Numbers

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The toddler (2 year old) is identifying letters when she passes street signs, and demanding “What dove dat shay?” of almost all written matter.

The 6 and 8 year olds are creating a binary counting system for a stuffed hedgehog, because it can’t count past 2 yet.

The 6 year old has somehow made me explain single-cell reproduction and evolution using only my hands long after bedtime in the light spilling in to her bunkbed from the open bedroom door.

The 8 year old seems to have sorted out fractions and percentages herself and is working on probability. She’s a bit careless with basic addition and subtraction, but can do it when she focuses. Money is no longer a mystery to her (though she can’t quite understand that the physical notes, coins etc have value; they are just numbers and tokens to her).

History and animals are still the biggest hottest things in town.

I just heard them yelling “Should we turn the gravity on?” “Oh yeah, I don’t want to cling onto this chair forever.” “Of course, I’m trying to steer myself upstairs and -” “Aughaughaugh!” “- gravity’s on!” “Phew.”

We were supposed to go to the hospital for a tedious checkup thing today, and I was going to enliven it with a visit to the Museum of English Rural Life again, but the toddler has possible chicken pox so that was out. I cancelled my appointment, the sun suddenly came out, and this happened:

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Digging up our Grow Your Own Potatoes bag.

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Finding a recipe…

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… and following it…

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… and finally, serving it to their adoring and hungry mother. It was delish, actually, and there’s more dressing left over for later.

I was so impressed and pleased that I decided to dig out their corner and make it nice again:
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Dishwasher maths – what’s nine and nine and three? Ten and ten minus one-and-one plus three… EIGHTEEN!

Checking up on the peas, carrots, mange tout, and berries – they are growing, hurrah!

Weeding with a hoe.

Playing in ever-changing groups of children aged under one to over eight.

Shopping for food.

Making toad in the hole.

Pronouncing de-sigh-zhuns, and other words which are interesting to read.

Running around yelling like mad.

Climbing.

Sliding.

Drawing.

Checking the post and using limited reading skills to hand it to the right recipients.

It’s been a busy day.

We played a game of Settlers of Catan today, with the seven-year-old, me, and the five-year-old teamed up with her daddy. The children grasped it pretty quickly and enjoyed it quite a lot. It took a long time, because we hadn’t played it in about eight years and the children had never played it before, but it went well and we want to do it again.

We also did some spellings with Bananagrams tiles, which worked much better than doing them with handwriting; handwriting is complicated enough for the seven-year-old that it’s no fun to add another thing to the mix.

The five-year-old read to me from the Reading Eggs books we got in a package, and tackled one she wasn’t totally confident with and got it all right. She won’t usually tackle reading she’s not sure she knows.

And it turns out that the seven-year-old can quickly, in her head, work out fractions of an hour. I had no idea and it will be really useful.

And the 21-month-old can breathe, which is brilliant, and count to two, and recite to five sometimes.

It has been a satisfying day.

Mental arithmetic at the dinner table. It turns out that the 7yo can add and multiply two-digit numbers, which I think I knew but had been doubting since yesterday, and add fractions, and the 5yo can add single-digit numbers if the 7yo shuts up long enough to let her get an answer in edgeways.

I’m not at all sure why the 7yo hates writing down anything to do with arithmetic but if her mental arithmetic can carry her this far I’m sure it’ll all be fine. She’s pretty good at knowing roughly where the answer needs to be, too – if the 5yo guesses “a hundred!” while the 7yo is doing a calculation, she says “No, silly, it’s [bigger|smaller] than that!” long before she’s reached the actual answer.

Right path, I’d say. Fractions all boil down to cake, too.

I’d like, after the slog of illness, Christmas, New Year, more illness, DIY, etc, to get back into blogging.

I thought I’d start by getting a little more up to date.

This week, we started Monday by doing Bananagrams before breakfast; the seven-year-old (L) mainly sees words I don’t, and vice versa, and the five-year-old (E) was fascinated by how many words she could make by going through the alphabet and sticking each letter in front of AT. It all petered out before I won, which was good.

We did some sewing. It turns out that E is a natural at cross-stitch. She also made a dress for a wooden spoon doll, hemmed and all. I sewed a sort of dreadful buttonhole around the neckhole, which may or may not stop it from fraying. I can’t tell. I’m not a good sewer (er…)

We made a menu for their café, where they priced things very oddly, especially E. Thirty cupcakes for the cost of one piece of cake, whole raw peppers on the menu, that sort of thing. But it depended on what we had in the play food baskets, apparently, and that was that.

