Friday, May 21, 2010

Bring Math to Life, Add Life to Math

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. ~William A. Ward

Math is one of those subjects that, for some, brings panic, fear, and anxiety -- angst at the very mention of multiply, sum, percent, or ratio. How do the emotions come to be? My guess is somewhere between the coins in a child's piggy bank and the black and white symbols of a textbook.

We love math when it applies to life and it makes a difference. Not a week goes by that one of my children doesn't climb upon a shelf to retrieve a bank and count the contents. For the older ones, math makes a difference when the stock market dips or real estate stagnates. Life is full of math.

Lately, life has dished us plenty of math. Is the birthday cake big enough to feed the guests at the table? How M&Ms can I pull from the bag before I get a red one? How much did each individual hanger cost in the BONUS pack of 20? How many mission trip support letters could be mailed for $10.25? When math makes a difference, it is understood. When math is understood, it makes a difference. This cycle inspires further learning.

Over sixteen years of homeschooling, we've brought math to life and we've added life to our math. Math for our children is real -- concrete -- part of everyday life. There is no panic, no fear, no anxiety. We live it. We get it.

How can you bring math to life, add life to math? I've included some of our favorite math activities in Flip Three Pancakes with One Spatula. But there is more than math. There's language arts, science, social studies, and art. To bring math to life, it most be woven into living. For example, a child could create clay spheres or they could help mom make meatballs. Then a spherical orange can be cut into equal parts and then squeezed to make orange juice. Reading Each Orange Has Eight Slices by Paul Giganti reinforces fractional concepts. That's flipping three pancakes with one spatula, and that's bringing math to life.

Sites to help bring math to life:

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