# 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!

# Are You Taller Than a Cow Parsnip?: Measuring in Units of Nature

Cow Parsnip (Heracleum lanatum)

I am so grateful for such a wonderful paradise on Mount Lemmon, being so close to the desert, and being surrounded by a beautiful community.  What a better place to go learn mathematics because there is math everywhere on the mountain.  What a great time to be up on Mount Lemmon and go exploring!

One of my favorite plants on the mountain is the Cow Parsnip.  These are my favorite wonders of the area!  Cow Parsnips remind me of a child where they begin as small little ones and grow above and beyond 5 feet tall, or close to it.  So I guess the big question is, are you taller than a Cow Parsnip?

What is great about being outdoors is that plants do not know what inches, centimeters, or feet are.  In Nature, there is an abundance of resources use to measure and one of these can be the Cow Parsnip of course! So go for a wonderful walk and look for one of these beauties.  Stand up next to one and measure yourself.  Who is taller, you or the Cow Parsnip?

Take the kids out for a walk and see how they measure against these wonderful giants.  Start using the words of comparison like, “shorter than”, or “taller than”.  How many of you would take to be as tall as the Cow Parsnip?  What about the blossoms?  How many blossoms would it take to be the length of your hand?  How about the width of your hand?  Take a look at those leaves!  How many of your hands would it take to be the same length, or width of those leaves?

This is cute and all, but how does learning Mathematics really measure up to the “real” world?  Take a child, for instance, maybe that child is sad because he/she hasn’t grown as tall as everyone else, but take a look at the Cow Parsnip with how small the Cow Parsnip began.  The Cow Parsnip starts out tiny and then shoots up to be taller than any other flowering plant I know.

Success can be measured using blossoms and stalks of plants, or the number of tree rings a tree can have in a lifetime.  Nature has so many opportunities where we can learn and explore in Mathematics.  What I would like everyone to get out of these posts is that the world of Mathematics encompasses more than what we can imagine.  The earlier we start our kids and grandkids in interacting and learning from Nature, the more they will have more reason to protect what is treasured by the rest of us.

# When Temperatures Rise, It is Time to Make Sugar Water for the Hummingbirds: Measuring with the Help of Little Hands!

This is not a new concept, but it is new for my child and that is what counts!  We love seeing our Hummingbird friends and they do remind us that the sugar-water is getting low.  For this activity, it takes just a smidge of time with your child and it is just right for the little hands to measure.

Materials:

1. A pot to hold at least 4 cups of water
2. Distilled, or Spring Water
3. 1 cup of raw sugar
4. A measuring cup, be it a 1/2 cup, whole cup, or 1/3 cup
5. Humming bird feeder

With those little hands, count out 1 cup of sugar and pour into the pot. If you are using a 1 cup measuring cup, then counting is easy.  If you are using a 1/2 cup, then you are counting to two.  If you are using a 1/3 cup, then you are counting to 3.  This would be a great time to show your child how two half cups of sugar equal into 1 cup and how three 1/3 cups of sugar equal 1 cup too!

Now count out 4 cups of water and pour it into the pot as well.  If you are using a 1 cup measuring cup, then count to 4.  Using a 1/2 cup will have you counting to 8 and using a 1/3 cup will have them counting to 12.  Then get a spoon to stir it up before putting this on the stove.

This is also a great time to tell your kids about the rules of the house with a stove.  To make sure my little one can still pour and scoop, the pot is first placed on the table and then transferred over to the stove.  Turn on the stove and let the mixture boil.  Once it is boiling, turn it off right away and let cool.

For us, we make this in the mid-morning and it cools off completely after lunch to be able to pour into the humming-bird feeder.

Now you can enjoy the Hummingbird friends coming over to your yard and take notice of the sounds they make when they call each other, fight over the feeder, or the different colors and sizes of the Hummingbirds.

