Monday, July 16, 2018

Time (age 5)

Exercise:  Benny asked what time travel is (after watching a cartoon).  I then tried to explain to him what time is, using three things he cares about: dinosaurs, himself, and how old he is.  "In the past, you were a baby.  Now you're five.  In the future, you'll be ten.  In the past you were a baby.  Far in the past, there were dinosaurs."

Results:  Not sure.  At the time, he looked at the picture for a while and then went back to his cartoon.  But later, he asked if in the past, he was a baby in his mom's tummy.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Waterford Institute Upstart program (year before kindergarten)

The Waterford Upstart program is web-based software that teaches kids to read.  The software feels clunky and old, but it does the job.  It's relatively complete.  Benny now can read a little bit and this program did more than half of the work

It was frustrating for the first month or two because Benny wasn't very interested in the first few activities.  But once he got used to it, it worked wonders when he was in the mood for it.

Anatomy Book

This book was pretty good.  Benny liked it, asked a lot of questions about what different things are.  Although I don't think he'll remember everything, I do think it was a good introduction.

Addition (age 5)

Exercise 1 (age 5): Benny surprisingly liked this addition video on YouTube.

Results: Benny memorized how to add 1 and 0 to small, one-digit numbers.  He also got exposed to the "+" and "=" signs.

Exercise 2 (age 4):  Flash cards with dots.

Results: Awesome.  Benny understood the concept immediately.  However, he still has to count the dots most of the time.

Zero (age 4)

Exercise 1 (age 4):  I put 2 peanuts in my hand.  I asked him how many peanuts there were.  Then I put 1 peanut in my hand and asked him how many.  Then I took and asked him how many.

Results: Great! He seemed a little confused at first.  I told him there were zero peanuts.  To reinforce the idea, I put 1 peanut in one hand and 0 in the other and told him "There is 1 peanut in this hand and 0 peanuts in this hand."  He seems to understand the concept of zero very well.

Number Square (age 5)

Exercise 1:  I printed a numbers square showing 1-100, but with several numbers missing.  The missing numbers were cut out and I told Benny to tape the missing numbers in place.

Results:  Somewhat good.  He knew which numbers were missing maybe 30% of the time.  He could get most of them with a little prompting.  He really liked this activity and asked to do it again.

Chores / Responsibility (age 5)

Exercise 1 (age 5):  I got Benny a calendar, ask him to clean his toys and give him a star after he does.

Results: Mixed.  I don't always remember to tell him to clean his toys.  And even when I do, he isn't always motivated by the stars.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Sentences (ages 4-5)

Exercise 1 (ages 4-5):  I made sentences describing the location of cookies.  Benny likes cookies.  The idea here is to put in his mind the idea that reading has value.  Not to teach him that, but to make him really value reading.  These sentences had real value to him because if he read them, he could find his way to a cookie.   Note that the flash cards here are a progression over a month or two.  I started with "a cookie is on the bed" because Benny knew every word in that sentence.

Results:  Awesome! I had to point at each word and ask him what it was (and sometimes help him).  But after the first one, he was very eager.  I believe it was around that time that he started asking me what difference words and sentences say.

Exercise 2 (ages 4-5): Simple sentences.  I used flash cards of words that Benny knows in order to create simple sentences.  At first, I pointed to each word and asked him what it was.  Then I asked him to read the entire sentence.

Result: Awesome.  He was able to read some simple sentences, beyond just descriptions of where cookies are.

Bar Chart and Pictogram (age 5)

Exercise 1 (age 5):  I presented Benny with a pictogram.  The X axis had a picture of him, his mama, and myself.  the Y axis had numbers.  And the pictures were cookies (something Benny cares about).  I asked him how many cookies each person had.  I asked who had the most cookies.  Then I traced the number of cookies to the numbers on the Y axis.

Results: Great.  He got the idea.

Exercise 2 (age 5):  I presented Benny with a bar chart similar to the histogram, and with the same numbers and asked him similar questions.  Later, I added to the bars and asked him similar questions.

Results:  He needed a little more help than with the pictogram.  However, he learned to trace over to the left to figure out how many cookies each person had.  By the time I added more size to the bars, he knew how to answer the questions correctly with the new amounts.

