Teachable Moments: Pillow Math & Other Opportunities Abound.

We are finally back from our big adventure at PunPun, a sustainable farm one hour north of Chiang Mai. Our stay was spectacular in so many ways and I will be writing a more comprehensive post about our time there. Here’s a sneak peek: Photo by my 5-yr-old

PunPunFarm Kids CC

While I am still catching up on the backlog of emails and commitments after an amazing break from wireless and unlimited kbps lands, I want to share an important lesson I re-learned during our trip.

Teachable moments are everywhere.

Sometimes as homeschooling parents –based on my vast experience of stalking online groups– we worry we aren’t giving our kids enough, that we aren’t prepared enough, that we don’t have all the things we need in order to teach them what they need to learn. When I started out this year, I was obsessed with lesson plans, curriculums, and having the right manipulables. I worried how I would manage with a limited budget. (Read anyone who wants to donate or gift me a Montessori moveable letters set, don’t hold back!) But in truth I was worrying for nothing; some of you may already have realized I could get paid for worrying, I am such an expert at it.

When I stopped trying to bring school home and let go, things naturally started to happen. Once I was fully oxygenating my brain instead of panicking about how much I was covering and just watching my kids play, I could jump in when they asked and see where I could naturally fit in letter, number, language learning among other things.

Here are a couple examples:

1. From a morning chat to vocabulary building & basic math concepts.
Mondays are French days in our house and I was talking with P while halfheartedly trying to make my bed. I am not sure how, but I used the word plus in French, meaning which means both more and “+”. My daughter asked me to explain the word. I used moins or less as a contrast but it wasn’t enough for her to understand. Finally I looked around and grabbed the four pillows I was fluffing. We divvied them up a few times, with her having more and then less than me.  We talked about adding them to her pile. We also had equal amounts. I then talked her through other verbal examples of more or less things, like who got to hold the chicken more at the farm, etc. Finally we found a pen and paper and looked at the + and – signs and wrote out the basic pillow additions we did. Ending the lot with a small pillow/tickle fight.

Teachable: Pillow Maths

2. I wanted to review some letters with something other than paper letters. As I was re-organizing toys, I came across a travel scrabble set we have yet to use. The girls loved grouping similar letters. Then counting how many of each they had and then putting them into order. Yes the star and pink boxes distracted them briefly, but hey, it’s all a work in progress.

Teachable, Scrabble Letters Alphabet

And yes, we always play scrabble in pink ballroom competition dresses. Don’t you?

I’ll put more examples in the comments as they crop up. I am just so tired I can’t think of them now. And please share your own!

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11 thoughts on “Teachable Moments: Pillow Math & Other Opportunities Abound.

  1. What a great article! This is exactly the kind of thing that I try to explain to parents all the time – that you can demonstrate, explain, play, teach as you do almost anything. I love how you were really listening to your kids, too. That is how you spot a teachable moment, by listening carefully. I hope you don’t mind if I use your stories as examples when I talk to parents. I’ll share it with them now on Twitter!

  2. I think teachable moments are a lot more valuable then we think – when our children are receptive and listening, they can learn more in 5 minutes than in one hour of “instruction”. Love the pillow math idea!

  3. One thing I learned about homeschooling is that, the kids come with brains and gifts. A lot of the teaching is by example. I love the fact that you are able to travel and take schooling everywhere you go!

  4. I love this post!! I’ve been learning the same things and I could completely relate to the stress of not feeling prepared! I found the idea of homeschooling much more intimidating then the actual doing. I love your pillow math session – well done!

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