Friday, May 9, 2014

Numbers Woman

Abby has been learning and practicing her numbers for some time now, but just recently she seems to have acquired a new fascination for them. It started with a desire to learn how to count in both English and Spanish, which she can now do up to ten. It progressed to learning the numbers past ten, which for awhile meant working our way to twenty.

All the while she's easily identified all numbers that she can count when she sees them in writing, and has even begun putting together very basic concepts of addition. For instance, she likes to keep a running count of how many people are in the room with her at any given time. "There are three boys and one girl," she will say. "Why are there three girls and one boy, Mommy?"

My answer will invariably be, "Well, your brother and your sister and I are all here, Abby. So how many people does that make?" Out come the chubby little fingers. "Four!" comes the reply.

Then, some months ago she received a book, with overlapping flaps of illustrations grouped into themes, that was designed to teach the numbers up to 100. She read the heck out of that book, even though she could only recite from memory the objects pictured, rather than the numbers themselves. The number one hundred, though, she clearly remembered, emblazoned as it was on the front of the book.

Thus began her mini obsession.

She started attempting to write the number on her Magna-Doodle. More often, though, she would use her train tracks to work out the shape of it along the floor. She likes it backwards and upside-down, but force of habit caused me to rotate the photo in editing before it occurred to me that I would better honor her by showing it like it was.

Her little feet give it all away, though. She's standing in the position that she intended her artwork to be viewed from.

Unsurprisingly, after a week or so of building new one hundreds each day, when she wasn't busy engineering her precious 8-shaped track, she took it upon herself to learn how to actually count to 100.

And so we've been determinedly learning, for the last two days. Knowing her as I do, I should not have been surprised at how quickly she picked up on the pattern, which she had not identified when we merely counted up to twenty, of simply adding the ones place numbers in order onto the end of the ascending tens place values. What's tripping her up and still causing her trouble is keeping her place in a long progression which still feels relatively unfamiliar to her.

Though I often had to coach her on the first day that thirty comes after twenty, forty comes after thirty, etc., by the afternoon today she no longer needed such reminders. She needed only my ear, my encouragement, and occasional prompting when she accidentally skipped a number or two. By this evening, she was on a roll and so proud of herself.

Each time she reached the end came the familiar elated announcement, "I counted to 100!"

"You sure did," I would say, with a smile to match her own.

My little Numbers Gal. She'll be teaching me math someday.


Here's a link to that book I mentioned, in case anyone is interested. It's wonderful, though I must sadly admit that it's being slowly pruned by some of the less careful little hands in my book-loving household.