Monday, May 25, 2020

Math Lesson: The Garden Story

Zac and I continued to have stories all last week about planting and harvesting. One of them even inspired a lesson with a tutoring client...

"Peter's Story" & "The Little Red Hen"
from Movement for the Young Child
by Estelle Breyer

(available in its entirety free as a downloadable PDF from the Online Waldorf Library here)

A Log's Life

by Wendy Pfeffer

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt

by Kate Messner

Ant Cities

by Arthur Dorros

First Peas to the Table: How Thomas Jefferson Inspired a School Garden

by Susan Grigsby

Zac loves his ant farm and it is still going strong. We are supposed to give them a few crumbs of food and a few drops of water every 3 days. Not knowing what to feed them, we tried a bit of watermelon first and it was a disaster. So yesterday we gave them a few crumbs from our challah bread and they were thrilled. Zac and I decorated a little notebook (happily, I already had an ant rubber stamp) to keep track of our ant care notes.

Yesterday we also discovered that a bird is nesting in our nest box (placed on the art room window with entrance to the North)! We also found a new swarm in our bee swarm box (placed in the cypress tree with entrance to the South). That's two this year! They will be rehomed at Dayempur Farm.

After reading Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt I was inspired to create a new lesson for the Grade 2 Shapes & Number Patterns block. I like the Waldorf first grade math content very much and we do the Quality of Numbers and Math Gnomes blocks, but in second grade I like to bring in the Montessori materials for Shapes & Number Patterns and Column Algorithms. They are wonderful -- colorful, completely individualized, and hands-on -- and coordinate beautifully with the Waldorf approach.

This lesson uses the Colored Bead Bar material. You can either use the bar bars for the Checker Board (and some GBM 10 bars) or the bead bars for the Decanomial.

We first read the story together and then looked at places where you could have multiplication in it... the same quantity over and over and over.

I thought of a few examples. These were planting the garden (if you plant a row of three strawberry plants and you have x rows), harvesting the produce (if every tomato plant gives the same number of tomatoes and you have x tomato plants), and also the ants coming to collect food for the long winter (if every ant collects seven bread crumbs and you have x ants).

She was very inspired by the different colors of bead bars and enjoyed laying out the beads and "planting her garden"!

dark blue - blueberry bushes
9 blueberry bushes per row, two rows, 9 x 2 = 18
(in 2nd grade you begin to put the answer at the end of the equation)

pink - peach trees
3 peach trees per row, three rows, 3 x 3 = 9

red - strawberry plants
1 strawberry plant per row, five rows, 1 x 5 = 5

purple - blackberry bushes
6 blackberry bushes per row, three rows, 6 x 3 = 18

gold - pear trees
10 pear trees in a row, four rows, 10 x 4 = 40

It would be fun to lay out a garden on your mat that used all ten colors!

We also did a bit with the ants.

white - breadcrumbs

If each ant brings seven bread crumbs down to storage for the winter, and there are seven ants, how many bread crumbs do they collect in all?

7 x 7 = 49

I found it was difficult for her to switch from planting to harvesting so I wouldn't do that in the same lesson. Do planting one day and then revisit the story and do harvesting the next day.

To switch from each bead on the bar is a peach TREE and they're planted in a row, to the whole bead bar represents the peach tree and each bead is a PEACH that we collect, is too much of a mental shift without a sleep in between. The ants collecting food counts as a kind of harvesting too, mentally, and I realized right away that it was a big shift. In this case, each bead bar represents what the ANT'S CAPACITY is. It would be the same kind of problem as if you had a basket or a wheelbarrow and the colored bead bars were representing what they can hold and then you are making multiple trips (which is another way you could work with this story).

So I recommend this story and these kinds of problems, but just remember that a physical representation is a good thing to have, and it can be flexible and represent more than one concept, but don't shift to having it represent more than one concept too quickly when a skill is new.

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