Monday, November 8, 2010


Even though you may secretly fear that you lack the proficiency to involve your children in math-based activities, your role in enrichment is key – and you can do it! Aside for buying them math software or other learning gadgets, you should involve them in real life math activities.

By now, your kids have probably settled into the school year.  Hopefully, with your help, they’ve established a good working rhythm that balances homework and studies, extracurricular activities, family, friends and relaxation.  With those hurdles cleared, its time to build on initial math successes with activities that are challenging (in a fun way!) and help your children enjoy exercising their budding mathematical talents.

Your role in enrichment is key – even though you may secretly fear that you lack the proficiency to involve your children in math-based activities. I remember the parent of one pre-schooler, an experienced carpenter, who patiently explained his quantitative shortcomings to me as his toddler daughter quietly and deftly fitted shaped blocks into similarly shaped slots. I asked him to look down and describe what his daughter was doing and then it dawned on him that math is not only abstract calculation. He readily agreed to use safety precautions and work with her in his home workshop.

As Thanksgiving and the Holidays approach, there are many enjoyable seasonal math-related activities you might want to indulge in.  Here’s a fun one to start with.

Autumn Leaves and Geometric Symmetry
Picking leaves and making suncatchers is a great way to begin the discussion of symmetry (mirror images) in geometry and nature. Take a newly fallen leaf, place between two pieces of waxed paper, place a heavy towel beneath the papers on an ironing board and another heavy towel above the papers, and steam with an iron until the waxed paper has melted enough to encase the leaf. When cool enough, cut a pattern around the leaf, sew a loop of thread or yarn close to the edge of the suncatcher, and hang from a window lock. When you have made several of these, you may compare lines of symmetry and even place the lines of symmetry along a mirror to demonstrate that nature has a mathematical plan.

More to come shortly! 

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