Marcia Miller's Reflections & Resources

What do you see?

How many apples does it take to make a pie? How long does it take to bake? At what temperature? When you slice it, how many pieces will you have?

When you’re walking around in your everyday life, do you see the mathematics all around you?  Do you notice shapes, sizes, angles, and patterns? Do you see the potential for counting and sorting and comparing items?  Not as lessons, but just as cool things to observe as you’re going about your business.  If you notice these interesting parts of life, and enjoy the math all around you, your kids will too.  Your lives will be full of patterns and numbers, puzzles and games, and fascinating problem-solving experiences every day.

One year, we bought a large box of pears for canning.  Ben took them out of the box and laid them out ever-so-carefully on the table, in a spiral pattern.  He started in the middle of the table and then circled them around each other, spiraling outward until he reached the edges of the table.  Then he counted them to see how many there were.  Just because.

When he turned 8 years old, Ben exclaimed, “I’m an even number again!” I’ve always loved remembering that. It was a celebration of who he was, as well as a simple observation about the numbers in his life.  He’s more than twice that age now, but he still notices numbers and patterns like that.

If you see the math all around you, then you can appreciate it as a natural part of your life.  It’s something that’s useful and ordinary and amazing all at the same time.

 

When you see this garlic braid, do you count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 garlic bulbs? Or groupings of 3, 6, 9? Or maybe you think, how many rows of garlic will I need to plant so we can make several garlic braids next year?
When you see these fruits and veggies, do you think about shapes or colors or numbers? Do you count them or think about their groupings? Do you notice odd and even numbers? Do you wonder how long it is till lunch?
How many longboards can you build in a month? How many trips to the lumber store will it take? Which shapes do you like best? How many layers of 1/4 inch plywood will you need? How much will you spend? How much pride and happiness is on his face?
How many wall grips do you need when building a climbing wall? How far apart should they be? Should you lay them out systematically on a grid, or randomly? How much weight will they hold? What are the best angles for a climbing wall?
If you see it snowing at night, do you wonder how much snow there will be in the morning? Enough for sledding? And what's the temperature outside?
How many pumpkins and how many of each size and variety? Do we have enough to keep for winter and some to give away?
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