Purchasing sugar-water at the store can be expensive over time and it also contains a lot of additives that the Hummingbirds should not consume in the first place.  This activity is much about being responsible to our animal visitors, as well as a mathematics lesson.  Planting flowering plants in your yard, that do not contain any pesticides, are also a wonderful addition to your yard.  There is plenty of measuring in that activity too!

Do not be surprised if you see a Woodpecker enjoying the sugar-water as well.  It is really fascinating to see them hang on to it to drink the water 🙂  If you also encounter a lot of Bees drinking the Sugar Water, do not be surprised either.  If this is a problem for you, then wait until the sun sets, or gets dark to remove the feeder, as Bees always go back to the hive at night.

The most important thought to keep with you, after reading this, is that you had a great time with your child that included mathematics and nature!  Enjoy!

# Pi Day is Today!!!! Let’s Celebrate Another Year of Pi

Today is Pi Day again!  This post you will see each year because it is just that important 🙂  To learn more for yourself about Pi, or for your older children, try http://www.piday.org

What about for our younger children?  We can:

1. Begin experimenting with measuring different circles with a piece of string and then taking that against a ruler to figure out length, which leads to,

2.  Talking about circumference (which is really finding the perimeter of the circle, or length

3. Looking at diameter (the length or distance across the circle),

4. Looking at Radius, which is half the length of a diameter of a circle, and

5. Compare! Get the circumference of any circle you are measuring and divide that by the measurement of its diameter. What number do you get? Get another circle and take its circumference and diameter and compare. What number do you get? How does that compare with the other circle?

6. This item can be either you number one choice to do before choices 1-5, or you can save this best for last. Read story books about Pi! This one is really fun and doesn’t take a whole lot of planning.

Where is this in the schedule of Activities of 3-5?

1. Monday- Reading a Math Story

2. Tuesday- Math under Numbers

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

For yourself, search through the internet on Pi.  Go to the library and look for books about Pi and read them for yourself and for your children.  For Pi, it is not just about that one day our of the year to learn about it, it is most importantly about seeing how this relates to the world around you and your children.

The more you and your children can see how you interact and deal with mathematics in everyday life and in nature, the more comfortable you will become in learning mathematics.  Learning about math is for everyone.  Mathematics is not just for the ones who go to college, or because they are a certain gender, mathematics is something that is all around us and everyone can study it.

So we can we celebrate Pi Day? Of course! Celebrate math everyday! 🙂

# 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!

# What Books Does Mom Have About Math? Here are just a few….

At our home, we have a lot of books about math.  I have been asked what books I have read or the kids used since they were little ones and even to this present day.  The best way I can do this is through photos and there will be repeats as I have taken these photos at different times.

As a note, none of the publishers, nor the authors have paid me or asked me to post these books on this blog.  These are books that we actually own, or have owned.  You do not need to get all of these books, just choose a one or a few and go from there.  Remember, checking them out in the library, borrowing them from a friend, or buying them are options.  The important thing to remember is to begin reading to your child, especially in mathematics. 🙂

copyright 2015 Learning Math with Mom

# Helping Around the House: Teaching About Money, Charts, and More

For this learning activity, the kids and I have been working on creating and modifying our own chore charts for three summers now.  The first summer, I needed the boys to work on certain skills around the house. So the first set of skills I focused on were:

1. Eating  all their food for each meal

2. Water plants

3. Pick up their toys and games when done playing

4. Lessons at home

5. Mommy’s helper

At the same time, I wanted my sons to become more comfortable in counting higher than 20 and 30.  At the beginning of this project, boys are about 4 and 3 years old, just about.

To create this, I went to the local dollar store, purchased some poster board and stickers, and it grew from there.  The idea behind it was for them to work in increments of 40 stickers.  I wanted them to understand how to count to 40.  For every 40 stickers, they were able to have the buying power of a certain dollar amount to use when we went out to the store.  However, there was no purchasing power until they earned an increment of 40 stickers.  This was to prevent them from spending a dollar here, or five dollars there, and just focusing on buying stuff.

