When my parents helped me with my math homework, they probably heard from me more times than they can count, “When am I ever going to use this in real life?!”  It’s probably only fair that my children feel the same way.  Math has never been my strong subject.  Yes, I can do it but I have to force myself – especially when it comes to algebra stuff.  The everyday math, however, is extremely easy for me and I can whip through it with no problem.  I can figure out measurement substitutes quickly given any measuring spoon or cup you give me and adapt it to the recipe.  I can keep track of the running total of groceries in my cart in my head even with all my kids begging for different things as we go through the store.  (Les thinks this is a game to see if I can do it regardless of any distractions and anxiously waits to see how close my guestimate was to the actual total at checkout.  I don’t mind because I like seeing his face when I get within pennies of the actual total having never used a calculator as I shopped.)  Those are a couple of examples.  Higher level math, especially algebra, forget it.  I’m going to have to sit there for awhile and try and teach it to myself all over again.  If I don’t find it relevant – as in a real life application – my brain shuts down to it.  Actually that’s for all learning for me.

I remember my dad helping me with geometry one night in high school.  I was putting up a mental block and not even listening when yet again I declared, “When am I EVER going to use this in real life?!”  My dad started giving me examples – when you need to figure out how much paint to buy to paint a room in your house, when you need to figure out how much tile to buy to re-do your bathroom, etc.  It all clicked.  Geometry made sense to me.  It’s now that I understand why visual-spatial learners are better at geometry than algebra because you can apply it a picture instead of abstract thinking.  So naturally, my husband is the algebra teacher in this house and I show the everyday applications of math.  (Where one is weak, the other is strong.)

One of my favorite ways to teach math is through food.  1) Kids (at least mine) are highly motivated when food is involved – especially a treat.  2) This is the time to introduce fractions!  Tell them they have to share something scrumptious and their sibling gets first pick of the pieces they cut – you’d better believe those pieces will be equal sizes.  They’ll also quickly figure out how many pieces each person gets if they are already divided.  It’s like an innate fairness sense takes over them policing all possibility of getting jipped out of their share of the treat.  3.)  Most of the time, they don’t even realize they’re doing math and thus will not throw a tantrum but more importantly, they are learning to apply it to real life situations.

This activity was inspired by the end of the year itch.  The sun is shining.  House guests have already begun their visits and more are arriving tonight and later this week.  Baby brother is coming soon.  We’re getting antsy for summer but still need to finish up a little more work before the year is over.  Thus…I’m pulling out a fun activity in order to distract them from the remaining math worksheets in their workbook they still need to finish.   A fun math break.

You can download the worksheet here: WS – M&M Math

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For whatever reason, my printer software was uninstalled when Les upgraded my computer.  I forgot about it until I went to print the worksheet so I hand wrote it and then copied it on the printer for the boys.

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We talked about how to write fractions and I helped them with the first two colors then they did the rest on their own.

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