Or how I solved a maths problem.
Sophie is happy. She grins from ear to ear. “I’m off to do some maths, Mum!”
What a change from a couple of weeks ago. Not long ago, she was battling her way through an online maths course. But no more. After some thought and reflection, and talking to myself sternly about what feels right and what makes sense, I have given Sophie permission to turn off the computer and ignore the ‘perfect’ and structured maths course we have subscribed to.
For a few days, maths was ignored. I sat quietly thinking about the whole problem. Then I remembered a book that has been lying idle on our bookshelves for a long time. I grabbed it and waved it under Sophie’s nose.
“What’s that about, Mum?”
“Shapes and patterns. How would you like to draw some beautiful tessellating patterns to colour in?” I quickly opened the book at a page of impressive star shapes. Draw? I’d said the right word. Sophie is addicted to drawing.
“Do you think I could draw those?”
“Of course,” I encouraged. “Easy! You’ll just need to borrow Dad’s tin of drawing instruments.”
Sophie disappeared with the book. She hunted out all the right equipment and for the past few days, she has been creating. And while she’s been drawing, she’s been learning about 2D shapes, angles and degrees, the different types of triangles, the parts of a circle, how to use a compass, a protractor…
“When you get to the section on 3D shapes, you could construct some out of card and then thread them into a mobile. Perhaps you could use the scrapbooking cardboard - all those beautiful colours and the glitter card too - and beads…” Sophie’s face lights up. Her mind is turning over all the possibilities. She looks at the pictures in the book. She decides she loves geometry.
But what is this wonderful book?
Many years ago, I found a copy of Geometrical Patterns by Richard Slade in our local library. I borrowed it and Felicity, like Sophie, loved getting out her instruments to construct the different shapes. I borrowed the book again and again. Then one day, I stumbled over a second-hand copy in a St Vincent de Paul shop. I quickly handed over a dollar before any other maths loving mothers saw it, and returned home with my treasure. I found a space on the shelf…. And there my book has languished for a long, long time. Do you ever do that? Buy something spectacular, something you feel will change your homeschooling life and then never use it?
But the book has been rediscovered and Sophie loves it.
The book was printed in 1970 and has no impressive colour photos. Everything is in black and white, but that doesn't matter. I don’t know if it is still in print but I have found a site which is advertising lots of second-hand copies for very little money. Please follow the link if you are interested.
And what happens when Sophie’s interest in geometry comes to an end? I am hoping to track down some more books that use mathematical concepts in useful and interesting ways. Any suggestions will be gratefully received!