Kids home from school? Some fun activities to try….
There are lots of fun things to do on the Math Fairy website and on other great websites. I’ve been thinking about some ideas since we started to learn that school would be closed so I thought I’d share those ideas here…
Try a Fibonacci Walk!
Try a Fibonacci Walk! Recall that the Fibonacci sequence is a pattern of numbers identified hundreds of years ago by an Italian mathematician. The pattern is additive and goes like this….1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55…. Where you add the two previous numbers to derive the next number. Example: 1+1 = 2, 2+1=3, 2+3 = 5, 3 +5 = 8, 5 + 8 = 13 and so on. One of the super cool, mathemagical things about the Fibonacci sequence is that it exists in nature. The spirals of a pinecone expand in a Fibonacci pattern, leaves can grow from a branch in a Fibonacci pattern, flower petals are found to exist in Fibonacci sequence, and so much more! Go for a walk around your neighborhood and see what you can find. If there isn’t a lot of green space in your neighborhood, humans often use the Fibonacci pattern, either knowingly or unknowingly, in their architecture and construction. You could count windows on buildings and other architectural patterns to see what you can find. You could take this idea further by creating a booklet to record what you find. You could draw in the booklet or glue actual flower petals and leaves into the booklet. Share your booklet and what you’ve learned about the Fibonacci pattern with your teacher when you get back to school.
Create your own currency
Create your own currency and have a “store” at home. One of the most interesting aspects of money is how the coins build into dollars and then how the dollars increase. Our number system in the US is a base 10 system. This means that 100 pennies are one dollar. All of our coins are then factors of 100, such as a nickel (5 cents), a dime (10 cents), a quarter (25 cents) and so on. Why not create a money system that is not base 10? Come up with a base coin that is equal, for example, to 3 cents. What would it be called? Then create a couple other coins or bills that are multiples of that base coin. Give those fun names, too. For example, you could create a 3-cent coin called a squiggle. Then you could have a 9-cent coin that is called a figgle. Create a bill that is 81 cents called a big figgle. See? Have fun with it! You could then create actual money using paper. Cut out coins and dollars. The coins don’t have to be in a circle shape. They can be any shape! Don’t have paper that you can cut up at home….what about paper grocery bags? Or bread bag tabs? What other recyclable junk could you use? It’s your money so it can be made out of whatever you want! Then, you could use your money to have a fun store at home. You could have a fruit stand or a toy shop, using toys that are ready to be shared with siblings of course, or some other shop idea. Put price tags on items and then use your money to buy and sell items. The store that you can create can be as big or small as you wish. The way that you run the store can be simple for younger children or more complex for older children. For older kids you could add tax or a “store credit card”. It’s really up to you!
Play a traditional game
Play a traditional game that uses numbers such as Hide-and-Seek or Hopscotch. (The math fairy has more detail about hopscotch on another page on this website.) Hide-and-Seek can get really math-y if you try some ideas like this:
Count in multiples such as by 2’s, or 3’s or 4’s or even 5’s.
Count by odd numbers or by even numbers.
Set a geographic area for the game and change the shape of that area. What about a triangle area instead of a square? What about “half” the house instead of the whole house?
Just counting aloud to 100 is a great activity for younger children. I’m sure that older children could come up with many more ways to make the counting more challenging!
Explore exponential growth
Explore exponential growth. Through reading over the past few weeks, the math fairy has learned that human beings have a great deal of difficulty visualizing and internalizing the idea of exponential growth. Obviously, no one wants to scare children by discussing the exponential growth patterns of viruses and diseases. However, exploring exponential growth in a different way can help prepare mathematicians of the future to be better stewards of data and information. To begin, try exploring doubling. A classic story that my algebra students just explored involves a king giving a reward. The person getting the reward asks for a chessboard to be filled with pennies. On the first square they ask for 1 penny. On the second square they ask for 2 pennies. On the third square they ask for 4 pennies. On the fourth square they ask for 8 pennies and so on, continuing to double until the 64th square of the chessboard. By the 64th square the person gets an enormous amount of money…almost incomprehensible! How can you explore this yourself? Start by drawing (you could also use stickers or stamps).
Then Draw Two:
Then Draw Four, until you can’t go anymore…
Keep going until you just can’t draw anymore.
Ask these questions…talk about them! Wonder about this! How can something grow SO quickly?
What do you notice about the pattern you created?
Are there patterns that you see? What kind?
Do you think you would like your money (or your cookies or your candy) to increase like this?
If your Halloween (or other holiday) candy magically doubled every day, when do you think you would have too much? Where would you put all that candy?
Can you think of something that doubles like this in real life?
If you can’t think of anything, this is a great chance to try doubling something in real life. Try jumping, then measuring your jump and then doubling it. Can you do it? For how long?
Another activity to try is to use Excel to enter doubling or tripling data and then graph it. Share your graphs or creations with the Math Fairy!
Make a Recipe
Make a recipe… I know not everyone cooks much but there are some really, simple fun things to make. You can make cereal bars, for example, using a favorite cereal, marshmallows and butter/margarine. Tools for that recipe are pretty low-tech. You could also try making play-do or Gack.( Below are some simple recipes.) Of course we want to math this experience up, so:
For younger children, let them do ALL the measuring and as much of the prep as possible. It’s OK if the recipe doesn’t turn out perfectly. (Let’s be frank, marshmallows all over cereal tastes yummy even if it’s not perfect!) Measuring is a fantastic math skill and a great life skill as well. As kids are measuring, talk about how the measurements are related. Maybe let kids play in the sink and compare: how many ¼ cup measures does it take to fill one cup? Why do you think that is? How many ¼ cup measures does it take to fill one half cup? Why might that be? Explore!
For older kids, modifying the recipe is a fantastic real-life experience of proportional reasoning. For example, if we need 24 treats but the recipe only makes 12, how much should we make? How does doubling the recipe affect all of our measurements? How does it affect the amount of supplies we need to buy or find? Again, as much as possible, let the kids do ALL the measuring and safe prep. Obviously, we don’t want kids getting hurt stirring hot marshmallows but it’s great practice to create any recipe. Life skills and math skills all in one!