Kindergarten Math

I don’t post as much about what the twins are doing, and I fear this does reflect where my attention tends to run . . . however, there is the trickle-down effect and I hope they are not growing up in complete ignorance.

Dash has been assigned to set the table for breakfast each morning. This is a great chance to deal with concrete quantities. How many people if Papa isn’t here for breakfast? There are three plates in the dishwasher–how many more do you need from the cupboard? If you dropped two forks on the floor, how many would be left in your hand?

Friday nights are our role-playing game nights. The older two are big enough to sit in with the grownups and are even starting to play their own characters, but the twins are sent to play quietly in the other room and then to bed. Last night Dash was playing with Munchkin cards, a game that reduces role-playing to its simplest and silliest aspects. Your character puts on various equipment with bonuses, fights monsters, goes up levels, and gets more treasure. We have played it as a family many times.

Dash can’t read words independently yet, but the cards are vividly illustrated and plainly labeled with numbers that show the size of the monster, the amount of the bonus, etc., and he is very good at reading numbers. (Even 2-digit numbers, which he likes to punch into the scientific calculator and then read off. I have, by the way, no idea when or how he learned this–I guess the trickle-down effect does work.) So he was working it out on his own with a little help.

He got stumped when it came to adding up all the bonuses his character had from equipment to see if he was strong enough to beat a particular monster. Even with small numbers, adding three numbers at once was more than he could do in his head.

Finally I suggested he take the glass gems he was using to keep track of his level and place the appropriate amount on each card–5 counters on the +5 Gatling Gun, 3 counters on the +3 Twenty Gallon Hat. He figured out what I meant from a brief explanation and when I checked on him next, each card was covered with the appropriate number of counters. Then as he battled each monster, he had to compare his total level plus all bonuses with the size of the monster.

It turned out to be the perfect level of challenge for him, as well as keeping him happy through a long evening. And a lot more fun than “Circle the set with more balloons.”

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