After some thought and experimentation, I’ve decided to make our homeschool math time (mostly) game based. With just one (highly extroverted) kid it has already made the dynamic of math time more fluid, social, fun, interactive, and conversational and a LOT less like me as a vulture looking over her shoulder.
I started by looking at John Golden’s (@mathhombre) gold mine of math game resources and then followed my nose to Daniel Finkel’s (@MathforLove) games. I printed out four and showed them to my kid. She picked a card game called Twelves.
Some background: When we homeschooled back when she was in 1st and 2nd grade she had deadly mental math skills. She could go into a store and add up multiple three-digit purchases in her head to evaluate whether or not she had enough money to get what she wanted. Sadly, this skill has gone away over the years. So I was not at all surprised to hear in our first run-thru of the new game (use any combo of operations to make 12 from four cards):
“I’m bad at division! I hate math! Just give me a worksheet!!”
Persevering without so much as a quaver, I ignored her protests and very soon she was right back in the mental math saddle. Best of all she was flexing her number-thinking muscles in a way that I haven’t seen for a long, LONG time.
I think we’ll stay with games that (re)build number sense for now. She’s been thinking informally about integers and “negative infinity” for a while, so I’ll be looking for other card or dice games on that topic.
I will also keep a pack of cards and some dice in my bag from now on.