Friday, February 14, 2014
Snow day math
Like many other communities on the East Coast, we've had a large number of snow days this year. Yesterday (and today!) was another. Our sitter was snowed in and my husband was stuck in Europe, so I spent the day with the kids. We re-read Graeme Base's Uno's Garden, a book with a number of number games. The plants in the forest decrease in squares (100, 81, 64, 49...) and the number of buildings increase by the power of 2 (2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64...) You can see how quickly numbers can change through different functions as opposed to basic counting sequences. Uno's Garden starts with 10-squared, and goes down. My 6-year-old and I spent our afternoon working on the concept of "squares." We drew dots to show why these numbers are literally "squares." Then we realized that, hey! They go up from 10 squared. You can square 11, and 12 and so on. We also figured out that multiplying larger numbers is really about multiplying the tens place and the ones place -- that 12 x 12 can be figured out as 12 x 10, and then added to 12 x 2. I told my son I'd draw the correct number of dots in a square if he could figure out the squares and, sure enough, I wound up drawing 121 dots, 144 dots, 169 dots, etc. Once we'd figured them out, he decided to write his own book about Uno in a forest, with 225 plants and 15 buildings, and 196 plants and 14 buildings and he spent hours illustrating this thing. It was a good way to pass the time (we even managed to talk through the concept of prime numbers) but what was a bit sobering to me was how happy he was about it. He was beaming the whole time and not insisting on playing Mario Kart. Eventually we lost steam as the 4-year-old and 2-year-old demanded attention. But we kept going for a good long time, and he was more excited about this project than I've seen him much lately. So...what to do. We're not going to homeschool but I purchased Hard Math for Elementary School and I think we'll schedule a regular time to do it together. Extra-curricular homeschool as it were. I'm curious when other families make such enrichment work with their schedules.