Regardless if you love or hate it, mathematics plays an integral part in every day life. In fact, mathematics is the foundation for…well…everything!
Our entire universe can be explained through mathematical equations. In an article by livescience.com, cosmologist Max Tegmark states, “All matter is made up of particles, which have properties such as charge and spin, but these properties are purely mathematical…space itself has properties such as dimensions, but is still ultimately a mathematical structure.” (For those interested, the complete article can be found here.)
Of course, in elementary school math is a little less philosophical and a lot more intriguing. Where else will you be asked if a man buys 84 watermelons and sells 23, how many watermelons does he have left? The real question is why does one person need 84 watermelons?!
You use math every day, from making change (adding and subtracting) to cooking (fractions and conversions) to shopping (percentages). As a parent or teacher, you can encourage children to take an interest in this subject by pointing out all the ways they use math without knowing it. Just because they are not calculating the area of a triangle does not mean they are not using mathematics in some form. So how can you make math fun for your children or students?
Children are incredibly perceptive, so always maintain a positive attitude when teaching math, even when you’re unsure of yourself. Most textbooks will have the answers in the back and you can check your work as you and your child problem solve together.
Take your students around the world. All you need is a deck of flashcards!
How To Play: Pick one student to start and have them stand beside a classmate who remains seated. Hold up a flashcard (addition or subtraction for younger elementary students, multiplication and division for older elementary students). The first one to solve the problem “wins.” If it’s the student already standing, they get to move on to the next classmate. If it’s the student sitting, then they get to move on, and the first student takes a seat. Play until you run out of cards (or time) and see which student travels the furthest!
Face it: children love to talk. Ask open ended questions or questions with multiple ways to answer, and let your children debate amongst themselves the best way to tackle the problem. The more terminology they use in regular conversation, the easier it will be for them to understand and apply those terms in practical situations.
The easiest way to inspire a love for something is to find a personal connection. The DREME Network (Development and Research in Early Math Education) seeks to develop math skills in children from birth to age eight, with a strong emphasis on preschoolers. One way DREME seeks to engage children is through reading: “Storybooks provide a rich opportunity to build not only literacy skills, but also math understanding. Books with math concepts woven into the pictures and storylines can promote children’s mathematical thinking and introduce foundational math concepts such as numbers, shapes, patterns, and measurement.”
They even compiled this wonderful list of “40 Children’s Books That Foster a Love of Math“. I encourage you to browse their list and incorporate these stories in your classroom lessons or school library!
…and book my “Goofy Kooky Math Show.” Instilling a love of mathematics is just as beneficial as instilling a love of reading, or of science. My “Goofy Kooky Math Show” school assembly combines games, contests, music, magic, zany humor, audience interaction, and more to get your students interested in and excited about math. This assembly is not a dry, boring lecture, neither is it “just for fun”. This show introduces your students to fascinating math concepts, reinforces terms your students hear in class, and demonstrates the importance of this universal subject.
Learn more at my “Goofy Kooky Math Show” page or contact me today to book your school!