"What can I buy with this?"
"No, look at the number on it. It's not one penny - it's...?"
"Yes, five pence."
"So, what can I buy with it?"
"Um.. nothing, really, nowadays."
"I've got some more pennies."
"Oh ok, let's see what you've got then. Line them up and tell me the numbers. I'll write them down."
"One.... five... one... five... twenty?"
"Let's see.. yes, that's a twenty pence piece."
"And another twenty.. two... and another one."
"OK I've written all the numbers down.."
This is where I wonder what to do next. Get out dried beans and start counting them with her? Just add up the column and tell her the answer? Try to explain how to add up a column of numbers? We tried finger-counting.
"OK, what's one and five?" I held up six fingers. She counted them.
"Six." This is achieving nothing though, I thought. We both know she can count fingers, but it doesn't tell her anything about adding one to five.
I added up the rest of the column and just told her the answer.
"You have 55p."
"What can I get with that?"
"Quite a lot. A loaf of bread. A tin of beans. A bag of pasta. A newspaper."
She went off to play with toys. I got down a jar of split peas from the dresser.
"What are you doing?" she asked me.
"Working out how much money you have - properly. With peas. Will you help me?"
"How are we going to do it?"
"I'll show you. Spread them out on the table. Right, now, on the fivepence, we put five peas... on the one penny we put one pea..
"Can you do the other 5p? Put five peas on it."
She'd been laughing while I did the first two. Now she stopped laughing and said, "Not sure if I can."
"Course you can. Do it like that one."
"Ok..." She got five, then reached for a sixth.
"Count them," I said.
"One.. two... three.. four.. five. Oh."
"Brilliant, you did that one right then."
And we did the others together.
"Right," I said. "If we add up all these peas, we'll know how much money you have."
"Ok..." And we did.
"Fifty-five peas! You have 55p."
"Yes. Look, I made a Tweenie Clock with the pennies."
"So you did."
That was definitely not child-led learning. Was it? Or was it?
Well, I wouldn't have done it if she hadn't asked about the money. She didn't specifically ask me how to show her how to count the money, so I guess I broke my own rules there - big time.
I nearly didn't, but it just didn't feel right, leaving the situation without her understanding, really, how much money she had. So in a way, I did what she asked and helped her to understand the meaning of 'how much money'.
Yet I took charge of the learning process, for that short time. I don't know whether it was the right thing to do. It felt ok-ish. She responded pretty well. I'll wait to see if she asks to do more pea-counting again, now she knows the activity is there. If she doesn't ask, I don't think we'll do it again. If she does ask, I'll give her the peas and leave her to it, unless she specifically asks for us to do it together, then I'll help, but let her be in charge of what we do.
Wow, it gets you thinking, this stuff, doesn't it?