Monday, July 08, 2013

Our Waldorf-esk day today with rainbows and a fairy tale!

 Our day started with playing outside for a bit (after breakfast.)  I'd actually much rather wait till later in the day, but it's too hot here right now to do anything outside between 10 and 4 at least.  I got this idea off of Pinterest -- Right here..  Though I didn't actually READ the original website.. just looked at the picture and made our own game up. 
I made some dice out of wooden blocks so they'd be a little easier to see and hold than regular size dice.
 Basically, just roll the dice and add the numbers and hop on one foot till you get to your number... then turn around and hop back.  We changed it up a little bit from there, but that was basically it.  I wasn't sure if my oldest was enjoying it, but I think she was just too hot outside even in the shade. 
I don't have a chalk board yet, but I have some rather large paper and pastels so decided to start off in a some what Waldorf fashion.  I've been loving the chalk board drawings that I've seen on Youtube and this idea combines our math work with a lovely picture.  My two oldest girls especially LOVE rainbows and anything with rainbows (I have no idea where they get that!) So when I saw a Pin on Pinterest using a rainbow to illustrate adding to 10 I decided to use it.

This is my 7 year olds version of what I drew.  She kept saying how much better mine looked than hers, but I think she draws as well or better than I did at her age and I told her so.  I think that if we draw together more often she will gain some confidence in her abilities. It was so fun for ME to do as well!

Last night in the middle of the night as I was trying to fall asleep and these Pins and other ideas were floating around in my head I had an idea for a fairy tale that would touch on a problem that I've had to deal with (mainly with my 5 year old) and also a math lesson for both older girls.  I've decided to share the whole story with you here for your personal use and enjoyment, and will pause at the moment in the story when I did the little math lesson to illustrate what was going on in the story.  (Note; it's a rough draft and I haven't had my husband -- grammar whiz -- edit it.  I read it to him though so it passes the "read aloud" test.)  ;]

"The Foolish Boy finds Cents"

Long ago, in a misty green land, deep in the rolling countryside there lived a very, very foolish boy. This boy was so foolish that it was amazing he even learned how to walk and feed himself. Oh, you might wonder if there was something wrong in his head, but there wasn't really, he was only foolish because he gave up on everything that he tried. His brothers would jump rope or skip stones, but when he tried to do these things after his first trip on the jump rope or first plunk when he tried to skip a stone across the stream he would say, “Eh, why bother trying again? This is too much work.” Could he draw? He hardly knew because he only tried once but when his arm slipped and so ruining his first picture he never tried it again.
His father tried to teach him how important his school work was, but he gave up on that even more quickly than he did everything else. “But my son,” the father would say, “If you do not learn your lessons how will you buy your food after I grow too old to care for you?” The foolish boy would just shrug his shoulders and after the first thought of what he would do he gave up on thinking about any way around that difficulty and decided once again to pick the easiest path. Which was of course, to avoid his lessons, and any other challenge presented to him.

After a few years of this though the father was really quite distraught at his sons lazy and foolish ways. “I cannot teach you,” his father finally said, “You must leave my house and find your own way in the world. Perhaps the life outside will teach you the lessons that I cannot.”

The foolish boy wasn't worried about leaving home, though he should have been, so ill prepared as he was, but his father gave him a bag of coins to start him off, hugged him good bye, and prayed for sense to somehow reach his foolish son.

As it happened, the fathers prayer was soon answered. Barely had the foolish boy walked half a day when he saw a glittering rainbow right in front of him on the path. Now he'd heard of the tales told about the pots of gold at the end of each rainbow that was guarded by strange little creatures, but he never imagined that he'd meet one face to face. Launching himself at the creature, the foolish boy grabbed him by the ankle. The little gnome-like thing squeaked in surprise, but soon gave up his struggle when he realized he couldn't escape.

What is your name?” Asked the foolish boy, for even HE knew that if the gnome told him his name then he would be bound to stay with him and share his pot of gold.

My name is Cents, as it happens.” Said the little gnome, “Now let go of me leg!”

The foolish boy let him go and said, “All right, but now you are bound to share your pot of gold with me.”

That I am,” Cents said with a twinkle of mischief in his eyes. “But I can't be doing that without a game to play with it.”