Every time they finished their food, or at least ate until they were really full, they would get a sticker.  Each time they watered plants, they earned a sticker.  Every time they picked up after themselves, they earned a sticker.  The lessons were things like playing dominoes to learn adding, doing an art project, learning our shapes outside, and so on.  For “mommy’s helper”, I might need help with doing something that is not on the chart.  This gave me the flexibility to change that chore a bit now and then.  It could be helping me put their dirty dishes in the sink, or to help me put the laundry into the dryer.

The reason behind the “mommy’s helper” was so that the chore list was not 20 items or more long.  For small kids, that is intimidating.  So there were about five to start with from the very beginning.  The kids were also encouraged to decorate their charts.  After another summer, they wanted to choose their own stickers to use.  At our house, we do not use those stickers for anything else because they are considered money for our kids.

For the second summer, the 40 stickers are now worth 25 cents a piece.  This helped them now with understanding money.  We talked about how 4 stickers are worth \$1, just like you need four quarters (25 cents) to make a dollar.  We played with real money, as now it was not a choking hazard for their ages anymore.  We talked about dimes and pennies and half dollars too.  We still continue talking and learning about this as it comes up in our day.  Then we figured out that 40 stickers are worth \$10 now.

As they get closer and closer to the full amount of 40 stickers, they need to find out how many stickers they need to earn the full forty.  At that time, they thought of different things they could do around the house to earn it.

Chore List for Second Summer

1. Clean up toys and games after playing

2. Mommy’s helper

3. Help with sorting laundry (math lesson)

4. Put away your dishes (plasticware)

5. Water plants 6. Lessons at home

Chore List for Third Summer: (used this during the school year too)

1. Clean up toys and games after playing

2. Laundry (folding and sorting)

3. Getting yourself dressed and brushing teeth (morning and night)

4. Lessons

5 Mommy’s helper

Since this was the third new list for chores, they boys and I discussed what was placed on there.  It was not just me telling them on things to work on.  They had a say and I knew that would work better, now that they wanted to become more independent.

Logistics:

1.  We started with both boys on one poster board, now they each have their own.

2. Explain to the grandparents what stickers are worth and such, so that you do not come home with kids saying that they were promised 200 stickers for cleaning up.  🙂 (This actually happened)

3. I grouped the 40 stickers in increments of 4 stickers each by circling them.  The boys were there to learn that 4 stickers/quarters equal \$1 and 40 stickers/ 40 quarters equal \$10.  Then, the stickers were crossed out with marker.

4.  I tried looking for actual stickers of quarters and thought about using a stamp that was a quarter, but that will be after the school year starts.

5. Be patient.  This is a work in progress for us, still to this day.  It takes a lot of communication as well.

6. Use the chart as a way to show your child the areas they might need to work on more based on showing them how many stickers they have in that area.  (compare and contrast)

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

Click to access CALENDAR3yearsto5yearsofagePDF_0.pdf

1. Tuesday-Numbers, Quantity

2. Monday-Patterns (showing them areas they do more often and less often, what pattern do they see?)

3. Not posted -Money

In looking back at all of this, one child is now making better choices in spending money.  The lesson learn is not to spend for the sake of spending, but use your money wisely, especially on something that will not break after one day of use.  The other son has really learned about saving money and choosing not to spend the \$10 dollars just yet.  He waits until he earns another increment of 40 for something that costs more and can be used for a longer period of time.

No, we are not crazy for setting up the bar for \$10.  It is still a work in progress for the kids, so they do not earn \$10 each week or month.  They also understand how much work it takes to earn their money too.  There is also no exchanges after purchasing something either because we need to make things count.

You do not need to set the amount to 25 cents a sticker, nor set it to \$10.  You make the decision based on what works.  We have also chosen projects to work for donations and such.  They are reminded of how we need to share and give to others.

