Art & Money math

Maya and Ben both take art from Debbe Heller, at her “For Arts Sake” studio.    She is an amazing teacher and they both love the class.  It’s the one thing they never want to give up, and Maya is in her 3rd year there, Ben his 2nd.   This week they worked on light and shading, as you can see from the pictures.  The top one is Ben’s, the bottom Maya’s.    I’ve always wondered how artists manage to make it look like light is shining on their subject.    I still don’t know the answer, but Maya and Ben do.

Debbe told me that she loves her homeschooler classes, of which there are two.   She also teaches a lot of classes made up of schooled kids, and she says the difference in confidence levels is remarkable.   She told me that whenever she presents a new idea or challenge to her homeschoolers, they are immediately up for it and excited about it.   The schooled children are often hesitant to try new things for fear of not being able to do it or of making mistakes.    As a result, she says that Maya & Ben’s class is far, far ahead of where they ‘should’ be based on their ages and how long they’ve been in the class.    Which makes me smile.

And now….math!   Last night I was reading a rather sub-par Nora Roberts novel (I guess when you’ve published over 200 books, there are bound to be a few that are just average), and one of the characters was talking about doing long-division with her nine year old.    School brain alert!!    Had the story been more compelling, I probably would not have started obsessing over the fact that my kids (well, Maya, because Ben wouldn’t be doing it in 1st grade anyway) don’t do long division.     Hmmm.   Knowing my kids, letting school brain talk me into sitting them down and trying to explain long division would be an exercise in failure and frustration on my part, and cause for glazed looks and slack jaws on theirs.  So I decided to get into it in a roundabout way.   With everybody’s favorite math tool – money.    While at the bank today, ordering our Costa Rican colones,($500USD gets you $225,000 colones!) I also picked up rolls of quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies, as well as some ones and fives.    We came home and played a money game.  I taught them how to count back change, and then had them do it, allowing them to keep the change they counted back if they did it right.  For instance, I would tell them, “Ok, I just bought something from your store that cost $2.13, and I paid with a $5.  How much change do I get?”    This was a cinch for Maya but Ben had never really done it.   So at first he was a little frustrated.  That lasted about 15 minutes, and then I literally saw the moment that it clicked in his head and from then on out he was raking in the money.   He enjoyed it so much that he proceeded to count back change on his own ‘for fun’ all evening.   Step one completed.   Step two will mean we start dividing dollar amounts, working our way into larger and larger numbers until voila!  Long division.   Mission accomplished – school brain can go back into its’ dark hole.

I always forget how quickly things move when motivation is present.   Money and the opportunity to keep some of it?  Task learned in 20 minutes.   And really learned, never to be forgotten.   Waaaay more fun than weeks of slogging through a workbook of equations.

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