I snapped some pictures today while we were doing some schoolwork, so you can see what really happens here! The first series of pictures is of Jack doing his Hands on Equations, which is an introduction to algebra using hands on manipulatives (the yellow scale and pawns you see in the picture). From the scale, it looks like he is setting up the equation 3X + 2 = 10 + X, but that is actually an easier equation from one of the early lessons. Both Chance and Jack watched the lessons on DVD, finished, and now we’re doing the word problems from the problem book. Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, Chance has been able to do work problems in his head for years now, but gets stuck on the minutiae of manipulating the variables when trying to do harder and more complicated problems, so this series has been valuable for him, even though the problems were and are trivial for him. I’m hoping to be able to move along in the algebra book now!

Here Jack is setting up the problem (I don’t know what that Luke is doing!), and then solving it in the next 2 pictures. Jack has thrived on this, I think having a concrete representation of algebraic variables has made all of the difference for him, and now that we’re starting to do the word problems that go along with the pawns and scale, he is becoming more comfortable with word problems (we’re starting slow) which haven’t been his favorite up to now. An example of a starting word problem: “If a factory makes the same number of gallons of paint on Monday and Tuesday, and twice that number on Wednesday, with a total of 16 gallons made altogether, how many gallons did they make for each day?”. Chance did this in his head in about 2 seconds, but I’m making him write the equations down, since translating word problems into equations is vital for later math. Jack took a little longer, but used his pawns and scale, and solved it by himself.

I think Jack is telling Luke he is doing a good job with his math, too!

In the following series of pictures, we are starting a new creative writing course, which started with a game called Molly and Ned. I told the boys I had a game called Molly and Ned, and they needed to figure out the rule of this game by asking any question that could be answered with a “yes” or a “no”. The secret rule was that if their question ended in a word that started with the letters N – Z, I would say ‘no”, and if the last word started with A-M, I would say “yes”. It took Chance and Jack about 15 questions before they figured out that there was something funny about this game (they were getting contradictory answers), and they finally started concentrating on the structure of their sentences, coming up with elaborate rules (“Is the rule that if the three subjects in the sentence are in ABC order, you say Yes?”), disproving them and then really getting frustrated!

Below, Chance told Jack “Bingo, Jack, that has to be the rule!”, and Jack replied “No Chance, it is Ringo, that has to be the rule!”. (They are both very big into the Beatles lately, and where they get this horrible, nasty, disgusting punning habit, I’ll never know

Luke even joined into the game, thinking we were all being terribly silly and asking even sillier questions for Mama to answer, like “Mama, if the elephant has an apple on his head, can you eat the table?”. He loved being part of the action, and not having to play quietly while we were doing schoolwork. I gave them clue after clue, but I finally had to tell them the rule, and then we talked about how hard it is sometimes to think creatively and out of the box to solve problems. A nice beginning to our creative writing course, at any rate.