Alligator Math

I have to say that I was not thrilled to be doing this math activity at first. I think I am hesitant for anything that seems “busy-work” and mimics school too much. But M really enjoyed doing the activity, and was very proud of herself. I need to remind myself that if a child enjoys the activity, it is worth doing, and that even if it is something she would do in a school setting, at least at home she can go at her own pace and, usually, it takes less time to accomplish (which adds more free time to her days than school would provide). M had already gained number comparison knowledge through her life adventures, so this activity just taught her what the > and < symbols mean and how to use them to describe number relationships. I used this blog for inspiration; it is very informative with lots of resources!

First, the girls watched a few introductory YouTube videos (the videos are listed at the bottom of the blog post I linked above). Then they played with the alligator manipulatives printed from here. M understood easily, and quickly became excited about solving the problem and writing the answers on her worksheet. She first used red pom-poms (“cherries”) to help solve the problems (because it was fun to do) but she could easily solve even the harder problems (using numbers 10-20) without counting cherries. C was resistant to working the activity at all, so I sent her off to play. It will be interesting to see if she was resistant because she was tired, it was above her level and too hard, or because it was mostly boring busy-work. M quickly finished the 2 worksheets, and then they both got a paper plate (with a triangle cut out, so it resembled an alligator’s mouth) to color and decorate.

Later, we made the activity into a game. I posted two numbers on the wall with a big space in between. Then M or C had to create the correct > or < sign, by either using their arms as alligator mouths, their paper plate alligators, or our Nicaraguan alligator. When a problem was solved, we all read it out loud together (“4 is greater than 3.”). C was much more interested in this version (my kinesthetic learner!). C definitely understands “what number is the biggest” but could really care less about the symbols that describe those relationships.

The rest of the day has been pretty low-key. The girls are tired from being up late the night before; C has had a kajillion tantrums and is napping now. I’m supposed to be packing for a quick weekend camping trip, but am lacking motivation, as the house is still a mess from the last trip. We’ve read books together (it’s exciting to see C become interested in our chapter book, as previously she was bored from the few pictures….reading while eating at the table is working so great for her!) and played a lot. We danced around to a music class cd and played with our instruments again (the girls were inspired from yesterday’s music class), and only stopped the music when I had to lay the babe down for a nap. We mailed a package at the post office and went to speech class. I’ve done some cleaning and chores, though not nearly enough! M is playing again with the alligator math manipulatives. The girls have been begging me to print more paper doll templates, so I think I’m going to do that before I tackle any more packing.

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  1. Homeschool Organization: File Folder Games | The LipperLoppy Life

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  • "Living is learning and when kids are living fully and energetically and happily they are learning a lot, even if we don't always know what it is. " - John Holt
  • LipperLoppy? what???

    “LipperLoppy” is a word that my daughters invented. It is usually used as a silly adjective or noun. It's a frequent family joke and a good representation of our family's crazy joyful life.
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