# Posts tagged fun math

## Discovering Signs and Symbols

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Lately my 5-year old has been very interested in signs – road signs, signs at the entrances to parks, museums, office buildings, etc. Which led to some really interesting conversations about how rules (and ideas in general) can be represented as symbols.

Unlike written words or letters (which are symbols as well), well-designed signs are much more intuitive and easier for pre-readers and early readers to interpret independently. By the way, have you ever noticed how many of the signs we encounter are the ones that prohibit something rather than inform or encourage? I never did until my son pointed it out saying “see, this sign says no smoking, this – no drinking, this – no music, this – no guns. Signs are for saying “no” to things.”

So back to the conversation that we, my son (S) and I (M for Mama) had a few days ago:

S: Mama, when my tree house is finished, I’m going to invite all my friends and put a big sign “no girls allowed”

M: How would you make a sign like that?

S: Easy, I’ll just make a big red circle with a thick line across like that (draws in the air) and there will be a girl on it, like on bathroom doors.

M: Ok, but what if your cousin A comes to visit? Can she play in your tree house? (My son loves playing with his oldest cousin)

S: (after some thinking about it) Sure!

M: But then you need to make a different sign. What would it look like?

S: (after some more thinking) Ok, I’ll just put her picture next to the other sign. It has to be a smiling picture.

M: What if (names of a couple of girls he knows well from playdates) want to come play? Will you let them into the treehouse?

S: (after even more thinking) Yes. All girls I know can come and play. Only girls who are strangers can’t come. And if they are not very little.

M: Ok, but then you have to change the sign.

S: (sounding a bit weary) I dunno. Put more pictures. (runs away)

We had a few more conversations about signs that were similar to this one. My son would come up with a very broad rule and a sign for it. I would then suggest scenarios that did not fit the rule and he’d adjust the rule. And we’d try to figure out how to create a sign that would accurately reflect the new rule.

Since all these conversations were completely “on the fly”, usually while walking or right after reading a bedtime story. Which, I figured out, is not the best time since we don’t get to put any of the sign designs on paper.

But now I’m thinking what kind of a sign-making game can I put together (something that wouldn’t take too long). Any suggestions? Please share!

## Grids – Making Art with Math

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As we are getting ready for the Moebius Noodles display, we continue to be on high alert for great ideas that introduce grids to children. So I was really excited to see an art through math activity for young children on one of my favorite blogs,  The Educators’ Spin On It.

The idea is to use grids to help make a copy of a picture. Inspired by a local chalk art festival, Amanda of the Educators’ blog decided to create chalk art with her children. The results are beautiful and Amanda documents the entire process with wonderful photographs (which she so generously allowed me to use in this post).

Amanda notes that even toddlers can participate in this activity. And the idea lends itself easily to customization based on your child’s interests. Amanda chose a picture of the beautiful St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow to reproduce. Your child might be more interested in something else (I’m pretty sure that mine is going to ask for either WALL-E or a Star Wars clone trooper).

You can also choose a different art medium – paints, crayons, markers, even thumb prints (hey, that would be a fun idea to try). Or, if your child has a favorite picture that’s very large (say, poster-size), you can try making a smaller version of it.

Thank you, Amanda!

If you haven’t yet, do read Amanda’s entire post, get inspired and try it this weekend! When you do this activity with your children, take pictures. You can upload them to Facebook and share them on our page. Or you can post them to your blog and link to the post on our Facebook page or in the comments.

## Press Here

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Have you read this book? Maybe “read” is not exactly the word here. Have you played this book yet? If not, go ahead and give it a try. The idea is simple – each page of the book tells you what to do, but doesn’t tell you why you are doing it or what to expect. You discover what has happened only after you flip the page.

This is not a math book. Yet there is a lot of fun math hidden in it. In just a few pages you play with iterative functions, several function machines and a fun pattern.

Even better, the book ends with an invitation to play it again, looping back to the first “press here” page.

This book gives a child a perfect opportunity to figure out patterns of action and to predict outcomes. “What do you think is going to happen now?” is a question that is ingrained into the book.

After going through it a few times, children might feel inspired to create their own books similar to “Press Here”. All it takes is a few sheets of paper, stickers and markers.

One thing I haven’t tried yet, but that sounds intriguing is to see what happens if you stop in the middle of the book and go back to beginning and repeat the instructions. For example, what if we stop on this page with a pattern and then go back to the beginning, follow the instructions and press yellow dots only. I think it would be a fun way to explore algorithms with nothing but a large piece of paper and a few Dot Dot markers (or regular markers or stickers).

Have you played this book? Share your ideas and experience with us!

## Mini Math Quest #1 – Symmetry Seekers

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Ask a child to be a line of symmetry for an object or an arrangement. Children are natural symmetry seekers whether they are building with blocks, drawing with crayons, or mimicking your gestures. Help your child explore the concept of symmetry this week.

Go on a quick (just a couple of minutes) symmetry scavenger hunt around the house or outdoors. Make your own symmetrical art. Arrange toys symmetrically. Identify and clearly mark lines of symmetry. Keep your camera ready because symmetry is beautiful. Take a picture and send it to us. Don’t forget to include your child’s name (or first initial) and age.

Note: If you have privacy concerns, don’t let them stop you from participating in this Challenge. Your child’s face does not have to be in the picture. In fact, why not take a picture of your child’s shadow or a bird’s eye view (so just the top of the head is visible). The possibilities are endless!

