News from Mathnasium of Mclean
How to Make the Most of Mathematics and Statistics Awareness Month
Apr 1, 2021
April is Mathematics and Statistics Awareness Month. Both mathematics and statistics play a significant role in everyday life — and in addressing many real-world problems.
It’s never too early to start involving your kids in mathy conversations! One of the travesties of today’s math classes (in my opinion) is that, as you get older, math too often seems like this intangible idea that has no basis in the real world. By talking to your child(ren) about how math affects them directly you make math and statistics more relatable, which in turn helps your child(ren) learn to love and appreciate these topics!
If you haven’t already started having these conversations with your kids, this is a great month to start! Or, if you’re just looking for more inspiration these are some great ideas on how to continue the conversation!
Math in the Kitchen
Some of my favorite memories growing up involve cooking with my mom and siblings. Even when I was too young to actually be helping, I was still perched on the counter sticking my hands into everything I could, and my mom would let me help measure the dry ingredients. Measurements are a perfect gateway into harder math topics like fractions and percentages, and they’re easily introduced to children of any age (often with tasty results).
Some Ideas for Math in the Kitchen:
Bake some cookies!
My family is a huge fan of this Snazzy Snickerdoodles recipe from Pampered Chef. We don’t use fancy gadgets like the cookie press, instead we scoop out dough and then flatten them with a glass dipped in sugar. However, if you do have a cookie press I’m sure that could lead to some great conversations about shapes and geometry — rotational symmetry, anyone?
Fractions (Using measuring cups)
Size/Shape (Making cookies that are more or less the same size and shape)
Symmetry (Depending on what shape you make your cookies)
Time (How many minutes do these go in for? How many seconds?)
Make a Pizza!
As a middle child, I appreciated having things that were unique to me. I had a special type of oatmeal that only I liked, so nobody else was going to eat the last bit, and I had a pizza topping exclusively for me (green peppers). I imagine that any child would feel special knowing that a part of the pizza belongs to them and nobody else, and it’s always fun to experiment with different toppings!
Fractions/Percents (What percent of the pizza has cheese? What percent has peppers? What percent are you going to eat?)
Counting (How many pieces of pepperoni are on the whole pizza)
Shapes/Symmetry (What shape is the pizza? How do we cut it so we get equal sized slices? What if I made the pizza this other shape instead?)
Fractions (Cutting the Pizza)
Math on the Road
Maybe not as much right now, but have you ever thought about how much time you and your kids spend in the car? Going to school, the grocery store, after school activities, visiting family, going on vacation…. It adds up. Rather than letting that time become lost to hours of handheld video games or movies, use it to talk about math!
Some ideas for Math on the Road:
The License Plate Game
There are endless variations to this game. My personal favorite is using the letters from a license plate and trying to come up with silly things they might be an acronym for, but you can use the numbers too! One option is to seek out the numbers from 0-9 in order, seeing who can find them all the fastest. Another is to look for the license plate with the largest sum when you add the numbers together. Better yet, have your kids invent their own game!
Basic Math Operations (adding, subtracting, multiplying, etc.)
This is really open to whatever you want. Pick a topic and figure out how to make a game surrounding it!
People are forever processing data, even if they don’t consciously think about it. Your kids are no different, so encourage them to be cognizant of the data around them! Keep a notebook in the car for data collection and spend the car ride keeping track of things like how many cars are a certain color, which color cars tend to have dogs hanging out of the window, etc. You can even start the drive by asking everyone in the car to form a hypothesis for what they think the data will say, and then check to see how those hypotheses held up at the end!
Types of Data (Quantitative vs. Qualitative)
Statistics (Is it more or less likely for this type of car to show up?)
Percentages (What percent of cars were a dark color?)
Math at the Store
Whether you’re shopping in person or ordering your groceries online, you can include your child(ren) in the process and let them participate in an everyday math activity that directly affects them. After all, everyone’s gotta eat!
Some ideas for Math in the Store:
This is perhaps the most obvious “everyday math” activity related to the store. It’s also a very versatile activity! You can have your child practice all sorts of math that will help them have a clear grasp of numbers and how to manipulate them.
Counting by a Number (2 for $1 means 4 for $2 and so on)
Basic Math Operations (how much have we spent so far? How much is it for 5 of those? etc.)
Estimation ($1.89 is about how many dollars? About how much have we spent so far? Should we round up or down if we want to make sure we have enough money)
Unit Price (Which one of these is cheaper per item? When is it better to get the pack that costs less per item? The one that costs more per item?)
Percents (40% off means we pay 60%, What is the discounted cost)
Again, a very obvious activity, but one that many children don’t get as much practice with as they used to. Many adults use credit/debit cards instead of cash these days, and I’ve met young children at Mathnasium who had never handled physical money before I pulled out the manipulative pouch. Even if it’s just using Monopoly money, have your child practice making change. Give your child $10 and let them pick out and purchase the snacks for your upcoming road trip. If there’s no line behind you, pay with cash and let your child count the change to make sure it’s correct.
Counting Money (Also Counting by 5s, 10s, 25s, etc.)
Making Change (Counting up vs. Subtraction)
Marissa Shaffer, Marketing Coordinator and former Mathnasium Instructor
Marissa graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with Bachelor’s Degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mathematics. She’s taught math at a variety of levels - from tutoring in elementary schools and colleges to serving as a High School Algebra 1 Teacher to instructing at Mathnasium - and the one thing that has remained constant is her love of relating math to everyday activities! Her favorite math-based books include How to Bake Pi by Eugenia Cheng and Why Pi? By Johnny Ball.
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