September 26, 2013

Poem Study: "Hearts Are Like Doors"

Here's another poem from First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind. It's an old, anonymous rhyme called "Hearts Are Like Doors."

photo by Jorge Diaz
Hearts, like doors, will open with ease,
To very, very little keys,
And don't forget that two of these
Are "Thank you, sir" and "If you please!"


Similes and Metaphors

When I teach this poem, I talk about similes and metaphors. The first line relates hearts to doors using the word "like." This is a straightforward simile. A simile is a figure of speech that rhetorically transfers aspects of one word to another, using "like," "as," or another similar word. A metaphor, like a simile, compares or relates unlike words, but it doesn't necessarily utilize a comparing word such as "like." You could say that all similes are metaphors, but not all metaphors are similes.

The other metaphor in "Hearts Are Like Doors" is harder to pick out. "Thank you, sir" and "If you please" are two of the little keys that can open a heart.

Young children can learn about similes and metaphors, but have a hard time using them skillfully at first. My little guy started with "That wall is white like this table." Not bad, but few people reading this sentence know how white our table or wall is.

To help your child understand these figures of speech, try starting a simile and asking your child to finish it: "As cold as ___." As fast as ___." The clouds are like ___." If you need some inspiration, here is a pdf simile worksheet. You have to register to get rid of the nag screen, but you can see enough to get some ideas.


Other Teaching Points

  • Manners: Brainstorm other polite "keys" that can open people's hearts.
  • Punctuation and Phrasing: Observe and punctuation provided in the poem. "To very (pause) very little keys." There is no punctuation at the end of the third line. The "these" rhyme is enough to indicate the end of the like. There is no need to pause.
  • Bible Connection: In Revelation 3:20, Jesus says, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me." The door in this passage is often thought of as a person's heart door.
I've also written poem study guides for Christina Rossetti's "The Caterpillar" and the anonymous "Mr. Nobody." Please check them out, and feel free to leave a comment below.

September 24, 2013

Let's Hope They Have Questions

Christopher Danielson is a math teacher and teacher trainer whose blog is always thought provoking for me as a teacher. He turns the "Any questions?" question on it's head like this:
See, in math classes asking questions is usually a sign that you have not learned.
“Any questions?” is a signal to students to speak up if they don’t get what has just been explained.
We have it all backwards.
It shouldn’t be, “What questions do you have?” [I hope you have none so that I can tell myself you learned something.] 
It should be, “What new questions can you ask?” [I hope you have some because otherwise our work is having no effect on your mind.]
I'm going to apply this right away with my own kids and my other students. Every lesson will end with a variation of "What question do you have that you couldn't have asked before this lesson?" 

Read the rest of Danielson's article.

September 16, 2013

Number Line Addition Game with Dice

A friend told me the other day that her first-grade son was discouraged about math. He is having a hard time memorizing addition and subtraction facts within 10. He was calling himself stupid and saying that he was no good at math. How sad to see a little guy developing a math complex.

Anyway, she asked me for some tips. I shared with her a game that I had played earlier in the week with my own son. It's great practice for addition facts within 10, especially plus 1, plus 2, and plus 3, but can be adapted easily to subtraction or to numbers up to 20. It's from Singapore Math's Primary Mathematics 1A (affiliate link).

  • A number line 0-10 (or 0-20) with squares big enough for game tokens. (We
    Post-It Notes Turn Dice into Math Dice
    used Professor Plum and Colonel Mustard from Clue.)
  • Game tokens.
  • A die (number cube) with stickers (two each) labeled +1, +2, and +3 stuck onto the sides. Depending on the skill you want to target, you can replace the stickers with -1, -2, -3, or whatever.
  • Each players token starts at zero for addition or ten for subtraction.
  • Players take turns rolling the die and moving their tokens up the number line by the amount shown on the die. For example, if they are on 2 and roll a +3, they say "Two plus three equals five."  If a player lands on another player's spot, the other player's token goes back to the beginning. 
  • The first player to reach the goal wins the game, or a point. If a player overshoots the goal, the player's token goes back to the beginning. 
 You can draw your own number line, or use my simple 0-10 or 0-20 printable number lines (pdf).

Do yo have any recommendations for fun ways to practice math facts? Share in the comments.

September 6, 2013

Go Fish! Number Bonds Version

Our youngest is doing Singapore Math 1 this year and is learning number bonds now. Number bonds, are simply sets of three numbers—two parts and a whole—that go together, like 3, 2, and 5. They are usually represented something like this:

When children learn this one number bond, it becomes easy for them to memorize the fact family 3+2=5, 2+3=5, 5-3=2, and 5-2=3. It also helps later to be able to break numbers down to make them easier to work with.

On to the game. My little guy brought out his set of Go Fish cards last night after dinner and we decided to play "Go Fish to Make 10." (We could have decided to make any number.) You've probably got the idea already, but instead of fishing for pairs of identical cards, you fish for pairs that make 10. For example, if you have a 3 in your hand, you ask for a 7. Don't forget before playing to pull the cards out of the deck that won't work. Last night we had to take out the 11s and 12s.

Above is the Numbers Go Fish Game that we have [amazon affiliate link]. The cards are large and sturdy, the numbers are clear, and the pictures are interesting. A regular deck of playing cards works fine too, but I like having zeros and ones (not aces).

It's nice to have another game to practice number bonds and fact families. I've previously written about others like Salute, Eleven, and Number Bonds Dominoes. All you need for these games is a deck of cards or some dominoes. Please share your favorite ways to practice number bonds in the comments area below!

September 5, 2013

How's your ear for languages?

This is a fun game to see how many languages you can recognize by listening to 20-second snippets. The variety of sounds that people make when they communicate is amazing. I got 450 points on my first try, getting tripped up by Tongan, Yiddish, and (gulp) Portuguese.

Try the Great Language Game!