# Secret Codes, Multiplication, and Making Memories: Deciphering Clues on the Mountain.

It is time to have the kids explore the mountain.  One likes to decode, the other one needs help in multiplication, and the younger one needs to remember a clue from the book I read to her. What better way to get them moving out and about than a scavenger hunt!

The idea was to write four different clues. The first clue, both boys could figure it out.  This idea came from a childhood of mine, “The Secret Three”.  The boys had to place the secret note in front of a mirror to read it.  The second clue gave one a chance to decipher a simple code as he really enjoys doing them. Clue #2 had to do with assigning numbers to each letter of the alphabet.  It eventually led them to their favorite place to go sledding.

The next clue needed to help my other son with his multiplication. In order to do this, Clue #3 had to do with numbers assigned to letters, but those numbers were products that needed to be calculated through multiplication.  The answer led them to the next clue, which was where we had our fairy garden outside.

The younger one needed to feel she was able to help out by remembering an important part of a book I read to her. It also helped her with rhyming words. 🙂  The answer to the next clue had to do with finding it in a secret room in the house and eventually being led to the prize.  It was a lot of fun and took about 30 minutes for them to get the prize, cookies and hot chocolate! Yum! Here are pictures of each clue:

There is a new excitement to teach children how to code on the computer. What I feel is a great introduction though, is to go back to old school secret codes and scavenger hunts. The kids really need to get intrigued by wanting to decipher something and it builds on their critical thinking. By getting them started to learn how to decipher different types of codes and clues, it really gets them to understand how symbols and numbers can be associated to different commands when they get to using code on the computer.  This activity also gets my kids to go outside and explore the mountain, so this also ties into the importance of being in Nature. I plan to do more of this with them in the future!

The one thing I would do differently is to give them each a different clue to take them on their own scavenger hunt and to color code them to help them keep track. There was a time when one was working on the code while the others played nearby.  It worked, but I really wanted them to all be engaged at the same time.

The important thing is to get them excited about math and using it outside, especially if it involves cookies and hot chocolate as the end all of prizes! Enjoy!

# Preparing for the Winged Visitors Coming Back from the Winter: Pouring, Measuring, Classifying, and Counting.

At this time of year, it might be snowing where you live, but not here.  The weather is slowly getting warmer and the birds are coming back from homes during the Winter time and they are hungry!  So why not prepare something for them and turn it into a mathematics lesson?

You can either make your own bird feeder and bird seed mix or purchase them from the store.  Get some measuring cups, a ruler/measuring tape, and go outside to have some fun!

First, take a look at the bird seed mix.  What shapes do you see?  Do you see some circles and ovals?  Do you see some triangles, spheres, or curvilinear triangles?  What colors do you see?  How many different types of seeds do you see?  Could you sort them out if I gave you a cup of that bird seed?  How would you sort them?

Next, have your child look at the measuring cup and estimate how many cups of bird seed it will take to fill up the feeder. Remember what your estimate is and now begin to count how many cups of birdseed it takes to fill up the feeder.

Then,  how many inches, or rulers tall, or building bricks tall, or hands tall is the bird feeder?  Where are we putting the feeder and how long of a string do we need?

Once you have your feeder up, let the fun begin by observing what birds come to use it.  It might take a day, or two before the birds come, but it will be a great experience to see how many birds a day visit the feeder.  What colors do the birds have?  How big are the birds?  How many different birds come visit the feeder?

This whole math lesson may take 5 to 15 minutes from start to finish and it is worth it.  Something very simple and so many mathematical ideas to explore!  Have fun with this and with your child(ren)!

This activity can be adapted for any age of child and learning stage for the child.  You know your child(ren) better than I do 🙂  So, you may want to not ask so many questions, maybe use three.  If you have older children, they can make charts to categorize and keep track of the kinds of birds they see.  They can also name the types of seeds and birds as well.

Whether or not the weather is right at the moment, the birds will still be hungry and you are inviting the birds to come to you 🙂  The kids and you can even practice different bird calls and whistles by listening to them as well!  Get yourself and your child(ren) outside to explore the Mathematics around you and have fun!

Enjoy!

# Concentricity: Triangles, Circles, and Even More Shapes in Our Food, Life, and in Nature

Mount Lemmon, AZ

Concentricity is something that others would say is too early to teach the little ones about.  I strongly disagree on this note.  Basically, Concentricity happens when there is a common center shared among other circles or spheres.  What I have found are some other examples that go outside of the rule of circles.  With the kids, we have found examples with triangles and ovals.

