Math Hound

One of the best ways to learn something is to teach it to someone else. My daughter Hannah is struggling with all things related to math, so today I brought in a new student in serious need of help with his numbers. This is Baxter the Basset Hound –

aka the “Math Hound”. Math Hound Baxter is known around here for his bad attitude and desire to sleep all the time, so he brought that attitude and lack of knowledge to school today. I can’t say that Hannah’s ready to take on Einstein’s theory of relativity yet, but she was able to explain and demonstrate things for Baxter that she was struggling with prior to his  arrival in class. Here’s an example (we were building trees with Tinker Toys):

  • Baxter: Hey kid! How many trees do you have there?
  • Hannah: Two trees.
  • Baxter: What if you build one more tree?
  • Hannah: Three trees!
  • (this exchange went back and forth all the way to 17 trees)
  • Baxter: Hey kid! I just ate one tree.
  • Hannah: Crazy basset hound! There are 16 trees.
  • (this exchange went down to zero – Baxter ate all the trees)

Hannah also helped Baxter get his numbers in order and showed him how to count backwards from 20.

Those of you who stop by here regularly know that we homeschool, and that Hannah has a severe mixed expressive/receptive language disorder. Strangely, her best subjects are all language oriented: reading, spelling, and grammar. Math is definitely her weak subject right now, so I was glad that Baxter could drop by school today and help out. It was interesting how easily she could explain something to the puppet that just minutes earlier she could not answer for me.

Whatever works.



  1. That is a cool idea. Where did you get it?

    • The idea or the puppet?

      The idea: With Hannah’s language disorder, I’ve been incorporating our wide array of stuffed animals and puppets into our language work for many years. Bringing Baxter in today for Hannah to “tutor” in math was born in the moment (though he has attended school before with us, but usually he is there in more of a teaching role).

      The puppet: He is a Folkmanis Basset Hound puppet (best puppets on the planet). We have had this puppet longer than we’ve had Hannah! I believe this model is retired, but they have so many wonderful characters to choose from. We also have two rabbits (one big and one small: Mama Bishop and Bishop Bunny) … Mama Bishop (the big bunny) is a sweet and gentle teacher in the classroom, unlike Baxter’s bad attitude and low-intelligence.

      All of this was born in ongoing language work with Hannah since she was about two years old.

  2. It sounds like Hannah is doing very well. Keep up the good work. Now all you need to do is post a video of Baxter at work. That should be interesting to watch.

    • Larry – I have to make a confession: Not only do I have no idea where the video camera is, we still use a dinosaur that uses a tape. I have never even looked at it to see if there’s anyway to plug it into a computer. Too bad, because you might all enjoy a video of Baxter at school. We have some very interesting characters here!

  3. That’s great…kudos for you for trying something outside the box. That’s the joy of homeschooling, isn’t it?

    • Ronnica – that is one of the many joys of homeschooling. The ability to adapt and make sure Hannah is really learning is so important.

  4. I wish our schools would incorporate things like this with students that are struggling. We all learn differently. I have always struggled with math. I was told in college that I actually have the capacity for math but I process math in a backwards way. Once the teacher figured that out, I could finally go from z to a and than a to z. It just took a little more effort with me.

    I have to be honest, a basset hound video would be a hoot!

    Hannah is luck to have a mom like you! 🙂

  5. Very clever. That is one of the great things about homeschooling.

    My sons are in public schools, and even an IEP has limits when it comes to what we can do for my younger son, who has all kinds of trouble with language. You definitely got outside the box, there!

    It looks like it was both fun and effective, which is pretty tough to beat! You’re a genuinely great mom!

  6. Kerry you are the best teacher ever! Hannah is so lucky to have you just like all of Moms on the internet who need this help!

    I am in awe of Kerry and her teaching methods. I will send this blog posting to all of my Mommy friends! It applies to all kids.

    Cat, Chaps and Emma

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