Their purchasing choices were more toys at the beginning.  Now, the purchases go toward kits of building robots, learning games, and books.  This was my goal because the main point was teaching them mathematics and also to invest in their learning. This post was a long one. If you have any questions, comment, or email me at mom at learningmathwithmom dot com.

# Pi Has Passed, but Can We Still Celebrate?

The biggest Pi Day ever has since passed. It was celebrated on 3/14/15 at 9:26 am and 53 seconds, so that we had 3.141592653…! We will not be seeing this for about another hundred years, but we still get to celebrate Pi Day every year on March 14th! To learn more for yourself, or for your older children, try http://www.piday.org

What about for our younger children?  We can:

1. Begin experimenting with measuring different circles with a piece of string and then taking that against a ruler to figure out length, which leads to,

2.  Talking about circumference (which is really finding the perimeter of the circle, or length

3. Looking at diameter (the length or distance across the circle),

4. Looking at Radius, which is half the length of a diameter of a circle, and

5. Compare! Get the circumference of any circle you are measuring and divide that by the measurement of its diameter. What number do you get? Get another circle and take its circumference and diameter and compare. What number do you get? How does that compare with the other circle?

6. This item can be either you number one choice to do before choices 1-5, or you can save this best for last. Read story books about Pi! This one is really fun and doesn’t take a whole lot of planning.

Where is this in the schedule of Activities of 3-5?

1. Monday- Reading a Math Story

2. Tuesday- Math under Numbers

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

For yourself, search through the internet on Pi.  Go to the library and look for books about Pi and read them for yourself and for your children.  For Pi, it is not just about that one day our of the year to learn about it, it is most importantly about seeing how this relates to the world around you and your children.

The more you and your children can see how you interact and deal with mathematics in everyday life and in nature, the more comfortable you will become in learning mathematics.  Learning about math is for everyone.  Mathematics is not just for the ones who go to college, or because they are a certain gender, mathematics is something that is all around us and everyone can study it.

So we can we celebrate Pi Day? Of course! Celebrate math everyday! 🙂

copyright 2015 learning math with mom

# A New Year? What is that?

Children usually think of time as either something that is done in a second, or something that is forever and usually there is nothing in between, at least it is like that with my kids.   So talking about a new year might be a great way to offer them a sense of time in terms of seconds, minutes, days, months, and a year.

Before you recycle last year’s calendar, spread out all the months onto the floor. You might need pieces of paper and something to write with. Decide what calendar year you are going to show them: a solar calendar year; a lunar calendar year; a religious calendar year; or a school year. Name the months of the year together as well. Explain to them what month you are beginning and ending with before you start and why.

Have the kids think about their birthday. What month does is his/her birthday? Write this down and place it on that calendar month, or have them practice their writing or drawing if they are ready. Did your family celebrate any festivals or holidays? Write them down or draw pictures and place those on the calendar month. Anniversaries? First day of school? Last day of school? Vacations? Trips to see family? Did family come over to visit you? Document those by having the child(ren) write down a memory, story, or draw pictures.

What about the seasons?  Together, talk about what months are in Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter.  Were there any significant weather events that happened? A big snow fall? Monsoons? After this, have the kids step back and see what last year looked like.

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

1. Tuesdays for Measurement (Time)

2. Monday for Sequence (Time)

3. Friday for Reading under “Write or Say Own Story”

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

By placing down the months on the floor, it gives your children a way to visualize time and to think back of all the things that happened that year.  It is also a great way to do something as a family, especially if the weather does not permit us to go outside.

