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19 July 2012

More Mathy Stuff

My 5yo thinks that negative numbers are cool and wants me to explain fractals. Fractals! I have no idea what a fractal is, beyond having seen a few pretty pictures. Needless to say, I spend a goodly amount of time trying to figure out mathy stuff so that I can help him satisfy his immense thirst. It's an interesting journey for me, since I left school convinced that I was math-impaired, and even went so far as to choose my major partly based on which of the options required zero math classes. (I studied Japanese. The math totally scared me off of astrophysics; I'm not so sure that I chose correctly.) Teaching this kid is fascinating because I'm learning so much. It has rocked my math world, and I'm discovering that this math stuff isn't so scary after all, and in fact, can be pretty interesting. Fun, even!

So, here are some of the things that I've been reading this week:

First of all, Let's Play Math is going into my feed so that I get to look at their stuff when they post it. That blog is fascinating.

Apparently, multiplication is NOT repeated addition. That idea (they say) works for integers, but no so much in other number sets. Like fractions. And mysterious things called "triangular numbers." And some other things that I don't believe that I've ever heard of. But, since Hero is starting to explore both multiplication and fractions a little, I'm trying to wrap my head around this idea at least a little bit before he decides that these topics are really interesting and inhales them. So here are a few of the articles I've been reading about this:

If It Ain't Repeated Addition, What Is It?
What's Wrong With Repeated Addition?
PUFM 1.5 Multiplication (This one has the pretty picture that spawned the, "What's a fractal?" question.)
It Ain't No Repeated Addition (This one's from a real live mathematician.)

We also watched some of Education Unboxed's videos. Education Unboxed is another awesome resource that I'll be visiting and revisiting. It's done by a homeschooling mom who started with Miquan, and has continued to collect teaching materials for doing math in that style, and made videos to share what she's learned. They're pretty cool. For instance, after watching this, Hero wants to build a pyramid with our rods tomorrow.

Cuisenaire Rods - Playing With Square Numbers from Education Unboxed on Vimeo.

And this one, also from Unboxed, is how I'll probably do multiplication with him the next time we play with that.

Introducing Multiplication and Division Concepts from Education Unboxed on Vimeo.

Though it may be a bit before we do that. He's enjoying doing "tricky math" which is 2 and 3 digit addition. He thinks giving me huge numbers, so I have to use our 1000 cube to answer his questions is pretty awesome. And he's getting pretty good with the addition, including carrying, though he hasn't seen it written out yet. We'll do that part soon.

Another thing I want to hit at some point with him, probably several points, is mental math. Only, I suck at mental math. Turns out, there are strategies for doing the stuff, and this post has a bunch of them.

Aaand, this one is not math, directly, but still related. It's a fun game to play with kids: How To Train Your Robot. Looks pretty awesome.

Oh, and those fractals he wants to know about? Turns out they're some kind of geometric shape. Like rectangles and pentagons, only different. And this site is for teaching kids about them. I'll definitely be going back there to check that out.

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