L's sister and her husband are bringing their daughter down to our neck of the woods for weekly softball coaching. Last night, they stopped by to hang out for a bit before heading home.
We were sat around my kitchen table, them enjoying burgers and fries, and all of us enjoying shakes (I have to admit that McDonald's has really stepped it up in the shake department). After they ate, the adults talked, and my niece asked for some paper. L brought her some along with my colored pencils.
The girl LOVES to draw, write, and read. As she was drawing a picture of Mario, she noticed that the paper had print on the back of it. "This paper is used," she said.
"It's scrap paper," I said. She looked at me funny, so I elaborated. "It's paper that we already used once, and we saved it to write or draw stuff on the back so both sides get used before we throw it away."
She flipped over a few sheets, some of which contained old versions of my dissertation, until she came to the basic skills exam that we give our future elementary ed teachers. It's based on 4th, 5th, and 6th grade math.
"Ooh, pick one for me," said my seven-year old niece.
After looking, I found one and made the numbers smaller, so then we all sat around helping her read and work through the problem. She had trouble understanding the need to round up to whole packages of things (she's is only 7), so L gave her another example with packs of gum. Once she understood, she wanted to move on to something else.
"Pick another, pick another!"
So while I continued to chat with her mom, L taught her fraction basics, even giving her really tricky scenarios and word problems. She had so much fun, and it made my heart go pitter-pat. She wants to spend some of her summer finishing her first grade math workbook.
See? Math can be fun.