How Unschoolers Learn and Use Math In the Real World

Though we mainly try to stick to unschooling I can't always stop myself from obsessing whether or not my boys are learning all the skills they need to be successful in life.  I often break down and buy math books so we at least have a guide of what we need to know.

Today, my boys showed me how much math they've learned even without the use of books!

We had to go to the grocery store, we just had to.  There was no food left in the house and with plans for a few last minute get-togethers with school friends we had a huge list.

The boys were not only helpful but showed me how much they're learning too.

As I started putting all the food up on the belt to begin checking out Alec and Evan started telling me "that's a cylinder", "that's a rectangular prism," "that's a cube," etc.  

I was thrilled that they were applying old knowledge in a new way to every day items.  I loved how they would think outside the box a bit too and tell me that the orange juice carton was kind of  like a triangular prism stacked on a rectangular prism.  The size and shape of the container didn't seem to throw them off either; they knew that roll of Mentos and the can of tuna were both cylinders. 
While I put the groceries away the boys played nicely together and started getting ready to head to my grandmother's house.  She wanted to take them shopping and the boys were so excited (my grandmother does tend to spoil them!).

Alec has had his eye on this huge (and expensive!) Lego set.  He raided his piggy bank and told me that he had $13 dollars to put toward the Lego set.  He had a few $1's, a $5 bill and a bunch of quarters.

While I was impressed he was able to count up all the different denominations of money on his own I was blown away when he looked at me and said "the Lego set is $80, if I use my $13 then gram just  has to pay $67."  

How he figured all that out in his head when we've NEVER even taught him how to subtract two digit numbers (and definitely not how to regroup!) is beyond me.  But I did have to explain that even with his money to help contribute he still could not get that set today.
While driving to my grandmother's house we started discussing obtuse and acute angles.  Alec thought these words were so funny but once I gave an example of each angle and they started pointing them out to me on our drive as well as parallel lines and perpendicular lines once I explained those as well.

I sat marveling at all the knowledge they do seem to absorb and observe in their every day lives.

They might not know all the terminology when it's presented but they quickly grasp the concepts and I know, much like the random identification of geometric solids at the grocery store, they'll bring all these terms up again one day and amaze me all over again.

We picked up my gram and headed out and the boys unanimously decided to head to Target.  Once at the store all the boys were comparing prices, adding up various Lego sets and toys in their heads to see how much they were spending (or were planning on spending when gram takes them back to the store for Christmas shopping).

They rounded prices to the nearest dollar to make it easier to add and subtract and worked together to make sure they were all happy.  

Alec ended up buying two Lego Chima books and spent the rest of the day reading them both cover to cover.

Evan picked out a small Batman Lego set for his toy of the day and a few t- shirts and toys for his birthday party next month, while Ian chose a John Deere tractor with a bucket and trailer to use in his digging.  All the boys were thrilled with their purchases and so thankful. 
We almost finished our Boxcar Children book.  We've been listening to the Mystery in the Fortune Cookie for a few days now and we're so close to figuring it all out.

The boys got ready for bed and we read a few more books.

Evan read The Kissing Hand and Curious George Flies a Kite with my husband.

Ian has started reading The Call of The Wild and needed some help with some of the vocabulary words and comprehension so he asked me to read with him tonight.  I think he was disappointed that it was a bit difficult to read but I told him to take his time and we can always read it together.

It was such a busy day and I was amazed at all the learning that just sort of fell into our laps without any planning.

I'm really starting to like this unschooling thing! 


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