We use Saxon Math. My oldest son, Big Mac, is finishing up Saxon 7/6 from last year. Periodically in this book we have "Investigations." We do these all together, including my youngest son, T-bone, who is finishing Saxon 6/5. It gives T-bone a break from the usual and we all work together and enjoy these investigations.
Today's investigation was called "Sign Wars." It was a game where you make cards with + and - signs. A + cancels a -. You keep marking off the signs that cancel each other until you are left with all one sign or just one sign. That is the sign that "wins." Level 1 was just + and - signs on the card. We did four of these. Level 2 had numbers with the + or - signs. So the boys had to figure out the math as well as the sign. Level 3 had "disguises." Sometimes the numbers had no sign, so they had to know that that meant it was positive. Sometimes there were two negative signs in front of a number and they had to know that a negative and a negative equals a positive. There were also parentheses in this level, so it made the math more complicated.
The boys, however, rose to the occasion on every level and really enjoyed this activity. After we did twelve of these cards, four for each level. I gave them several practice problems from the book that just showed the numbers on one line, not randomly placed on a card. These were regular math problems using 4-6 numbers all with varying positive and negative signs. Again, because it was all a game, they loved doing these problems.
While working the practice problems at the end, Big Mac said to T-bone, "Who are you for?" T-bone replied, "The positives." "Me too."
It was math, but to them it was WAR. And war meant choosing a side. And they were rooting for the positives, the plus signs!
Being a girl, raising boys can be a mystery to me. I am grateful for the return of my manly-husband in the evening to give me some insight to how these boys think. But today, God gave me a glimpse of what happens in those mini-manly hearts and minds. If you want to make the lessons a little more enjoyable...turn it into a war!