Posts Tagged ‘math’

Ever wanted to integrate math and social justice?

Me too.

Check out the Radical Math site. You can search by issue or math topic. If you wanted to teach about percent, say, you could look at How Rising Oil Prices Affect the Poor Disproportionately, or at Rising Rent, a series of lessons on the gentrification of Brooklyn. I’m sort of poking gentle fun, but I think it’s a great idea.

Posted in The Edgy Chronicles.

Read Full Post »


The clay city is still going strong.

Tee usually starts projects and abandons them, so his continued interest in doing this is a bit of a change. He’s added “land” for friends that come over to play, and is now busy with making maps that delineate borders. He found it quite challenging to recreate the contours of the “land formations” onto a flat piece of paper, and was quite concerned about making it as accurate as possible. This led to a discussion of scale drawings, and in the process of trying to cut papers to represent the comparative size of each of the separate land areas, he asked me to show him two digit multiplication and long division, neither of which he had ever cared to learn before. We also talked about ratios, percents and equivalent fractions, all in the space of an hour.

Oh! I get it! he said in some surprise. You learn math stuff so that you can use that stuff to figure stuff out! Kinda like using a hammer to build something. It’s a tool!

So he can go for weeks, even months, without doing a titch of workbook math, and then learn 5 different math concepts in a morning, in a meaningful context, when he’s ready to learn it.

It’s a concept that I’m continually learning. It really is hard to un-learn some of the more unhelpful things I was steeped in as a more traditionally schooled individual. I find it very difficult to trust that the kids WILL learn, even if it’s not planned and structured and linear and thought out by me.

Read Full Post »


This is a fun way to learn about polygons and geometric solids. Tee learned quickly that a triangle is the most stable shape, and was thrilled with the size of tower he was able to build. Once the marshmallows dry, they’ll harden, and the models will be even more stable.

Some of the words learned today: polygon, triangular prism, rectangular prism, triangular pyramid, square pyramid, rhombus, quadrilateral, dodecahedron

Read Full Post »

Pizza Fractions

pizza gameJay has been after me for some time to “teach her how to read recipes.” I didn’t quite understand what she meant, because she can read, so what’s to know? Then I thought she meant that wanted me to tell her what the tsp and Tbsp bits meant, but she finally explained that she wanted to know what “1 line 2” meant. She went on to say that she knew it meant a half, but didn’t know how. I tried to explain it, without using bothersome words like numerator and denominator, but I could see that she was getting frustrated, so we left it for a bit, and then last week, on a trip to our favorite educational toy store, I happened across a nifty game called Pizza Fraction Fun. I looked at it, looked at the price, thought of how easy (and educational!) it would be to draw our own pizza fractions on cardboard, and then thought what the heck, why not splurge a little? and I bought it. Looking at it now, I still can’t quite believe I did it, because, really, there are oodles of ways of teaching this concept all over the internet, but I did buy it, and we have it, and it made for a fun afternoon.

In case you’re needing to teach fractions this week, and don’t have Pizza Fraction Fun, here’s a fun interactive pizza fraction game.


Read Full Post »

Sugar-Coated Math

Cookie map finished, what to do with the leftover Smarties? (No need to worry about those little chocolate rosebuds. I ate them all last night after the kids went to bed.) I actually had it all planned out. No opportunity to teach goes to waste in this house. Can’t have fun, or just plain enjoy a treat without attaching some learning to it. So today’s big excitement was Smartie Math.

Here’s what we did:

  1. We figured out how to balance a scale, then measured out 100g of candy for each of us. Explained about setting the scale to zero, and how to read the scale, talked about imperial vs metric.
  2. We separated out the colors, and counted the number of Smarties in each color. Lots of excitement here. Comparing numbers, predicting results. Talked about spelling.
  3. We added up the numbers to get our personal totals. Discussed adding strategies, showed Jay how to add the ones, then the tens.
  4. Compared results. Tee had 90, Jay had 94, I had 92. Decided that our scale wasn’t that accurate, learned how to calculate the mean.
  5. Made bar graphs to display results. Tee got practice, and Jay learned how to make one.
  6. Compared graphs. Again, big excitement. I had more green! Look at how many pink I had! etc.
  7. Noticed that while there was a range of numbers, they tended to bunch around 10 or so. Tee predicted that there were approximately equal numbers of each color in each batch of Smarties. Because there were 8 colors, he thought that the number of Smarties in each color group would be 1/8 of the total number of Smarties. Talked about predictions, hypothesese, and fractions. Decided to leave percentages to another time.
  8. I gave them a math problem: If we had 90 Smarties in 100g, how many Smarties would we have in 1 kg? Talked about the prefix kilo, about the number of grams in a kilogram, the number of meters in a kilometer, and the different ways of solving the problem.

We showed great restraint, and only ate 5 Smarties each. Tee quite excited about making a bar graph to display the results using ALL of the smarties, hoping to prove his hypothesis correct.

To me, this little project is a good example of how much learning can take place in one interaction, and how multidisciplinary it can be. I didn’t have a plan other than making bar graphs, but the kids learned a lot of other things as well. They led the learning with their questions, and are extending it with their ideas.




Read Full Post »

Math Game I

Here’s a simple and fast math game for two or more players. It helps with place value, and addition.

Make a chart for each player. Divide the charts into two columns; one for tens and one for ones. Add seven rows, one for each of the seven turns.

The players take turns rolling one die. When they roll their number, they choose whether it goes into the ones column or tens column. So, a six could be 60 or 6. Then the next player does the same, for seven turns each. At the end of all the turns, each player adds all his/her numbers. The goal is to get as close as possible to 100 without going over.

The game is called Double Digit. The kids played it yesterday, and it was a genuine hit. They decided to expand the game to the hundreds column, and that was even more fun. Sometimes Jay agonized over the choices, and pleaded for my help, but I said that part of the game was being able to make your own choices, and learning from them.( The RT column is for Running Total. )

Read Full Post »