daughter. She received her main lesson book today. Thank you for the inspiration and please post the rest! I know in my heart that these examples will really speak to her.


Thank you for taking the time to leave a message. I appreciate your sweet words so much!

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