There I was, with real live children, not my own, in a circle before me, wiggling and squirming ready for my first ever Arithmetic Village workshop. Eleven excited children ages five to seven. Mostly boys. I took a big breath and start reading. “Hey, This is a rhyming book” interjected the curly hair bright spark next to me. “Yes!” I answered her and continued. “It is really, really rhyming!” she added enthusiastically.
The book kept their attention all they way through. I then asked them to lay down eyes hidden. Two helpers sprinkled over thousands of jewels throughout the room, and around the sleeping children. “We live in Arithmetic Village. It is a lovely Tuesday morning just before sunrise.” I say as they giggle softly and the jewels pitter patter around them. I tell them to wake up gently and they open their eyes. Sounds of delight filled the room. At first, they started to grab as many as they could as they crawled around. Soon they couldn’t carry them all. “What do they use in Arithmetic Village if they can’t carry them all?” I asked. “Golden sacks!” they answered as I took out the stash of bags. “Ten Jewels in each bag” I reminded. The next few minutes are bliss. Eleven children muttered to themselves… nine ten.. one two three…
When the ten bags were filled, the table awaited them. A golden treasure chest at each chair, ready to be decorated. They happily painted, stickered and glued away, every chest unique to the child.
“Yay, I’m done!” I thought to myself. Then, the antsy seven year, old big eyed boy writes his name on his treasure chest and says DONE. I had twenty more minutes to fill in this class….A sweet girls asks if she can draw a picture Yes, of course after you decorate your chest, draw a picture of what you would have in your very own village.. While the younger ones draw, I asked the older ones questions. “What does 100 look like in Arithmetic village?” ” easy.. a treasure chest!” “So what would 101 look like?” “One treasure chest and one jewel.” Soon big eyed boy asked me what 89 plus 89 is. I asked him to draw it in Arithmetic Village symbols. He quickly drew two sets of 8 bags and 9 jewels. Then he drew a circle around ten of the jewels to make another bag, and draws a circle around ten of the bags to make a treasure chest. “178!” he said excitedly.
Before I knew it it was time to go, the children gathered their compete math kits and their pictures. I had met the group, finally seen Arithmetic Village in action and had another week to prepare for the Polly Plus workshop!