Friday, January 6, 2012

Rocket, soccer, musical chairs and Math

I don't know if any of you parents experienced the same challenges as me. See, I was a bit stuck some months back when Dumpling was not engaged with numbers. While Dumpling has quite a good memory, if it's anything rote, I have a challenge on hand as it bores her.

So far, my challenges have been:

1) Number sequencing
She tends to be distracted and bored after reciting the sequence and would end up missing a few numbers.

2) Counting down
Likewise, she'd get bored halfway and skip some numbers and walk away.

3) Number Recognition
With this, she stubbornly refused to accept why 11 and 12 had different names and 13 is thirteen instead of three-teen. This is primary because Dumpling is a very "conceptual" person so she basically thinks if 14  is four-teen, why should 13 be thirteen and likewise for 15. 

Another part of the challenge was that Dumpling was not interested in recognizing numbers. On some days, she will entertain me by saying the correct answer - 27 e.g twenty-seven but on other days, she will go "2,7" Ha ha ha ha...

The funny thing is Dumpling cracked the patterning codes - ABAB, AAB, BBA, ABC sequence etc., before she turned 2.5 but for the above, she just refused to try. So, what's a homeschooling mum to do?

For (1), though I am not much of a rote learning person (oops, so maybe its my fault :p) Number Sequencing is one of the fundamentals since the child will need to know numbers and the sequence before they can even move onto the next thing.

So for (1), what worked for us was to use songs. Somehow for children, they recite much better when it's song based as it is catchy.

For (2), I wanted to teach her this as it will come in handy later when we do subtraction. While Dumpling understood the general concept of taking away and counting down = lesser, she was not engaged at all to learn to countdown by memory.

What I did was to play hopscotch and rocket games with her where after "1", we'd "blast" off!

Now, for (3), this took quite a bit of creativity. How we got over the 13 = three-teen and 15 = five-teen was I wrote out the word for her and showed her that while it is not the exact same word, it had the same starting sound - THirteen because it comes from THree, etc.  

While one half of the problem was settled, it was the last bit which was helping her to identify how to read 2 digits place value i.e. 27 is read as twenty-seven. Dumpling argued that twenty-seven should look like 20-7 instead of 27. No matter how hard I told her to ignore the last "0", she refused to accept that explanation. 

Conceptually, I understand her argument of course, after all twenty is 20 so shouldn't twenty-seven be 20-7? But believe me when I said I was close to pulling my hair out. :p

This is where soccer game and musical chairs came in. I first reinforced how the number "10" looks like. Then we played musical chairs. And I explained how there's only 2 chairs and because "0" means nothing, it didn't need a seat and hence was kicked away by the last digit.

The game instructions:

Reinforcing the number sequence / order

Then we made "10"

I will then shout out a number - 14 and Dumpling will then need to hunt for the number "4" and use it to "kick" away "0" and take its place since "0" means nothing and it does not need a seat. 

Our goal post was easily created using an empty tissue box taped to the desk 

The great thing was once the concept was understood, Dumpling was able to read all the numbers up to the hundreds value. I hope this works for you all. :)


  1. Ingenious!! I've not done anything math... *lazy me*... but if i ever face such a problem will def rem your way of guiding C!!

  2. Am sure Kie's school teaches it so you don't have to pull your hair out like me! Lol


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