Are You A Visual-Spacial Learner?
After Rainbow Looming, the kids at Little House on the Co-Op gradually split off into groups: upstairs story-playing with Play Mobile or Lego, running around outside, and so on. K and L had been talking about Minecraft and computer sharing, and had noticed I had a tablet, so I decided to come up with this activity, which I drew up on a large poster taped to a window. My hope was primarily to capture K’s attention as she is the most visual-spacial / move to think / big impact kid of the lot. She was happy to help me paint the large block letters, and then was off. I didn’t invite anyone else to pay attention at all, but just left the poster there to see if anyone would notice it. This method of home learning is sometimes called ‘strewing’, as redhead mum writes here:
leaving things you hope might engage your children around the house.
Sure enough, one of the girls noticed K helping and asked if she could help colour too. Then another asked what it was, and I suggested reading the title. Not everyone in my group likes reading, but a couple tried, and then looked at me questioningly, “What does that mean?” Well, I said, what do those letters look like? “Bubble letters!” said one, “No, block letters!” said another…and then they were off, gone again. H. came over and asked if she could try it. I said sure, just go through the questions and ask me if you don’t understand. Soon enough, each of the kids was interested, some copying the questions, some wanting one-on-one attention, others preferring to help another. Everyone was engaged. To answer the first question, I suggested H. Use the book pictured here to help:
When she figured it out, she chose to colour the three parts in, and then went on to helping the others.
When it came to actually figuring out the math at the end, it made sense to use Lego: manipulatives, and we all talked about whether it was easier and/or more enjoyable to do this using a mathematical equation: 3X3X3=? or 9+9+9 =?, drawings, as in the pictures above, Minecraft to build in virtual 3D or Lego. D joined in last minute for the Lego! What? touch and grab?! Move in space?! So did k!
Everyone agreed that using Minecraft was fun, but using Lego was the best! They all agreed that they were Visual-Spacial learners, and that using Manipulatives or as C said, “using a toy that I am familiar with really helped.”
Not everyone really wanted to complete the arithmetic part of this activity, but neither did they reject it, or feel over-whelmed, going through this process of looking and feeling what a cube is, allowed them to access the abstract math in a way that they wouldn’t have, if I had simply said, “Ok, folks, today we are going to learn what 3 to the power of 3 mean, or three cubed!! Ya know what i mean?
This lesson would have been perfect if I could have added another two components: 1) Large chalk drawings on the street or a wall, and 2) Moving huge blocks in a gym / big muscle room. Both of these whole body activities would have engaged the shakers, movers, and high impact kids that benefit most from moving in space even more!
I never did “finish off” with the teaching component as I would if I’d been doing this in a school setting: Ok, kids, this is acute right? It’s three across, three high, and three deep. It’s 3D, right? it has three dimensions. We can draw it like this. we can say it like this. The math equation is this: 3x3x3, or Three cubed, or Three to the power of Three!!!
Why didn’t I? Hhhm? laziness? They were off doing something else..? they aren’t ready for that info? They don’t really care? I mean they’re only grade 2,3,4 kids! Well, frankly, because there’s no need. My goal was to ignite the notion that there’s more than one way to look at math, that using visuals and manipulatives help, that creating relationships between things they love and know, like Lego and Minecraft and math is the most important. And, that finally giving them the chance to see, look, feel, touch, and make cubeness is the beginning and should be common knowledge long before learning the actual abstract math.
What do you think? I’d love to hear from you. Do let me know in the comments below if you try this with your kids.