Potty Math

Unconventional success in Covid-home-schooling

Photo by Elle Hughes on Pexels.com

The other day, I had the age-old debate with my kids:

“I hate math! I don’t want to do it. I’m not doing it.”

“You don’t hate math.”

“Yes, I do. It’s dumb.”

“It can be really fun!”

“NO.” And then Balen put his palms over his mouth and made an echoing farting sound that sent him and his 4-year-old sister, Lark, into hysterics.

Keep in mind I’ve now had this argument every day for I can’t keep track of how many days. As most parents of young children now find themselves, I am now an elementary and preschool teacher that never gets a break.

At this point, I lost my steam and switched to my more communist-covid-depression-era personality:

“Math is everywhere. Life is math. You can’t live without math.”

Balen rolled his eyes. My 4-year-old daughter spun around in a circle with her eyes wide open.

“Where is math? I don’t see it!” she said, confident she had proven me wrong. Balen filled the room again with a deafening fart noise.

“OK, fine. Here’s some math for you,” I said angrily. “Every animal in our house poops once a day. How many turds do I have to pick up every day?”

Lark, hair sticking straight up off the top of her, without even rolling her eyes up like people do when they are counting in their head, looked me dead in the eyes and said, “four.”

I actually was shocked. I really had no idea that she could do math in her head. Up until now, I had struggled to get her to count fish crackers or color in the right number of unicorns.

“Wow. Four is right, Lark. Good job! See, you just did math!” I said, still in surprise over her precision.

“More math about turds! More math about turds!” the chant began, with both kids jumping up and down.

Was I really going to go down this path? Had I really fallen this low?

Short answer: yep. The advantage was that I really didn’t have to make anything up. Like I had tried to argue earlier, math was all around us:

  • If all 3 cats take a dump in the litter box, but then the dog eats one of them, how many turds are left in the box?
  • If the dog takes 3 dumps in the backyard, but then mom steps on one and tracks it around everywhere, how many dumps are left to pick up
  • If every person in our house takes a dump, how many dumps went down the potty at the end of the day?
  • If the cat spits up 4 hairballs under the dining room table, the dog eats one and mom slips and falls on another, how many hairballs are left?

I have actually never seen Lark so intensely interested and deadly accurate as she was doing “Potty Math.” Who needs worksheets with cute little teddy bears and balloons on them. Color in the number? Boring. As long as I kept the numbers of turds under 5, Lark was adding and subtracting in her head like a super computer.

And, in case you were worried about Balen, my second-grader, please don’t be. The fart-king himself was amply challenged by Potty Math which can be easily adapted to all grade level standards.

  • The dog poops twice a day for a week. How many poops does mom have to pick up?
  • Balen pees 1 cup of urine every time he pees. Unfortunately, 1/4 of Balen’s pee does not end up in the toilet each time he pees. If Balen pees 4 times today, how much urine will he have to clean off the floor at the end of the day?
  • The 3 cats declare the litter box is just for losers and decide to each poop twice a day under the trampoline. Mom doesn’t realize this for 3 days. How many poops are under the trampoline?

From a teaching perspective, this curriculum is accessible to all. You don’t need worksheets. You don’t need a computer. You don’t need the internet or fancy zoom meetings with your teacher.

Maybe this is what weeks of quarantine do to me. Maybe I have lost my mind. But my kids like math, so I’m calling it a win for #coronamomteaching.

Next week, we’ll try Potty Math Geometry. Wish me luck.

Writer, editor, mom, loss mom, and big fan of science. Full Profile on LinkedIn.

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