You can't trick me,” said the foolish boy. “I've heard of your games and I'm not going to dig any holes for you or do any work. You give it to me now as easy as you please or I'll take the whole pot.”

Now now,” said Cents, “There's no need to get huffy. We'll just do an easy adding game. I'm sure a grown up boy like you won't have any trouble at all with it.”

The foolish boy didn't want to admit that he'd never learned how to add. He'd only learned counting and then had given up on learning more just like he'd done with every other thing he ever tried. But he couldn't give up now could he? He was all alone in the world after all and how hard could it be?

First count how many coins you have in your money sack,” Cents said. And the foolish boy laboriously counted out 50 coins. “Good, and now for our adding game,” he said as he pulled out his pot of gold from under the misty rainbow. The gold coins in the gnomes pot sparkled and shown far more than the old dull ones that the foolish boy had spread before him and his eyes turned green with envy, but he shook the feeling away when he remembered that the gnome was bound to share his gold, and besides, their shine didn't make them worth more a coin than his.
Cents,” said the boy, “I am ready to begin.”

Good, good. Now count out 9 coins plus 1 and put them here.” Cents held out a slotted box with one red side and slot and the other side was blue with it's own slot. He indicated that the coins should go on the red side and explained that his coins (to be given to the foolish boy) would go in the blue side. “Your highest number was 9 so I'll go one more,” Cents said impressively, “And give you 10 of my coins.” The foolish boy watched eagerly as the gnome dropped the coins one by one into the blue slot.

Next Cents told him to drop 2 plus 8 of the dull coins into the red slot and he would drop a whole 9 of his shiny coins into the blue slot, “Yes,” chortled Cents, “Again, you come out on top.”

Then 3 plus 7 coins did the foolish boy drop into his side, and the gnome produced 8 that jangled into his side.

Then 4 plus 6 and an impressive 7 coins were removed from the pot of gold for the boy to keep.

Then finally, Cents said, “Now drop 5 plus 5 coins into your slot.” They tumbled in jangling quickly together on the red side of the double box, “And lastly,” the gnome smiled toothily, “I will give you more than your five. Here is 6 of my gold coins more for you to keep.” And with that he broke the box in half and gave the foolish boy the side that only contained the shinny golden coins and the gnome kept the foolish boys dull ones.

Thank you for sharing your gold with me, little gnome.” the foolish boy said, “you may be on your way and I on mine.” And with that the boy turned away staring down at his box of gold as Cents disappeared in the sunlight along with his rainbow.

Now perhaps you have already realized the gnomes mean trick, but the foolish boy had no idea until he counted each of his new golden coins. Long did he count, making sure not to make a mistake, but when he counted out only 40 golden coins he gasped for he knew that 40 was less than the 50 that he started with. 


As I was reading the part about the numbers and what to add I was writing them down for my kids to see.  9 plus 1 and the Gnome puts in his own 10.  2 plus 8 and the Gnome puts in 9 and so forth.  That top one on the left is finished to show what I did at the pause.  I showed them how each of the addition problems added up to 10, but the Gnome was tricky in that he gave the boy less and less than what the boy was giving him.  My husband even had to think for a second as he heard me reading it to him (I didn't write out the numbers for him) and didn't catch the trick till there were only a few problems left.  That was good because I didn't want it too obvious!
And here you see how you can add and then subtract as well to find out how much the Gnome was taking from the boy each time!  I'm pretty pleased with how this story turned out and how useful it is in teaching some math.  My 5 year old was catching on like no-bodies business.  ;]

I asked my girls then what they thought should happen next--
What do you think the foolish boy should do now?
Should he go back to his father and try to learn again?
Should he chase rainbows to find Cents again and get his money back?
They voted that he go home and learn from his father, but lets find out what actually happened.  ;]

---- Un-pause

When the foolish boy finished counting out his new shiny coins and realized he had less than what he started with he suddenly felt determination. This was a feeling he'd never felt in his whole life. Right then and there in the middle of the dirt road out in the countryside he sat down and laid out all his coins and drew each number that the gnome had told him to add. He counted and recounted all afternoon until he understood what he'd never tried to understand before. When he finally realized how the gnome tricked him, he felt, for the very first time, quite foolish, embarrassed, and ashamed. He saw himself for what he was. From that day till the end of his life he never gave up on anything that he tried and was considered to be the wisest man around by anyone who knew him. If he ever failed he would try again and again, because he came to realize that giving up was truly the most foolish thing of all.

