Math Monday: What’s cooler than a number line? A number CIRCLE!

I’ve written before about the Naturalist’s non-linear type of thinking, especially in regards to math. This has made finding a math program impossible, since they are all based on a number line. I compared her style of thinking more ouroboros symbol than linear.

As nervous as it made me to drop all math curriculum, I’d read enough John Holt to know that first I needed to trust her rather than force her into doing a curriculum that was unsuited for her style. Working with numbers ‘naturally’–doing things like cooking, sewing, shopping, etc., gave her a great number sense and literacy, which I hadn’t seen before, and life was good.

Then, I happened upon a Vedic Math book. I’d abandoned my search for math curriculum from anywhere here in the West, and had gone Eastward. Vedic math comes from India and is quite trippy compared to how we learn it over here. It is mostly done mentally (great for kids who don’t like to write), working from left to right (great for speed and harder to get confused), and based on breaking numbers down into smaller units (nice and simple). When I leafed through the book, instead of a number line, I saw a number circle, like this one:

Vedic 10 point circle

It’s a vedic 10 point circle. Just like the Ouroboros symbol, only for math! I immediately checked out the book and brought it home to study and share with the kids. Naturalist immediately responded to it. For instance, in the above 10 point circle, you see the circle is broken up into 10 places. Directly across from each number is a corresponding number, that coincidentally add up to 10 in every case. ::pause for effect::

This was quite dramatic for both Naturalist and myself because up until we saw that circle, we each would add numbers by adding on by one. 7+3 was us going, “seven, eight, nine, ten.” 7+4 was us going, “seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven.” It’s very laborious to do it this way, but that’s the only way we knew to do it. Finger counting at its finest. All of a sudden, we realized that if we could remember which numbers added to 10, it was a jumping off point. 7+4 was just 7+3 (automatically 10) + 1. 7+5 was just 2 more than 7+3, and adding 2 on to 10 is much more automatic than counting up by fingers. By pegging numbers that add up to 10, we saved our mental energy and could quickly work with numbers. I suspect that most of you reading this already do that, Golfer and Hubby (who are great at math) already had figured it out. I didn’t realize they were using a basic algorithm to do math so speedily–I always wondered how they could count up so fast, lol.

Once Naturalist and I grasped the concept of making 10, we quickly learned how to apply this to doing MULTIPLICATION! ::pause for effect:: Did you hear that? I said MULTIPLICATION! The two of us! At the table! Doing multiplication! Without crying! Here’s a quick tutorial to explain how we did it. In fact, because multiplication had tortured us for so long (don’t even get me started on how I didn’t get an ice cream party with the other 4th graders who had memorized their facts up to 12, while I was still stuck at my 3 tables 😦 ) we did it while giggling, like, “Look at me! I can do it!”

And this is how our math program started. Encourged by our newfound success with addition and basic multiplication, Naturalist and I decided this Vedic math stuff was worth learning more about. Golfer is always up for doing math, and he was all in. So, every morning, after we eat breakfast, we clear the table, make some hot chocolate, and do math for (I’m not kidding about this…) AN HOUR! Sometimes more. It’s not uncommon for Naturalist to spend longer than Golfer doing math, because the patterns and number relationships are simply delightful, especially for someone who was so tortured by it before.

Here’s a link to the first Vedic Math book I discovered: Vedic Mathematics Teacher’s Manual, Vol. 1

Other great vedic (or, vedic-ish) books we’re enjoying:

Arithmetricks: 50 Easy Ways to Add, Subtract, Multiply, and Divide Without a Calculator

Rapid Math Tricks & Tips: 30 Days to Number Power

Speed Mathematics Using the Vedic System

The highest recommendation for any ‘education’ type book is one from an unschooler, simply because if my kids didn’t like it, we wouldn’t be doing it. For an hour! Every day! If you have a math phobia, have dyscalculia, greatly dislike math, or have a child who is any of those things, definately check Vedic Math and these books out.

Quick math trick to divide any number by 5:

23 divided by 5
take the number. (23)
double it. (46)
place a decimal point one place to the left. (4.6)
There’s your answer!

83 divided by 5
83+83= 166

77 divided by 5
77+77= 154

You can do the same for 50, 500, 5000, etc. Just keep moving the decimal number over to the left equal to the digits in your number.

Viva la Math!