One of my favorite children’s books is “Math Curse“, written by John Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith. It is a picture book about a child who has been “cursed” by looking at everything in her world as a math problem. The illustrations are fabulous and the story is clever, but that is not all that I love about it. As a teacher, I love reading the book to my students and challenging them to find math problems around them. It leads into great discussion about how we use Math in “Real Life”, not just in school.
Connecting Math to real life can help children be more successful in school by:
- Motivating students by showing them math is important
- Building vocabulary and reinforcing math fluency
- Promoting problem solving skills and critical thinking
Keeping it REAL:
As you discuss problems with your child, give them time to think, reflect, talk it out and try to come up with solutions. Try to use some academic vocabulary to help build connections, but keep it light and not too much like a math lecture.
Cooking or Baking:
There is so much math involved in cooking and baking, especially if you are following a recipe. Involve your children in helping you and discuss measuring skills as you follow along. Doubling a recipe and splitting a recipe in half is great for math skills. After you make a batch of cookies, you can split them equally among a few plates.
As you work ask questions such as:
- If this recipe makes 4 servings, how could we make 8 servings?
- If we only make half of this recipe, how many bananas do we need?
- How many cups of sugar would we need to make 3 batches of cookies?
Read the instructions on the back of the bag with your child. Discuss how much your pet needs to eat. Use measuring cups to measure out your pet’s food. Even if you are good at estimating, measuring will give your child an opportunity to experience math. Use problem solving skills to figure out how long a bag of cat food will last, find the cost per day of the food or how much food you would need to buy to last a month
Money for Chores:
If you already pay your children for chores, involve them in the math by having them add up how much they make in a month, or having them divide their pay by number of chores to see how much they make per chore. You can also pay them in change to practice counting coins. If they don’t get paid for their chores, you could give them extra job to do to earn money.
Make a pretend café or a store in your home:
When my kids were little they had a play kitchen in our family room and one of their favorite games to play was “Kirk Café”. In the early days, my husband and I didn’t get always get charged for our food or we would pay with invisible money. I remember at least once or twice there were some sort of menus made on construction paper with crayons. Later, one of my children was lucky enough to acquire a small plastic toy cash register with play money and the games became more realistic. Throw in the plastic shopping cart and we also had a store in our house.
The same skills from cooking and baking can be used for making lemonade. Selling your lemonade adds money skills such as counting coins, making change and finding cost for more than one glass. Finding amount made and the cost to make the lemonade can be used to calculate the profit.
One of my hobbies is sewing. I like creating pretty things with fabric, and I also like the math involved. I like using math to plan a quilt or to measure a skirt. I was able to convince my daughter to help make a quilt for her piano teacher a few year back. Do you have a hobby you could share with your child? Can you find math connections there? There is math involved in sports statistics, playing games like monopoly, or building model cars.