Everyday Math Ideas for Kids
Do you know today is?
Ring a bell at all?
Ok, how about if you flash back to high school math class?
Yes, that's it -- Today is Pi Day!
(and yes, I heard you groan when I mentioned high school math :-)
Really, today is a fun way to celebrate math and get kids more interested in how we use math.
First, a little math refresher --
Pi is the ratio of a circle's circumference to it's diameter, and it's a constant number so no matter how large the circle, the ratio is always 3.1415926535897....
Ok, enough of that!
We all know that Pi goes on forever and ever, and is used to find the area of a circle too -- and no, I'm not asking you to have the kids memorize the value of Pi.
Pi Day is a great time to get the kids more keen on math.
Daily Ideas for Math Activities
There are so many ways to introduce kids to math every day. You'll be surprised how many kids think that math is just something they use when they do worksheets in school (sad but true fact). Try discussing math to the kids in a more hands-on way at home.
In the Kitchen
I've posted before about how fun it is to get kids involved in the kitchen and it's so easy to find a way to talk math. You can discuss measurements (teaspoons, tablespoons, cups) as you make cookies (or a pie), temperature of the oven when you are baking, or how to evenly share a food item (like a pizza).
At the Store
Next time the kids are taggin along and 'helping' you shop for groceries, think about a mini math lesson. You can show them how different food are measured and how to find the weight of an item. And talk about money - there's a huge math lesson. For example, if you have $3.00 and your favorite cereal costs $2.75, how much change will you get back? (just ignore the tax issue for now, unless the kids are a little older).
If the kids play sports, the whole idea of keeping score is a daily exercise in math. Basketball is a great lesson in counting by 2's. And football has the whole '7' thing going for it if your kids are practicing their multiplication tables.
Calculating distance is math - so asking the kids how many feet it is until they come to the next corner when you're riding your bikes is helping them to think in numbers. The same with asking how tall is the basketball hoop or how high can you swing -- both great ways to get the kids to understand the difference between inches, feet, height and distance. And then there's all those great outdoor counting games you can play: hopscotch, jump rope, hide-and-seek to name a few.
Yep, there's even math in books and it can be lots of fun! If you have a child who loves reading but isn't too crazy about math, you might want to share a few of these fun books with them:
The Grapes Of Math is a fun book for kids ages 5 - 10 that shows kids how to use creative thinking to solve math problems. The books is written in rhyme and riddles; kids really enjoy these fun ways to think and talk about math (both of my kids enjoyed this one).
Well of course I was going to list a book that talks about Pi (I'll bet you didn't even think there was a kids book about Pi, did you?) The beauty of this story is the math is masked in this fun fantasy tale about a boy who must save his father. Some great riddles and tongue-in-cheek writing make this a great read-aloud for families.
Kids ages 5+ will enjoy this fun book that helps kids to quantify how large a million of any item would be. The Magical Magician goes through various sets of equations to help kids understand the difference between 100's, 1000's and beyond. Illustrations are outstanding and the examples are clearly explained.
I really love the Alexander books - they are fun reads for the kids and great reminders to adults about how hard life can be as a kid. This is a gem of a story for discussing money, both how to count money and how to save it! Alexander gets a dollar from his grandparents and thinks he's rich. But oh how quickly the money can be spent. Kids will really identify with Alexander's plight and won't even mind solving a few math problems as they read.