“Calculations kids are forced to do are often so developmentally inappropriate, the experience amounts to torture,”

That was my experience with mathematics as a kid, and not how I want my children to view math throughout their schooling. My 6 year old daughter, who is currently in first grade, was just bumped up to a higher math session! The amount of excitement as she told us gave Christmas mornings a run for their money!

My approach has always been turning math concepts into games. (Ulterior motives, I apologize)

  • Packing problems
  • Puzzles
  • Pattern recognition

… things that can actually be a lot of fun. Common Core has placed more focus on pattern recognition and testing ingenuity by learning how to draw logical conclusions from problems, information, and the world in general.

Packing Problems

How many objects can you fit inside this space?

One of our packing problem games, involves trying to see who can fit the most rectangular dominoes in various sized circles. She gets to come up with fun little “rules” such as:

  • Dominoes must all be aligned vertically/horizontally
  • Dominoes can only lay flat
  • Dominoes can be turned on their sides to fill in empty spaces
  • I follow this rule, you follow that rule
  • …and so on!

Kids absolutely love being put in charge and coming up with arbitrary rules. Plus, this is an everyday problem and the logical jump in applying this knowledge to packing a backpack full of stuff for a long car ride, putting books on a shelf, putting things away, is a constant learning experience.

Puzzles

Can you show me how to draw a circle?

If your only solution was to start at point A continuing in a circular motion until winding up back at point A we need to remove that mental blockade. There’s an infinite amount of ways to compose a circle or any shape for that matter. Ask any kid, they’ll be full of ideas once the concept is presented.

Start with a small circle the size of a dot. Now outline that circle. And continue adding a new outline as many times as you wish. We’re still creating a circle but now we have the ability to unroll these lines into something that resembles a triangle.

TriangleFromCircle

Wikipedia

Pattern Recognition

Be your childs’ #1 customer!

This one has probably been my favorite! She has a lesson in school where kids infer details from what they hear in stories. She is constantly coming home from school and asking us what we can infer from certain situations.

She absolutely loves playing house, pretend shopping, kitchen, etc. Especially when we get to act like real grown-ups and use money! Some of the things she makes are absolutely delicious and it’s hard to pass up on seconds when it only costs $1. As such I usually wind up ordering multiple times, I’m a big eater…

  • 1 Hamburger
  • 2 Hamburgers
  • 3 Hamburgers
  • 4 Hamburgers
  • 10 Hamburgers
  • 1,000 Hamburgers

Guess who discovered what a function is all on her own!