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If you can’t beat ‘em, teach them

Submitted by on Tuesday, 22 September 2009 No Comment

fruits_snack_mathParental advisory: The following trick incorporates two great evils I usually avoid at all costs – corn syrup and artificial dye. It’s an awful, awful idea. Except it happens to work.

It’s hardly an original idea – I filed it away about a year ago, after blogger Laura Scarborough mentioned using M&Ms to help her son learn math. Clever, I thought.

I needed it today, when Big Guy’s math homework assignment was for a workbook page he’d already done. It’s not his teacher’s fault – apparently the company California pays God knows how many gazillion dollars to write math text books that are way the heck over a first-grader’s head is unable to reconcile the teacher’s edition with the kids’ books. It’s happened a couple of times recently, and the teacher said if it happened again to just practice addition.

I could have drawn some flash cards, but Big Guy would have drawn and quartered me. I remembered Laura’s tip and reached for the bag of Skittles.

But those are so boring. Nothing to do but fish out Skittles, sort them then add and subtract. Where’s the excitement? Where’s the variety? Where’s the portion control, because once Big Guy gets started on Skittles, he never wants to stop.

Why, it’s right there, in the boxes of fruit snacks next to the bag of Skittles. Yes, I actually buy that crap. Every other week. They usually forget about it the day after grocery day, which is why we have two boxes stockpiled.

Today, it was our edible abacus. A fresh game in every pack!

I sorted the snacks by color and arranged a series of five addition problems – that was as long as I could hold off Big Guy before he insisted that he had a burning desire to practice subtraction. I dragged another five problems out of that before we opened the second pack.

By the time it was over – only about 15 minutes – he’d written and solved 20 problems. That’s only nine fat-free calories per equation. Plus they’re an excellent source of vitamin C.

Big Guy couldn’t wait to tell Boots, who’d napped through the whole thing. “Hey, guess what! We get to do math now with fruit snacks!”

Let the flames of nutritional hell lick around me. I’ll take it.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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