Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Fractions Make Friends

We sit side by side at the table, uncommon fare on our plates, hotdogs and Sun Chips. Stuart's chips are gone. No problem, mine are close at hand. His hand reaches over and he snitches! He snitches just one but just one is not enough so, by and by his hand is back again. And again! I say nothing the first time or the second. What are two chips between husband and wife? But as he reaches for the third chip, I lean my body over to shield my plate. I laugh and he laughs and then he makes off with that third chip. "Get your own!" I gripe and he does, but honestly...How hard would it have been to share?

Today I do math with little girls. Division with fraction remainders.

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"How many times does three go into twenty. Use your rods. How many ten rods do you need?"

"Two."

"How many three rods line up under the ten rods."

""Six."

"So does three go into twenty evenly?"

"No, there is a little space left."

"What rod fits in that space?"

"The two fits."

"That's right. So is the answer six-two?"

"No, Mama! It's six and two parts of three. Six and two over three. Six and two thirds!" This stuff is easy for Faith.

Claire looks a little confused.

"Do you understand the two thirds part? It's a fraction. Do you remember what a fraction is?"
Confusion still clouds her face. "It is a part of a whole. Remember last night when we had two cookies, two wholes and you broke them into five pieces? You were making fractions."

The clouds lift. She gets it. "And we were making friends, Mama. Fractions and friends."

She does this math lesson better than I. The cookie scene replays in my mind while we work our way through the numbers. Two lonely cookies on a big plate, stale, leftover from Valentine's Day. "Whoever frosted these cookies come and eat them, they are taking up too much real estate on the counter." The children gather, all five, to look. Rightful owners claim the goods. Without a word, they begin breaking apart their creations into equal pieces. Five children share two stale cookies. This part of my children astonishes me. They hold lightly to possessions and share freely, frequently. All are better at fractions than their hoarding mama with her chips. And all are friends.

3 comments:

Xandra@Heart-of-Service said...

Children learn by example...I suspect that you and Stuart are stunning examples of charity and sharing....unless there are Sun Chips involved.

Xandra

Alana said...

Cute story! I love how you can use every day situations like that to teach your children!

Elise said...

This just really gets me. I love it. So thought-provoking, yet simple. xoxo