Wednesday, December 15, 2010

the magic of ten

We just completed the BEST two weeks of homeschooling, in terms of content, that we've ever had! I introduced the boys to Place Value work (thousands, hundreds, tens and ones), and the way the Enki 2nd Grade curriculum goes about this is simply magic! The boys were so captivated by the story and so caught up in role-playing the lesson, I don't think I've stopped smiling for two solid weeks!

We started by reading the 2-part Enki Math story, "The Kingdom of Jewel". The first part ends on a cliff-hanger, with Tricky Mischief in vast confusion over counting the multitude of the Kingdom's jewels, and a mysterious ship full of soldiers arriving at the Kingdom's shore. The boys both chose to draw Tricky Mischief amid her chaos (J's up above, Zoo Boy's here). And both were jumping up and down with the anticipation the cliff-hanger created!

In the second part of the story (told the following day), a strange King reveals his plans to take over the Kingdom of Jewel (drawn here by J). The King of Jewel convinces him to match wits rather than might, and they both agree to guess at, and then count to confirm, the number of jewels poor Tricky Mischief has been tasked with counting.

Both get a chance to confer with Tricky about it, and the King of Jewel tells her that she'll use the Magic of Ten to sort them, counting 10 jewels into a wooden box, then transferring those 10 to a china box, then every time she fills 10 china boxes, she'll put them into a silver box, and every time she fills 10 silver boxes, she'll put them into a gold box. The next day, the King of Jewel looks at the number of each type of box Tricky Mischief filled, and is able to guess the exact number of jewels. (Zoo Boy's drawing of the King of Jewel guessing right and the King of Other guessing wrong shown here.) The other king and his army depart.

Flash forward to the next week. After the boys did their journal entries, I said "Tricky Mischief went into the Kingdom and collected all of the jewels," and I presented the boys with a pile of "jewels" -- in our case pony beads. (We'll use these beads next week for some holiday crafting -- I'm a big believer in multi-use materials!)

The boys were delighted!

J, having gotten the gist of place value just from the story (which makes sense, given that he's a little older coming into this material) immediately began sorting the beads into piles of 10. I left him to play around with it on his own this one day, knowing that he does best with that kind of "space" to make his own discoveries and work through his own theories. Zoo Boy lost interest fast (complaining that he wanted to know the Magic of Ten NOW) and went off to play imagination based games while J filled his need for contraction.

The following day, I presented the boys each with a small wooden box, a box full of small jewelry bags (which the boys fully embraced as "china boxes" despite the fact that the were neither china nor boxes -- gotta love the willing imagination of children!), a bunch of small jewelry boxes spray-painted silver, and a couple of larger jewelry boxes spray-painted gold. They immediately set to work counting 10 "jewels" into their wooden boxes and then emptying them into their "china boxes".

When they had 10 jewelry bags filled, they placed them inside a silver box and closed it up. "I still don't get the Magic of Ten," Zoo Boy complained. "Don't worry," I reassured him, "You will."

When they had 10 silver boxes full, they loaded up a gold box. We stopped for the day after counting out our first gold-box full (it had taken about an hour, I felt that was long enough for the first day).

"I STILL don't get the Magic of Ten," Zoo Boy whined. "You will," I reassured him.

Zoo Boy couldn't wait to get counting the next day (today), and we finished up counting all of our tens. And here's what we wound up with -- can you tell how many jewels we had?

Zoo Boy thought and thought. I let J announce the number. 2,157.

Zoo Boy looked and repeated slowly "Two" Then he jumped up and down. "I get it! I get the Magic of Ten! Gold boxes are thousands, silver boxes are hundreds, china boxes are tens, and there are ones in the wooden box!!"

And I left the room and they've been on their own ever since.

Both boys immediately launched into a play sequence of the story, substituting our numbers for the ones in the story. Then they made a mock-documentary of how the Magic of Tens work. Then they created other scenarios where other numbers of other items are counted into the boxes.

Then J started writing out charts to represent what we just did. And then for the numbers in the story. And then for other numbers.

It's still going on. They are out there right now creating a chart that they can use for counting any number of any item. Soon I'll be dragging them away to get them some physical exercise and let their minds "rest" with this new, exciting information, which will help everything settle in and firm up. I won't touch place value again until after the holidays (and even then after a bit of Language Arts work) -- I won't need to, this information will be cooking away inside their brains without me having to do a thing.

And that's the real magic.


Alyss said...

Wow. Just wow :)

You make me want to have kids so I can school them with Enki!

taimarie said...

This is so inspiring. Visiting here is the perfect antidote to any homeschooling doubts- if my own kids could possibly get this kind of excitment and depth of understanding in a unit on place value, then this is the right path for us (I taught place value in my practicum in a public school. It was not like this, I can tell you.)thank you.