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?
Home of: The Ultimate Montessori Blog List
The Ultimate Montessori Search Box
The Ultimate Montessori Homemade Materials Collaboration
Would YOU like to be added to the Ultimate Montessori Blog List? Contact me!