So by trying to keep this short and sweet for this month’s post, look at the examples below.  When Concentricity happens out in Nature, it is so easy to just point that moment out to our children, regardless of age.  This happens outside our home, inside the home, and in our food.  I hope this encourages you to go find more examples where you live. 🙂

Concentric Circles:

Tree rings are about the most common one that all of us can identify as they are concentric circles.  The sliced beets you see below are candy-striped beets and they taste delicious!

Concentric Triangles:

This Pine is a wonderful example of concentric triangles. So go out to the forest and see what the trees can teach you! 🙂 Let us not forget the strawberries too!

Strawberries 🙂

Concentric Ovals and More:

Kiwi is just as delicious and a great tool to show Concentricity.  This beautiful Agate can be debated on whether this shape is an oval, or an ellipse, or a five-sided figure.  Either way, I see the Concentricity here too 🙂 Do you?

How about squares? When do concentric squares happen?  How about other shapes? Where do you see them?  Think about it and start exploring!  That is the beauty about Mathematics as it is out there and there are so many opportunities for more than one answer because that is just how it is.  Just because a definition of Concentricity only includes circles, or spheres does not mean that there is no likelihood of an exception for that definition.  When we are able to discover and see the exceptions when they happen, that is where the heart and beauty of Mathematics exists.  These interesting surprises are the most important to point out to the children!  and to you!

Learning about Geometry, especially Concentricity, at such an early stage in life gives them the opportunity to see it everywhere.  Once a child, or any person of any age, is able to see the Geometry, it becomes more tangible when it is time to learn more in the classroom.  It then becomes more relevant and more important to them to learn because Mathematics is even more interesting than rules and procedures, it is about exploring and experiencing what happens outside your door.

Have fun learning and exploring together! 🙂

# There’s Math in Them There Mountains!  Spending Time Outside, Exploring Math, and Building Vocabulary

(On Mount Lemmon, Arizona )

Summer brings grandkids, our own kids, nieces, and nephews up to the mountain.  This is the greatest time for kids to explore and enjoy the mountain life. Even we can be kids at heart and enjoy what the mountain has to offer! But what’s that you say? There is math on these mountains?  Of course!

As a mother and a mathematics teacher, I take every opportunity to teach my children about math, even on Mount Lemmon.   Here are a few ideas of how to look at the natural landscape of our beloved sanctuary for the little ones:

Shape Watching on a Nature Walk

1. Small Pine trees are growing all over and some are the right height for young children to see the top of them.  Have them look at the top, looking down, and ask them what they see?  Do they see baby pine cones growing, they are called cones for a reason because cones are shapes.  Also, look at the way the needles are growing, they form a spiral!

2. While you are looking at the Pines, look down below because the Ferns are growing.  Did you know that they grow from unraveling from a spiral? When the leaves stretch out, they are little triangles too!

3. There are many tree stumps around, so take a closer look.  What shape do you see?  We see circles, tree rings. Together, they are concentric circles, like a bullseye.  What if you dropped a rock in the stream, would that make “tree rings”, or concentric circles in the water too?

4. What about when the Common Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale)come out?  The parts that we like to call Dandelion wishes are small spheres.  If you look closer, each little part of the white “Dandelion wish” are little parabolas.

Counting on Nature to Teach Us Numbers

1. Let us look at the Richard’s Geraniums (Geranium richardsonii) and Cranesbill (Geranium caespitosum) that will be growing soon.  Count the number of stamen of the flower and count the number of petals on the flower.  Is one double of the other? Is one half of the other? Are they the same?

2. Take a look at the Big Leaf Periwinkle (Vinca major).  Looking at the center, you see a pentagon, then out of that, another pentagon, and then the five petals.  This flower is all about the number five 🙂

3. When the Common Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) start growing, count the number of petals they have.  Do you get an odd or even number of petals?  How many?  What about the flowers on the Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus), count the number of petals on one little flower.  Do you get an odd or even number of petals?  How many?

These are simple things to open the mind of the child, and the child-like hearted ones we all are, to seeing the mathematics out in Nature.  Even if this takes five minutes to the whole entire day, everyone went outside, explored mathematics, and learned and used new vocabulary. This is a great way to show relevance of learning shapes and numbers because it is out there in our world.  🙂

Also, a many thanks to Frank S. Rose’s work on Mountain Wildflowers of Southern Arizona as it was a great resource to me to finally learn the names of the wonderful plant life we see on Mount Lemmon, AZ.

