Numbers by Miss Oh

102px-123_Numbers In the Oh Waily household we pretty much do some sort of formal maths each day.  And on any days that we don’t sit down at our books, we certainly discuss and do mental sums in our real life.
Yesterday and the day before we moved on to addition within 1000 for Miss Oh Waily.  This covered both the simple addition, where none of the numbers added up to more than 9, and also the regrouping of the ones column.

Miss Oh is pretty happy with addition in general, so I thought this would be a simple continuation of the addition we’ve done to date, but I decided to take the opportunity to do a lego-maths demonstration of the regrouping anyway.  This was mostly because she has a bit more difficulty with the subtraction equivalent and I wanted to re-inforce the concept of splitting numbers before we moved back to it next week.

Apart from the fact that both sections were a bit longer than usual Miss Oh got on as expected – no issues and no corrections that weren’t simply a case of briefly misplaced attention.  But over the dinner table, after we had finished eating, I decided to update Mr Oh Waily on her progress.  He did a great job of *wowing* and *awesomeing* her.  I could just see her puffing up as he spoke.
As part of the conversation I mentioned that she was not keen to do the workings on some of the equations, preferring to leave them horizontal and working from her memory rather than creating a column equation.  I had explained to her why it was useful to do this as the numbers became larger, but my Miss can be stubborn about things when she wants to be.
Mr Oh Waily took that as a bit of a challenge and decided to show her why it’s a good idea by giving her a much larger equation to do.  Naturally she struggled when she tried to do it horizontally – losing track of what she was doing – but as you can see from my rather scruffy photograph below when it was re-written in a column-style it proved to be no problem at all.


While I knew she was comfortable using the mechanism of adding I thought, perhaps, the size of the numbers might be a bit of a mental put off.  To be honest, seeing her do this blew both her Dad and I away a little.  (Remember she’s not 7 until August.)
So after we stopped going *wow* at her, she chose to write up some of her own 4 digit addition equations and proceeded to do those.  And the fact that she did pretty well with those inspired Mr Oh Waily to go the whole hog and he wrote out a really silly equation for her to do.  And she did it, even with a bit of self-correction mid-way through.


It is so wonderful seeing that a concept has been grasped and is able to be applied in unexpected situations – the biggest numbers we were doing yesterday and the day before were 3 digit long!  We will continue with our work on this, since My Pals Are Here! work in cycles so that concepts are repeated in sections but with increasing difficulty (or number size) so it will be helpful for Miss Oh to identify place values and so on.

It was rather a remarkable night.

Exemption III

85px-Document-passed.svgSo, on the 15th of July the local MoE office wrote us a letter.

We now have our exemption to homeschool Miss Oh Waily.

I will not tell you that it went smoothly, as it didn’t.  We were requested to provide more information, and frankly I think a little better training in public relations around the manner in which concepts are communicated would not go amiss.

While I thought that our original exemption was pretty thorough, and we received very positive feedback from exemption-writing veterans, we still had a gap or so to fill apparently.  So fill it we did.

However, I must say that the letter writer should perhaps re-take English and work on the tone of her communication.  Seriously, the phrase “There appears to be little academic learning occurring…” is not the most polite way in which to approach the issue of being unable to assess a regularity statement that does not involve a timetable.
Frankly both Mr Oh and I were more than a little miffed about that.  And even more so when we received back the email clarification of what was meant by “academic learning”.  Slightly gobsmacked actually.  Especially in light of the statements made throughout the application regarding the eclectic approach we are taking.  (i.e. we do “formal teaching” of some areas as well as integrated learning of ALL areas.)

Here is the definition as received:

“By this we mean structured lessons where there is formal teaching, particularly in the core curriculum areas of English, Mathematics, Science and Social Sciences.”

To heck with the Arts then! (And don’t get me started on the Sciences!)
As I said to some friends following the receipt of this:
Poor old Mozart then, eh?  Don’t waste your time learning to tinkle on that harpischord boy!  It won’t get you a job in the real world!

