Original Math Composition | Coloring Pages
Filling out worksheet after worksheet can be boring and it leaves kids with a very dry perspective of math.
This is the start of a series on how to inspire and cultivate original math composition at home to make math a little less dry.
I mean everyone loves a color-by-number page, but let’s be serious, we all enjoy the freedom of coloring pages the way we want. The same is true for mathematics.
Why Original Math Composition?
Children need to see mathematics as a dynamic playground of fun exploration. No one obtains this by filling out equations that have only one answer. One answer questions tell children there is nothing to think about here. Just memorize.
Having my children compose their own math work has taught them that math is interesting. That there are peculiar patterns waiting to be found. That operations are exciting tools to dissect and reconstruct numbers, "just like a doctor." Yes, kid. Just like a doctor.
For me as teacher, I have gained a lot from letting my kids compose their own math. I use it as a time to observe and connect with my children's budding minds.
I observe which operations my children shy away from and how comfortable they are with renaming and manipulative rods and numbers. I write down my observations in my own math journal and refer to my journal for lesson planning.
If they avoid an operation, I am sure to make time to add a constraint to our family game time. In family study time, I may choose to emphasize this operation. Sometimes, I go to my study group and brainstorm about other ways to present the operation.
And that is thing about doing math this way. It isn't static. With a feedback loop always open, I am connecting with my kids, connecting with my group and connecting with myself. Such a process helps me to meet and adapt to the needs of my kids rather than making my kids adapt to me and my agenda.
So what is a fun way to get your kid composing their own math?
Color by Rod
Taking the lead of the color-by-number fun, I share with you a fun way we create original math composition using coloring books.
Because Cuisenaire rods touch all the generic colors of the rainbow, they make for a great platform for color-by-number pages. Instead of color-by-number, we color-by-rod. (Ironic, eh?)
This works best with simple coloring books like this Crayola series. I picked mine up cheaper at a local big box store.
You don’t want to pick an adult coloring book. Your kid will not sign up for that. You are looking for a coloring book that has a few large spaces to color. The more spaces the more equations the child will need to compose. We don't want to turn this into a painful activity, so less is more.
Let the kid decide what each area should be colored from the available rod colors. Then, the child creates an equation that equals that rod color.
Let your child build the equations using rods or the child can look back at past original compositions in their journal to insert into their page. It's a great way to review and reuse old composition.
It really is that simple. If you have multiple kids, they can exchange pages with each other and color the pages accordingly. If it's just you and your kid, indulge your kid and color his page or sign up dad for this fun task.
You might have fun creating a color-by-rod page for your kid to do, too. Maybe it can focus on an operation your child is avoiding.
Another benefit to this exercise is that it teaches why accuracy and clear notation matters. When we did this exercise the first time, my kids had to confer with one another over questionable compositions. If they did not understand an equation, they were not sure how to a color. This revealed to my kids that clarity is important if they want people to understand them.
Get your own color-by-rod pages FREE plus more printables when you subscribe.
This exercise complements chapter three, Literal Study, of Gattegno’s textbook 1 (FREE here). However, if you find your kid struggling with Chapter 4 and 5, this exercise would be a wonderful way to return to literal study in a way that is fun and engaging.
Any kind of rod you use, Mortensen, Cuisenaire Rods, or Math-u-see, will fit the bill. If you are in our Facebook group, be sure to post your child's color by rod picture! We would love to see!
If you subscribe to my five days to beautiful math, I include a bonus of free color-by-rod pages on the sixth day. So be sure to subscribe!