Thanks to everyone who checked out this site! I got a lot of hits yesterday and love the comments too. I hope you'll come back frequently. I'm getting the hang of this now, so feel free to spread the word if you like it. Also I welcome any ideas -- I want to hear what others are doing to encourage math learning at home!  Now on to this activity from a few days ago...
On swim practice nights the dinner table dynamics are always unpredictable. The kids’ moods can range from quiet-easygoing-zen to utterly exhausted-maniacal-crying-breakdown mode.  I find the evening meal is more manageable if there’s some sort of distraction. For example, tonight there was a pile of chopsticks and rubber bands on the table, which piqued their curiosity enough to divert the typical whines of “What is this? I’m not going to eat it!” 

Before I go on, I must give credit where it is due. The following fun activity comes from Math Cats. They call it a ‘triangle stand’ and their pictures and description are way better than mine!  Anyway, here are the building blocks we used tonight:
“What are those for?” the kids immediately asked.

“We’re going to build something!” I answered. “Tetrahedra,” I added enthusiastically.

Let me tell you, they were all over it! They had no idea what tetrahedra are but they readily grabbed at the chopsticks and rubber bands.  The first step is to tie 3 chopsticks together in a triangle:
Then you take 3 more chopsticks, attach them at each vertex, and tie the 3 loose ends together at the top. Voilà, a tetrahedron! The kids each made one (I helped Mona with hers):
Then Wanda asked the obvious question, “Mommy, what IS a tetrahedron?” Good question!  A tetrahedron is a three-dimensional shape where each of its 4 faces is a triangle. The kind we made could also be called a triangular pyramid

“Oooh just like the pyramids in Egypt!”

Well, sort of… the Egyptian pyramids (the ones we always see pictures of at least) have a 4-sided base. So, we decided to make an Egyptian style pyramid for comparison. First the base:
See the difference?
By this time we were ready to move on to dessert. We made it through the meal with minimal conflict and managed to learn something in the process. If only it were that easy every night! Π
03/28/2011 20:56

I know what we are doing tomorrow!!! :-)

03/29/2011 19:10

OK let me know how it goes!


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