There are lots of ways to talk about math with your kids everyday, no matter how old young they are. I was thinking about how much we do it in our house – partially because I’m a math geek (my dad and I used to use an egg timer and race each other at doing logic problems – we’re talking preteen years here – yikes!) and partially because it seems like everything we do lends itself to a discussion about math. But I was realizing that it’s not just the favorite activities, it’s the un-fun ones to. In the words of Mary Poppins, “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and snap! The job’s a game…” So I thought I’d share how math crops up in our favorite and least favorite activities:
My favorite: Cooking is FULL of math! I may have mentioned one or a dozen times that I like to cook. A lot. And since we have to feed 4 people at least 3 times a day and keep everyone happy (see, this is sounding like a logic puzzle already), there is plenty of cooking to be done. Since the day the kids were born, they’ve been with me in the kitchen. It started with me pretending I had my own cooking show and talking to them about what I was doing, counting the ingredients as I cooked. Then we moved onto them helping by about age 2, dumping and stirring, measuring and counting on their own. And now that they’re 4, we’ve entered a whole new world of fun things to talk about in the kitchen – fractions! Sometimes it’s with measuring cups, sometimes with cutting up and dividing fruit or chocolate chips… it’s amazing to me how readily they are grasping the concept of 1/4 means it’s one of four equal pieces that make up a whole. I think it’s the chocolate chips… chocolate is an unmatched teaching tool!
My least favorite: laundry. When you have two babies, then two toddlers, then two little kids who like to paint, you do A LOT of laundry. It’s not exactly my favorite activity. But a couple of years ago Molly invented the sock game. It started simply and has gotten more involved as they have gotten older. It started out with matching up pairs and then counting how many pairs of socks we had and how many that made when we added one more to the pile. Now we do all kinds of fun things. How many of the socks are red? (Lots – Jacob only wears red socks.) How many of the total socks are red? 8 out of 16. Does that look like there are as many socks that are red as that are all the other colors? That’s half. So 8 of 16 is the same thing as 1 of 2… you get the picture. Once we conquer fractions, laundry is going to help us with percentages!
Math also crops up in building conversations, since Jacob loves his measuring tape and tools. And even in tooth brushing – that’s actually turned into “math with a moral”! They love looking at my silver fillings and talking about how many of my teeth have cavities (because “Mommy didn’t brush her teeth as good as we do!” ) and how many don’t. We have little dental mirrors too, and they love to count my top and bottom teeth and then each others. It’s a little nerdy, but as I write this, I’m realizing just haw many math conversations we have a day! Egg timer, here we come…