Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Bud takes the cake

I've mentioned before that Bud has trouble grasping math concepts. His teacher and I have been working on ways to make math problems more accessible to him, and one of our first challenges has been trying to capture Bud's attention long enough to give him time to think about the question being asked.

This weekend, Bud's math homework included four word problems. His teacher had added a note for me: "Do you think you could adapt these types of problems with Teletubbies or Curious George's bananas?"

It sounded like a workable solution to me, so before we got started I sat down at the computer and re-worked the questions to make them more Bud-friendly.

So, for example,

Ruth had 7 stickers. Mrs. Rhoton gave her 3 more. How many did Ruth have in all?


Laa Laa had 7 flowers.
Po gave her 3 more.
How many flowers does Laa Laa have all together?

Bud read the whole problem out loud to me. Then he went back and read the first line ("Laa Laa had 7 flowers") again. I pulled out a blank sheet of paper and drew a picture of Laa Laa. Bud was fully engaged. Together we drew seven flowers next to Laa Laa.

Bud read the next line: "Po gave her 3 more." I drew Po, then together we drew three more flowers. Bud added dialogue: "Ee-ah," said cartoon Po; "Oh, thank you, Po," said cartoon Laa Laa.

Bud read the last line: "How many flowers does Laa Laa have all together?" I had cartoon Po say goodbye to cartoon Laa Laa, and I drew a border around Laa Laa and all her flowers. Bud and I counted the flowers together, then we talked through the math problem that our picture represented as Bud wrote at the bottom of the page:

7 + 3 = 10

Feeling confident, we moved on to the next problem, which was originally:

Mo is 6 years old. Her sister Ann is 14 years old. How much older is Ann?,

but now read:

Po is 6 years old.
Tinky Winky is 14 years old.
How much older is Tinky Winky?

I guessed that this kind of comparative thinking was going to present a greater challenge for Bud, so I tried to make the abstract concept of age a bit more tangible.

Bud read the first sentence: "Po is 6 years old." I drew a picture of Po next to a big birthday cake, and we counted together as I drew six candles on the cake.

Bud read the second sentence: "Tinky Winky is 14 years old."

"Po is six years old, so she had six candles," I said slowly. "But Tinky Winky is fourteen years old. So, what does Tinky Winky's cake need?"

"Frosting," Bud replied.

Okay, here's the thing. I will grant you that math is not Bud's strong suit. But it's hard to argue with that kind of logic.


kirsten said...

not even wrong.

love it! sounds like he's getting there - good luck!

Wendy said...

That sounds about right to me! :)

My oldest daughter is having some trouble with math this year. Math has become so focused on word problems. I didn't like them when I was in school either!

Daisy said...

I love it. Bud has logic. maybe not bath logic, but logic all the same.

kristina said...

And don't forget the sprinkles........

Lisa said...

Is it wtong to hope you'll get the big icing rose on your piece of cake when you are 40? Mmmmmm...icing.. I have thought, now I know... Bud is brilliant.

mcewen said...


Anonymous said...

I would have been so much better at math if you had been my teacher using a method about things that were concrete and of interest to me. Word problems that read, "If Susie has ten bananas and Jack has 40 bananas how many more bananas does Jack have than Susie?" I would spend time worrying why Jack had so many more than Susie. Is Susie in trouble so she didn't get as many? Is Jack a better child than Susie? And why is that train headed to Boston loaded with oranges?!

mothersvox said...

Brilliant! Totally brilliant.

Will you come and teach Sweet M that more than and less than thing?

We've been drawing the pictures that go with her homework, but somehow the "more than" and "less than" comparison is really a hurdle . . .

Today we were trying to explain "immigration" . . . I'm going to do a post about that later. . .

melody said...

Love his logic.

I, too, have one living on the spectrum whose logic is not to be argued with. :) Once I talked like a pirate while encouraging his physical therapy exercises at home. Without missing a step he said "Pirates usually go to hell".


BTW glad to have found your blog.

Angel said...

you really CAN'T argue with that logic! That little boy definitely knows what is IMPORTANT in life! Numbers are okay, but frosting rocks!

Connie Deming said...

This is wonderful. :)

It reminds me of something my son said when he was ten. He had (AGAIN!!) dumped shampoo all over our only nice wool rug (sensory neeeeeeds!!), and as we were washing up at the sink (he's excellent at pulling, but needs hand-over-hand help for pushing and scrubbing), I noticed his eyebrows arching up over the base of the mirror above the sink. He was jussssst tall enought to stand on tiptoe and was studying glimpses of both our reflections in the mirror. As usual, I sat him down with his letterboard, asking questions about what was important to remember about asking first before taking, etc. And when I asked "So, what have you learned just now?"
He typed, letter by carefully clarified letter,
"I learned I look like you."

Phoebe Gleeson said...


Cindy Ericsson said...

So you have proof that Bud has math and logic skills as well as correct priorities!

I read the post you linked to, and I thought Fluffy's answers made perfect sense for the target audience.

charmian said...

I've been putting Russ' word problems in Sonic the Hedge Hog format (note: I hate anime )and his spelling words as well. It works, except for abstractions.

Tonight I baked a cake for Raphael's 524th birthday -- the excitment over which got Russ out of bed real early. Russ' babysitter and summer camp aide brought her younger Brother (14) and her long suffering boyfriend, who drove 150 miles to see her, because what's a party without guests?

People are really, really good when you tell them how and the event was perfect until BF said "well, Russ, your Mother is throwing us out of here..."

You should have seen the look of disbelief and shame my son threw me! I said "Geoff, tell Russ you're being silly" and we recovered, but our kids are so literal we're always one phrase away from disaster.

I guess Bud and frosting got me on this ramble. I'm coming down off a bad school evaluation.