When tutoring elementary school and middle school kids in math, one of the most important concepts is that it’s not just the numbers that go in the answer. If you don’t have the right units, it’s not right! Fortunately, there are many ways that parents can give their kids math help in this important area around Palo Alto, and even make math learning fun at the same time!
by Mathin’ Catherin, February 25, 2010
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Everyday Tasks can be Learning Opportunities
We use math a lot more than we think, even going about our daily activities. And when they’re presented in the right way, any normal routine can be an opportunity to give kids math help, especially when it comes to units. For example, say you’re filling up with gas on El Camino Real after picking the kids up from school in Palo Alto. Tell your child, “I bought 12 gallons of gas. How many pints of gas is that? How about how many liters?” (If you’re a bit rusty yourself, there are 8 pints in a gallon, and about 3.8 liters in the same amount.)
When making a quick trip to Trader Joes or Whole Foods, use the chance to reinforce the units of money. If you spend $17.80 and pay with a $20, first make sure your child can figure out the change. Then, ask them how many nickels that would be, or dimes, or quarters. While tutoring Palo Alto children in math, coins are one of our most popular methods to teach converting units; you can give a little extra help in this same way!
Rewarding Math Math Makes it Fun!
Units can also be used when giving kids a fun treat, making learning fun and tasty. Frozen yogurt is usually priced by the ounce, so if you’re stopping at Pinkberry in the Stanford Shopping Center or at Fraiche in downtown Palo Alto, have your child convert from ounces to pounds (or grams) before checking out. For another challenge, tell them that they can spend a certain amount, and have them calculate how many ounces they can buy.
~ Mathin’ Catherine, 2/25/2013