27 October 2011

The Decimal System

I absolutely loved my Maths Teacher from middle school years.  His whole person would light up when he worked, taught and talked about numbers, symbols and formulas.  One idea stands out like daylight when I think back to the days in his class room - the decimal system and place values. He believed it was of the utmost importance that a child understood the decimal system and he did everything in his power to make you understand it.
Today, being a homeschooling Mother, with one child busy with Algebra, three children on the go, a fifth on the brink to start and three more to come, I cannot agree more.  Maths is just so much easier and much more fun, when you understand the decimal system.   
Thankfully, the Lord sent Steve Demme from Maths-U-See over my homeschooling path. He reminds me in so many ways of my Middle School Maths Teacher - his countenance lights up when he starts teaching maths and his whole curriculum evolves around the decimal system and place values.  

Math-U-See is the best curriculum I could possibly have chosen for my visual learners. 

My little ones, absolutely love the story of “Decimal street” with houses for “ones”, ‘tenths’ and “hundreds”.  Only nine beds fit into each house.  Nine green (the colour of ones) beds in the “ones-house”, nine blue (the colour of tenths) in the “tenths-house” and nine red (the colour for hundreds) in the “hundreds-house”.  This immediately gives them the concept of a maximum of 9 units in a decimal place value. As soon as my little ones grabbed this concept they were able to write any number from one to hundreds.  They also understand what is in a number and not only recite numbers in a specific order when counting. With the manipulates, the abstract of maths constantly links back to the concrete.
Do you have experience of the confusion between writing twelve and twenty? 

My children all struggled at first writing twelve and twenty in numbers. 20 for twelve and vice versa. After playing with the manipulates for a period of time, they came to understand the concept of the decimal system, place values and the difference between 12 and 20.  
Another reason why I chose Math-U-See is because every single calculation from adding to algebra is possible with different kinds of manipulatives.

My children are all visual learners and these manipulatives, which encourage them to constantly build, say and write their math problems, as well as Steve Demme’s DVD explaining every single new concept, with fun connotations turned Maths into a positive experience. So much so, that not one of my children ever resisted maths over the past few years!  Even though they were challenged in more than one concept!
Something like teaching little ones reading a face clock is made simple and full of fun with the Maths-U-See manipulates. 

I was astonished by the way complicated multiplication calculations were made concrete with the manipulates. 

And fractions has nothing to feel anxious about.

The manipulates also make my children “see” patterns in maths, which make skip counting  and eventually multiplication much fun. 

I remember, as a nine/ten year old, hours of driving to and from school while my mother checked my multiplication tables. Oh, I hated every moment of it. Before we used Maths-U-See, I believed that it was a good idea to check CJ’s (then only eight or nine years old) skip counting and multiplication facts, to and from supermarkets. Unfortunately, he hated it too, and one day asked me if we can please use driving time to chat about nice things… I immediately stopped it. 

Can you see the pattern in skip counting in 9’s?
There is a pattern in the one place value, as well is in the tens place value!
Shortly there after, we started Maths-U-See. My children that followed, do skip counting only with the manipulates and in a much more relaxed, fun way.  This past week Josua even managed to identify a pattern in skip counting in 7’s, boosting his self confidence with Maths!

Math-U-See teach maths by mastering one concept before moving on to the next concept. Students will first learn the concept of counting and adding. All practices in the first book will evolve around counting and adding.  

Then subtracting will follow.  Next will be fast counting or multiplication, which start with skip counting as the basis for multiplication.  It will only be at the age of ten or more that the concept of dividing and factions will be introduced.  On completion of each level the child will know everything possible about adding, subtracting and multiplication.  
He will also be able to apply the different concepts in very simple pre-algebra problems, as well as use these concepts in any possible word problem. I remember from school years the fear involved for me with the mere mentioning of the word: “Word Problems”.  Word Problems is in my opinion the one and only way of implementing maths practically in life.  Math-U-See’s end goal is making children ‘see’ why they need maths by implementing it in every day life or Word Problems, as we know it.
Maths-U-See makes Maths fun and that is exactly what I want my children to have when playing with numbers, while learning a very important, but challenging life skill.
This post features on the South African Carnival of Homeschool Bloggers (SACH Bloggers) where South African home schoolers share experiences, ideas, philosophies and much more.  You can join the carnival too by heading to the South African Carnival of Homeschool Bloggers sign up page. We hope you enjoy the carnival as much as we have!

SA Home Schooling Blog Carnival #10

With love


Trys (Trixi) said...

Thank you for submitting this to the carnival this week.

Taryn @ Hayes Happenings said...

More than ever I am convinced that this is the programme for my right brained visual learner second child! Thx for sharing such visual pics. :-)

Anonymous said...

As child I also hated word problems, because I could work out the answers in my head, but couldn't write it down, except for the answers, so I was always marked wrong! Otherwise I loved maths, and that is what I want for the boys. I plan on starting them on an Afrikaans "hands-on" programme (Boks-n-Dice), but we will have to see from there, as it is quite new. Thanks for sharing Maths-U-See. I like the whole idea and will keep it in consideration.
Elize vdM

Linnie said...

Hi Taryn, so glad this helped! I added links - totally forgot at first!

Linnie said...

Hi Elize, our mother tongue is also Afrikaans. I know it is off utmost importance to teach Maths in the home language and we have now years of experience that it is possible to still use the Maths-U-See program. I translate the DVD as we go (I never just let them watch the teaching DVD at their own, not even with my 17year old). I translate everything in the student workbook for my 6-12 year olds. It takes extra time, but is works perfectly! It is definitely worth it.
Thank you for stopping by.

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