Halfway down the stairs
Is a stair
Where I sit.
There isn’t any
I’m not at the bottom,
I’m not at the top;
So this is the stair
[Photo by *clairity*.]
Have you ever noticed how very different little girls are from little boys, in the way they play and in the way they think about things? Princess Kitten has been playing around with Backwards Math again, and my first thought was, “None of my boys would ever have done this with numbers.”
[Image from the MacTutor Archive.]
The story of mathematics is the story of interesting people. What a shame it is that our children see only the dry remains of these people’s passion. By learning math history, our students will see how men and women wrestled with concepts, made mistakes, argued with each other, and gradually developed the knowledge we today take for granted.
In a previous article, I recommended books that you may find at your local library or be able to order through inter-library loan. Now, let me introduce you to the wealth of math history resources on the Internet.
Photo by paparutzi.
Math concepts: addition, subtraction, negative numbers, mental math, absolute value
Number of players: any number
Equipment: math cards (two decks may be needed for a large group)
One player (the dealer) shuffles the math cards and deals one card face down for each player, beginning with the player on his left and proceeding in turn around the table. Then he deals one card face up beside each face down card.
Photo by Complicated.
Princess Kitten is recovering from her cold and getting some energy back. She came to me and said wistfully, “I wish I could do backwards math.”
I looked up from my keyboard. “Backwards math? What do you mean?”
“Umm. It’s kinda hard to explain, but I can show you.”
[Rescued from my old blog.]
Would you like to introduce your students to negative numbers before they study them in pre-algebra? With a whimsical number line, negative numbers are easy for children to understand.
Get a sheet of poster board, and paint a tree with roots — or a boat on the ocean, with water and fish below and bright sky above. Use big brushes and thick poster paint, so you are not tempted to put in too much detail. A thick, permanent marker works well to draw in your number line, with zero at ground (or sea) level and the negative numbers down below.
Have you and your children been struggling to learn the math facts? The game of Math Card War is worth more than a thousand math drill worksheets, letting you build your children’s calculating speed in a no-stress, no-test way.
Math concepts: greater-than/less-than, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, negative numbers, absolute value, and multi-step problem solving.