Uncle Wiggily

Tabitha was 3\frac{1}{2} years old when we were playing a game of Uncle Wiggily.

In case you are not familiar with the game, I’ll briefly describe it. Uncle Wiggily is a board game with 100 spaces along a twisty path. Players draw cards; each card has a number and a brief poem. Perils and bonuses are judiciously spaced along the path.

Uncle Wiggily is approximately 10% more complicated than Candy Land (which is to say, not very complicated at all!)

Tabitha (3 years old): (Drawing a card for her first turn-it’s an 8) Got one Daddy!

Me: Mmm-hmmm.

T: What is it?

Me: Can you guess? Look closely.

T: (Quickly and with a big, eager smile on her face) Six!

Me: Good guess. It’s eight.

T: Oh!

Me: Can you count to eight?

T: (Bouncing her piece along the path, ending near the henhouse on the farm-themed board) One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.

By the cluck-cluck house!

Me: My turn. [Drawing a card-it’s a 10] What card did I choose?

T: Ten!

Notice that she recognizes 10 but not 8. Also notice that she can count to a number that she doesn’t recognize.

Me: Good.

I decide to test a hypothesis.

Namely that, while Tabitha can count correctly to eight, she would not notice if I skipped it myself. So I count to ten slowly, skipping eight.

MeOne, two, three, four, five, six, seven, nine, ten.

T: [Oblivious] My turn.


5 responses to “Uncle Wiggily

  1. The alternative hypothesis, of course, is that she noticed but put it down to weird parent behavior.

  2. This kind of conversation reminds me of stuff I read in John Holt’s “How Children Fail.” Have you read it? I think I agree with Bill, just because she seemed oblivious to your omission doesn’t mean that she didn’t notice it, like Bill said, she may have just wondered why you were acting so strange. 🙂

    Assessment is difficult!

  3. Maybe Tabitha is highly competitive and spotted an edge. “You really want to set yourself back a space due to poor counting technique? Suit yourself, Daddy.” You could test this hypothesis by counting 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,8,9,10 and see if she says anything. My kids would likely scream at that one (to be confirmed/refuted soon.)

  4. Michael Paul Goldenberg

    I have several takes on this: 1) Tabitha – “That daddy. Alway trying to turn my innocent childhood into a math-ed experiment. I’ll show him and pretend that I didn’t notice he forgot the 8.”

    2) Tabitha – “Damn, my dad is dumb. But I don’t want to embarrass him, so I won’t mention that he skipped 8 when he counted, the asstard.”

    3) Tabitha – “Apparently, my dad has discovered a reason to skip 8 when he counts to 10. I need to think about this.”

    ad nauseam

  5. Pingback: Uncle Wiggily follow up | Overthinking my teaching

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