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Learning Maths doesn't have to be on a book. there are a lot of practical maths daily problems in real life. We try to connect academic lessons with our real daily life problem solving. Here are some cases we try to connect in:
Direction and sunshine in the afternoon
I drive kids in the afternoon everyday. The sunshine is still horribly hot. Kids knows the direction of the car based on the position of the sun. That is how the moslem usually look for “west direction” to pray. We try to relate the direction with light. Kids really like the activity. Direction finding is used in many different job like sea and plane navigation. It might be useful when someone lost that doesn't have map and compass. We do so to get the trip peaceful too. Some question to ask them:
- Which direction does the house face to? How do you know?
- Which direction are we heading now?
- If we want to go to the west, are we going turning left or right?
- Which direction are going when we turn right?
Finding direction to get to the same address
We sometimes don't go exactly the same road to avoid traffic jam. Although I have already got big picture in my head, I “propose” them to be my personal traffic guide. Their head starts spinning. Not on the road, we discuss about the 2D shape, how to get the same corner (vertice). That principe is working on the street. Three of them are really good to be familiar with the street and directions.
Filling in invoice and saving forms
Ken and Tom have been familiar making invoice. Sometimes I ask them to make handwritten invoice for our customer. I am a supplement distributor who stays at home. Customer often comes and purchase at home. When I am not at home I sometimes ask them to prepare the invoice. It is the time to practice their maths and to show off their handwriting.
They also have to fill in a form to save the money in bank. I always give emphasize to the importance of good, fast, and clear handwriting to fill in forms.
Order some food in a restaurant
Ken and Tom will take a turn to write order in a restaurant. I don't know what kind of restaurant you often visit, but some restaurants here will ask the customers writing the order by themselves. There isn't always waiter or waitress to write the order. Waiter and waitress will leave an empty order memo on the customers' table.
Here is the time for them to write clearly and to apply their basic statistic counting with tally how many people order certain menus. Finally they have to summarize the order into number. When they have finished with their order, they will automatically estimate how much money I need to pay for all of the order.
Counting change money
This is the most frequent practice my children have.
- Before they buy something they have to find out the price. Not all market and shop have written price.
- They need to find out if there is another package for the same item in the shop or in another shop if possible and how much.
- They compare between those different package is it is available.
- Then, they will decide which package or item (s) they will buy. If they have to bargain, then they'll do. Of course they need to consider how economic and how practical they are.
- They decide what kind of money paid to the merchant and how much change they'll get.
Beside merely maths application, we try to get them analysing before buying.
Estimating distance, time, and speed
Before we go out of the city (long distance), we used to get the children estimating how long the trip will take, when we are going to arrive, how much speed on average we need to have to arrive on the place in certain time.
Children might not understand any of the speed, distance, and time formula, but we try to explain it with logic, without formula yet.
Cooking : ratio of recipe and measurement of ingredients
Reading and calculating how many times recipe compared with how many people served is another mathematical activity done regularly. Too much or too less portion will be a problem.
Children will automatically use division when they have a sharing time. They would like identify the dividend, the divisor, the quotient, and the reminder if any. It will avoid them from disputes and keep them maintaining fairness level.
This point has a wide scoupe of area. Children are used to thinking about:
- Which container is suitable with certain amount of things?
- how much of things are enough to fit certain size of container?
Some situations require the calculation and logical estimation:
- How many books can fit into 45cm width locker?
- How many smaller boxes of milk can fit into children's backpack pocket?
- Which lunch boxes will be suitable with a couple of apple? (Estimation)
Bringing the children with me doing some shopping in a department store will train them to use their mental maths calculating the discount and the nett price for promotional items. Further ore, they can learn how to save money.