Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Answer to lagging scores? Bedtime math

I'm over at USA Today in today's paper writing about bedtime math. As we talked about a few weeks ago, the idea is that by making bedtime math problems as much a part of the culture as bedtime stories, we can change the "math-is-hard" and "math-is-foreign" mindset that seems to grip otherwise intelligent folks. You can read the column, "Answer to lagging scores? Bedtime math problems" by following that link.

We've been doing some of this with Jasper -- at night, at dinner, in the car, etc. He's sometimes been coming up with his own math problems. For instance, the other day, he suggested one: if a fire truck has 4 wheels, how many do 6 fire trucks have? Then he got silent for a while. We were in the car, and so eventually I asked "Are you still there?" A voice comes from the backseat, "Mommy, I'm counting!" He told me there were 20 wheels in total. I was debating how to respond to that. I think I said something like "Cool! I was counting and I got a different number. Do you want to hear my number?" I told him that when I was counting I got 24, but when he got to school he could draw 6 fire trucks and see what number he came up with.

I asked him later and he said there were 30 wheels. Maybe all the fire trucks had a spare.

Have you been doing bedtime math problems with your kids? And how do you respond when your children suggest a wrong answer?


Anonymous said...

My kids do math at bedtime, and in the car, and anytime we have to wait anywhere. They love it.

When my younger one, 5.5 yrs old, gets an answer wrong, I will say okay think about that, and then give her another way to solve the problem. IN the fire truck problem, for example, I would have said okay, what is 4+4 (an easy one.) Then said okay how many 4 + 4 's do you have....She'll take it from there. We play the doubling game whenever she is having trouble sitting still and waiting for something. She gets stuck on big numbers (4376 +4376). When she gets stuck, I help her to break it down..."what is 4000 + 4000? okay. what is 300 + 300? okay. Now had that to the 8000. Etc..."

Computation is a relaxing and calming thing for her and always has been.

Anonymous said...

We've just recently started doing bedtime math problems and both my boys (7 and 10) love them! I have one child who often rushes through his work, so I'm using these as a way to get him to slow down and actually read the problem first, before jumping in with an answer.

Twin Mom said...

We had a similar discussion today looking at the Albertson's grocery ad. They tend to write prices as 2 for $4 and then have a blurb that says "only $2 each" in the upper left corner. We discussed items that were 2/$4, 2/$6 and 2/$5 pretty successfully, although the small 50 for cents was confusing. The pizzas that were 2/$11 were just too hard, even after we got out 10 sprinkles and 12 sprinkles and broke one of the 12 sprinkles in half. (Fun-shaped sprinkles are a problem solving technique in our house. We also build platonic shapes, including simple solids, out of mini marshmallows and toothpicks. We are a weird family. :)

I never noticed until looking carefully that sometimes Albertson's uses the $ and sometimes they don't, but they always use the cents sign for items less than $1. It's easy to forget our background knowledge as adults- the bacon is NOT $399/lb, it's $3.99/lb

Anonymous said...

Shameless plug:
A little website I wrote to build mental math drills for my kids. Hope it is of help to some of you. Just chose a task, print, fold in two and tear down the middle. It builds a new set every time you click.

Calee said...

Our 5 year old adores these. Asking her to read a BOB book is like pulling teeth (even though she's happy to read signs, cereal boxes, etc) but if I propose a bedtime math problem she displays all the exhuberance one would expect from an offer of ice cream and a puppy.

I love the idea of the doubling game too. Sounds fun.

Laura- when she gets a wrong answer, usually we pull out a makeshift manipulative. Since the egg problems, we've been using an 18-count egg carton.

Raising a Happy Child said...

We do a lot of mental math in this house. Not always before bed, but as opportunity presents itself. I usually offer her a chance to think again about her answer and some ways to "sanity check" her answers. For example, I can ask her if 8+9 can be 18 if she knows that 18 is even and she is adding an odd and an even number.