A walk to the stables

A walk to the stables
Tamerin at the horses: we walked there on Thursday and talked rugby nearly all the way!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Money Matters

Part of preparation to go to the U.S. is practising to convert $ to Rand. This involves checking the exchange rate every morning and while Tammy is going to do that for the next couple of weeks, I let her enter the data on Excel and insert a chart: since starting that at the beginning of the week, the Rand has steadily strengthened against the $ and it shows on her chart. This morning Tammy proudly announced today that the Rand has strengthened!

She then converts $1 - $10 dollars as well as $100 and $1000. In the beginning she has made lots of mistakes, but she has done 2 sheets without a single mistake.
R 8. 35
x 8 (How does one underline this on a blogpost?!)
66 . 80

Today she made 2 mistakes - both with adding e.g with the above calculation when she had to add 4 + 2 she wrote 7!! Tammy, Tammy....!

She loves these calculations and I love them too as they involve multiplication, adding and the use of the decimal point. She also has to estimate the answer before calculating it i.e. 8 x 8 = 64 and 8 x 9 = 72 so the answer must be between 64 and 72, but today it will be closer to 64 because 35c is closer to R8 than R9. Since estimating the answer, she has made far fewer mistakes! This is also what she will use if she has to convert $ to R without a calculator or pencil and paper.

The other money matters that we practice is rounding prices. I have started with it last year, but only now feels that she understands. So we go through newspaper ads and she reads me the real price and then what it "actually" costs. R69.99 = R70.00. Great fun.

We also count money. We have been doing it for a long time, but it is not easy and Tammy has to really focus on not confusing R and c.

This week I also let Tammy "pay" for stuff.
She first counts her money to establish how much she can pay.
Then she has to round the price e.g R35.99 = R36.
Then she gives me enough cash to cover the price, but not too much (e.g. 2 x twenty Rand notes, seeing that she has no R10 note or coins to make up R6).
Then she has to calculate how much change she would get. (R40 - R35 = R5 .... + the 1c, but seeing that we no longer use 1c coins, the shop would round it and give her 5c.)

She has also calculated discounts e.g. 50%, 25% and 10% discounts. Percentages are not new to her, seeing that she always has to calculate the percentage of her homework or test results and we used percentages a lot when we covered the elections.

She still needs lots of practice, but she understands what it is all about and is very determined to crack it. This is very practical, fun numeracy and works for us.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Preparing to see Disney World

While we still "struggle" with the long division (Tammy can do it alright, but she takes forever), we have had great fun with language this past week:

Seats have not been booked yet, but it seems sure that Tammy's family will be off to the U.S. end of June. Disney World will definitely be on the intinerary, so Tammy and I have started to "study" this Disney World Guide. It loads faster than the official website and gives us everything we need.

I copy the text to a Word document and then we read it together, write down then new vocabulary and discuss the contents. Then we go back to the actual website and Tammy reads it to her family!! Great stuff!

So far we have done the home page on Disney World and introduction to Magic Kingdom. New vocabulary included words such as performance, recreation, destination, options, entertainment, unique, focus, specific, area, include, incredible. ("Incredible" is so "wow"! English is Tamerin's 2nd language and communication in either her home language or English has always been a very big challenge for her, so these words are "quite big"!) We practice the tongue twisters like specific by breaking them up into syllables as we have always done and she "reads" them aloud over and over until she can say them fluently.

For her spelling test on this weeks vocabulary, she scored 16/20! (Mistakes were: guid (guide), includ, (include) increadible (incredible) and imaine (imagine).

The discussion of the contents is very important. Tammy can tell you that 50 million people visit Disney World per year. She worked out how many visitors there are on average per day (50,000,000 / 365) and also what percentage visit Magic Kingdom. The practical math we have done at election time, is paying dividends! She can read thousands and millions and write down the numbers too! I am so proud of her. We also talked about Everest and checked on the globe where Nepal is. Will check tomorrow whether she still remembers what Everest is, but I am sure she does.

To reinforce the vocabulary (and facts), I make up sentences with missing words and give her the options to be filled in, in a box above the sentences. My aim is not to confuse or to test her, but simply to make language fun, to reinforce and to read with comprehension and focus! I use the same words again and again, but each time in a different context. Tammy has to read the whole sentence first and substitute the missing word with hmmm before she chooses the word from the box.

(I wish I knew how to blog word documents, but if I try to copy a word sheet, my blog refuses to publish it? Any suggestions?)

Anyway, typical sentences would be

entertainment / option / attractions / incredible / celebrate

There are many different things to do at Disney World. You even have the .............. to .................................. your wedding there.

The variety of shopping and ......................................... areas is simply ...............................................
One of the main ...................................... in Disney World is "Expedition Everest".

To help with choosing the right word, I refer to parts of speech such as verb, noun, adjective and adverb without making a big fuss. You need to know what verbs, nouns etc are when you use a dictionary and Tammy has to look up new words daily. When do children actually learn parts of speech in school? Grade 4? I haven't the faintest idea. We do not do "grade" work - we just do what seems necessary. Right now, being able to talk about the coming trip and to feel good about herself seem very, very necessary. (By the way, the looking up of words in the dictionary or telephone numbers, and fiddling with search engines form part of my vision of her working in an office one day. )

Homeschooling is the greatest!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Long division has started!

While we worked out fractions, I realised Tamerin's ability to divide is not so good: She doesn't know what is 20 divided by 5, but when given a prompt i.e. what times 5 gives you 20, she answers without hesitation! She knew her tables well, but division practice was sorely needed!

This week we spent a lot of time on long division, using 6 every time as the divider. Tammy likes to follow a given method and she managed the long division quite well: we marked the number line with the six times table to help her count the sixes, but after a day, it was no longer needed. I realised that her knowledge of tables would kick in again, but it took some frustrating time before it happened.

What I found frustrating (and where I had to remind myself that she is "slow" and I need to be very patient) is when she had to deduct e.g. 20 - 18: For most of the week, she would do the deduction the "long method": She would say 0-8; no it can't, so I take a ten and cross out the 2 and make it a 1. 10 take away 8 is 2. 1 take away 1 is zero....! She couldn't just "see" that 20 - 18 is 2 or that 30 - 28 is 2.

But - praise the Lord - by today she started to take short cuts: 20 minus 18 is 2! Long division is the only division she can do: even 606 divided by 6 is done the long division way, but I figure, it doesn't matter, the short cuts will come with time.

We never have remainders - remainders are calculated as decimal fractions until the 2 decimal. It was good to see that 39 / 6 = 6.5. She knows very well that .5 is 1/2 and could see that the remainder of 3 is half a six.

Reading and other exercises are a bit on hold, until we really crack long division. She has made giant leaps through taking many, many, many baby steps! Tammy has had a very bad cold, so we did not go to gym this week - that's too bad, but on the other hand, it left us with more time to do math.

Today we spent most of the morning, making a computer scrapbook page for mother's day. She has a nifty programme called "Scrapbook factory", but I am not very familiar with it, so we struggled a bit, but in the end the page came out quite successfully. Next year, I'll make sure she takes more pictures of her mom. There were actually very few pics of mom on the computer. (Guess who takes most of the holiday photos?!) Tammy has a camera, but today the batteries were flat.

Our vision is that she will work in an office one day. My dilemma is now: is it better to practice to do this type of thing on computer, or should she get more practice using a ruler, scissors and glue? Which type of activity will be more beneficial in the long run? I am not too sure about this one. Either is fun: she loves working on the computer and the end result is neat. But cutting, pasting and painting are fun too!

Have a Happy Mother's Day!