Friday, January 30, 2015

Real Living Math: A Fresh Approach to Teaching....

This post I wrote last year, was recently featured at Demme Learning....

As spring draws near and your math text starts feeling stale, try a fresh approach by cooking, drawing or playing store and a variety of games

This time of year, I start to feel restless anticipating the freshness of spring.  Here in the Midwest, it’s been snowing, blowing, and just plain cold for several months.  I long to shed my winter coat, for more daylight, green grass, and garden fresh produce. The excitement of new school books and supplies has long worn off.  If you’re like me, you’re counting down the lessons so you can trade your math text in for a dip of your toes in the creek.  In the mean time, I’m going to share some fresh ways to dump those winter doldrums using math.  “MATH?” you say.  Yup that’s right, math! 

Our 10 year old daughter has recently taken up cooking and baking.  She loves to measure, pour, decorate, and create.  Cooking is a really great way to learn math.  When following the recipes, she’s discovering fractions, measurement, time, and temperature.  At Christmas she re-calculated to double and triple recipes.   She started with cookies and cakes, but it doesn’t have to be elaborate.  For younger kids, you can start with something as simple as Jell-O or Rice Crispy Treats.  The important part is letting them do the measurements using math to learn. 

Our 8 year old son loves to draw.  He started with tracing stencils and is now experimenting with compasses, protractors, and various rulers to get just the right look.  He is realizing images are made up of all kinds of lines which form circles, squares, trapezoids, and triangles.  Geometry is a major part of drawing.  While waiting for warmer days, encourage your kids to create scenes of spring using a variety of lines and shapes.

Do you remember playing store when you were a kid?  This is a great way to teach decimals, money, and budget skills.  Give your child a set dollar amount and grocery list.  Let them look through the sale flyers and find the best bargains.  Or, assign monetary amounts to grocery items around the house and let them “shop”.  Our daughter loves historic dolls.  She has catalogs from her favorite company.  I give her an imaginary budget and she has fun making lists of accessories she could purchase with that amount.  It doesn’t take long for the child to figure out how to get the most for their money when it’s something they desire. 

Blow the dust off those game boards.  Games use a multitude of math skills including number recognition, sequencing, addition, subtraction, and counting money.  It’s a splendid way to get the whole family involved in math. There are a plethora of commercial math related games such as Rack-o, Shut the Box, Monopoly, and Dominoes on the market.  But don’t feel like you have to go out and purchase a pre-boxed game, you can make your own by using simple items around the house.  There is a wealth of games you can play using a basic deck of playing cards.  Search online or find books at your local public library with game ideas.  YouTube and Pinterest are super sources for finding game plans.  Any good math program should also have suggested games for reinforcing concepts in the teacher’s guide. 

As spring draws near and your math text starts feeling stale, try a fresh approach by cooking, drawing or playing store and a variety of games.  But, don’t let that snow melt without building a snowman or igloo.  It’s the perfect teachable moment to introduce spheres and cubes! 

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