In the afternoon E invited N from two doors down over to play, and they played separately but in the same room for a longish time. Meanwhile L was doing jigsaws – she’s sticking to really, really easy ones, and I’m not sure what she’s doing with them, but it involves telling stories. L has grandiose animation feature film plans. We Shall See; she has roped an adult friend in to help, so you never know what could happen.

Today we got up and tidied frantically, which ended up being great. E got breakfast out for us, which was lovely because looking at the kitchen before I tidied it made me feel completely stopped. The children made lunch (potato salad and tuna sandwiches) and sort of cleared up afterwards. They got out the air-drying clay to make iceberg models (?!) and later did a lot with Lego. There was reading. And writing. I can’t remember which day they spent ages with L teaching E how to write “POO-BUMS” but it took ages and the lesson, well, stuck.

Part of our evening pickup involves gathering all the piles of paper, sorting them into used and unused, and returning the unused to the paper drawer. I’m not sure how long this will continue before I get completely tired of it. We did find E’s map of the Pacific ring, so that was nice.

And the 18-month-old (almost)? She’s fab. She’s talking, more and more, though I don’t think many people other than me and the other two children understand her, most of the time. She dances. She hides and makes jokes. She’s very good at stacking toys and shapesorters. She, like her sisters before her, likes to be naked and takes all her clothes off at every opportunity, leading to… well, I’m glad we replaced the carpets with laminate. Very glad.

And I’m still learning huge amounts. If I could learn how to go to bed at a sensible time and get enough sleep, instead of Internet FOREVER, I’d be golden.

We went out today, on a train, only an hour late. It has been difficult to go out for ages now, so I was pleased we managed it. No-one had any kind of major meltdown, though because it was to a new place no-one was very sociable either. It won’t be new next time, so that’s ok.

And then we came home and Linnea started in on My Pals Are Here 1B (workbook part 2). She seems to be enjoying it.

On the way home from our trip out we saw a proper classic toadstool, with a hemispherical red top covered in little white spots. Sadly, my phone is dead and I forgot the old camera, so I took a very bad picture with my ancient phone and it’s not good enough to upload. But it was lovely to see anyway.

We’ve had a good time lately. We did lots with fractions – L has been adding fractions in her head for a while without being clear on how she did it, and we did it on paper so she could see what was going on. We finally made it back to the library and got some new books, and somewhere there’s a diagram of clementine segment skins under a microscope. Pocketmoney maths is big but complicated.

And we had haircuts, to cover up the look of the most recent self-cutting attempts. I don’t much mind them cutting their own hair, any more; my biggest objection was when one of them cut the other’s hair, but since I cut my own hair, and theirs, I don’t care much if they do it too.

But it’s nice that I didn’t have to, this time. And they all enjoyed the unaccustomed use of a hairdryer.

Not a lot happens, in home education. We live our lives. We got a new toy – Fraction Cubes – and Linnea is learning to add fractions with more accuracy than she had before. We have been drawing plans of the upstairs of our house, so that we are ready for the Great Bedroom Shift, when we rearrange so that what was planned as a two-adult bedroom arrangement is turned into a two-adults-and-three-children arrangement, rather than a series of bodge jobs, as it has been.

Managing change creatively is one of my biggest challenges. Linnea resists change, hard, and is upset and alarmed by it, pretty often. Emer is learning this from her, though it’s not as serious, it’s just mimicry. So things like getting them to help draw up the plans on A2 paper with oil pastels can make a huge difference. As can doing the change gradually and where they can see every stage of it.

We started today, by getting rid of things to make space. It went ok.

I just discovered Khan Academy. Given that the seven-year-old spent today wandering around saying stuff like “I want to do number bonds!” and has been craving what I think of as tedious repetition in maths, this is brilliant. One grows tired of setting these things oneself and for some reason long sheets with dozens of exercises on a page don’t appeal to her, she wants dozens of exercises but no more than three to a page, if you see what I mean.

Emer found it dull, though. Emer, in fact, has been wondering whether she might like to start school. We Shall See. Now that Linnea is getting actual sleep almost every night, instead of having prolonged anxiety attacks, or attacks of anxiety, rather, we have far more options available to us.

Emer’s big thing of the day was reading to me. She read me almost all of a Big Bear, Little Bear book – she has it almost word-perfect, which makes me think she’s genuinely reading some of the words as memory-joggers. I hassled and harassed her big sister into performing “reading” for me, and it’s lovely to see it happening naturally for Emer, now that I’ve learned to leave well alone.

And Astrid can take one step, and says “Up” and “Ush” (push) and all our names and everything.

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