The end
After the story we play acted out the "game" that the gnome had the foolish boy do only we used open bowls to see if we could see and it was still pretty subtle and sneaky.  Since we used beads for the "coins" I thought it would be fun to make a beaded rainbow with the ten beads on each strand and then split apart like the picture showed

 This day was just chalk full of math because we also made some origami-like stars and kept cutting the squares smaller and smaller (by one fourth of the size each time) and made rainbow stars to hang above our table.  My 7 year old thought they looked Christmas-ish, but I think it works for a fireworks month!  She's been really into doing origami lately (but prefers to do it with me)  The idea DID come from a Christmas time star activity though that I found on Youtube as I was looking up Waldorf things last night.

I'd made the star hanging in the window last night and when I woke up one of the first things she said was that she saw what I made (she was pretty excited about that and I could tell she wanted to work on more!)  Oh, and the female Beta fish in the middle of the table ate part of a FLY today!  I didn't see if she caught it or how close to the water it few, but I saw her dragging it under water and taking bites from it!  I called the kids over and we were all so impressed with her skills.  That fly had been kind of annoying us after all and she saved the day.  :]

I mounted the pipecleaner adding beads to a star that I adjusted to be 10 points (instead of 8) Just to have some more pretty visuals to look at.  I'm not sure if I should have made my large rainbow to count up to 12 or if I should have stuck with 10..... maybe I should have stuck with 10, but the dice added up to 12 at the most so I thought it would be helpful to have one like that up there.  Tomorrow we might make some more stars and do our "Fat Cat" addition game and use these to help with the adding in the game.
Last night I read this article about "Breathing in and breathing out" as a metaphor for the rhythms in a childs life (and dare I say helpful for ALL of us) -- Balancing out the fast with the slow and the activity with the reflection, the alone time with the need to connect.  In and out in and out... like waves rolling throughout the day.  Realizing this has helped me keep my sanity as I work with my kids.  As a homeschooling family I am with my children about 98% of the time.  It's not possible to be "on" all the time, but I can learn to breathe in and connect when they need guidance or a reassuring snuggle and I can breathe out when I let them be independent and sometimes even "bored."  The article talks about how boredom shouldn't be something we should be afraid of.  Too often the natural response in my family has been "I'm bored so I'll watch a show... or play the leapster.. or get on the computer."  I as well as my kids need to not be afraid of some quiet reflection and the few minutes of feeling "bored" at times.

Today we had the least amount of screen time in quite a while, but it wasn't negative at all.  When the Daddy got home tonight my oldest excitedly told him all about our day and what we did (I hadn't realized till then that she'd enjoyed it so much!)  I'd been sensing that she was wanting a little more guidance and modeling in the areas that she was interested in and utilizing some of the Waldorf ideas has been so fun for me!  This is the first time that I've read extensively about a certain teaching method and actually felt like I understood it -- that's me naturally.. that's what I do on my own without really trying. Even way back when my oldest was 4 and I'd started teaching her some letters I naturally made up stories about the letter shapes and related them to the sounds they made in a very right-brain fashion.  It just made sense to me and seemed to be how she needed to be taught.

 Seems like I read somewhere about how making up songs for different activities was part of the Waldorf ideal and I can't tell you how many songs I've come up with about everything I've done with my kids over the years (they each had a different "theme song" as babies) from bath time and shampooing to just the other night emptying the dishwasher with my 2 and 5 year olds.  We were singing to the tune of that old folk song from Scotland "I'll take the high road and you'll take the low road".. which I don't really know at all (at least I don't know all the words) but I know the basic tune and we were singing it with "I'll take the hiiiiigh stuff and you'll take the looooow stuff and we'll eeeeeempty the dishwasher togeeEEEther!"  Random.. silly I know, but it got everyone to smile and actually enjoy the work instead of dragging their feet about it.

Anyway, there was our school day in a nutshell.  Now to sleep!

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