Mark took the kids to a local outfitter to get a ski helmet for Oscar, and I'm at home pleasantly working on some fairly mindless prep work for school. It feels good to be at the computer again.

Tonight's task was to make and print a set of flash cards with the addition and subtraction math facts through 9 + 9. I was planning on doing them through 12 + 12 but --- you know what? Anything after 9 + 9 isn't actually a math fact, even though most sets of flash cards you buy go up through the twelves. And anyway, I ran out of card stock.

I decided to make my own because most of the ones that you can purchase are either glossy with silly pictures on them, or they're classroom-sized. I wanted some that are sized for my five-year-old's hands. So I print them on business card stock, ten to a letter-sized page. I'll have them laminated before we start using them.

After I got those printed, I decided to go ahead and write the multiplication tables too. I discovered that if I don't pay attention, I write things like "4 x 0 = 4."

Why am I doing flash cards all of a sudden? Well, on our long drive to Ohio for Christmas, Oscar suddenly piped up from the back seat, *Two and eight are ten. And three and seven are ten. And four and six are ten, too.* It sounds like he's figured out the whole addition thing. I conclude from this that he's ready to start working on math facts. I'm not sure yet how we're going to use them --- I'll figure that out after I present them to him.

We use the Saxon Math 1 curriculum, which is easy to follow, and it just so happens that we're already up to the spot where Saxon introduces fact cards. They introduce them in a bizarre order, though. For some reason Saxon wants you to do "doubles" first:

- 0 + 0 = 0
- 1 + 1 = 2
- 2 + 2 = 4, and so on.

I don't get it --- it seems like a better idea to do all the +0's first, then all the +1's, and so on, so that the progressions from one operation to the next (where by "operation," I mean something like "add two" or "subtract three") are thrown into relief:

- 0 + 0 = 0
- 1 + 0 = 1
- 2 + 0 = 2, and so on.

Even better, I think, would be to teach the commutations and the inverses together, so that (for example) you closely associate a group of four equations like this:

- 2 + 1 = 3
- 1 + 2 = 3
- 3 - 1 = 2
- 3 - 2 = 1.

All four equations, after all, are illustrations of the same "fact": *A set of three items can be separated into a set of two and a set of one. *

But it might be better just to teach the progressions, and later on point out the groups of commutations and inverses. Overlaying one pattern on top of another, letting the child decide how best to remember the facts.

Take your pick. Divide it up by progressions of operations, and you get forty sets of ten facts each. Divide it up by commutation/inverse groups, and you get one hundred sets of four facts each.

I'll let you know what I decide to do. Maybe I'll mix it up a little.

Have you looked at the Singapore curriculum? It seems to be very popular in math and science minded families, so I was curious if you had any thoughts on it.

Love2learn.net has a review that covers it pretty well. http://www.love2learn.net/math/math.htm#singaporemath

Posted by: Kelly | 06 January 2006 at 12:54 PM