Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Learning Chess at 29, and 5. Who knew?

I never learned how to play chess. The rules seemed too complicated. What do you mean the knight moves like an L? And the bishop can shoot across the board in one move?! If my friends played, they didn't tell me about it. It just wasn't on my radar.

That changed last week.

I came across a blog post about using chess as part of your home school, and it was a little light bulb moment for me. Improved logic, you say? Better math and science understanding, you say? Ability to plan ahead, predict outcomes, practice good sportsmanship? Ok!

I think it's important for my own brain that I learn new things and challenge the remaining brain cells I have. I downloaded the free app, which has lessons, tactics training, game play vs. computer and vs. people, etc. (Parents, note that the app has a chat function) So far, I haven't won. I'm appreciating just how hard it is to win.

But that's not the point. I now understand the basic rules and movements, and it's on to learning more strategy with openings, middle moves and closing it down. It is so fun!

I grabbed some books at the library the other day and hopefully they can help.

Meanwhile, Johnny saw me playing a game and was curious. I handed him my phone and let him play the rest of the game vs. the computer. He wanted to learn more, so I found Kid Chess, which has some kid-level tutorials and a computer game called EZ Chess that will basically let the kid win. I don't plan to use that game too much, but I think it helps to cement how pieces can move. Plus, getting a checkmate is a confidence boost and perhaps it's enough to keep the interest going?


Anyway, I'm thrilled that Johnny is showing an interest and I plan to teach all of my children how to play chess. If any of you have advice for me on that front -- recommended books, websites, certain game boards, etc., lemme know. I want to find a set with distinctive pieces. Some I've seen, it's difficult to tell some of the pieces from each other. No good.

Meanwhile, I am on a mission to beat both my husband and my sister. At minimum. I'm ultra-competitive by nature, with absolutely nothing to back it up. Yikes.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Adding on some Math Mammoth

As I mentioned previously, our RightStart math program has been met with some resistance. I adjusted my approach, and decided not to push too hard since hi, early months of kindergarten.

Perhaps since lessons bounce around and use a variety of manipulatives, it's bothering my son? Maybe it feels too jumpy. Hard to say.

We've done a little more with RightStart, but last week, Johnny was doodling some addition. He wanted to know something like 13+13. I showed him how to work it and he thought it was pretty fun, so he made a few more problems for himself.

I printed some addition pages from Math Mammoth to see how he'd like it. It was love. I told him this was actually first grade work and he thought that was really cool that he could do it.

It's too soon to tell if Math Mammoth will replace RightStart for Johnny or if it'll be just a break. I think I should look at RS and maybe pull some concepts and do it without him seeing my teacher's manual. Maybe that's a trigger for him. No idea.

Then yesterday, I didn't do any math with him. We did some other things. He went to his desk in his room and made some math problems for himself. Ok!?

So he did things like 20+20; 1000+1; 100+10; 200+500 etc. He got all but 2 right.

Rather than put an X on the incorrect ones, I took my pencil and put a dot next to them. I said, "I'd like you to take another look at the ones with the dot by it," and he corrected them. I turned the dot into a check mark. He thought that was fun.

Personally, I still love what RightStart is trying to accomplish and I would like to use it for him in some capacity. I'll need to tweak my approach, though.

If you are interested in Math Mammoth, you can get it for superduper cheap. I bought the entire light blue series for grades 1-6 during a Homeschool Buyer's Co-Op sale. You can also opt to buy the pdfs by topic, in the "blue series." For example, the 1st grade level addition is $3.95. WHAT.

Topics in the blue series would be good for reinforcement or a different approach.

There are a LOT of pages in the program, so printer ink is a concern. I've just printed a few at a time, but I might have it printed by some copy shop.