The Case of the Mysterious Story Problem

[Feature photo above by Carla216 via flickr (CC BY 2.0). This post was rescued from my old blog.]
I love story problems. Like a detective, I enjoy sifting out clues and solving the mystery. But what do you do when you come across a real stumper? Acting out story problems could make a one-page assignment take all week.

You don’t have to bake a pie to study fractions or jump off a cliff to learn gravity. Use your imagination instead. The following suggestions will help you find the clues you need to solve the case.

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Improper Fractions: A Mathematical Trauma

Feature photo (above) by Jimmie via flickr. Photo (right) by Old Shoe Woman via Flickr.

Nearing the end of Miquon Blue today, my youngest daughter encountered fractions greater than one. She collapsed on the floor of my bedroom in tears.

The worksheet started innocently enough:

\frac{1}{2} \times 8=\left[ \quad \right]

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Mastering Miquon: Top Ten Tips

cuisenaire rods
Image via Wikipedia

[Rescued from my old blog.]

I love Miquon math, but the program does feel odd to many homeschoolers, especially at first. It is so different from the math most of us grew up with that it takes time for the teacher to adjust. DJ asked for Miquon advice at a forum I frequent, but I thought enough people might find these tips useful to justify an expanded repost. If you have more advice on teaching Miquon, please chime in!

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Elementary Problem Solving: The Early Years

[Rescued from my old blog. To read the entire series, click here: Elementary Problem Solving Series. Photo by Studio 757 via flickr.]

You can begin to teach your children algebraic thinking in preschool, if you treat algebra as a problem-solving game. Young children are masters at solving problems, at figuring things out. They constantly explore their world, piecing together the mystery of how things work. For preschool children, mathematical concepts are just part of life’s daily adventure. Their minds grapple with understanding the three-ness of three blocks or three fingers or one raisin plus two more raisins make three.

Wise homeschooling parents put those creative minds to work. They build a foundation for algebra with games that require the same problem-solving skills children need for abstract math: the ability to visualize a situation and to apply common sense.

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Carnival of Mathematics: Inaugural Edition

Carnival of MathematicsThe Carnival of Mathematics: Inaugural Edition is up and running at Abstract Nonsense blog.

Alon writes:

I’ve gotten plenty of submissions that span the entire gamut of math-blogging: education, pure math, applied math, debunking bad math – it’s all there. Only the gender distribution could be made slightly more equal (and that’s an understatement). I’m linking to the posters in roughly increasing order of mathematical difficulty, but don’t let my opinions deter you from reading the posts closer to the bottom.

Indeed, there are many great posts to read. Enjoy!

Math Resource Links

In playing around with my sidebar organization, I noticed that I had only posted one article under the “Resources” category. Actually, I had forgotten I made that category — but it’s a good idea. There are a ton of great math resources out on the Web, and I’d love to introduce you to some of my favorites.

So I spent the last two days sorting through several folders’ worth of bookmarks to find the best math resource links for my sidebar. (Scroll down to “A+ math resources.”) Most of these are the math websites I find myself turning to again and again for teaching ideas or just for personal pleasure, though a few are ones I haven’t used but that looked very interesting. In the future, perhaps I will take time to write about them individually, but for now, I invite you to click and enjoy.

And please, share your own favorites with me! I’m always eager to learn more about math.


These links were later expanded to become my Free (Mostly) Math Resources page.

Story Problem Challenge Revisited

Well, I didn’t get any takers with the last story problem challenge. But school is in full session now, and we’re doing story problems in Math Club this Friday, so I thought I’d try again.

Here’s the challenge: Can you and your students make up some original math problems?

In Math Club, we always start by reading part of the book Math by Kids for inspiration. I can’t print those stories here, however, because of copyright rules, so I’ll share some of the stories my past students have made, arranged in roughly increasing order of difficulty. After you solve a couple of these problems with your children, encourage them to try making some of their own.

And please, share their gems with us!


The problems below are now available as a printable handout: Story Problem Challenge.

Continue reading Story Problem Challenge Revisited