## Tuesday, October 31, 2006

### School with Ponytails and Crayons (and a math game)

News from the homeschool front:

In Bible lessons, we have just killed off King Saul (and ended the book of 1 Samuel). We are studying seeds in Botany (we've been cutting apart some of the dried beans from our garden), and continents in Geography. Since Ponytails just read a chapter of Hillyer's History about the Trojan War and Homer, we also read the story of Circe's Palace from Hawthorne's Tanglewood Tales. That took us three readings, but it's a great story (Ponytails and Crayons both liked the pigs). [Update: Ponytails says she liked the bird, and sort of the pigs. Crayons doesn't want to be quoted at all.] I remember reading it with The Apprentice too, maybe six years ago.

There's a fun connection there with Crystal Mountain (which we just finished), because the governess in the book, Miss Dunbar, carries a copy of The Odyssey around with her in her pocket, and she tells the children a bit about Ulysses too.

We also just finished watching "As You Like It," a 1978 BBC video with Helen Mirren. We read Lamb's story earlier in the fall, and since we were at a library last week that has good videos of Shakespeare's plays, I brought it home to watch. It's filmed mostly outdoors (Ponytails was amused to see Rosalind having to deal with occasional insects flying in her face). Thumbs-up.

Ponytails is reviewing addition and subtraction in math, and Crayons and I are trying some new math things. Here's a game we found in Ruth Beechick's Arithmetic booklet:

"The Greatest Number"

You need cards numbered from 1 to 9. We used Dutch Blitz cards, but found it was too easy to cheat if you remembered what colour backs the different numbers have, so we played a different way: instead of each person just having nine cards, we each took a whole pile of cards. It doesn't make any difference to the game--it just makes it harder to cheat!

Anyway, you put all your cards face down in a pile, and take three (or two or four) cards out. You each make the biggest number you can from them, so if you take out a three, a four and a six, you can make 643. Whoever has the biggest number gets a point (we award a checker). We play that the first one to get ten points (or checkers) wins the game.

Crayons was uncertain about reading 3-digit numbers, so we played for awhile just taking two cards out at a time. Later on, though, we tried it with three, and she caught on to that as well. So this seems like a fairly painless way to learn to read large numbers! Ponytails wants to play too, so for her I think we'll take out four cards at a time.