“Math is all around you.” -Mr. Bougamill, my high school math teacher
In high school my geometry teacher, Mr. Bougamill (I’m sure I spelled that wrong. It’s ok, we students called him Bougie-Fogie anyway :-)), was one of the best teachers I ever had….and I was blessed with a lot of great ones. I hated math. Well, I shouldn’t make that past tense. I still don’t care for it much. The truth is it was always hard for me and made me feel inadequate…so naturally, I didn’t like it. I actually failed geometry with flying colors, BUT Mr. Bougamill.
So I walk in the house one afternoon and go down to my parents office where my mom is sitting at her desk on the telephone. Getting ready to turn and head to my room, I’m stopped by my mother’s finger in the air, death stare. I’m positive this is the universal sign for all teenagers to wait…..with fear. So I sit down in one of the chairs and wait….in fear. As I listen to the conversation I quickly realize that she is talking about me and that it must be a teacher on the other end. Now, I was a junior in high school (Yes, I took geometry as a junior, I told ya’ll I was horrible at math). I was doing great, well doing fine, in all my classes, except geometry. My focus was on cheer leading, my social life, boys and college….in that order of course. I went to a pretty competitive high school and this kept me from falling off the deep end academically, BUT geometry. Technically I had failed geometry, but that afternoon Mr. Bougamill had phoned my mother to tell her that I had truly tried and because of my effort he was going to give me the few points I needed to pass. Talk about a life saver! And in that moment my attitude about math changed. It would never become my favorite. Actually, in college I took the minimum math requirement, Math 101, and cheated off this cute guy who wanted to take me out (just being honest). But I stopped believing that I couldn’t do it. Mr. Bougamill’s confidence in my efforts gave me confidence in them as well. And it’s that confidence that encourages me to give my son a strong foundation in the basics of math.
The other day Carter and I were watching Peg + Cat. If you have little people at home you should really check this show out. It’s great. The whole show centers around this energetic and precocious little girl named Peg and her cat as they explore math in every day life. For someone like me who isn’t a fan of the subject, it is right up my alley. It gives me a platform to introduce math concepts to Carter in a fun way.
So on this particular day Peg and Cat have been told they must clean their room before they can go out to play. This chore turns into a game of sorting and then expounds into imaginative castle and dragon play with shapes….super cool! So as we’re watching I tell Carter to go grab our small bag of wooden stringing shapes. I actually bought these as a stocking stuffer from the dollar aisle at Target this past Christmas.
I dump them out and tell him, “I’m Peg and you’re Cat, let’s clean up like they did!” He enjoyed the idea of being Cat…meows and all.
While watching the two characters sort and clean, we begin to talk about how we can separate our stringing blocks into groups that are the same. Here comes the cool part…….
Without me having to prompt, Carter starts pulling out all the shapes that are the same. Now I really would have guessed that he would have started with sorting by color, which is what we taught first in Pre-k. But after watching Peg and Cat sort their toys, this is what he chose to do. I was super excited that I didn’t have to start the sorting….Peg and Cat had already done that for me!
“Uh oh, somethings wrong,” I tell him, when he places a triangle with the circles.
I point to the triangle and ask him if this triangle is the same as the circles. Without saying anything, he moves the shape. Good job buddy!
Once he gets the shapes sorted, I tell him to make another mess. So he mixes all the shapes up. Then I try to get him to think of another way to sort the blocks. This time he doesn’t readily see how to do this. So I start him off by taking the same shape and spreading them out as individual pieces hoping he will start to sort by colors….he quickly catches on!
Soon we’re all done and ready to watch the rest of peg + cat!
That was our lesson this morning….impromptu, short and sweet!