Monday, May 9, 2011

Elaine loves math.

Tonight, we gave her a bowl of strawberries. As she was arranging, rearranging, and counting the strawberries in the bowl, I saw her realizing something. She tried to voice this complex idea that had occurred to her.

"Three plus three and five plus one..." She said this a few times, clearly having trouble working out the number "six" at the same time as holding the two equations that added up to it in her head. So, I helped her out, offering up the number she was looking for: "Six."

Elaine was delighted to have discovered there are multiple ways to reach a single number through addition. She immediately pulled out her crayons and started making piles to shove together and count -- this is the strategy Daniel taught her a few weeks ago for doing simple addition. Only this time, she was making more than two piles at a time.

After experimenting with all the ways to separate five crayons into different piles and then shove them back together and still have five crayons, Elaine wanted me to teach her how to draw a five. From there, we moved fairly quickly to my writing out sheets of equations like I remember in early elementary school for her:

1 + 1 = 2
1 + 2 = 3
1 + 3 = 4
1 + 4 = 5 etc...

Each time I finished writing out a sheet of about ten simple addition equations, Elaine would get really excited and say, "Oh! Let's read that!" Then she'd read through the page, from the bottom to the top, declaring each of them "a good story" at the end.

Daniel told her that her Grandma Janet, who's an accountant, spends all day adding different numbers together for people, and Elaine was clearly impressed that her very own grandmother has such an important and exciting job. Elaine says she wants to be an accountant too when she grows up. (Of course, yesterday, she said she planned to be a kiwi popsicle when she grew up.) As for tonight, she rolled all the pages of arithmetic up like scrolls and took them upstairs to bed with her, clutching them tightly and insisting that her daddy read at least three of them to her as a bedtime story before she goes to sleep.