My six-year-old daughter is hip to my game. You know, that I'm interested in stretching and deepening my personal understanding of what math is and how we make it. She has become highly sensitive to moments where I might be trying to teach or show her something math related. She's on to me. She calls me, accusingly, "Math Mommy!"
This is an attitude shift, actually. Back in September, when she had plans to run away with her best friend, she very clearly relied on me to help her learn the math she would need for when they finally headed out into the wilderness. (Or, the elementary school playground, which has a huge field and lots of trees around the edges. Whichever.)
Now, however, she wants nothing to do with me and my math. And, after being quite self-motivated and curious about measuring, comparing amounts, comparing sizes, spontaneous chant counting by tens and twos, relationships between numbers, and relationships between shapes the whole summer and fall, her inquiry into all these things has slowed somewhat.
Except, she has become a W-H-I-Z at two person UNO. We are UNO addicts; we play UNO every day, sometimes twice a day. UNO perks us up: Having a bad day? Let's play UNO! Been in the same argument loop all morning? Let's play UNO! And, yes, I know there is math in this game but DON'T TELL HER!!! Honestly, I have been giddy with glee that I now have an outlet to influence her mathematical thinking and move her math skills forward without her knowing!
What she doesn't know is that, faced with such perceptive resistance, I'm loosing on purpose (sometimes) and I'm quite gleeful about the way that it's working out. I hand her my handful of lost points and say, "How big a win was it for you?!" giving her an opportunity to be very specific about the magnitude of her victory. I'll casually say, "How many tens can you find?" or "What's fifty plus twenty [Wild Draw Four + Skip cards]?" As a result she's naturally skip counting by tens and sometimes fives, easily finding different combinations of numbers to make ten, adding numbers to sums way past twenty, using her fingers less and less and, in the process, improving her capacity for mental arithmetic.