Math and Science Connections
  • Building Understanding and Excitement for Children - Intermediate Edition

    Chaffee Trail Elementary, Ms. Casie Doyle, Principal



    Understanding frac­tions is much easier · when your child can visualize them.

    Here are ideas to help her see-and use-fractions.
    Keep a diary: Show your young­ster that fractions are a part of everyday life. For a week, have them record and illustrate each one she notices. For instance, she might write, "We had a half day of school today," or "Mom asked me to measure l¼ cups of flour when we baked cookies." How many examples can she find and draw?

    Play a game: Have each player cut a sheet of con­struction paper into six horizontal strips. She should leave the first one whole and then cut the second one in half (fold it, and cut a1ong the fold), and the others into thirds, fourths, sixths, and eighths. With bits of masking tape, label a die:½, +. ¼, ¼,½,and "wild." To play, roll the die, and lay the matching piece of paper on your whole strip (for "wild," choose any piece). The goal is to be the first one to fill your strip without overlapping any pieces (example:½+¼+¼= 1 whole strip).
    Put in order: Together, make a set of fraction cards, with one fraction per index card (z, ½, ¾, l, l¼,l½, 1¼, 2). Shuffie the cards, and see how quickly your child can put them in order. Then, while she closes her eyes, lay the cards in order but leave out a few. Give her the missing cards, and have her put them where they go. 



    • Help your youngster learn about the science of optics with this mealtime activity. Have him look at himself in a clean spoon. What happens if he looks in the bowl of the spoon? (He's upside down.) What happens on the other side? (He's right side up.)
    • Help your youngster learn about the science of optics with this mealtime activity. Have him look at himself in a clean spoon. What happens if he looks in the bowl of the spoon? (He's upside down.) What happens on the other side? (He's right side up.)

    Tip: He can remember which side is which by thinldng of concave as "caves in." 



    Leaming to multiply and divide can be more about thinking than memorizing. Strategies like these will help your youngster practice.

    Make it fun. lf your child collects toy ani­mals, you might ask, "How many legs do 4 horses have?" He can ship count the legs by 4s (4, 8, 12, 16) to see that 4 x 4 = 16.
    Or if he wants LO divide J 7 pretzels equally among three of you, he can "deal them out." He'll see that each person gets 5, and there are 2 left over. (17 + 3 = 5, remainder 2) 

    Use what you know. Encourage your youngster to look for clues to help him solve problems. For 8 x 7, he could consider other math facts he knows. "I know 4 groups of 7 = 28. I need 8 groups, so I can double that answer. If 28 + 28 = 56, then 8 x 7 = 56." For 30 + 5, he might say, "I know 10 + 5 = 2. There are, three 10s in 30, and 3 x 2 = 6. So 30 + 5 must be 6.


    Q and A: Talk Up Math

    Question: I've never felt comfortable with math. How should I talk to my child about what he's learning in math class?

    Answer: Try to show enthusiasm for what your youngster is doing in math. You might ask him each day at dinner or homework time what he studied in math that day. Let
    him explain the concepts he's working on, and follow up with questions. For instance, if he's learning about decimals, you could ask how decimal points are used in money (they separate the parts of a dollar from the whole dollar).

    Then, when your child finishes his homework, have him show you how he solved a few problems. As he explains his methods to you, he'll be reinforcing his own skills. And he'll be proud to be teaching you something! 



    This experiment uncovers a surprising fact: When leaves change color in the fall, it's really the green going away and the colors that were there all along coming out.

    You'll need: green leaves, small jar, rubbing alcohol, wooden spoon, foil, small bowl, water, coffee filter, scissors.

    Here's how: Have your child tear the leaves into the jar, cover with alcohol, and mash with the spoon. Seal with foil, and place the jar in a bowl filled with hot water. After 30 minutes, she should cut a strip from the coffee filter, remove the foil, and dangle the filter into the alcohol. Let it sit for an hour.

    What happens? Lines of different colors will travel up the filter.

    Why? Green leaf color comes from the chemical chlorophyll, which helps make food for trees in spring and summer. In fall, chlorophyll is no longer produced, so the hidden colors (yellow, orange, red) can be seen.



    Open-door angles

    Doors in your house are the perfect place for hands-on practice with angles. Take turns opening or closing a door and asking, "Acute, right or obtuse?" Partially open a door, and it's an acute angles. Open it straight out, and it's a right angles. Open it wider, and it's obtuse.


    Habitat for Rent

    Help your child think about what animals need to survive (shelter, food, water). Then, have her choose an animal (monkey) and write a classified ad for a home that will meet its needs. Example: "Tall tree in a tropical rain forest. Large river nearby for drinking. Plenty of leaves, fruit, and insects to eat."



    The Man Who Counted: A Collection of Mathematical Adventures (Malba Tahan) combines an adventure story with interesting math puzzles.

    Learning about the solar system is fun when planets tell the story themselves. Dan Green's Astronomy: Out of This World! contains facinating facts and details along with cartoon illustrations your youngster is sure to love.



    Question: What has three feet but no legs or arms?

    Answer: A yard