Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Color Mixing Math

We don't study every subject every day. We don't study every subject every week. Take math, for instance. After the math grid obsession of several weeks ago, the girls didn't touch any purposeful math activity for weeks afterward.

Sure, they built with LEGOs and blocks. Sure, they did math games on Jump Start. Sure, they played Quirkle and Sorry and Monopoly Junior. Sure, they helped me mix and measure in the kitchen. That's all math. But neither girl felt like doing any traditional math exercises--no Cuisenaire rods, no pattern blocks, no worksheet pages, no abacus, no computation, no word problems. So we didn't.

Everything comes around, however, and if you give it time, everything gets done in its own time, and if you give a kid freedom and choices, eventually she'll choose everything. This I believe.

And that is to explain to you that we are now in the midst of a math renaissance. There are Cuisenaire rods. There are pattern blocks. There are worksheet pages. There is the abacus. There is computation. There are word problems.

There's a new computer math game that has the girls entranced (We're doing the free two-week trial of DreamBox, and so far it's a hit).

Will had me find and print different dot-to-dot puzzles from the internet, because her 1 to 100 dot-to-dot book has grown too familiar.

Sydney declared that Jump Start Preschool was "easy and boring, and I've played all the games," so up she goes, and she's now a kindergartner.

When the girls begin to make these kinds of choices, then I know to offer them more purposeful math activities as projects. I have an actual list, on account of I don't like to have ideas live only in my head. When a kid comes to me and wants to do something together, but she doesn't already have a project in mind, I read to her from the list.

4. Color mixing with food coloring and water.

To do this project, Sydney helped me drag every clean Mason jar out of the cabinet and fill it with water. To color the water, we didn't actually use food coloring, but the True Color Tablets from Steve Spangler Science, a Christmas present for the girls from their Grandma Beck.

We played with these tablets a LOT of ways:

I wrote out equations/recipes:
The girls had to follow the recipe to know what color answered the equation:
They also REALLY enjoyed making up their own complete equations:
 The tablets fizz as they release their color, so it's quite exciting to dump them in then watch to see what you've got:
 To write their equations, both girls wrote out the numbers, but had a lot of fun choosing just the right colored pencil and coloring a swatch instead of writing the color words:
Of course, then the project moved to just dumping in a bunch of color tablets and seeing what muddy dark colors they made, which I allowed this time just for the process of it, but the next time that I purchase the true color tablets I think I'll require them to limit themselves to no more than three tablets per glass jar--more than that, and the color gets too dark to tell what it is.

After every clean Mason jar in the house was filled with colored water, do you think that we just poured them all back out again?

No, we did not! I had a special project in mind for all that colored water, which I'll show you later...


Stef said...

this looks like tons of fun - any painter would LOVE!!

Lesley said...

Awesome! I'm doing something really similar to this next week.