Submissions close January 22, 2012 at 10pm EST

Send submissions to yelena@moebiusnoodles.com

## Playing Math This Week – Nov 7-13, 2011

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Learn about odd and even numbers this week on the Rocks and Roll Day. No need to stay Earth-bound either. To the infinity… and beyond!

Math games can be played any time anywhere. Here are some ideas for each day of the week. These games do not require any advance prep either. Give them a try this week and feel free to change them to make more interesting for your kids.

November 7 – Feline Festival Day

Remember iconic numbers? See how many you can find on a cat. Hint – one tail, two eyes (or ears), three kittens are the usual size of the first litter, four paws, five claws… This might be enough for younger children, but see if you can find more numbers with the older kids. You can either take pictures of your cat (if you have one) or find pictures online for your Feline Iconic Numbers book. And how about building cat-themed real multiplication tables?

November 8 – Rocks and Roll Day

Go on a rock hunt, then see if you can tell how many rocks you found without counting them. This process of quickly and accurately estimating a number of items in a set is called subitizing. Hint – if your child doesn’t have much practice with subitizing, arrange rocks in patterns like dots on domino tiles and keep the number low at first (5 or fewer).

November 9 – Smokey Bear Day

This is a perfect day to draw a whole forest. Show your child how to draw trees by repeating a simple “v” shape (see our star tree above). As you admire the results, introduce a new word – fractal (a complex shape that is created by repeating other shapes). You can also play with Fractal Trees online.

November 10 – Math Madness Day

How can you limit yourself to just one game on a day like this?! If you are trying to start a new tradition of playing one math game a day with your child, this is a perfect day. Whatever you choose to do, enjoy it!

November 11 – Veterans Day

Take a look at some of the camouflage patterns. Then try to create your own by drawing interlocking, but not overlapping curved shapes, then coloring them in. Camouflage patterns are great examples of tessellations. Can you create (or spot) other tessellations?

November 12 – Dollars and Sense Day

Just counting money could get pretty boring after a while. How about playing a “money functional machine” game in which you create a mystery ATM out of a cardboard box. Your child puts a coin into it and gets a different coin (or several coins) back. You come up with a function, a set rule according to which your machine operates. Your child has to guess the rule. Once he guesses correctly, switch your roles and let him operate the machine. A rule can be as simple as “a machine that turns all coins into pennies” or a machine that “doubles the number of coins put into it”.

November 13 – Wampum Day

It’s a craft; it’s a math model – make your own counting rope as seen on the Love2Learn2Day. It can be handy in demonstrating and practicing addition, subtraction, and more.

So what games are you playing this week?

## Math Game for Sandwich Day

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In case you don’t know it yet, today, Nov 3rd, is the National Sandwich Day. Not to brag, but I found out about this awesome holiday yesterday, when I picked up a book that has daily thematic learning activities for children.

As I was flipping through the book, I noticed that thematic math activities in it were a bit on the boring side. Think I’m exaggerating?  See for yourself:

For the Sandwich Day, the book suggests two activities

1. Assigning monetary values to each ingredient, then calculating the total cost of a sandwich

2. Creating a bar graph of favorite kinds of sandwiches.

I’m not saying these activities are of no value. I’m just saying c’mon, let’s make Sandwich Day math more interesting and accessible to young children, but still of interest to older kids as well as to parents.

So this is what I’ve done today – I drew a Sandwich Day Table that showed possible combinations of 3 fillings and 3 condiments. First, we created all different sandwich combinations. Then we chose our favorites. Then we asked a few friends to pick a cell in the table and told them what their sandwich of the day was going to be. Oh yeah, we even got to make our favorite sandwiches – a PB&J with bananas.

Other Sandwich Day games could include finding iconic numbers in various sandwiches (for example, 1 for wraps, 2 for BLT, 3 for Big Mac). Or maybe turning sandwich making into a functions game. What other Sandwich Day math games can we play?

## Join Moebius Noodles Math Improv

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We are inviting you to join Moebius Noodles Improv, a parent and educator online class, during the first three weeks of November.

In our very successful previous classes, we showed quite a few games for teaching advanced math concepts to young children in a relaxing and fun way that engages the entire family. This time around, we will teach you how to create your own games that fit your child’s unique interests and learning preferences. We will give you the confidence to improvise and create math games on the fly.

The class is a cooperative, peer-to-peer gathering of adventurous grown-ups who want to enjoy advanced math with babies, toddlers and young kids. Think of it more like a get-together at your favorite coffee shop than a “prim and proper” class.

Here is the plan for each of the three weeks:

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, you will get your improv prompt – a story or a video of a young math game, and ways you can vary it.
On Wednesdays and Fridays, you will improvise with your kids – we hope it will be a fun five or ten minutes for the whole family! You will send photos or videos of the improv to the class, and comment on others improvs.

Every photo, story, question, video you send will get a response from us, as well as other class members.

We will have live online jam sessions on the first Tuesday of the class (November 1st) and also a week after the class ends (November 22nd), for those whose schedules allow to attend at 9:30pm Eastern US time.

Why join?

• Learning: exchange smart game know-how with like-minded parents
• Reduction of doubts and fears: See how young math really happens in the families (worth a thousand books)
• Peer support: Have your math parenting questions answered by peers and veterans
• Make a difference: Each math improv story, video or photo you send, each question you pose contributes to a free and open (Community Commons) resource, for educating millions of kids (and their parents and teachers) all over the world

How to join?

Head to the Moebius Noodles Improv class page at P2PU (Peer-To-Peer University), click on “Participate” button and complete the sign-up task.

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