# Looking for Shapes in Rocks: Hearts, Trapezoids, Rectangles, Triangles, and Rhombi.

Rhombus-Shaped Rocks, or Diamonds

The kids wanted to go ride their bikes outside and while everyone took their water break, we took the opportunity to look for rocks.  It all started by asking the kids to look for rocks in the shape of triangles.  Those were put in a pile.  Then I asked them to look for rocks in the shape of rectangles.  Then one of them found a trapezoid shaped rock and the rest found more of those.  After that, it was time to look for rocks shaped like a rhombus, or diamond shaped.  It took all of five minutes and it was fun!  That’s all it has to take to see shapes in shapes because it is just that easy.  The best thing about this is that it is a scavenger hunt that is fun at any season of the year 🙂  So go outside and explore the shapes that rocks have to offer!

Rectangle-Shaped Rocks

Heart-Shaped Rocks

Trapezoid-Shaped Rocks

Triangle-Shaped Rocks

Go outside and search for the shapes because they do happen naturally, even hearts!  If you do not have a yard, or a place to look for rocks, then go look at the shapes you see on buildings, or the sidewalk.  The shapes are everywhere and it is free! No prepping, no spending, just walk outside and point these things out to your kids.  From time to time, ask them what shape this is, or ask them to find something in this shape.  It is so much fun!

Get excited about math and get them excited too! When you show interest, they will follow.  Change the way they see the world because it is so beautiful outside 🙂

copyright 2016 learning math with mom

# Learning About Red, Green, Black, and Time. What’s in Your Garden?

A garden is just a garden, right?  What is so interesting about a garden?  Well, what you grow in the garden can teach your children many things like the fact that colors can have flavor, texture, and smell.  A garden can teach you about how time can be measured more than with days, weeks, and months.  So what’s in the garden?

For my current little one in the house, we were fortunate to pick some tomatoes and watermelon from a garden that we help at once a week during late summer and fall.  This was a perfect opportunity to teach my daughter about the color red, green, black.

Before giving the fruit, or vegetable to your child, describe the color.  Not all watermelons are red inside.  Not all tomatoes are red either.  Even on the same fruit, or vegetable there can be multiple colors.  Point those out 🙂

Learning about a color of a fruit, or vegetable is very important because they learn when it is ripe to eat, or best to eat it.  Talking about when a tomato gets red and what color is it when it begins to grow is very important to learn and it gives them the opportunity to understand why certain colors of food is so important to know before eating it.  Why do we not eat the tomato when it is green?  We eat celery when it is green, why not tomatoes?

To learn about flavor of a fruit or vegetable, it is easy to just have the child eat it.  For smell, have the child smell it and ask it the smell and taste are the same, or different.  For example, some people can tell if they are smelling cilantro, but the taste to them is like eating grass.

On another thought, what does the rind, which is green, taste like when you take a bite of it?  What anything green taste like and smell like?  How about the color black?  Black berries and black cherries are great examples of black fruit!  What about a banana that goes from green, to yellow, to brown, to black?  What does a banana taste like and smell like when it is those colors and when would we eat them, or use them to cook with?  In other words, give your child the experience to find out these certain characteristics of food that we sometimes take for granted.

For texture, I know people who might describe a tomato has mushy, slimy, or juicy.  It just depends on the person who is tasting that tomato at that moment.  The same can go for a the texture of watermelon.  🙂

So what does color, smell, texture, and taste have to do with learning about math?  When we take the little moments to help our children understand the relevance of color, smell, texture, and taste of what we eat, we are giving our children an opportunity to understand the world they are living in.  By also taking the time to explore the characteristics of fruit and vegetables we prepare the child to use more vocabulary in describing something.  In mathematics, exploration, understanding relevance, finding more ways to describe something, and looking for patterns is very important.

Think about time for a moment, time can be measured by seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, and years.  But when we look at vegetables and fruit, time can also be measured in the color that a vegetable turns.  Time can also be measured in terms of the texture and smell that a certain vegetable and fruit produces.  It is very important to understand time this way because it teaches us to understand when a certain vegetable, or fruit from our garden is ready to eat.

When we can think of different ways to describe what goes on in our world, like produce from the garden, the more interested we might become in exploring other situations around us.  The more different ways we can see a garden, the deeper the understanding we can develop about how a garden works and what goes on in a garden and this can all start with your little one.

