Tuesday, October 24, 2006

What's 5? A dandelion, of course!

We're continuing to work our way through our Qualities of Numbers block. Today we were on the question of "What is 5?"

Of course, I prepared! I came to our session thinking about 5 fingers, 5 toes, 5 senses, 5 points on a star...

S and I talked about these things. As he was considering what he'd draw for "5", he went to the window and looked outside for inspiration. He came back, and said that dandelions had 5, and that's what he'd draw. Dandelions?! Five?!

Why, yes. As he explained it, dandelions have five leaves. (At least the one he carefully drew does!). So do the clovers that he added to the picture, also with five leaves.

And here's what's so fascinating about being able to do this learning at home: Whether or not dandelions, as a rule, have five leaves is almost secondary. As S created his drawing, the very first thing he drew was the long taproot. (To emphasize the little root hairs, he went over them a second time with a darker color.) Where the heck did a taproot enter into this? Very easily. This morning, we volunteered (for a *very* cold hour in the icy wind, I might add) at our CSA. Our work included harvesting celariac. One celariac I pulled out of the ground came with a dandelion. Because the soil was so loose, the dandelion's taproot came out intact, and I pointed this out to S. We then talked a little about taproots. When S and I had our math lesson a few hours later (in the warmth of the sun coming in through the window), he reached back to what he'd seen at the farm, and brought that forward into his study of the number 5.

After his finished his drawing, I observed to S that he'd covered the whole page with his drawing and with color. He gave me a very matter-of-fact look, stopping just short of rolling his eyes. He said that yes, he had, just like I'd encouraged him to do before. It's true -- I had, but not today. :-)

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