A fun exploration for upper elementary or middle school students, from Numberphile:
Education Unboxed has posted some playful addition games for young learners. And there’s much more on their website. Be sure to click around and explore!
Photo by Luis Argerich via flickr. In this Homeschooling Math with Profound Understanding (PUFM) Series, we are studying Elementary Mathematics for Teachers and applying its lessons to home education.
The basic idea of addition is that we are combining similar things. Once again, we meet the counting models from lesson 1.1: sets, measurement, and the numberline. As homeschooling parents, we need to keep our eyes open for a chance to use all of these models — to point them out in the “real world” or to weave them into oral story problems — so our children gain a well-rounded understanding of math.
Addition arises in the set model when we combine two sets, and in the measurement model when we combine objects and measure their total length, weight, etc.
One can also model addition as “steps on the number line”. In this number line model the two summands play different roles: the first specifies our starting point and the second specifies how many steps to take.
— Thomas H. Parker & Scott J. Baldridge
Elementary Mathematics for Teachers
Fifty is the smallest number that is the sum of two non-zero square numbers in two distinct ways: 50 = 12 + 72 and 50 = 52 + 52. … I’m a teacher I have to ask: “So what’s the next bigger number to 50 that is the sum of two non-zero square numbers in two distinct ways?” …
There is always something to investigate in math. One of the major objectives of school math is to get students into this thinking habit without us telling them to do so but I’m digressing from my topic now.
Let’s get to the great posts submitted for this edition.
My favorite playful math lessons rely on adult/child conversation — a proven method for increasing a child’s reasoning skills. What better way could there be to do math than snuggled up on a couch with your little one, or side by side at the sink while your middle-school student helps you wash the dishes, or passing the time on a car ride into town?
As soon as your little ones can count past five, start giving them simple, oral story problems to solve: “If you have a cookie and I give you two more cookies, how many cookies will you have then?”
The fastest way to a young child’s mind is through the taste buds. Children can easily visualize their favorite foods, so we use mainly edible stories at first. Then we expand our range, adding stories about other familiar things: toys, pets, trains.
Most remarks made by children consist of correct ideas very badly expressed. A good teacher will be very wary of saying ‘No, that’s wrong.’ Rather, he will try to discover the correct idea behind the inadequate expression. This is one of the most important principles in the whole of the art of teaching.
Most people think that mathematics means working with numbers and that being “good at math” means being able to do (only slower) what any $10 calculator can do. But then, most people think all sorts of silly things, right? That’s what makes “man on the street” interviews so funny.
Numbers are definitely part of math — but only part, and not even the biggest part. And being “good at math” means much more than being able to work with numbers. It means making connections, thinking creatively, seeing familiar things in new ways, asking “Why?” and “What if?” and “Are you sure?”
It means trying something and being willing to fail, then going back and trying something else. Even if your first try succeeded — or maybe, especially if your first try succeeded. Just knowing one way to do something is not, for a mathematician, the same as understanding that something. But the more different ways you know to figure it out, the closer you are to understanding it.
Mathematics is not just memorizing and following rules. If we want to teach real mathematics, we teachers need to learn to think like mathematicians. We need to see math as a mental game, playing with ideas. James Tanton explains: