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.

Learning Math with Mom is on Facebook

The hope for putting Mom on Facebook is to build a community that interacts more frequently than just once a month.  You will still get the updates via email, if you are following this blog.  New posts will still be on this blog, so keep connected!

In addition to this, my hope is that you can share out which Learning Math with Mom activities and ideas you have been using at home.  What has worked?  What do you and your child need more help with?  How has your child’s view of the world changed from being more open to math?  How have you changed since having used, or just keeping up with the reads from Learning Math with Mom?

Remember, all of this is free and will remain free online.  The mission of Learning Math with Mom is to spread the message of opening the world of mathematics to the little ones in our world, wherever you are. Keep in mind that whatever you share on Facebook with Learning Math with Mom will not be sold, or printed for profit.  So go to http://www.facebook.com/learningmathwithmom and like it, share it, and send it out to day cares, preschools, neighbors, and friends!

Thank you for the followers of Learning Math with Mom since the beginning and I look forward to chatting with you and learning how you are helping your child learn math in your part of the world!

It is Time to Giveaway a Prize From Learning Math with Mom!

Update:  The winner is…..Amanda Tanbal!  This basket will be mailed out to your elementary school next week.  Thank you all who entered 🙂 March 2016

It is time to set a goal for Learning Math with Mom!  It would be wonderful to get more followers on this blog as possible.  The goal is to get 100 followers by the end of the month.  To do this, go to http://www.learningmathwithmom.wordpress.com and scroll down to the right hand side of the blog.  Enter your email address to follow the blog.  Each email that is entered to follow the blog will receive a ticket for the drawing.  If you were recommended by someone to follow the blog, email me at mom@learningmathwithmom.com to let me know who recommended you.  Then, you, with two tickets now, and the other person will placed for the drawing. You can also add your name to the comments below and let me know who recommended you.

The prize is a basket of goodies:

1. Robot Time: a domino game to play with your kids to learn about reading clocks and telling time
2. Paper dollars to learn about counting, or whatever you would like to do!
3. A wooden bee ornament to paint with your child
4. Bee paper cutouts that you can count and use for any arts and craft activity!

(Because of mailing costs, this is open to U.S. Residents only, my apologies)

This is the first time for Learning Math with Mom to do this, so let us be patient and share this out to as many as possible!  If this does really well, I will think about doing another drawing and open it up to more locations :)Thank you !

Mom 🙂

copyright 2016 learning math with mom

Learning About Length of Time Through Planting

Where we live, there is still time to plant in our garden.  This year is our first year of planting in our little garden and I have debated about using seedlings or starting our vegetables from seed.  I have done a little of both, as we have the luxury of being able to do this.  However, may I suggest to work from seed?

Where we live, we have the luxury of being able to go to the grocery store down the street and get our produce, or order it from our local farms.  In our family, we are at the point where our children need to know where food comes from, how to take care of the garden, and how to plant the seeds of the food they will eat.  Before we started the garden, I came upon this book and read it to them.

This book talks about how long it takes for a seed to form into a tree and goes through the seasons and years in such a beautiful way.  There are other books out there that also focus on growing a garden and growing your own food.  Doing this really helped my kids understand that we would not get carrots the next day after planting.  Also talking about how much time is needed for plants to mature in order to harvest really helps.

For my kids, learning about how much time and effort to put into your garden and wait time for growth is something I really wanted my kids to learn right now.  In terms of math, this is a great lesson in the concept of time. When they get a little older, I will ask them to keep a journal or calendar to chart and write their observations.  I could do this now, but I really want them to focus on understanding that growing good food takes time, as it should.  I also want them to learn that things might not grow or come instantly and that is okay.  Why? Because sometimes when we work on math problems or learn a new concept, things take time and that is okay.  Concept of time and learning patience on growing plants and with themselves are keys things for my kids to learn right now so that if they every work on a math problem, science problem, writing, reading, or what ever the lesson, they will learn about giving them self more time to grow and learn.  🙂 I will also say this out loud to them over and over and as much as I need to so that they hear this and learn.

Where is this in the Schedule of Activities for ages 3-5?

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

1. It is not there, but it goes under concept of time.

In learning about mathematics, especially at this young of an age for our children, what is really important is to have a positive and “can do” attitude and patience on how much time it might take to learn something new.  The more we talk to our kids and prepare them this way, the more successful they will become in reaching their goals in math and in other areas of academics and in life.  Do they learn this the first time they plant a garden? No, but they need to start at some point. Nurturing a garden, taking care of pets and other animals, or doing something that takes time to finish, will help them understand how much time it takes to get quality results, not just quantity.  In other words, it is not about who gets their first, it is more important about actually getting there. 🙂

copyright 2015 Learning Math with Mom

You Deserve to Understand Mathematics

In talking and listening to my colleagues at work, it dawned on me that many reasons why some of us might not be open in learning math, or even teaching others math for that matter, stems from the question of “Do you believe those you teach deserve to learn and understand the math?” and “Do you believe you are deserving to learn and understand math?”

Your answer and my answer might be, “well, of course!” Really think about this for a moment. You believe that you and your child deserve to read, so you find out tools to use and what things to do with your child to help him/her to read. You believe that you and your child deserve to have a healthy eating lifestyle, so you do what you can to achieve that. I am wondering if we truly believe that we deserve to learn mathematics.

From my teaching years in the classroom, the meet-ups with parents and even other adults throughout the day would freely share how their parents were not great at mathematics and so they believed this was the reason why they are not good in math. Some parents would also freely share that they were not great in math and so they do not expect their child to be great in math, as if this was connected to genetics. If you really want a gene, a math gene, then go to http://www.learningmathwithmom.com/index.php?q=img_assist/popup/31 and get your math gene. Make this yours and pass it on to others so that we can stop the thinking that the math gene is out of reach.

On behalf of anyone who has told you that you cannot learn math, or anything for that matter, I apologize. I am so sorry that happened to you or to your child. We are all capable of learning. We all have our strengths and we all have our desire to learn.

At least learn one new thing a week, or even every two weeks. Begin telling yourself and your children that the both of you deserve to learn the math and understand it. Keep telling yourself that you can do it and spread the message to your child. If you want to learn more about how to help yourself and/or your children to understand math, keep reading the blogs, subscribe, and feel free to e-mail me at mom@learningmathwithmom.com .

copyright 2014 learning math with mom

Taking a Break to Breathe :) Why I Do This for My Kids and For You!

It has been two months since I last posted an activity and all I can say is that it was time to take a break to breathe. I hope you were able to do the same, whether it was for five minutes or all summer. Sometimes it is okay to not try to schedule everything all at once, to have your life planned for every single second, and meet every single deadline. Bottom line, when you feel rushed, so do you kids. So take the time to breathe and enjoy the time you have with your little ones, especially before they go off to school…if they haven’t done so already.

My two cents worth of being part of this movement to incorporate more math in the early years is not just about teaching shapes and how to count before a child begins school. It is also about changing the way we think and do mathematics in our lives. I have been trying to show you how simple, less complex, and how easy it is to teach your child about math before he/she starts school for the first time.

For the past five years, I have been asked if I am homeschooling my kids. At first, my thoughts were that I was not homeschooling them because they were eventually going to school when they are of age. Then I thought more about what people were really asking me. Many people need to label what they do or others do to try to wrap their minds around something that is not the norm. All I was trying to do was create an environment where my kids did not feel bombarded or bored about learning math. My goal was to just make it a normal part of their life and not a chore or another extra thing they needed to do. In a way, I am homeschooling my kids. In one way or another, we all do that with just about anything we teach our kids. We teach our kids certain things we think and feel are important for them to understand. The important thought I want you to understand is that it is really important to surround your child or children with the knowing that learning in not just at school; learning happens at home, on the playground, at lunchtime, outside, and as a family.

Whatever subject or skill, or just about anything you want your child to learn from you, you need to understand and feel that it is important or your children will not see the purpose in learning it. Although I am teaching my kids math, I also am expanding to other areas that I was not very strong in. To be a supporter of the arts, I needed to do things in art to feel empowered and confident so that my children can also know that they can feel that way to. Whatever it is, become their teacher of making a success and a teacher of making mistakes 🙂

Throughout all these years, I love every minute I was able to be with my kids, especially showing them that there is nothing to fear in math, or in any subject. You fall, so dust yourself off and try again. You make a mistake on the canvas for art, there is always white paint. Remember to have an eraser at the end of your pencil. It is not how fast you get there, it is the fact that you got there!

So stop and take a breather with your kids and let us get back to learning math 🙂

copyright 2014 learning math with mom

Do you have a Science Background? I wish! My son is interested in Science so I look for things that are Scientific for Him to Do

How inspirational is this!  I was waiting to pick up my four-year old son from preschool and asked a simple question to one of the other mothers.  Her son has been sharing these great science activities for sharing day in class.  So I asked her if she had a science background because it was amazing what her son was doing in relation to science.  She gave me a smile and said, “I wish!”  She added that her son is showing an interest in science, so she looks for things that are scientific for him to work on.  The biggest light bulb switched on for me!  This was one of the biggest eye-opening moments for me as a mother!

We as mothers, fathers, grandparents, and…quite frankly…whoever we are, might have an area that we just don’t approach, not even with a ten foot pole. Before having my children, that area was art.  The best I could do were stick figures.  It was not until my oldest started to draw at 18 months to two years that inspired me to help him however I could.  Later on, it meant that I would need to learn everything about art and find resources to help me help my son.  In a nutshell, that ten foot pole for art has now shortened itself to a crayon. 🙂

Coming back to this particularly wonderful mom, she told me that she wished she was an expert in science.  What I should have told her and will tell her this week is that she is an expert to me and she most certainly is to her boy.  She is a learner and now teacher to her boy in science because of her efforts to become one.  She is open to learn and discover for the sake of her child.

If you get anything out of Learning Math with Mom, I hope you understand that this is your resource to encourage you to come out of your shell, drop that ten foot pole, and become a learner and teacher of mathematics to your child.  To take this one step further, maybe it is not just for the sake of your child that you are learning about how to incorporate math in your home, but for the sake of yourself J  Your child, or children are not the only ones who deserve to learn about math.  You deserve this too!