What a cute little angle!

First of all, I’d like to thank you for the tremendous outpouring of support (on facebook, twitter, and through comments here) for my last post (on being scared). It reinforced for me how important my own vulnerability is through this process, because I think it really spoke to lots of other people’s fears. I will continue sharing the internal as well as the external.

Today, though, I’m turning towards math. L is definitely pulled most towards science and language arts. She gets math pretty intuitively, but it’s not her love. I had heard great things about Beast Academy, but knew it was aimed at third grade level and above. She’s definitely not at third grade level! I looked closely at the first book, though, and saw that it was about shapes and skip counting, both of which she’s fairly fluent with. I also thought the narrative components would appeal to her (though I anticipated the comic-book style to be an obstacle). I decided to order book 3A and the practice guide to see how things went.

Today, we opened the book. I explained to L that this was a completely different way to do math. It was a reading way and a doing way. She flipped through the opening pages and noticed that it was a story with information embedded in it. “I am interesting in this book,” she said. Ok, I’ll take that (PS – I love her babyisms in her speech. I know they’re going to disappear soon and I will mourn them!).

We read the “how to read this book” pages and while she wasn’t wild about the comic book format, she was able to persevere through it and continue. We read the four-page lesson on angles – right, acute, and obtuse. I decided to use a hands-on approach to reinforce the concepts. I grabbed a couple of toothpicks and skewers.

First, we used the toothpicks to construct right angles.

Making a right angle

Making a right angle

I wanted to make sure she was thinking about the shape of the angle, so I made a right angle out of skewers, too. I asked L, “Which angle is bigger?” She pointed at the skewers. I asked her to show me the space of the angle. She correctly identified it. I asked her to show me the space of the toothpick angle. She identified it. I then asked her to compare the space of the toothpick angle and the space of the skewer angle, and she replied, “They are the same.” We got to have a great conversation about line segments, lines and infinity versus the intersections of lines and the angle size.

Comparing angle sizes

Comparing angle sizes

We continued reading and L decided to use the toothpicks to show a hidden angle in one of the illustrations. I was glad that she decided to use them for her own purposes.

Owning the manipulatives herself

Owning the manipulatives herself

She also decided to make the three types of angles with her body (the right angle is not quite there, but she kept falling when she tried to make it more accurate!)

Obtuse, right, and acute angles

Obtuse, right, and acute angles

Again, I loved that she took ownership over this portion of the lesson!

Finally, we turned to the pencil-and-paper component of the lesson. Three follow-up practice pages are aligned with the lesson, but we decided that one was enough for today. She used her toothpicks to show the angles in the questions, then identified the angles as acute, right, or obtuse.

Transferring the ideas to paper

Transferring the ideas to paper

I love that she’s beginning to feel more confident in recording her ideas, even when they’re not spelled or formed perfectly.

When she was finished, we decided it was time for a vegan cookie snack. I asked her (as casually as I could manage) what she thought about the books we’d just used.

“COOL!” came the reply. That’s a pretty ringing endorsement…


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