Thursday, 5 December 2013

Maths Invitation

Yesterday was a good day.  In terms of me not feeling quite so guilty for not being able to do much with the boys because of a pinched nerve in my back/ leg, anyway.
I was going to see my chiropractor in the afternoon, and he always enjoys asking me about our home education, so I probably paid more attention than I have lately to what the boys were doing, so I could tell him.  They did some writing (in Christmas cards), watched a programme on the Barrier Reef, and then played with Maths.

The Maths was down to an "invitation" that I set up in the kitchen.  Like the previous time though, Youngest came to see what I was doing before I finished, and I had to ask him to wait so I could take a picture before he got stuck in.  *Note to self: set up invitations when they are in bed, for them to find the next morning!*  I had seen this invitation online a couple of weeks ago, which prompted our previous invitation.  I didn't have all the same equipment as the original Maths invitation, but we had plenty of other bits; we just needed to buy some scales (I didn't want the boys playing with my digital ones and I knew they would appreciate the style illustrated as it was similar to one in the Post Office that they are always fascinated by).  So this was our version...

Contents (clockwise from bottom left): Tub of coloured giant lolly sticks; 3 pots of playdoh (sadly cropped out of photo); scales; bowl of coloured matchsticks; abacus; tub of glass pebbles; tray of Cuisenaire rods; egg cartons containing polystyrene eggs; box of tangram shapes; magnetic board with numbers; pipecleaners and bowl of pony beads, for threading; tub of 'sorting' animals; muffin tray.  I also wanted to add a tray with some glitter to draw in with their fingers but I realised I wouldn't be able to bend down to sweep up the mess.

I am always fascinated to see what the boys choose to play with first.  Youngest made a beeline for the scales, piling as much as he could in the dish.  Middle was drawn to the pipecleaners, threading beads on to make a pattern, and then turning it into a bracelet for Mummy.  Eldest (who I wasn't sure would be interested, being that bit older) grabbed the matchsticks and carried them to the floor - well there was no real space left on the table - and started making symmetrical designs, also inventing games involving glass nuggets.  I left them to it to just explore as they wanted.  Invitations in my mind are not the time to be alongside them giving instructions, placing limits or asking them questions about what they are doing - in my mind I want them just to enjoy experiencing whatever they are drawn to... just to have fun, without me ever mentioning the word "maths" - to activate their natural creativity.  It must have worked too, because after I went to the chiropractor (during which they played on the Wii with Daddy),  when we decided enough time had been spent on the Wii, they disappeared off and started designing intricate platform games - a lovely blend of their console experience and creativity from earlier.

Invitation are great.  When I came across them I thought they might be a bit too 'preschool' for my boys, but it turns out they all benefit from them - so we'll be doing more in future.  I just need to pick another theme now *heads off to browse for inspiration*...


  1. That's really interesting that Eldest joined in too - I've also seen these on pinterest and thought they might be a bit "young" for J (11), but perhaps he would like them after all. I guess it depends on what materials you leave out for them. I'll be interested to see what other ideas you use! Hope your back feels better soon! R x

    1. Thanks, Rachel - I'll certainly be doing more, so will let you know :) xx