What started out with a plea to get Little Red to finish eating (“you have 5 tortellini left, what happens if you eat one?”) became a lesson in multiplication through dessert. It was one of those amazing moments in which I could hardly believe I was participating.
We began with simple subtraction, the kind you can do with the fingers on one hand, and suddenly Paul, the anti-math himself, said, “how much do you have if you have three plates with three tortellini on each?”
Little Red, without much of a pause, said, “nine.” It was all downhill from there. We tried to keep things simple, reinforcing the basics and not overwhealming him. It was hard to reign in our own enthusiasm. We taught him that when dealing with tens you just add a zero (ten plates of four is four-zero, forty!) And we taught him that in this type of math, multiplication, the order doesn’t matter. Four plates of ten is the same as ten plates of four. We showed him how to diagram multiplication.
Then he turned the tables and tried to trick us by giving us multiplication problems. And then, so as not to leave out his brother, he tried to teach Boy Blue. Boy Blue, for his part, did a great job counting. He also told us that Daddy’s watch said 22 hours. It never stops amazing me how open the minds are of these little ones. I hope I’m always paying attention when teachable moments appear.