Personally my kids aren’t overly musical (in a practical “playing it” way) but they love to listen, dance and sing.  And we do that regularly.  It’s called having fun and your Mum subjecting you to more than nursery music.  You get to hear new languages and sometimes use them, you get to integrate different cultures or historical eras (you know, those pesky social sciences we’re not teaching) into your knowledge bank.  Yeah, I knew my love of jazz, blues and pretty much all sorts of music would come in useful some time.

I have to be honest and say that I find that definition narrow-minded and outdated.   I can’t imagine my life without those whose talents are to be found in the Fine Arts.  What of musicians, artists, actors and their ilk.  Heaven forfend that children be exposed to the full idea of a liberal education from an early age.  What was I thinking?

Oh yes, that I must not teach my kids to read or do maths.  Come on.  Really?  We choose to follow the national curriculum of one of the top 5 countries in the world (for mathematics results) and you think we might be disinterested in teaching academic subjects?  Between us the Oh Waily parents have three degrees and two post-graduate diplomas.  We really couldn’t give a flying toss about academia then.  Or continual learning.  Or following your interests.

The mind boggles.

Really.  It does.

Still, with a bit of a nudge and a bit of standing our ground on the regularity statement (i.e. repeating ourselves with a smidgen more clarity – since clearly the reader didn’t quite pick up on the information first time around) we got there in the end.  Essentially without compromise, just a touch more clarity & with a tone of being offended.  Which we were.

So there we are.  Official homeschoolers from Miss Oh’s next birthday.  Yay!

Night writer

Every now and then Miss Oh Waily gets so tired during the day that she ends up taking a nap.  This isn’t ideal because it naturally pushes out the other end of the day with a child who should be in bed and sleeping at her usual time not being the least bit tired.

A while back I succumbed to Miss Oh Waily’s solution to this problem.  She asked for pen and paper and the side light on.  She proceeded to sit in bed and draw until she became tired enough to put it aside and fall asleep.  This was fine, she’s in bed, quiet and I get some end-of-day personal time.  Mostly.

So a few weeks back this happened again, but she asked for the “special” pens rather than the usual pen I had been giving her.  I was a bit dubious, but thought that it would be a good test to see if she could take care of very fine tipped markers.  I gave her the pens.  The next day she showed me some of what she had done and asked to do it again that night.

The end result, which you will see below, took her several days of half an hour (or so) sessions.  She instigated it.  I did not help her in any way.  She had decided that she wanted to make it for her very favourite teacher at our daycare and was determined to finish it.  The only influence I had was in suggesting that she draw the cover page.  Here is Brave as copied out by Miss Oh Waily.

She insisted that it be laid out on her blankie, so please excuse the background.  I also had to take a series of quick photographs as she wanted it made up to take to her teacher that day.  Which we did.

The cover page:
Cover Page

The First Two pages:
First two pages

Remember, she is writing on scrap paper as I was expecting her to be drawing and doodling. So not a line in sight for her to keep her words and sentences (not too much punctuation going on, as you can see) level.

The Last page:
Last page

The Little Writer
Cheesy grin

Turns out when she has a goal, she’s a stubborn little madam.  Even though I have been teaching her the rounded a, she wanted to copy the book’s ‘a’, and the same with the ‘g’.  She had to do it like the book.

I have no idea why she decided to do this, but I’m all for anything that will get her interested in writing some more.  A lovely surprise from my very lovely little girl.

Picture Tracing

A little while ago this post from The Wonder Years crossed my feed reader.
It inspired me to try window tracing with Miss Oh Waily a couple of weeks ago.
I visited the stained glass website mentioned in the post, and printed off some nice, simple images for the purpose.  And what nice simple images for colouring in they would make too.

Naturally we could not see the elephant and not choose him, so along with a slightly more complicated unicorn and a very simple butterfly, these were the images we chose for tracing.

Pick a picture

A few pieces of sticky tape later and they were up on the windows, ready to go.   It was quite the learning curve.  I was worried that the regular paper we were going to use would not work unless the image was on the brightest window, so Miss Oh Waily needed her sunglasses to work on the elephant.  Poor chook.

Here she is in action.  As you can see she is still happily interchangeable with her hands.  The vast majority of the time she uses her left, but when things get to be too awkward she switches out to her right.  I hope she is able to keep this up, it will make for great versatility.


