Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional. ~Chili Davis
Today we spent the whole day decorating a special birthday cake for my Generous Gentleman. We worked at it from 9am until 2.30pm when my Ess was adamant she would soon be having a rest, yet at the same time so willingly helping with packing and tidying up.
Seeing as we are exploring division in our mathematical thinking at the moment I decided that baking and decorating a cake with multiples of evenly divided lollies using an old-fashioned recipe handed down to me via Mum from my Gran would be motivating and inspirational. This was just such a fabulous decision as Ess took on the whole project with ease and I took on the role of facilitator/supervisor. I just love that role and have been longing for my family to reach the stage where I could assume that.
First task was to make icing. The recipe required Ess to measure ¼lb butter providing a fabulous mathematical thinking opportunity. Having just completed a unit on measurement whereby Ess had learnt all about grams and kilograms, there could be no better opportunity to extend that learning into incorporating the old imperial system used by her grandparents (and myself in my childhood), just after a visit from Granny. Armed with the information I provided her that one pound of butter (1lb) is equal to 16 ounces (oz) she quickly counted out her favourite pip squeak pencils to discover she needed to weigh out 4oz butter.
Then came the fun part: creaming the butter with a pound of icing sugar, and some stiffly beaten egg whites to make the icing.
Each carriage of the train required a different coloured icing to yet again Ess was required to measure and divide her icing before she coloured it. One whole bowl of icing needed to become four even bowls of icing. This she did entirely independently.
After watching her mother ice most of the carriages, with a whinge or two of frustration thrown in here and there, (I just find the placing of the icing onto the cake the most horrible part of cake decorating!) Ess quickly took over the role and finished icing a carriage by herself while I attended my baby.
Upon assembly of the cake my older pair of girls each assumed mathematical roles. Little Eee counted out the paddle pop sticks and laid them as train tracks. She also sorted the smarties into colours, while Ess counted out and multiplied and divided her sweets until she had an appropriate number per carriage. "Hmmm, one pack of mint slice biscuits divided between four carriages. Do I need to open the second pack? Will there be enough bikkies for each of us to have a bikky now?
The jellybeans loaded up on each carriage were great to use as counters as we explored division a little further with our Singapore Maths workbooks, concretely representing the pictorial division problems contained therein. Receiving a jellybean per each correct maths problem proved great motivation as well. I was amused when Ess decided she had completed enough maths problems because she now had enough jelly beans. It just happened to be before one of the more complex division word problems...conveniently.
Happy Birthday my dear beloved!
Oh the joys of home education.
We are able to spend our whole day delighting in how much you mean to us, by creating something special for you, and still have such a meaningful day of education.
Lots of thought was also put into planning and preparation of cakes for upcoming birthdays as well. ;)