Mathematics becomes more interesting when we think it is connected to things in our life because it really is.  When we give our children the opportunity to see it in their early years, the less of a struggle it will be when they get older.  We all, at some point, need to know why we need to learn something and that, my friend, is called relevance.

I have come across this need for relevance many times when I taught students in the classroom, also other teachers in mathematics, with my own learning, and with my children. We all want to know why we need to learn something and that is a good thing.   When we see that it is part of our everyday life, then we are more open to learning about it.  All this, from a garden.  So what’s in your garden?

copyright 2016 learning math with mom

# When the Only Way Your Child Learns Shapes is if it’s Pink: Adapting to Our Children

It was that time to teach my daughter her shapes.  I tried the shape cards to show her what is a circle, a square, a triangle, and the rest of the shapes.  When we went to the grocery store, I pointed out items that were in the shape of a circle, a square, a rectangle, and such.  She did not seem interested, but I continued to do it.

The same went for colors.  The only color she wanted to learn was the color pink. It was a few months, but then she opened up to purple.  After that, she was interested in red, but her favorite color was pink.  So I went along with her favorite color and wanted to use that to help her get interested in learning her shapes.

One morning, I picked out the pink shapes for each different shape and she was so excited! From then on, we work on the pink shapes because for now, that is what works. As for counting  items from 1 through 10, they are the color pink.  🙂

Here is the link to the shape cards that are in color in both English and Spanish:

2 dimensional shape flash cards in English

Click to access 2dimensionalshapeflashcardswithellipse.pdf

2 dimensional shape flash cards in Spanish

Click to access 2dimensionalshapeflashcardsinspanish.pdf

Just because my daughter is a girl, did not automatically mean that she was going to like the color pink.  I am female and prefer the color blue.  Your son might like the color pink and your daughter might like orange.  The point being is that certain colors should not be assumed that a certain gender will like them.  We all , young and older, have different interests.  With that, use your child’s interest as a tool for learning.

Remember that we also learn at different times.  It is not about getting to the finish line first, it is about actually getting there.  Take the time to do a little bit each day, or each week to work with your child on mathematics.  If it becomes frustrating, take a breath and come back to it at another time.

The mathematics is already there, whether it is time to make a meal, play outside, or shop for groceries.  The more we make mathematics as a part of our life, the more relevant it will become to your child to learn and understand.

copyright 2016 learning math with mom

# Zoo, Numbers, and Shapes

At our local zoo, Reid Park Zoo, I entered my then two year old into some classes in the mornings that were held once a month. One of the classes focused on numbers and the zoo. At first, I did not know what to expect, but after the class, I was really impressed.

All the toddlers and preschoolers for the class meet at the entrance. We all go through the zoo and stop at various animal sites. The focus is to have the kids look at the animals and count how many legs they have, or what shapes they might have on them. For the giraffes, the children counted four legs and for the tortoises, the shapes ranged from squares to pentagons to circles. After the tour through the zoo, the children and parents gathered to a room for story time, an activity, and looking closely at other animals.

One of the books read to the children was about how many legs or how many toes a given animal has. The activity after that was to make an octopus out of a paper plate, paper strips, and paper circles. The parent and child were able to number the legs and decorate. The next activity consisted of placing the correct animals and number of animals onto the selected square on the sheet of paper. One section of the sheet was looking for 1 flamingo, so you placed the flamingo there. The other animals were frogs, hippos, and alligators. The picture above shows both finished activities.

At the end of the class, the Reid Park Zoo educators had three small animals for the kids to look at and touch. The whole focus was to get to know the animal, count how many legs, count how many toes, and allowing the children to touch the animal first hand. Each animal the zoo educators bring out to the class are safe for the kids and parents to touch and observe. It could be a hen, a bearded dragon, a rabbit, or a skink.

My son loved the whole experience and it was a real situation where one can apply math, in context. It was fun, real, and worth sharing it with you to encourage you to go to the Reid Park Zoo, or your local zoo, and take part in the experience!

Where is this on the Schedule of Activities from 18 months to 3 years of age?

1. Monday on Shapes

Where is this on the Schedule of Activities from 3 to 5 years of age?

1. Tuesday on Numbers
2. Wednesday on Classify

http://www.learningmathwithmom.com/sites/default/files/CALENDAR3yearsto5yearsofagePDF_0.pdf