Children at this age are at a wonderful part of life when time seems infinite.  To help them see and feel time, give them a visual that will help them grasp the concept of a year, a month, and a season.  It gives them a sense to see things in sequence in terms of what usually happens first in the calendar year. More importantly, if gives all of you a chance to learn math, draw pictures, write stories and memories, and spend time together, which I really appreciate in our home….with every chance we can get. 🙂

copyright 2015 learning math with mom

# Biggest to Smallest: Comparing Things from Nature in any Season! Even in Color and Shape

Autumn:

Here in the desert area, we do not normally have Autumn weather like other parts of the country during the months of September through November, but some of the trees do change color and drop their leaves. At our house, we have a tall Sycamore tree with leaves of various sizes that really should not be in the desert, but has survived all this time through tons of watering and care. So, I took this opportunity for this Autumn Season to have the boys pick up some of the fallen leaves and pick their favorites.

At this time, my boys are 4 and 3 years old. Picking up leaves, for them, is really not too much to ask for from mommy. J As we brought them in, we talked about the colors they saw on each of the leaves, counted the number of points on each leaf, and I was wondering if they would be able to choose the biggest leaf to the smallest leaf. Looking at the picture above, there are only seven leaves, which is a good number of one thing to compare for a 4 and 3-year-old. Any more than ten might be a bit much, especially if it is the afternoon before nap time.

Placing one leaf on the floor, I asked them if this was the biggest leaf. It was not. I kept asking questions and listened to what they had to say. As this kept going back and forth, back and forth, it took about five to eight minutes to get what you see on the picture. Here are questions that I asked the boys that resulted in the above picture:

1. Which one is the biggest leaf, this one, or that one? Why?
2. Which one is the next biggest leaf?
3. Which of the leaves is the smallest? How can you tell?
4. What about this leaf? Is this bigger or smaller than the first leaf on the floor? (you can overlap the leaf, one on top of the other, to see which one is bigger or smaller).
5. What if we did smallest to biggest, what would that look like?

Winter:

For the rest of the world that has a real winter, here are some ideas that you might want to take advantage of when comparing things in nature from biggest to smallest. Although most of the fallen leaves are gone or underneath snow, it would be a great time to also talk about color and why some leaves are still green and on the tree, instead of gone or brown.

1. Pinecones! If you have different conifers near you, take some fallen pine cones and compare them. Take a look at the way the pine cones are created. Do you see spirals? What shapes do you see?
2. Snowballs! Before a snowball fight, make some that are small and big and compare them.       This is a great way to start exploring 3-D shapes! What solids/3-D shapes can you make with snow and how? What 3-D shapes are easier to make than others and why?
3. Icicles! With this one, you need to be careful and very cautious because icicles can be really dangerous to be underneath. From a distance, you can compare the length of the icicles and also look at what shapes they are. This is a special treat because you can explore these from inside a warm house too!

Spring:

Spring is my all time favorite season because it is a time where everything comes back to life and it is cool and warm enough to go outside and explore! Why not look at different things outside and compare them. Make it like a scavenger hunt to find different flowers, leaves, and rocks. Then bring them all together and compare. What colors do you see? What shapes do you see?

1. Flowers
2. Green leaves
3. Vegetables in the garden
4. Plants

Summer:

This special season can be a way to get out of the heat and explore things in different parts of the country on a vacation, or even at the local zoo.   Compare things from biggest to smallest and you will find that your children will have an interesting way of thinking about what big is and small is and tall is. It also depends if something is standing upright or on the ground flat. If you can go to the zoo or look up pictures of animals, compare the size, colors, and shapes of the animals as well 🙂

1. Sea Shells
2. Flowers
3. Zoo Animals

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

1. Wednesday on Big and Small
2. Mondays on Shapes

http://www.learningmathwithmom.com/sites/default/files/ScheduleofActivitiesfor18mosto3yrsofage_0.pdf

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

1. Monday on Shapes
2. Tuesday on Measurement (if you are using a device to compare measurements, like a ruler)
3. Thursday on Geometry of 2D and 3D
4. Tuesday ( that I will soon add on Tuesdays is comparisons)

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

1. Thursday on Geometry of 2Dand 3D
2. Tuesday ( that I will soon add on Tuesdays is comparing)

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