Yes, your kids CAN learn to love math. Keep your children’s math skills fresh this summer with my 8-week email series of math games and activities.
No purchase necessary! Just sign up for my email newsletter, and every week for the next two months you’ll automatically receive one of my favorite math club activities or an excerpt from my series of math game books.
Plus you’ll get a free download of my 24-page booklet How To Solve Math Problems: A Common-Sense Approach. And I’ll send you occasional news updates with playful math tips, resource links, and book sales or other promotions.
My goals are to continue playing with math (1) in my homeschool co–op classes and (2) on this blog — and (3) hopefully to publish a couple of new books as well.
My favorite way to celebrate any new year is by playing the Year Game. It’s a prime opportunity for players of all ages to fulfill the two most popular New Year’s Resolutions: spending more time with family and friends, and getting more exercise.
So grab a partner, slip into your workout clothes, and pump up those mental muscles!
Rules of the Game
Use the digits in the year 2019 to write mathematical expressions for the counting numbers 1 through 100. The goal is adjustable: Young children can start with looking for 1-10, middle grades with 1-25.
You must use all four digits. You may not use any other numbers.
Solutions that keep the year digits in 2-0-1-9 order are preferred, but not required.
You may use a decimal point to create numbers such as .2, .02, etc., but you cannot write 0.02 because we only have one zero in this year’s number.
You may create multi-digit numbers such as 10 or 201 or .01, but we prefer solutions that avoid them.
My Special Variations on the Rules
You MAY use the overhead-bar (vinculum), dots, or brackets to mark a repeating decimal. But students and teachers beware: you can’t submit answers with repeating decimals to Math Forum.
You may NOT use a double factorial, n!! = the product of all integers from 1 to n that have the same parity (odd or even) as n. The Math Forum allows them, but I feel much more creative when I can wrangle a solution without invoking them.
For many years mathematicians, scientists, engineers and others interested in mathematics have played “year games” via e-mail and in newsgroups. We don’t always know whether it is possible to write expressions for all the numbers from 1 to 100 using only the digits in the current year, but it is fun to try to see how many you can find.
Do you know of any great math-related seasonal games, crafts, or activities I missed? Please add them to the comments section below.
As you scroll through the links below, you find several puzzle graphics from the wonderful Visual Patterns website.
Use them as conversation-starters with your kids: What do you notice? How does each pattern grow?
For older students: Can you write a formula to describe how each pattern? What will it look at stage 43?
A BIT OF FUN
Setting the mood: Enjoy this bit of seasonal fidgeting from Vi Hart. If you don’t understand some of the references, that’s normal! Pick a phrase, Google it, and enjoy the fun of learning something new.
Clarissa (@c0mplexnumber) demonstrates how to make beautiful, challenging origami snowflakes. She recommends beginners try the first few folds — which create a pretty cool design on their own. Let it Snow…
Speaking of Christmas carols, the Christmas Price Index shows the current cost for one set of each of the gifts given in the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” I wonder what’s the cumulative cost of all the gifts, when you count each repetition in the song?
Alexandria Jones and her family are fictional characters from my old Mathematical Adventures newsletter. Their stories appear sporadically as I find time to transcribe them from the back-issues. You can find them all on this blog page.
Here are all the Alexandria Jones stories Christmas stories, with activity and craft ideas…
The Playful Math Carnival is like a free online magazine devoted to learning, teaching, and playing around with math from preschool to high school. This month’s edition features articles from bloggers all across the internet.†
You’re sure to find something that will delight both you and your child.
Problem-solving is a habit of mind that you and your children can learn and grow in. Help your kids practice slowing down and taking the time to fully understand a problem situation.
Puzzles Are Math Experiments
Almost anything your child notices or wonders can lead to a math experiment.
For example, one day my daughter played an online math game…
A math journal can be like a science lab book. Not the pre-digested, fill-in-the-blank lab books that some curricula provide. But the real lab books that scientists write to keep track of their data, and what they’ve tried so far, and what went wrong, and what finally worked.
Here are a few open-ended math experiments you might try:
Pick out a 3×3 set of dots. How many different shapes can you make by connecting those dots? Which shapes have symmetry? Which ones do you like the best?
What if you make shapes on isometric grid paper? How many different ways can you connect those dots?
Limit your investigation to a specific type of shape. How many different triangles can you make on a 3×3 set of dots? How many different quadrilaterals? What if you used a bigger set of dots?
On your grid paper, let one dot “hold hands” with two others. How many different angles can you make? Can you figure out their degree without measuring?
Are there any angles you can’t make on your dot grid? If your paper extended forever, would there be any angles you couldn’t make?
Does it make a difference whether you try the angle experiments on square or isometric grid paper?
How many different squares can you draw on your grid paper? (Don’t forget the squares that sit on a slant!) How can you be sure that they are perfectly square?
Number the rows and columns of dots. Can you find a pattern in the corner positions for your squares? If someone drew a secret square, what’s the minimum information you would need to duplicate it?
Does it make a difference whether you try the square experiments on square or isometric grid paper?
I’d love to hear your favorite math explorations or journaling tips!
Please share in the comments section below.
P.S.: Do you have a blog? If you’d like to feature a math journal review and giveaway, I’ll provide the prize. Send a message through my contact form or leave a comment below, and we’ll work out the details.