Monday, June 4, 2012

A "Less-than Golden" Experience


Kal-El was featured in an unfair number of posts this week due to his work with the addition materials.  I thought Me Too deserved an extra, gratuitous picture.  Above he is coloring in his "Flags of Asia" book using the pin map flags as a model.



He also worked with the teen beads this week.  Kal-El was considerably older when he did this work, perhaps a little too old.  (Kal-El just did this in October only a month or two before his sixth birthday.  Me Too will be five in June.) I was remembering how Kal-El instantly understood the concept and we moved directly on to the teen boards in the same day.  I was a little frustrated when Me Too didn't seem to be doing that.  Then I remembered that he was supposed to learn the concept from the material, not know the concept to do the material as Kal-El evidently did.  It took three good days of working with the teen beads before I saw the little light bulb go on over his head. Until then, he insisted on using a plastic tab to count all of the beads like a snake to confirm the number (he can count linearly to about 30).  He was all smiles when he realized that the number of the colored bead bar told you what the name would be when added to a ten bar.

I think what I have discovered is that the golden bead material progresses more slowly in our homeschool than in a traditional Montessori environment.  And, for that reason it may not be a good choice for us to wait until the child has experience with all four operations with the golden beads to begin the linear counting sequence like I did with Kal-El.  It actually takes a really long time to put together an equation if you have a slow-moving kid like mine (not slow-minded, slow-moving).  In a full classroom I think having a group of kids doing the work (so one kid isn't having to assemble all the multiplicands himself, for example) must really speed things up in addition to adding that fun "group work" element.

What I wanted to do, with both boys, was introduce all four operations (the collective exercises) quickly over the course of just a couple of days.  This is what happens instead.

Day One:  We do one or two addition equations.  Each one takes 10 minutes so by the time we finish the kid is too tired for more.
Day Two:  We do one addition equation and the kid says "I'm done with this now."
Day Three:  I planned to start subtraction or multiplication today, but my kid has only done three addition problems ever so I feel like I should do a couple more and start subtraction tomorrow.  I do one and then my kid says "I'm done with this now."
Days Four thru Six:  When I suggest the golden beads my kid turns up his nose because he's "done those" and I can't get him to agree to a presentation until the next week.
Day Seven:  At this point it's been four days since he last did one of his four addition equations ever, so I feel like I should do one as review before I start subtraction today.  I do one addition equation and my kid says "I'm done with this now."  I say, "I have something exciting and new to show you!  It's called subtraction!"  He says, "okay."  I ask him to go put together your minuend and he says "No, I'm done with beads today."
Day Eight:  We finally start subtraction.  We do one equation.  He likes it!  He asks to do it again.  I ask him to put the beads you just used back on the shelf to clear the rug for the new minuend and he says, "No, I didn't want to do it that way.  Now I'm done."  (It became clear that he wanted to take away a new subtrahend from the existing difference.)


Insert primal scream!


You can see that at this rate it would take a month to grudgingly get through static versions of all four operations (and grudgingly is not what I had in mind).  Then, we have to get through dynamic.  Ideally, I would also want to do a nice collection of "special" or "interesting" equations, make sure we practice the exchanging in various positions and multiple positions, and make sure we've experienced zeroes in various and multiple positions before moving on to the stamp game.  Also, if you get through the first month and then smack into summer vacation you feel like you need to review static operations again before you start dynamic in the fall.  This happened with Kal-El.  You can probably also start to see how it was that Kal-El took almost a year to get through the golden beads.  Me Too is also in danger of hitting that "summer vacation wall" but I intend to continue math as usual through the summer this year and will hopefully avoid that.


Anybody else have a "less-than-golden" experience with the golden beads?




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10 comments:

  1. My boys did that also. In my case, I was presenting dynamic addition. It took several weeks before they "got it" and even then, having them do more than 3 problems was tough. Through frustration I pushed them onto dynamic multiplication. Which, if you follow Cultivating Dharma's Math for Elementary, he has you learn a bunch of the laws of math before actually learning dynamic multiplication. When we reached it a month later the boys flew through it. With the checker board they were "simplifying" in their head, and when I transitioned them to paper we actually skipped two different presentations because they were doing it without me showing them. (Large bead frame work, flat bead frame work, and the bank game).

    My younger one (6) could not grasp the concept of the teens, until the hundred board. Now he gets it great. Some times I think it takes a bit to figure out, and some times I think it isn't enough of a challenge for them to pull it together. Such as becoming proficient at dynamic addition when doing the checker board. I think my older boys didn't "care" until they were challenged, because it took longer doing it on paper and they were timing themselves to see who could finish first.

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  2. You mention between schools and home - also in schools you get a LOT more of the "looking over other kids' shoulders" - so a child might not do addition for a few days, but he is seeing other kids doing it, so it keeps it fresher.

    And as Sarah said, how many times we struggle through certain parts SO slowly; then the breeze right through something else.

    When the light goes on, it goes ON!

    :)

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  3. I've found, and it may be the Elementary v. Casa thing, that the older the child the less they like the labor of golden beads. In a classroom, often older children will sit and watch younger children lay out the work and seem to absorb it that way. They correct any issues that the younger child is having.

    With BW, whose great need to be active kept him from spending time with the golden beads when he was five, I put out the problem and had him see if what I put out was correct - sometimes I would make mistakes. Then I would combine them making errors about 75% of the time.

    He loved thinking he was better than I was.

    Also, I had him do addition to "correct" or "check" my subtraction.

    Side note, in my experience it is not uncommon for children to want to keep subtracting from their answer. It can get tricky (meaning you really have to make sure you aren't going to borrow for a while), but they love it.

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  4. Primal Screams have been heard here ever so often as well! Bunny had a really hard time with the slowness of the beads. I would have her just do two a day (sometimes one) since that was all she wanted to do. I also realized that she didnt need to do a bunch of them before moving on. I would offer a quick reveiw of it and move on to the next operation after a few days (ok...maybe more like a week depending on what was going on). She got it that way and I avoided her being board. We also had a deal that I would be her partner and help like another child in a classroom would. I know its not traditional, but she needed someone to help make it fun! So I would put away number cards, while she reset the bank! There truly is something to be said about having that classroom expirience! Maybe Kal-El will be willing to play with him sometime! That might just make it maore fun! Good Luck!

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  5. My son was frustrated too, at around age 6 when we started. I did what Stephanie suggested, and did parts of the problems for/with him. Definitely better for him! Actually I would do about half, saying, "I'll get the hundreds if you'll get the thousands." and so on. Also, I ended up linking it to our library summer reading program- he had to total up his pages read, and we used the beads to do the addition. And any time there was an addition question that came up in our house, we referred him to the beads.

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  6. My son was frustrated too, at around age 6 when we started. I did what Stephanie suggested, and did parts of the problems for/with him. Definitely better for him! Actually I would do about half, saying, "I'll get the hundreds if you'll get the thousands." and so on. Also, I ended up linking it to our library summer reading program- he had to total up his pages read, and we used the beads to do the addition. And any time there was an addition question that came up in our house, we referred him to the beads.

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  7. Others have said what we did as well - I did a lot of the stages with my son as well - anything that would use a group of children in the classroom, I became the other children, counting as 2 or 3 kids if needed. This way, he still gets some "observation" as well as practice himself, without having to do the whole thing.

    But many times, in the classroom or at home, 1 long problem is enough for a morning or afternoon; other days it will suddenly be 3 or 4; but more than that isn't usually necessary since they are doing SO much within one problem already.

    Just wait for long division ;)

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  8. Oh yes, my boy has just turned 5 and we are experiencing this slowness! Aaaagh! It's taking ages to do, because of the same issue. Thanks for your post. Really helps me to know this is quite common. Here goes to just pressing on. Thanks, Tracey

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  10. After reading your article, I had a breakthrough this week. Please read about it here on using, what we called 'Coin Toss' game to build our numbers with Golden Beads. I've referenced your site if that is ok?

    http://dreambeforeyou.wordpress.com/2012/07/07/oh-if-only-the-golden-beads-could-be-easier/

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