Silly Math

One of Fynn's favorite places to learn and discuss new concepts is on th' swing. It's also a good place to test his understanding of things we've covered in th' past.

He's moving, he's relaxed, calm and focused- and having fun. One of his favorite things to do on th' swing is a game he calls “Silly Spelling” where we take turns spelling numbers from one to one hundred. We always start off spelling them correctly, and get sillier and sillier as we go. For example, i'll say 0-N-E, then Fynn'll say T-W-O, then i'll say T-H-I-R-S-T-Y, then he'll start laughing and say “What, that doesn't spell three, that spells…..” He'll try to sound it out, and i'll help him if he needs it. “Oh no wait, that's not right” I say, “T-H-R-E-E”. And back and forth. His spelling can get infinitely more silly than mine. He'll say things like “T-W-E-N-T-Y-N-I-N-I-N-I-N-I-I-I-I-E-E-E” Which makes him laugh uncontrollably. We learned long ago that th' best way to test him is to give him th' wrong answer. If you ask him a question he'll usually just say
“I don't know”- but if you give him th' wrong answer he'll correct you if he knows it. And if you can get him to laugh, well, it's just better for everyone. So, not only do I tell him something wrong, but I tell him something that's wrong and completely ridiculous. He'll start laughing and say, “Oh, that's not right, it's….. That's silly Papa.” And it's great fun, no pressure testing.

So one morning Fynn was quietly swinging, I was sitting by him drinking my coffee, pushing Rowan, when I thought to introduce some basic algebra. “5 + K=10, What's K?” - He got a little smile on his face and said “What?” - I repeated th' question and he got it, “K is 5, that's kind of silly Papa.” - So we did a bunch more that way, real simple ones, just to get him used to th' concept. The problems got more advanced, as well as sillier, as we went on. “18 + T = 6, What's T?” He thought it was kind of silly, but it wasn't making him laugh, which is th' key to success with him. So after a while I say “5 + W = Whale, what's W?” Ah, laughter, now we're onto something, “Oh no wait, that's not right, 5 + W = 34, What's W?” He got a real kick out of this, and said we invented Silly Math. So now when he get's on th' swing, if i'm nearby he wants to do Silly Math. And of course his questions are sillier than mine and often make absolutely no sense whatsoever- but we still have a lot of fun together, and he answers my questions, and tells me when I get the answers wrong, showing that he understands th' concept.

4 + K = Kangaroo, what's Kangaroo?

6 + T = -12, what's T?

Next on the agenda is the mathematical order of operations- 5 + 6 x 10 = 65. This one has been tricky for him as he wants to go in order, but as we swing and work through th' problems together he's getting it… just need to find a way to make it silly.

So, if you get stuck in th' math arena with your kids, try silly math, and tailor it to their interests, it's a lot of fun.