Friday, February 02, 2007

Saved By Zero

Ryan continues to amaze me with the concepts he is figuring out.

He is certainly not reading yet, but he is discovering the similarities and differences between specific words and relating that back to spelling. An example from today:

"Sleepy, happy. Slee-pppeeee. Ha-ppppeeee. Hey those words rhyme, they both end with the puh and eee sounds! That's P! "

Not bad for not even 5 yet! I think it's a logical progression to go from saying something like that to writing it down or reading a word out loud, but he's shown no interest in that to date. (Although if he were in PreK they'd be calling us in for teacher conferences and insisting on special instruction because he'd be lagging "behind"! Whatever.)

I find it a bit surprising that he is not at all interested in looking at the words written down. He often asks us to spell words out loud and generally refuses any offers to show him the word. He only wants to hear it. I wonder that says in terms of his general learning style.

Another thing that blew me away was the day he decided to write letters. Ryan has never been into coloring or drawing or anything particularly arty. (I remember loving to color as a kid.) Conceive of my surprise back in November when he suddenly wanted to know how to spell the word "poison" and proceeded to write it out with very little help! I saved it for his baby book--"poison"! He is a very unique little boy. :o) That's my guy.

Then he wanted to write ALL the letters so we bought him a placemat with the alphabet on it and he used a washable marker to trace the letters and numbers, not once, but several times! Of course, we had to celebrate as each individual letter (small and capital) was produced! He still plays with the placemat when the mood strikes. I got a couple of pictures from his alphabet achievement which I'll post to the FamBlog in the near future.

He also wrote his name, or at least an "R", on his Christmas Thank You Notes. He can do it when it interests him to do so.

We got some Cuisenaire Rods and the Miquon Math books and have been using them to answer some of his more complicated math questions, such as "What is a thousand?" and "How do you write twelve?" (That's put a 1 and a 2 next to each other, and then I demonstrate with the rods, using 1 ten stick and 2 cubes--haven't quite discussed number place concepts directly yet, but it's a matter of time.) He also loves to count to 100 (or in truth, listen to me count to 100) and it's great to be able to show him the number, too. I expect us to really use these tools a lot in the next few years (although I may be wrong, of course!).

One of the most amazing things he figured out happened last week. We were in the car, glorious car on our way to pick up Brendan. For weeks Ryan has been asking us how to count to zero. We've tried to explain that you don't really count to zero, because zero means that there aren't any more of the thing you're counting, or maybe you're doing a countdown. (Figure we'll hold off on negative numbers until he's got some more of the basics down--tried to show him a number line, but he wanted nothing to do with it.) But "Zero" didn't sink in until last week.

He asked me again to "count to zero" and we went through our usual explanation.

He thought for a minute and said, "So if there are zero 11s, that means zero?"

"Yes! If you have zero 11s, then you have no 11s."

"So if you have zero 8s, then that's zero, too?"


(getting excited)"And zero 7s? Zero?"


He thought hard for another minute and then said in kind of a joking fashion (because he is a very funny guy, don't ya know): "If you have zero mailboxes, then you have zero?" Giggling.

I laughed at his "joke" and then realized that he was exactly right. Numbers have referrents in reality; there's always an implied x. So I said "Yes! Zero mailboxes equals zero!"

Ryan, delighted, said "And zero cars--that's zero! And zero babies, that's zero, too!"

We had great fun imagining Zero times Anything until we got to Brendan's office.

Isn't that so cool? He really got it and you know what? He hasn't asked us one time to "count to zero" since that conversation.

It is so fascinating to see him figure this stuff out. The interest and motivation is all his. Sweet.

No comments: