# Look Up to the Clouds and Name What You See: Harnessing Imagination to Build Stronger Thinking in Mathematics

I see a dragon on his back, a troll, a moose head/reindeer head, and some kind of duck doing the back stroke. Ha! 🙂 What do you see?

With Spring and Summer bringing beautiful clouds, this is a great time to plop on the ground and look up at the sky!  Have you ever played the game of naming clouds?  Do you know that this might be great for your creative eyes to stretch and have some fun?

Just go outside and take a few minutes to look at some clouds and take turns with your child as to what they see and you see.  Name some shapes too!  Have lots of giggles and smiles!  Your child might be able to see their favorite cartoon character, or a favorite animal.  Here are some clouds that I thought were fun look at:

To me, these clouds look like sun glasses.  My sons sees stretched out silly putty!  What do you see?

A little later in the morning, the same cloud from above transformed to this!  I see two space ships.  My older son sees two eyes.  What do you see?

These are special clouds as you may be able to see a fairy or two up in the sky 🙂

The bigger cloud may look like a seahorse or dragon looking down.  What do you see?

In Mathematics, the patterns, or solutions that we need to find are not always going to pop up at you and say “Here I am!”.  I have used a lot of creativity and imagination to solve some mathematical problems.  The more opportunities we take time to be creative in what we see, the easier it will be to see even the hardest patterns and solutions.  It is helping yourself and your child to see and think outside of the box.  It will also make it easier to explain it to someone else.  We also need to remember that some of the most innovative advances in science have also come from authors of science-fiction.  Creativity inspires!  🙂

There is always more than one way to add, there is always more than one way to multiply, and there is always more than one way to approach a problem.  Being an example to our children in this way can really help them adapt to challenges, seeing things differently, and knowing it is great to try another approach.

Remember, creativity and imagination go hand in hand with Mathematics!  Having this attitude and belief will help us see just how attainable Mathematics really is to all of us.  Enjoy being with the clouds!

# Cupcakes of Good Measure: Another look into Counting, Division, and Fractions.

The kids are getting older to the point of doing more things to help out in the kitchen.  This has given them a sense of empowerment and joy in cooking and baking.  For this baking experience, one needed to distribute 24 baking cups into the cupcake baking tins. This task was for my little one to do, to give her a chance to practice on her counting.  The other child was given the responsibility of measuring the ingredients and placing them in the bowl.  Then there was mixing and distributing the mixture into the cupcake holders, my other child. 🙂

When it was time to distribute the mixture into the cupcake holders, we needed to talk about how much to fill the holder.  If it was filled to the top, the cupcake would overflow when baking.  If filled to little, then it might over baker, or burn.  So we decided to fill it up about halfway.  That worked. 🙂 We also filled some a third of the way and that worked as well, but we needed to keep an eye on them to prevent over baking.

After putting everything into the oven, waiting for them to bake, and letting them cool, it was time to decorate.  Each child was able to decorate given the icing, sprinkles, and their own different piping tips with icing bags to use too! Before they were able to begin decorating, they needed to figure out how many cupcakes each would have equally if there are 24 to distribute.  To help my little one figure it out, the two older ones distributed one cupcake at a time to each other until there were no more to distribute.  So the result was that each have 8 cupcakes to decorate any way they wanted.  We did this outside to make clean up easier.  🙂 It was a good day!

Giving each child a task to do for a single project, like baking, gives them an opportunity to contribute.  The task does not need to be daunting, or feel like they are in a lecture about Mathematics.  When you cook, bake, or do a project together, point out the math they are doing and ask them if they were having fun doing it!  For a bit of advice, do no more than pointing out three to four things they are doing in math.  For kids, they want to experience things too. 🙂

In baking, I point out the importance of following the directions because it is an exact science.  Baking, in my opinion, does not have many allowances to veer off the path because you are working in an area of chemistry.  There are substitutions, but you need to research those substitutions, or you may get goop or a something as hard as a rock for your result.

The ingredients, whether dry, or wet, need to be added a certain way in order to react properly.  Over mixing can cause too much air to be added to the batter and may not come out right in the oven.  There is a difference between baking powder and baking soda, but both are chemical agents to help the batter to rise.

There also is working with expansion when heat, from the oven, is applied to the mixture.  That is why it is so important to talk to the children about how much mixture should be put into the cupcake holder.  Describe how much batter should be added by using what fraction of the cupcake holder should be filled.

Baking might be looked at such a trivial task to do and not so complicated, but it is really a great math and science project talking about how each ingredient plays an important part.  As always, enjoy what you are doing so that the children enjoy also.  The more experiences we are given in working with mathematics, the less intimidating it will become in the future.  My goal is to create a space where mathematics is not for the chosen few to understand, but to make it accessible for all to be successful in because it is that important and beautiful!  :). Enjoy!

# 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: