Posts tagged young math

Moebius Noodles Newsletter is Live

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Have you seen our first newsletter? Then you are familiar with our mascot, Moby Snoodles, the math whale. If not, here is the link and don’t forget to sign up through the form in the side bar or here. You might be wondering why do we need a newsletter. Or you might be wondering why would you read it. So here are some answers:

Thanks to many of you, this project, a book of advanced math games for very young children, has become a reality. We are working on putting it all together and would like to keep you informed of our progress. Plus, we want to share with you not just the finished and polished book, but take you on behind-the-scenes tour of its development.

2. Stories

If math is indeed all around us, then why is it oftentimes so hard to notice? Maybe it’s exactly because math is all-pervasive, woven into the fabric of our daily lives. We think of math as numbers. Yet our daily life is not expressed in numbers, but rather a narrative, a story. Stories fascinate, surprise, delight us, adults and children alike. We think sharing math stories, ours and our friends, will help us get better at recognizing math in our daily experiences.

3. Beautiful Lapware

Do you know what else is fascinating, surprising and delightful? Toys! We can’t bring you regular toys, so instead we find free online activities and games that help your children create beautiful math in a matter of seconds. We call them lapware. We usually post links to them on our Facebook page. Once in a while we find a particularly engaging lapware which we will highlight in the newsletter.

Of course, we would love to hear your feedback. How can we improve our newsletter to make it even more interesting and helpful for you? Remember, you can always Reply to our newsletter via e-mail (Moby has his own e-mail box moby@moebiusnoodles.com), leave a comment on our Facebook page or on this blog. And don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter if you haven’t done so yet.

Peas and Carrots Math

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A few days ago my 5-year old and I were busy picking peas in our vegetable garden. The 30 or so pea pods looked so delicious, that we decided to eat them right away. And since shelling pea pods takes some time, we had a moment or two for the all-about-peas math:

• Each pod snaps into two halves length-wise. Let’s count how many peas are in each half?
• How many peas are altogether in each pea pod? Let’s count them to make sure.
• Can you see without counting how many peas are in each half?
• Can you tell how many peas are in a pod without counting? (this can be done either with subitizing or by adding peas from the two halves)
• Which half has more peas in it?
• Does this pea pod have more peas in it than the one before?
• Can you divide peas from this pod between the two of us so we both get the same number of peas? Why? Why not?
• How many peas do you think will be in this pod? (keep track of this data; we found out that most of the time we had pea pods with 7 peas in it; 5 was also pretty common; only a few pods had 3 peas in them; just one had 8 peas; there were several pods that appeared to have 6 peas, but on closer examination we would always fine the 7th tiny pea at the tip of the pod)
• Do you think we will get a pea pod with no peas in it? With 100 peas in it?
• What do we find more often – pea pods with odd or even number of peas?

Now summer carrots are almost ready for picking. I’m thinking we might explore gradients (length, thickness, weight, taste), fractals (carrot leaves), measurements (including how tall are you measured in carrots).

Have you tried garden math? Share your story in the comments or link to your blog post.

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.

Greedy Triangle Math

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We’ve had such a great time with Marilyn Burns’s The Greedy Triangle book that I want to share it here on the blog.

If you haven’t read this story, it is about a triangle that one day got tired of doing the same old things. It thought that if he only had one more side and one more angle, its life would become much more interesting. Luckily, a local shapeshifter was there to help and turned the triangle into a quadrilateral. Things went along just fine until one day the quadrilateral became unhappy again and went to ask for just one more side and one more angle. It was turned into a pentagon first, then – a hexagon and on and on.

So not only does this story helps a child understand better what a polygon is – a shape with sides that are straight line segments. But it helps children understand that polygons can have 3, 4, 5, 10 and more sides and angles.

This book is a great jumping-off point for many games and activities.

Shapes Scavenger Hunt – we looked for shapes from the book wherever we went, but also in our house (the story gives lots of examples).

Polygon Builder – try to build a polygon out of a certain number of craft sticks or crayons. What would this shape be called?

Polygon Races – this is just an extension of the Polygon Builder. The idea is pretty simple – once the shape is built, hot glue the craft sticks together. Build a few different polygons and try to figure out which one would roll faster and why. This led to a quick search on Internet for a square-wheeled bicycle and another one from the Museum of Mathematics and a bicycle from China that has both a pentagon wheel and a triangular one.

Geo Board Builder – this was largely a self-directed activity. We just had a geo board and rubber bands laying around.

Mirror Book Shapeshifter – the book has some suggested activities, including asking a child about why a shape with many sides and angles would roll more easily than a shape with fewer sides and angles. We used the two square mirrors taped together and set up as a mirror book to explore the answer. We taped a piece of painter’s tape on the table in front of the “book” and opened the mirror pages so that the tape and its reflections formed a triangle. Then we started closing the pages until an extra angle and an extra side was added. Wow, we were the shapeshifting magicians now!

At the end of the Mirror Book game, when we had too many angles and sides in our polygon to count, I asked my son why a shape with many sides would roll more easily than a shape with fewer sides. His answer was “it has all these short sides and it looks almost like a circle now“.

Now, we didn’t do all this in one day. Nor did any of the games last very long. We did read the book a dozen times or so in just three days. And then it was all over and my son moved on to different books. But a few days later he picked up a small flat rock on a walk, showed it to be happily and said “Mom, look, it’s a quadrilateral!” and it sure was!

As the author explains, the book’s main goal is to “engage and delight children, stimulate their imaginations”. She also reminds parents “At all times, follow the child’s lead.”

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