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Making Math fun for Children (and going back to OUR own school days!)

Math can be so entertaining, I’d have never fathomed as a child. For, the way it was taught made me hate it to the core!

To make matters worse, the Math teacher – for most part of my schooling – was someone who scared the wits out of me (and many of my classmates) – spanking, glares, threats et al….sigh…

Now that I play-teach Math to Pari, it has revealed itself as the most beautiful subject that can ever be! There’s nothing ‘official’ about how and when we do Math. It can happen in the kitchen, when doing art, while playing cards or board games, when counting and eating strawberries.

Sharing some interesting ideas and resources…

We ‘play’ math a lot with a seemingly mundane tool of everyday use – the weighing scale!

No kidding. The digital weighing scale that I bought couple of years back has triggered many opportunities to explore everyday-Math concepts.

This scale can measure anything as light as less than a gram and as heavy as 10 kilograms.

Sometimes, we do random things with it. At other times, we take it up in an elaborate way.

Recently, we gathered different items from the grocery cabinet and fridge.

Packets of pulses, grain, fruits, vegetables etc.

We started off by measuring a few things and taking notes. Pari loves writing. Hence this part was not a ‘chore’ for her.

Then, Iintroduced a fun game.

Each of us would take turn to guess the weight and then check for its actual weight.

Whose ever’s ‘guess’ would be closer to the actual weight would score a point.

This was an instant hit!

We then moved on to estimating which one’s lighter among two items that seemed to be of similar weight.

Like – the kiwi fruit Vs a tomato. Or, heavier, for that matter.

And, checking back on the scale to see if our guess was right…

We also checked the weight in different units – gram, kilogram, pound. I explained to her in very basic way what each implies.

In between, Pari would go around looking for more things to weigh. By the end of it, the vegetable basket in the fridge was empty. The grocery cabinet was less cluttered, too (wink)

When jotting down the weight of each item, she kept asking for the names of the different types of pulses and what we make from them.

We must have spent couple of hours doing all this but never realized it…

This versus the 45 minutes of Math class that seemed like an eternity to me back then…!

As I write this post, Pari is at her desk with the weighing scale figuring out their weight and taking notes!

This is what she came up with:

Later on, we’re going to translate her notes into a weight chart and try our hands at making a graph. That will be her ‘first’.

Some amazing links for making Math fun:

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YOUR TURN!

Was there any subject that you disliked at school? Any particular reason?

And, which subject was your absolute favourite? Why? :-)

I’d love to travel back into your childhood days as you share your story…

{ 15 comments… add one }

  • Srishti March 30, 2012, 11:32 am

    This is awesome. Such an interesting way to learn maths. I am sure if we learnt maths like this, we would never require calculators in our mobile phones when we go for vegetable or grossary shopping :) rather we could do it easily on our own :(. Although with those traditional methods, maths was still my favourite in school and the subject I hated was geography that too because of the way it was taught. Now when I think of it, geography is such an interesting area to explore and learn :)

    • Rashmie April 7, 2012, 8:33 am

      Srishti – isn’t it interesting that you’re exploring Geography RIGHT NOW in the wilderness of Jim Corbett! haha! What an amazing way to fall in love with a subject that you didn’t quite like at school!
      Here’s to unlearning and relearning! Hooray!

  • Roshmom March 30, 2012, 11:54 am

    Rashmie,
    I am sure Pari must have fully enjoyed the activity. I have a similar post in parentree “Math can be fun”. Hope you like it.. Math was my favorite and It will always be.. It gives me a thrill every time i solve a problem.. I enjoy math like how I enjoy music.. History was my least favorite. Still don’t know why i hated it so much…

    • Rashmie April 7, 2012, 8:36 am

      Roshmom,
      I can’t believe you’re here after ages! I’m delighted to see you :)
      And yes, agree – the thrill that’s part of solving a math problem is beyond comprehension. However much I was scared of Math, when I solved a complex problem, it always made my feel over the moon!
      Keep visiting, my dear. Let’s stay connected :)

  • Kristi@Creative Connections for Kids March 30, 2012, 12:14 pm

    Rashmie, This is such a practical lesson for life and fun too. I love all of the skills that it incorporates math, literacy, estimation and etc. Thank you. :) Kristi

    • Rashmie April 7, 2012, 8:38 am

      Kristi,
      Feels so good to see your here :) Thank you for stopping by to read and comment…
      You’re right – this activity was a natural integration of so many learnings – math, literacy, estimation… And, all of this was interest-driven – which makes it so meaningful…!

