Wednesday, August 22, 2012

2012-2013 School Planning: Math (Or, Accepting the Gift of a Shiller Math Kit)

Nina works on lengths with Shiller Math.
Trading blessings.  Bartering.  Whatever you want to call it, it makes for a wonderful homeschool economy – or any local alternate economy for that matter.  And, that is exactly how we came upon the core of our math curriculum for 2012-2013.

A while back, I tutored a homeschool friend’s son in reading and, in turn, she offered me the almost-like-new Shiller Math kit that was not working for her and her children.

I immediately tested it out with my own children and it worked for them... but not quite for me.  I wanted more freedom than the scripted lessons seemed to allow and I also just wasn’t ready to be disciplined enough to actually take out the box on a regular basis to “do Math” with the kids.  So, our Shiller Math moments were sporadic last year.  However, whenever I did take the kit out, our children enjoyed it.

Luke uses unit cubes to demonstrate coin values.
Fast forward to recent weeks:  As we warm up for the new school year, I have been taking our Shiller kit out to the front lawn on some days to “do math” with Luke and Nina (and even Jack, at times).  They love it and want more of it.  And, for some reason, I do, too.

We are blessed to have the kit, which did not cost us anything.  We are further blessed to have three children who are interested in it.  Who am I to continue to dismiss such blessings rather than to embrace them?  I certainly would not be a prudent homeschool Mama living a mission to S.M.I.L.E if I did so.    The kit works well with our family mission:

  • We spend one-to-one (and sometimes one-to-three) time together using it.
  • The simplicity of (and interest my children currently have in the kit allow me to focus my energies on something besides piecing together my own creative math curriculum ideas or searching for a "more perfect" math curriculum for us.
  • The kit is portable (to a degree), so we can exercise our minds using it indoors or out!
With all this in mind, I can confidently declare that I am now feeling the will to “do Math” with our hand-me-down Shiller kit quite regularly this fall.  I am accepting the blessing of it and will go with it as our main math curriculum, supplementing it, of course with "real math" through daily living (think shopping, cooking, etc.) as well as any fun math games, tools and materials I rediscover as I continue decluttering and organizing our home.

Jack explores weight and balance.
Now, with this decision made, just one Math hurdle remains:  boxes.  (And for once I am not talking about the ones I have yet to declutter, organize or find homes for.)  Although the Shiller Math kit comes in a handy box, that box, like all cardboard boxes, does not seem to stand the test of time and use.  Ours is already taped together and bursting at the seems again.   I want to find better "housing" for our Shiller kit materials –something easily accessible, portable and inexpensive.  Ideas are welcomed!

How do you store and present your math manipulatives and materials?  What are some of your favorite early education math curriculum resources?

Note: It would appear that as I have been taking my planning in bits, I have sharing it that way as well.  The other portions of our planning to date can be found by scrolling through School Planning 2012-2013.


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