kitchen table math, the sequel: Lynn G on grandma with a pencil

Friday, April 2, 2010

Lynn G on grandma with a pencil

When my littlest kid was about this age, I remember going to a restaurant with my mom (a retired reading teacher). While we were waiting for the food, and everyone was talking about stuff, I saw my mom with a little notebook working through lists of words that she was handwriting and teaching my daughter to sound out.

She picked rhyming families and concentrated on a single internal vowel sound at a time. Then they wrote simple sentences.

By the time the food arrived, my daughter was reading sentences with no picture clues. And every now and then my mom would throw in a new word without warning that was similar and in the same family, but required my kid to look at the letters and think about what was happening.

Good teaching can take place anywhere, anytime, with the simplest of tools. You can keep your technology integrationist. I've got Grandma with a pencil.


Matthew K. Tabor said...

Funny you mention this - my mother admitted to me a week or two ago that the reason we always had different cereals when I was growing up wasn't because of price or preference, it was because we'd read everything on the cereal boxes every morning.

They switched up what they bought because they got bored of reading the same boxes too often. I never even noticed that's what we're doing, but now that I know, I remember always reading the boxes as I ate cereal.

I also remember being young, staying over at a friend's house and being confused when he poured cereal and put the box away before eating. I thought, "How can you not read the box as you're eating?!?"

ElizabethB said...

That's funny, I was an avid cereal box reader, too, and now so is my daughter!

If I put the box away when I thought she was done once and she complained.

Catherine Johnson said...

oh, gosh - me, too

Always, always, always sat at the breakfast table reading the box.

Anonymous said...

Me too.

The box always had to be out. What the heck was on those things?

Maybe they should start putting phonics on the cereal boxes.


Barry Garelick said...

The Chex cereas used to have a little newspaper called the "Checkerboard Square Gazette". They had the kind of items that would cause milk to come out of my nose.

One item that I remember was about a guy who had a ball of string collection that was twice the size of Jupiter. The reason no one knew about it was that he kept it in his basement.

Niels Henrik Abel said...

Well, if you didn't read the cereal box, you wouldn't know how cool the premium was.

I'm pretty sure that's why I read the cereal boxes.

You also wouldn't know how many boxtops were needed to get the cool premium. It seems like the cooler the premium, the worse the cereal tasted, and the more boxtops were required. Quisp had some cool thing that I absolutely had to have, but the stuff tasted awful, and my mother wouldn't let me get a second box with the first one barely touched.

I am scarred for life from never being able to get the Quisp premium.

Catherine Johnson said...

oh my gosh - I think I remember that boy with the ball of string ----

Catherine Johnson said...

If I don't, I now have an invented memory I can look back upon with fondness.

Catherine Johnson said...


Catherine Johnson said...

Maybe they should start putting phonics on the cereal boxes.


As Carolyn would say.

Anonymous said...

Well Barry,

Clearly your cereal choices were more highbrow than mine. I rotated with Cocoa Krispies, Cocoa Puffs, Captain Crunch, and a little Fruit Loops thrown in. I think I was about to pass out right around 10 in the morning. That was probably when math class took place.


Barry Garelick said...

By the time the cereals SusanS mentioned had hit the market, I had lost interest in cereals, and breakfast for the most part. But when I was still eating cereals, I was known to put a tablespoon of sugar on my Rice Chex. And once in a while, I'd have a bowl of Sugar Smacks.

As for "premiums" that Abel mentioned,we called them prizes. And I didn't care for the ones that required you to send in box tops. I liked it when the prize was right in the cereal box. I remember the baking soda powered submarine, which was pictured to be a foot long on the cereal box but turned out to be about an inch. My first taste of corporate misrepresentation.

SteveH said...

"I'd have a bowl of Sugar Smacks."


In my case, the coveted prizes were for cereals my mother wouldn't buy because they were loaded with sugar. Then again, I used to coat my Cheerios with a quarter inch layer from the sugar bowl.

Thanks Matthew for the flashback.

Speaking of breakfast flashbacks, we used to put milk and salt on our oatmeal. When I eventually found out that some people used sugar, I thought it was gross. But don't ask me about Cream of Wheat. They are not pleasant memories.

Anonymous said...

In addition to reading the cereal cartons, I used to do math off of them. I would comparing the percentage of your RDA of each of the nutrients from the with-milk and without-milk column to see what the cereal company said the nutritional value of milk was, and then comparing that to the values on the milk carton. What the exercise really taught me was to be suspicious of numbers . . . there were some pretty significant discrepancies.

LexAequitas said...

Cereal boxes are great for phonics learning -- reading the nutritional information invariably taught me all sorts of exotic words like "thiamin" and "riboflavin" which you would just never be able to decode using whole language. It also taught interesting relationships like citric acid being vitamin C and potassium being vitamin K.

I was never very strong in math as a kid, but it did occur to me that even though the ingredients were listed in quantity order, you could never tell exactly how much of each quantity from the list. So you'd see ingredients starting "corn meal, sugar," and be completely unclear whether that meant it was 95% corn meal and then 2% sugar and 3% the rest, or if it was 53% corn meal and 20% sugar and then the rest. It always bothered me.