Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Maths is beautiful! : Part 1

Some home ed folks do workbooks, but we prefer instead to do our maths in a juicier way. It's so much more fun, and feels more relevant and less 'dry'! We did try the whole textbook thing and it kind of sucked all the joy out of it and turned it into a 'subject' rather than something funky that flows throughout the universe on the micro- and macro level, in the mundane and extra-ordinary. 

So how do our family learn maths?

Together and independently we.....

compose music  
play chess and other mathematical games
follow, adapt and invent cooking recipes
plant seeds and watch them grow into things we can eat
figure out different ways to spend pocket-money
play card games
read books
watching these fun little maths songs
do sudokus
look at nature - spirals, botany, astronomy, physics, animals
build structures on a small level

observed the process of the erection of a two storey extension on our house over several months - maths a plenty!
play pc games
calculate for fun
play games and keep scores
write numbers in letters, addresses, pictures etc...
visit museums where there are little explanatory notes on everything - and usually numbers of some kind (dates, serial numbers, data etc etc!)
talk pokemon stats for hours on end
listen to radio programmes and podcasts
 look at our calendar, the clock, and other media counting times, days, dates, and other numbers as part of normal life
buy stuff and notice and compare what it costs
make models
play endless games of yahtzee in four different modes on the ipad - battle mode, normal, rainbow and duplicate!
design 3-d objects
talk all around interesting subjects that often involve learning number facts or stats
make models
do crafts like knitting, beading, sewing, and weaving
watch tv programmes about maths
look at road signs, leaflets, cinema programmes, packets and boxes, supermarkets, stamps, stop-clocks, at the dentists, on the side of a bus, on a train ticket machine.... i could keep going.....
ride on bikes, skates and scooters and calculate angles, curves and distance
make posters, comics and drawings with numbers in
learn about perspective and 3-d drawing, as in this video

ask questions
calculate speed, weight, length, height, depth.......
work out stats for fun
watch weird and wonderful athematically interesting youtube vids, like this 

and this

read magazines like 'national geographic kids' and newspapers like 'first news' - chock full of interesting numbers

The list is just endless- the point is, that people panic about this subject because it's made sooo serious in school. We have created a myth about maths that it is hard, that only really 'expert' people can do it. I say Bullsh*t. I think we have actually forgotten how easy and beautiful it is in its organic natural form. Maths is present in a million daily tasks. It can be observed wherever you open your mind to see it.

Maths is everywhere, all the time!

If you fill your house with interesting resources, get out and about lots and live an interesting life, you will all soak up a living kind of maths like a big ol' sponge. And if the kids want to take it further later on, it won't be such a big deal, and they'll have a first hand immediate and real, applicable kind of maths to work from.
Check out these mathsy pics I took a while back for our home ed file. I include them here in case you are thinking of home ed and perhaps have never stopped to think about home ed maths in any other way besides workbooks at the kitchen table!!!

What's are your favourite maths resources? Please do share them!

Xx MF xX


  1. Ah yes I know what you mean about textbook maths sucking out the joy. We ditched all that very early on in HE, and any attempt to try them since has been a pretty miserable experience.

    I'm starting to panic now though at secondary level as all those children who have been following those dry currcula for years are starting on the IGCSE route, and we're still only doing practical day-to-day maths. I'm not quite sure how to make that transition to pen and paper (or even if we should).

  2. Hmmm yes I know what you mean. I think the truth of it is that most adults mostly use maths in the day to day practical level. Form filling, working with data, using computers, telephones, other machinery and equipment.... Maybe they can compile stats and enter them into a computer programme of some kind... Or do some basic accountancy stuff using a computer package.... maybe they could be given more responsibility with the weekly shop... Budgeting and planning etc.... So still stepping things up but in a practical applicable way? Without necessarily touching a single workbook? I think workbooks have their place - when a person is old enough to actually enjoy them and WANT to do them, because they feel fun to them. I'd love to hear more about how folks are doing secondary age maths in their homes. Finn is sitting next to me urging me to say that Pokemon cards are massively mathematical and highly recommends them! Perhaps I'll get a post up soon on using gaming cards as a way to introduce stats.....

  3. Maths is indeed beautiful! I have a bit of a thing about infinity and how infinite it is...

    I also regard maths as a language, because an aspect of a situation is put into words (English or any other), then translated into a beautiful maths expression (using western numbers or another written system) which reflects or states that aspect in a true way.

    I used to work in a life assurance office and seeing the near universal fear of maths around me I had a dream of being a mobile maths tutor going from office to office, helping people write down a crib card with how to do percentages on it or whatever else was bothering them at that moment. People used to come over to me for help with things like this.

    Thank you for the huge display of maths related stuff. I will show it to my son and see what we decide to follow up.

  4. Wow, now thats one inspiring post MF, I will be returning here! :) <3 x