Sunday, March 15, 2009

Jumping Arithmetic

Son, typical five-year-old boy I hear, is jumpy. He wants to move, has the cliched ants in his pants. I never understood that term until I lived with Son. During lessons sometimes he gets restless, even though less so when I've done my part and have made sure he's had a wholesome, substantial breakfast and some exercise before lessons. So what do I do? First I did all the wrong things: I admonished him, nagged him, scolded him, even physically tried to stop him from moving.

Then it hit me: the boy needs to move. It's not that he's being defiant, he's not purposefully trying to undermine what I'm doing. He just needs to move. So on days like this I get creative. I either: 

- put some music on and we all dance before lessons
- have him water the lawn or perform some other chore that uses a bit of that energy
- incorporate movement into the lessons

This led us to so much fun when I just grabbed some of our sidewalk chalk (which were previously untouched as.. alas, we have no sidewalk near our home) and announced: let's do jumping math!  I didn't plan this, and as some of my best ideas, it was spur-of-the-moment and born out of a need. Our whole house is tiled, and from the kitchen to the laundry area we have a continuous line of tile. In each tile I wrote numbers, from 1-12 as we're working on arithmetic. 

Then I told Son, who looked curious, eager and interested all at once, "I will tell you the sum, such as 4+3, and you will step onto 4 and jump three spaces ahead." I showed him the numbers. For subtraction, I simply told him e.g. 11-3 and he would jump those spaces. The only thing I had to do was keep track on on which tile he was and go from there. He started with 4+3 which would land him on 7, so my next sum for him would be 7+2, or 7-1 etc. 

He loved it! He also burnt a lot of energy. I let him play as long as he wanted for our last math lesson, as I felt it was important for him to get down the math facts in a fun, non-pressured way. The key was that he was interested, he was learning, and he was getting exercise at the same time. 

If you don't have tile but have a sidewalk or tiled porch or terrace, you can also do this. You can do this on almost any surface you can write on safely with chalk. You can even make your own squares, or don't make squares at all, simply a number line. I've made a mental note for the future to do negative numbers like this when that comes up.


Nodin's Nest said...

Brilliant! My 4 yr old boy is the same. Whenever I can use it, I find movement helps him learn.

Theresa said...

I am going to try that with my dd. She will love it!

Ami said...

I used to do something similar with reading instruction/Spelling with my oldest child. Oh the memories.