Here is the artist with her final result.  As you can see it got quite wobbly at points and the felt pens we used were quite thin and didn’t give a nice rounded feel to the tracing.  I also think that the elephant was too high up for her to do the entire drawing without fatigue.
Finished elephant
And here, with foot added, are the three traced images.  As you can see from butterfly, little hands wanted to take it down from the window and unfortunately managed a little tear.
Traced Pictures

The lessons learned from this first attempt were:
1.  You don’t need to blind your child with bright sunlight in order to do this.
2. Use a nice thick felt pen, or similar, to help with following the lines.
3. Make sure the height works, it is tough on the arms to have to be kept up for too long.  So a simple image, less lines to follow, and low down for a beginner or smaller child.

It would be nice to have a light-box and do this again, but in the comfort of a horizontal position.

What sort of new art are you trying in your home?

Moveable Alphabet

Miss Oh Waily has always been in love with numbers, with the odd little bit of interest in letters thrown in just for variation.  I have been waiting patiently for her to show her sensitive period for reading and interest in all things writing.  Would she oblige me? No, not really.

So, in true lack of patience style, I have begun to work up more opportunities to stimulate her interest in letters.  We have had the sandpaper letters for some time now, and have had a variety of applications for the iPad for about the same amount of time. These have been used quite happily.  We have a moveable alphabet app for the iPad, but I wanted something tactile too.  However, I didn’t want to pay over NZ$ 100 for a nice wooden set of type just on the off chance that it wouldn’t be used at all.  Instead I chose to visit Montessori Print Shop and pay for a downloadable version that included lesson instructions.

I know I could have created a simple set for myself, or used a free one from the internet, but seriously at the price charged by MPS it would have taken me more time and effort than this modest outlay to gain a variety of alphabet colour options and find, then format, all of the picture images included.

The hardest part of putting all of this together was finding a box for storage.  In the end I had to go with a box in which the letters sit at a slant rather than lie down in.  Other than that one hitch, the semi-homemade moveable type is now available for use.  Here is what it looks like:

Moveable Alphabet

And here are some of Miss Oh’s efforts with the pictures and alphabet.  Can you tell that she likes the capital letters?

Letters 1

And what would our photographs be like if some of the soft animals didn’t get in on the act?
The "at" words

We started with the “c m a t” combinations and extended it to include all of the simple three letter “at” words.  Miss Oh seemed happy to do this, but I think is still reserved about her letters enough that it will be done with my encouragement and participation for a little while longer.

So long as it is fun and not a chore for her then we will keep it up.

Object Box Alternative

This past week I thought I would try again with Miss Oh and letters.
She knows their names and most of the sounds.  We play I Spy to help with sound recognition and for fun, but other than that and the odd bit of writing Miss Oh is just not that bothered about them.

It isn’t a great concern to me.  She likes books and having stories.  She likes me to point out the words.  She even asks me to write messages for her to copy, especially for cards she makes.  So it isn’t as though she is totally disinterested.   But I thought I would give it another nudge with a different game.  This is a home made alternative to the Object Boxes.  For those unfamiliar with this aspect of Montessori, here is a link to some details about it and a working example of someone using it.

Now I don’t have the luxury of access to lots of miniature objects.  Cost and actual existence of them being the main issues.  Unlike our American cousins we simply don’t have the population base to stock lots of these little knick-knack toys and at a tiny cost too.
So, my home made version was part I Spy, Treasure Hunt and Object Box.

I took a medium sized basket and added one of the sandpaper letters to it.

Empty M

Then Miss Oh was asked to go find 5 objects from around the house that started with the “muh” sound.  And this is what she brought back.


And for those of you who can count, yes there are only 4 objects.  I would be the fifth, but it is hard to be in and take the photograph at the same time without a tripod.

We took turn about.  Miss Oh chose another of the starting letters (c, m, a, t) for me to find, and it made me more aware of how difficult the game can be, despite obviously knowing a large number of nouns.

And here is her other effort, the C box.


She really enjoyed this, so it will be on the list of games to continue to play while Master Oh is having his middle of the day siesta.

What games do you play for fun that helps your kids learn about their language?
I’d love to know.