An Accidental, Mathematical, Poetical Teatime

“That’s my parawewogram!”

“No, it’s mine!  See?!”

“Oh, yeah. {giggle} Mine is hidin’ under the poetwy book.”  {giggle, giggle}

They’re arguing over a parallelogram?  They’re arguing over a parallelogram!  Woohoo!  This is big news!  Not the arguing.  That happens everyday. But the fact that these little ones even care about parallelograms at all. That’s the best news of the week. 

But I must confess, I didn’t teach them this.  It wasn’t some heroic effort on my part that blessed them with the knowledge of the parallelogram.  If anything, it was because I was lazy! 

You see, I’ve got six kids ranging in age from three to thirteen, and sometimes homeschooling all of them just overwhelms me.  Keeping up with six unique learners takes everything that this introverted mama has.  Sometimes I just run out of juice.  Do you know what I mean?  Have you ever felt that way?  That’s what happened on the parallelogram morning.

Every lesson doesn’t need to be laid out in the plan book.  The best learning happens, often by accident, when good things come together to create a spark of connection.  That’s what I learned on the parallelogram morning.

I woke up late, scrambling into the morning.  The list of learning activities I had planned for the day would require much more time than my late start would allow.  As I poured a strong cup of tea and dolloped it with honey, my phone dinged.  Another reminder from the library.  “That whole stack of books you took out.  They’re due. Yesterday.” 

In the first five minutes of my morning, I was greeted with all the balls I’d dropped.  Late library books, late nights and late mornings.  Late.  Late.  Late. 

I cheered myself with a few bites of chocolate while I piled the books onto the kitchen table - mostly math themed poetry books I’d been using to plan a co-op class.  I’ve homeschooled long enough to know that this day was headed one of two ways: into the nothing-goes-right kind of day or into the let’s-make-the-most-of-it-and-see-what-happens kind of day.  The choice was mine. 

Seeing those math books stacked up, knowing we needed to make the most of our morning, I grasped forinspiration.  Thankfully, I found a thread of it and held on tight.  We’ll do math and poetry together, all together. 

That’s when a little bit of magic happened.  At least that’s how I prefer to see the chaos that followed. 

Tangrams were dug out of the back of the closet.  Muffins baked in the oven, dangerously close to burning, while pages spewed from my printer onto the floor.  The geometric coloring sheets I’d bookmarked the week before were saving my day. 

In the midst of all this distraction I heard, “That’s my parawewogram!”

It stopped me in my tracks.  I braced for the argument that I expected to come.  And then melted as the exchanged played out.  My kids were learning from each other simply because I was lazy and hit the snooze button.  Simply because I had chosen a let’s-make-the-most-of-it-and-see-what-happens kind of day.  Simply because there was a spark of connection between my children and the engaging materials which were sitting way-too-close to a puddle of almond milk on the kitchen table.  Learning was happening despite my scatteredness. 

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One by one children found their places around the table, lured by the smell of cinnamon.  One by one, they picked up colored pencils and tangrams, rulers and poetry books.  Mathematical riddles, disguised as poems, were passed around along with warm muffins.  Belly laughs and quiet moments of concentration took turns dancing through our kitchen.  Our morning, though late to start, was long in the best sort of way. 

Math and poetry had accidentally collided.  And for that, I have to thank the snooze button. 

Want your own mathematical, poetical teatime? 
I’ve got the tools for you listed below.

 


The Stack of Overdue Library Books ( plus a few favorites)

The Best of Times, Gregory Tang
Edgar Allan Poe’s Pie, J. Patrick Lewis
Marvelous Math, Lee Bennett Hopkins
Math Curse, Jon Scieszka
Math Talk: Mathematical Ideas in Poems for Two Voices, Theoni Pappas
The Grapes of Math, Greg Tang
Math for All Seasons, Greg Tang

Our Favorite Math "Toys"

I love to "accidentally" leave math manipulatives and games out on the kitchen table.  My early risers find them there and dig into some before dawn learning.  As the rest of the crew wakes and meanders into the living room, games are underway.    They made a great addition to our poetry teatime too!

The Geometric Coloring Designs

These coloring pages are open-ended and created a lot of math-focused discussion at the level of each child.  We talked about patterns, angles, similarities and differences in shapes and lots more.

 

What are your favorite ways to sneak some math into your day?  Share in the comments!