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Slice of Life.
Solving Problems

Too often we give our children answers to remember
rather than problems to solve.  –Roger Lewin

Big brother TM has been working on his math lesson at the table, and now Mom’s checking his work with him. EM, the family’s 4-year-old pink princess, is comfy in her bunny slippers and sleepy-head pj’s in the overstuffed chair with an iPad on her lap. She’s logged into for a math facts BINGO game. Her game of choice. The problem? She doesn’t know the math facts. So she’s pestering Mom for the answers.

EM: “Mommy, what is 5 plus 8 ? ”
It’s important that she get the right answer because when she does, a virtual doggie appears and barks for a virtual doggie bone which then covers that virtual BINGO square. Seeing the doggie get a bone and hearing the bings is what makes it fun.

Mom: “EM, Mommy’s not doing Starfall; you are doing Starfall. Mommy is not going to answer all your  problems on Starfall BINGO. You have to figure them out.”

EM: { Slow sigh. }

TM and Mom return to their work, but it isn’t long until they are distracted by the increase of background sounds in the room: the Starfall voice saying math problem, clicking sounds followed by EM’s soft little voice saying the answer, the virtual doggie’s bark, and the loud bing as a virtual doggie bone drops onto the virtual BINGO grid on EM’s lap. EM is figuring out her problems by herself!

On her own, she has set up her pink Learning Resources cash register on the lamp table next to her chair. When a virtual doggie bone with a problem appears on her screen, she studies it a moment, then turns to her pink cash register. First, she clicks the ON/C button to clear the previous calculation. Then she carefully selects the first number, followed by the operation symbol, followed by the second number. And, then she strikes the = key. She has figured out that the = key must be pressed for the answer, even though it does not appear on the virtual doggie bone math problem.

She says the number that appears on the cash register window and then looks down at the BINGO grid on her lap to find it. With a touch to the correct square, a doggie barks at her and the doggie bone spins onto the board to cover the tail-wagging doggie. A bright bing sounds to signal end of that problem. A new virtual doggie bone with another problem appears, starting the process again.

Mom and big brother exchange glances of amazement, and TM sums it up: “She’s going to be a whiz at using the calculator.”

Watch EM solve a math problem in 16 seconds.



Learning about Choice

EM’s 6-year-old brother has chosen to play with his three older brothers. EM, thinks he should play with her and is, therefore, unhappy. She comes into the kitchen with a royal pout on her face to let Mommy know how unhappy she is.

Mom tells EM that she needs to change her attitude.

EM responds: “But I’m so sad.”

Mom, with a prayer for wisdom, gets on level with EM and looks into her eyes: “EM, you get to pick your feelings. Just like you get to pick the toys you want to play with. You can pick “sad.” Or you can pick “I’m okay with this.” Or you can pick “happy.” You get to choose. And right now, it’s not right for you to pick “sad” because your brothers are all playing together.”

EM {Sniffle. Sniff. Smile.}: “Okay, Mommy.”
And off she goes to play with her toys.

Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice.
Kindness is a choice.
Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice.
Whatever choice you make makes you.  Choose wisely.
–Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart.


EM is making choices now for the woman she will be.

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for hosting
2017 Slice of Life Story Challenge