Last summer, Ella was chugging away at math facts, moving forward with double-digit addition and subtraction, and couldn't wait to start multiplication. We have already introduced her to the concept, showing her how some of the addition facts she already knows are in fact multiplication facts as well, and she has always been excited by the subject. It isn't her strongest subject, but it has never been a struggle, so when planning curriculum I decided not to make it a focus. We point out math in our daily lives and have her figure things out on her own when the opportunity arises, so for school I opted to go with Singapore Math (she was about half a grade behind what they considered second grade, simply because her school hadn't even introduced multiplication yet) and Two Plus Two is Not Five (to ease up on the finger counting).
The plan was simple. We'd do an exercise in her Singapore book together in the morning, then she'd do a sheet of addition/subtraction from the other book during afternoon independent work. It was what I called our Ten Minute Math program.
But we hit a snag.
She flipped ahead in the Singapore book, saw multiplication on the horizon, and F-R-E-A-K-E-D. All I can figure is that some kids at school shared their math negativity with her last year, because it certainly didn't come from this house. There was no talking her down from her ledge. She was practically hyperventilating every morning as we turned a new page and got closer to the dreaded multiplication. I had to switch gears. Fast. So I came up with a new plan, for the summer at least . . .
1. Take a week or two off Singapore. Just to give her a little breathing room. We finished the first section and review, so it was perfect timing to take a break. And give me time to find a new way to hype it up.
2. Continue with the addition/subtraction drills. They are easy, stress-free, and build her confidence. Plus, it will make multiplication a whole lot easier to have those good and memorized.
3. Put the F-U-N back in math. Since I'm probably not the best one to do a math rap or throw a big math themed party (I don't hate it or anything, I just have trouble getting pumped up about math), I turned to the fabulous Professor Internet for some new activities. We checked out several game sites, and she seems to like the addition and subtraction games at Fun4theBrain.com the best. The Knights of Math is her favorite game right now. For every problem she answers correctly, she gets a new image on a medieval scene. Once she answers a certain number of problems, she is allowed free access to all the images to create her own scene. I think there is a fairy game that is very similar. Some of the games are "race" type games, but most aren't timed, which is a plus right now.
Of course, we still do all the other stuff - tangrams, patterns, money, time, measurements - in our regular activities just as part of life or with games and other learning activities, so I'm not worried about that. I'm just glad we can devote some time to learning these math facts as part of our school day, instead of it being our homework responsibility to learn them from 4-7 in the evening after an already long and hard day. Just another reason I am so glad we made the decision to homeschool!
If any of you have a favorite game (online or otherwise) that you would like to share, we'd love to hear about it.