  • Chhavi March 30, 2012, 3:14 pm

    This is so interesting. Wat a fun way to learn. I recall our discussion where we had discussed of using chickpeas, grapes, strawberries or any similar food item as a fun way to introduce adddition and subtraction. Infact, have come across some interesting board games recently such as Supermarket, Children’s Bank etc. And some other ones suchas Cash register which are an interesting way to learn Math. Vasavi and I are hooked to a card game based on Cricket – which is an awesome way to learn both Cricket as well as math.

    On a different note, we did this interesting “me and my family’ word-hunting activity wherein I asked Vasavi to jot down her perception about each family member (to begin with, she started with Dad, Mom, Aarav and herself). Now the game was hunting for the approp words which describe each of us. So the fun began. She was on a rock-n-roll searching all her favourite books for ‘describing words’. We must have discussed words and meanings of atleast 100 words for this. Finally, she selected some 7- 8 words for each of us. It was interesting how she back her selection of words with a sound logic. Finally, to add the artistic spice to this activity, she is busy creating a picture of “me and my family’ which she’ll fill up with these carefully chosen words.
    Try this out – its interesting to see wat ur kiddo thinks of u:)))

    • Rashmie April 7, 2012, 8:46 am

      Chhavi dear – sorry about the late reply. I’m feeling so hard pressed for time these days! it seems I’m lagging in every area! :(

      So wonderful to see you here! I’m glad you’re able to create time for your reading etc with the little one in tow..! (and the elder one needing ‘mamma-time’more than before)

      Yeah, I remember the chat we had about Math activities! I miss those exchange of ideas with you…. and the ‘our-time’while the girls were busy playing with each other. I don’t think I’ve ever been so ‘çhatty’ as I was with ‘you’. Talking to you and sharing my heart with you came so naturally to me….!

      This word describing game that you shared sounds so riveting and fun! I’m sure I’m going to have Pari play this. Would love to know her perception of me ;)

  • Roopa March 30, 2012, 4:45 pm

    Awesome! This is such a fun way to learn maths and I am sure Pari enjoyed the whole activity. Maths, especially trignometry was my favorite subject in school. I enjoyed solving all those problems and equations, fun! History and Civics were my least favorites. I studied them just to pass:((

    • Rashmie April 7, 2012, 8:50 am

      Roopa,
      Trignometry! Wow – so that ‘exotic’ subject was your favourite! While, I remember I kind of liked it – today I don’t remember a thing about the subject per se… :(
      Literature, Geography and later on – in college – Chemistry was my fav!

  • Jayadeep Purushothaman March 31, 2012, 6:58 am

    Fantastic – I picked up the book, “Beyond Facts & Flashcards: Exploring Math with Your Kids” and it has been a revelation on the various ways you can teach your kids math in a fun way. Our daughter is just 4, so it has been counting and grouping things. Card games(uno) have also been very useful. When we wait in a queue, she counts how many people are before us and after us and found it was changing all the time! And the one thing she always asks when we go on a long trip is – “when will we reach ?” and next time we are going to go prepared to handle that question with a map and try to teach a sense of distance to her. Thank you for sharing your experience!

    • Rashmie April 7, 2012, 8:53 am

      Jayadeep,
      Thank you for sharing your ideas and the book. I’m going to check it out. Sounds useful.
      The “when will we reach” question can be so much fun and interesting to look at! Yeah, a map can keep them busy for hours!

  • Pritam April 2, 2012, 4:39 am

    Very interesting…..
    Rashmie, you always have unique ways to teach things…..and with same interest Pari is doing it.
    Most i loved @ this acvtivity is estimating game!!

    • Rashmie April 7, 2012, 8:55 am

      Pritam,
      How wonderful to see you here after so long! I hope to keep the connection alive – always :) Thank you for the nice words!

  • Ness April 7, 2012, 1:07 pm

    I love this! Real life, everyday play is the BEST way to learn. My son has just started to “discover” the kitchen scales but still doesn’t quite get what they are for. I can’t wait for him to be ready to try this. Thanks for linking up with The Weekly Kid’s co-Op.

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