This week's newsletter has been translated into Spanish by Ed Campos, Jr. Make sure you check it out and tell him thank you on Twitter. The link to share is bit.ly/TTMspanish41
Joshua Zagorski is a father of two wonderful boys and, like many of us, likes to engage in math-based conversations at home, even if it's while preparing lunches in the morning. He has come aboard the helm of the newsletter this week to share with all of us. Take a look and try it out with your own child(ren):
It was the end of spring break and it seemed my wife and I had forgotten to purchase new water bottles for our sons’ (K & 2nd grade) lunches on the first Monday back to school.
When I realized the situation we were left with in our cabinet (see the picture above), I decided to have a little fun with my sons. After calling them down to help pick out items for their lunch, I asked them the following question:
Which water bottle do you want in your lunch tomorrow?
Immediate arguing ensued over the taller water bottle. I could not help but laugh and follow up with:
Why do you both want that water bottle?
Both boys agreed on one thing, “it was the bigger one.” The math teacher in me continued to prod with questions:
How do you know it is larger?
After hearing a third question from myself, my second grader knew I was up to something and asked a question back:
Which bottle holds more water?
I was half tempted to rip off the labels at this point but decided that may be taking it too far. Instead, I grabbed the bottles and put them up on a higher counter. My sons and I briefly discussed ways we could tell which bottle held more water without reading the label. My older son guided my younger son and insisted the best way to tell would be to pour both of the bottles into two different plastic cups. The cup or cups that had more water would “win.”
This was the point of the conversation where I knew he understood the basic concept of volume. On this day, we did not complete the experiment to its capacity and instead explored both labels. Even after reading 10 oz on both bottles I watched as both my sons worked through the idea that different shapes could hold the same volume.
This five to ten minute conversation was an essential piece to their math journey. Without using fancy math words, or being in “math class,” my sons were exposed to an authentic math activity. They experienced comparing three dimensional shapes (K math standard) and its attributes. The fact competition and debate were involved helped enhance the discussion.
Have an older student and like the above image? I would love to explore the question:
Which bottle costs more to produce?
Everyday life experiences can lead to impactful math conversations.