Subtraction (age 5)

Exercise 1: I put 3 peanuts in my hand and then asked him "what's 3..." (eat a peanut) "... minus 1"? I repeated with different numbers.  (Repeated with Chex)

Results: Benny was amused by me eating peanuts and looked saying how many were left. 

Exercise 2:  "What's 4 minus 2?" "How do you minus two peanuts?"

Results: So-so. When I tried to ask him "what's 4 minus 2?" He seemed upset that he doesn't know what to do. When I asked him if he can"minus two peanuts", he seemed uninterested, possibly because he was already frustrated. I backed off. Another day, I tried again along him if he can "minus 1 peanut". He ate a peanut and then when I asked him "what is 3 minus 1", he told me how many peanuts were left. Then he ate the two left. I asked him "what's 2 minus 2?" And he explained enthusiastically "ZERO!"

Family Tree (age 5)

Exercise (age 5):  I made a family tree with Benny to help him understand charts and family relationship.  I taped together 4 pages of paper, printed out small pictures of family members, and drew rectangles and lines where the pictures would go.  I put most of the pictures in their place so that Benny could look at it, understand the relationships and guess where to put the remaining pictures.

I used only family members that Benny interacts with regularly so he would care (my family is quite large).  I also didn't distinguish step- and half- relationships as that would complicate things too much.

Results: Awesome!

I showed Benny the partially-complete chart and explained some of the relationships.  He loved it!  I asked him where some of the missing pictures go.  He guessed some correctly (and some wrong).  He asked "Where is Babushka's (grandma's) mom?"  So we got a picture of her and added it.  Benny also drew another box for her dad (who is recently deceased, but I didn't explain that to Benny, nor did I ask for a picture).  We also added another grandma's dogs.

When it was finished, I asked Benny several times the relationships of the different people ("who is Violet's mom?", "is this your cousin?" "who is her mom?") and Benny got a solid grasp on all the relationships.

Words (Age 3-5)

Around 3 years old, I wanted to show Benny that words mean something.  He knew the ABCs pretty well from apps and cartoons, but didn't understand that they represent phonics and that they combine into words.

Exercise 1 (age 3):  I made several flashcards with a word on one side and a picture on the other.  The pictures were things that Benny really cared about at the time - palm trees, fire trucks, Mama, Benny, cracker, cookie, etc.  By using things he really cared about, I could get his attention.

Results: Great! Benny seemed to get the idea that the words represented the objects, although he didn't yet get that the letters made sounds.

Exercise 2 (age 3-5): Wonster Words,  Endless Reader, and Kids Learn to Read.

Results: Pretty good.  He liked one at a time and each seemed to help cement the idea that letters combine to form words that had meaning.  He would get frustrated with not having some of the words he wanted (as with all the freemium apps) so I'd buy premium versions (really good deal in the grand scheme of things).  He got sick of each app after a while.

Exercise 3 (age 4): I spelled the word cookie.  When Benny listened to me spell it, I gave him a piece of cookie.  Then, I encouraged him to say the letters with me and gave him more pieces of cookie.  Then I offered him pieces of cookie to spell the word.

Results: Awesome! He's never forgotten how to spell the word cookie.  And I use it in other exercises now.

Exercise 4 (age 4):  I wrote two words on paper cups. Inside each cup was a contents related to the words, such as a toy or a peanut or a cookie (he knew how to spell cookie at this point so this was a great one).  Then I asked Benny which cup he wants and told him what the words spelled after he chose.

Results: Great.  This really increased his interest in words and he really liked this game.

Exercise 5 (age 4):  Benny loves Lego sets at age 4.  So I printed pictures of Lego sets that he wanted and covered them with stickies of each word that he wanted.  I started off with cheap sets with only two stickies and worked up from there.  I asked Benny what the words were and removed them as he identified the words.  I used words that Benny was reading or that he really liked.

Results: Awesome (eventually).  At first, he got really frustrated and even cried a little.  He really wanted the toy but didn't know the words.  I would help him find the words in Waterford Upstart or in the books his mama was reading to him so that he could identify what the words were.  Eventually, he started loving this game.  Sometimes, he puts the stickies on a picture of a toy he already has just to play this game.

Cialdini's Social Proof (Age 8)

 I want to teach Benny about "social proof" in Robert Cialdini's Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion . Social proof is bas...