Saturday, 1 September 2012

Allowance day

Today is allowance day, and I'm reminded of when my daughter was first learning about money.  She was having a difficult time remembering how much different coins were worth, and couldn't remember how many quarters made a dollar.  So, we pulled ideas from different teaching methodologies to help her out.

First, I planned an activity based on the Montessori methodology.  Jaelyn and I found a quiet corner.  I pulled out one of each coin, named it, pointed to the picture on the "tail" of the coin, and the amount.  She held each coin and repeated the name an amount.  Then, we played a silly little game, where I would ask her to put the coins in different places - say a penny in a shoe, a nickel under a mat, a dime by a door and a quarter on a table.  After that, I would ask her to move the coins to different places, in random order.  So, she would need to remember the name of the coin and where she put it.  Once we had ran out of places to put coins, we huddled together again and I asked her to name each coin for me.  This stuck.

To help her learn the number of quarters to make a dollar, I turned to the Waldorf methodology.  I thought that if I could make up a story that would be relevant and interesting, it might click for her.  I remember laying awake in bed one night coming up with this story.  When it was allowance day, I gathered up four quarters and a dollar, as used them as props.  To understand the story, it might help to understand what our coins look like.  A quarter has a caribou on it, and our dollar is a gold-coloured coin. 

The Four Caribou Herders, original version

Once upon a time, there was a lone caribou herder living far north in the frozen tundra.  He had a herd of 25 caribou (point to the caribou and the number 25 on the coin).  He would always make sure that his herd had enough to eat, so he was always needing to wander the north looking for more food.  Because he was always moving to different places, it was hard to make friends.

But one day, as he was moving his herd, he met another caribou herder!  They were both glad to meet someone else!  They chatted for awhile and really enjoyed one another's company.  The second caribou herder had 25 caribou in his herd too (point to the caribou and the number 25 on the coin).  The first caribou herder said, "Would you like to travel with me?  I've been so lonely and I really like having someone else to talk to."  The second caribou herder agreed, and the first herd of 25 and the second herd of 25 became 50 (bring the two coins together into one hand, representing that they are the same herd).

The two caribou herders and their herd of 50 roamed the tundra, and as they roamed, they talked and shared stories.  One day, they met another caribou herder!  He had 25 caribou in his herd (point to the caribou and the number 25 on the coin).  He was moving his herd to a place that only his family knew about, because there was much for the herd to eat there.  He invited the other two caribou herders to join him, for he liked their company.  So the 50 caribou joined the 25 caribou and they became a larger herd of 75 (bring the three coins together in one hand). 

The 3 caribou herders and their herd of 75 followed inuktuks (rock formations laid by Inuit people) until they came to a valley that had enough food for the herd.  They lingered in this spot for many days, and the three caribou herders told stories by the fire and laughed lots.  They enjoyed being together.  Eventually, the caribou needed to move on to more food, so they packed up camp and set out to find more food.  As they came out of the valley, the met a fourth caribou herder, and he too had a herd of 25 (point to the caribou and the number on the coin).  When he heard about how the caribou herders helped one another, he asked to join them.  And they agreed heartily.  The 25 caribou joined the 75 caribou and they became one large herd of 100 caribou.

Eventually, the Queen heard the story of the 4 caribou herders who helped each other out, and their herd of 100 caribou.  She asked to meet them.  When they met, she gave each of them a gold coin (show the gold coin) to celebrate how they shared and helped one another.  She told them, `The gold coin is worth 100 cents - 1 cent for every caribou in your herd.  But 100 cents sounds funny, so when you hold this coin, you can also call it 1 dollar.

The end. 

I haven`t told that story to Jaelyn for some time.  I was reminded of it today, though, so I asked her to retell it, just to see what she remembered.  Here`s what she told me:

The Four Caribou Herders, as retold by Jaelyn

Once there was a caribou herder going along.  There were 25 caribou in his herd.  He was walking along and he found another caribou herder.  And then they started talking and one said, "Why don't we go together."

And the other one said, "Sure".  And then they had 50 caribou.

And they were walking along and the caribou were eating and then another caribou herder came along.  And so they said, "How about we get together?"

And the other one said, "Sure".  So they went together and he also said, `I know where to go to get food for our caribou`.  So they went along.  There were 75 caribou in their herd.

And so they were eating and walking along and then another caribou herder came along.  And so they all three said, `how about you come with us?  We know where to go.` 

So he said, `Sure I'll come along`.  And how many caribou were in the herd?  100.

Then the queen called them over and they came over and she said, "Because you were being so generous by letting people into the herd, and you have lots of caribou and were sharing, you deserve having a gold coin, which is a dollar.  Instead of saying 100 cents, you can call it a dollar."

The end.

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