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3 Ways to Make Math Fun

People who do not associate the word ‘fun’ with ‘math’ rob themselves of an exciting world of math games, math thoughts and math view of life.

They also lose an opportunity to help their kids develop their brain in a certain way (Studies have shown that one year of math brings about unexpectedly big changes in the child’s brain’s approach to problem solving.) You do not have to be a mathematician to enjoy doing math with your kids. Here are three everyday examples to engage your child:

1) Math at the Grocery Store:  

Kids love to accompany their parents to the grocery store and tick items off the checklist. Additionally, while you shop with your child you can:

 - Count the total number of items, and each time, while ticking items off the list, figure how many items are left;
 - Weigh a bunch of grapes and estimate the cost based on the weight;
 - Look at the size of oranges and apples or two different types of oranges and try to predict how many apples will weigh as much as two oranges? Then check the prediction!
 - An older child can help you decide which of the similar product is the cheapest (not that you will buy it!) by comparing cost per amount.

2) Math in the Car:

No matter how old your child is or how long the drive is, there are a number of math activities that you can engage in on the go.

A very young child can look for a car with the largest wheels, or the car with a licence plate that has all different or all same digits or count cars that are the same color as your car. The older child can try to answer a more involved question. The questions have to make sense and be funny and interesting such as: 

 - Are there more small cars or SUVs are on this road now? Count for a minute the number of small cars and SUVs that you pass. Will your answer change if you counted for 2 minutes instead?
 - An older kid can try to determine what fraction of all cars are SUVs (or green cars or cars with no passengers).  
 - What was the highest speed that your speedometer showed? How long was the trip and how much time did it take? How much time would it have taken if you’d manage to drive all the way with that highest speed? What was your average speed really? This comparison - of the average speed and the highest one - often surprises adults as well. If you drive with this average speed for 100 hours, will you be able to get to New York?

If your child has problems memorizing the multiplication table, make it your routine to practice each time you are in the car together. Start by asking 5 multiplication questions and then have your child ask you 5 multiplication questions as well. This way your kid gets to check if your answer is right! If you, like many parents, have to drive your child almost every day, this will add up to a sufficient amount of stress-free practice.

3) Math in the Kitchen:

Thanksgiving is almost here. If you plan to roast a turkey and use the thermometer to tell when the turkey will be ready, play a fun math game by taking the turkey’s temperature every 15 minutes - Who will predict when the turkey will be ready? The winner will be honored during Thanksgiving dinner.

If you happen to have both a dozen of jumbo eggs and a dozen of extra large eggs, ask your child:

 - Are they really that different? Or maybe the difference within each dozen is as big as the difference between them? Or simply which egg in a dozen is the largest and the heaviest?
 - You can both measure (or estimate) the “lengths” of eggs and their weights. It may be surprising that the eggs vary in weight much more than in length.

Cutting is also a great source of many math problems:

 - Can you cut a cake into 4 equal pieces with only 2 cuts? Can you cut so that  this chocolate piece on top is cut evenly as well?
 - Ask your child, if the whole cake is 1 lb, how heavy is each of 4 pieces? What if you cut into 6 pieces instead?

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