My wife and I are blessed. Beyond measure. We get to hang out with four amazing kiddos every day:
Tuesday evening this week my parents took three of the kids to their place so my wife and I could take our oldest (Caleb) out for a special Caleb-only dinner date. Let’s be clear from the start: It was, from the beginning, all about the dessert. Dinner was just a necessary formality. Fortunately, dinner included bacon, so it was a rather delicious formality… But I digress.
A TMWYK Measurement Opportunity
Shortly after we finished our burgers, pizza, and the like—and with a few minutes to spare before the real deal would arrive—I asked Caleb a few measurement questions about the width of the table. We regularly count things around the house and while we’re out running errands, but I haven’t asked a great many measurement questions. Inspired by some of the conversations I’ve heard and/or read from others in the #TMWYK corner of the #MTBoS, I figured “Why not start now?”
So I asked a few questions. And we had a blast. Here’s a partially-remembered record of what we talked about.
Ready, Set, Measure!
Michael: “Hey Caleb, I wonder how long this table is. How many of my hands do you think it would take to go from “here” to “there”? (I motion across the table.)
Caleb: “Um, I don’t know. 10?”
M: “Okay. Let’s check it out. Count with me… (Sliding my hands across the table…) One. Two.”
C: “Three. Four. Five.”
(At this point, I pause for a second to let him consider whether his guess was a good one. We’re a little past half way, so I think we’ll come in under 10. Then I resume…)
C: “Seven. Eight. Eight!”
M: “Wow, so you guessed 10, and it was eight. Very cool. What about Caleb-hands? How many Caleb-hands across?”
C: “Um, 11?”
(Here I missed a great opportunity to ask why he thought that. “You know, Caleb-hands are smaller than Daddy-hands, so we’ll need more of them,” or something like that. But he was a little distracted. We were at BJs, and there are like 42 televisions scattered across that place… So instead, I took a page out of Dan Meyer’s three act playbook and asked…)
M: “Caleb, what do you think would be a number that’s too high? Too many hands?”
M: “Okay. And what about a number that would be too low?”
C: “Um, 6.”
(By the way, that would be his “too high” and “too low” guess for all of the remaining questions. He would alter the “just right” guess, but not the upper and lower bounds.)
M: “Okay, here we go. (I lead his hands, and we start counting…) One. Two.”
C: (He continues moving his hands and counting…) “Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten.”
(I pause him, and ask…)
M: “Okay, we’re at 10. What was your guess?”
M: “Do you think it will only take one more hand?” (In my estimation we’re about 75% of the way there.)
C: “Uh.” (Squirm, squirm, squirm. Glance at a television. Then another. One more squirm for good measure. So I decided to abandon this tangential interrogation and get the party started again…)
M: “Okay, let’s finish. (I jumpstart his hands again…) Eleven. Twelve.”
C: “Thirteen! Yeah!”
M: “Very cool. Hey, what else could we use to measure?”
We then played the same game with leapfrogging crayons, kids cups, napkins, half-napkins (folded over), and crayons again (the skinny way). All in all, we had a blast, and some nice conversations. And then dessert arrived. And it was fantastic. 🙂
Thanks for the inspiration, everyone in the #TMWYK steam (and especially Christopher, for sparking my thinking about much of this on your own blog and more recently over at talkingmathwithkids.com. If you haven’t been to that website, and you interact with little ones (your own, or someone else’s) on a regular basis, check it out. Great, great stuff.
P.S. There’s a video of one of our last exchanges, but it’s out of focus and Caleb is losing interest (“Squirrel!”), so I’m not sure it’s worth sharing.