Mathematician of the Month – Descartes

Young_Descartes

You know that quote “I think, therefore I am”? Yep, René Descartes said it – our beloved Mathematician of the month. The French philosopher had so many brilliant ideas, he had to stay in bed almost all day just to be able to wrap his mind around them (it might have to do with him being sickly, but we’ll ignore that for now)

His specialty is Geometry – you know, the math of beautiful shapes. One day while he was lying in bed, waiting for breakfast to be brought to him (philosophy seems a great career if you ask me), he observed a fly crawling around the ceiling. When his maid arrived with breakfast, he tried to tell her where the fly had been without pointing it out to her. This obsession led to him chancing upon his greatest idea – grids with axes.

While we give directions in relation to the most recognizable landmark, “along the corridor, second door to your left”, he created grids with numbers. So the fly started at 4,2 which means 4 along the grid and 2 up. The maid rolled her eyes and walked away slowly, refusing to acknowledge the importance of his discover. Within a few years, however, it started being used in Math, Physics and even Geography and is popularly called the Cartesian coordinates.

url Personally, thinking causes me a lot of confusion and so for now, it’s on hold! To be continued …

Before they grow up – Activities to enjoy today!

6-81142-14-1415057748Let’s face it – the parenting journey is chaotic to say the least. There are days when you’re dead on your feet and have to drag yourself in a slow zombie-like stupor. There are days when you have yelling matches with the kids because they want it their own way. There are days that come after long sleepless nights. There are pee stains on the bed, there are food stains all over the couch, there are crayon marks on your favorite purse, there are bald spots from where you have unconsciously pulled your hair out.

6-81134-7-1413244646And then there are days when you laugh so hard you feel like your lungs will burst, there are days when you smile from ear to ear at the sound of their giggle and their tiny footsteps running around the house, days when you wish you were as good a storyteller as they are. When you’re cuddling your little one as they are breathing softly in your arms you realize that you would have it no other way. Let’s face it – parenting is an amazing journey!

I love this phase of my life when the kids are still home and haven’t fled the nest yet. When we mark their heights on the wall, it’s a reminder of how quickly they grow and how deeply our time together needs to be savored. Enjoying your child in the ‘right now’ becomes a priority. Here are some simple things you can do with your little ones that don’t make you feel like you’re missing out on them.

Play their favorite game with them –

I’ve done everything from trying to beat their temple run scores to watching them raise virtual pets and playing MMOs where the whole family has raised dragons together, grown farms, built great architectural wonders, thrown down a block of Jenga bricks and played so many board games, I’ve lost track. There are adventures to be had online and offline. Bonding becomes deeper when you make the effort to be interested in something they love.

Hold hands and go for a walk –

My kids have a timeline of hands where they draw the outline of their own hand every month on a scrapbook and then compare it against the size of my hand. Their thrill at knowing they’re growing up and will soon be as big as mommy is astounding. They then insist on holding my hand and going for a walk, occasionally stopping to see if their hand has gotten any bigger. These memories are now safely stored away in a pensieve! :D

Get lost in a book together –

Speaking of pensieves (and I have play acted Harry Potter to them many times), pick any one of these kids’ books and practice your acting skills. One of my favorite memories of my dad is of him enacting the whole of Oliver’s Twist much to our delight – I can still picture the way he’d take a shirt lying around, turn it into a hat and pretend to be Fagin!

Have a Staring Contest –

Silly, simple, effective – don’t you just love making your kids laugh? Everytime I challenge them to a staring contest, they become serious. The urge to win drives them to play the game like it’s a matter of life and death. I use that as an opportunity to flare my nostrils, wiggle my ears, cross my eyes. As a bonus, go to the bathroom and practice making faces together in the mirror.

Dance, dance, dance –

Before school gets hectic, before they’re off doing their own thing with their friends, use as many opportunities as you can to dance. So what if you have two left feet? The kids love when we blast Macarena from the system and do our silly dance. I enjoy it more when they get to pick a song and they get to teach me their dance moves. The sillier the better!

The Great Outdoors – Activities to transform your backyard!

It’s coming up to my favorite time of year. For those of you who have been reading this blog a while, you know that almost every time of year is my favorite time. I can’t help when each season has its own charm. This season, it is the joy of stepping foot outside of the house and not freezing into a life-sized ice sculpture. Aah the great joys of being outdoors!

I have been making lists, and you know how much I looove lists, of all the activities I could potentially participate in or host this spring/summer. Some of the activities I found online, they blew my mind. Here are some that I’m mostly definitely going to try or con people into trying. What’s great about these activities is that it is something that people of all age can enjoy without having any bones broken or muscles aching.

In no particular order, here are 10 insanely fun games that make you wish summer was a year-long affair.

Giant Beer Pong

Giant Beer PongIdea from kroqslightning

Glow in the Dark Capture the Flag

Glow in the dark Capture the FlagInstructions at Let’s Get Together

Outdoor Pictionary

Outdoor PictionaryInstructions at Tiny Sidekick

Dunk Bucket

Dunk BucketInstructions at The Happy Housewife

Cup Races

Cup RacesInstructions at All For The Boys

Sponge Launch

Sponge LaunchInstructions at How Does She

Lawn Twister

Lawn TwisterInstructions at One Good Thing by Jillee

Giant Jenga

Giant JengaInstructions at A Beautiful Mess

Water Slides

Water SlidesInstructions at How Does She

Frozen T-Shirt Race

Frozen T-ShirtInstructions at A Girl and a Glue Gun

Would you take any of these up? Do you have your own summer outdoor list? Let me know.

Ask Away!

Originally posted on A Homeschool Mom:

“My mother made me a scientist without ever intending to. Every other Jewish mother in Brooklyn would ask her child after school: “So did you learn anything today?” But not my mother, “Izzy,” she would say, “did you ask a good question today?” That difference – asking good questions – made me become a scientist.”

Isidor Rabi

Ask_AwayI’m a firm believer in never letting go of our love of learning. Even as adults, we ought to continue increasing in wisdom. But while some might think learning is merely a matter of intaking knowledge, learning is also the asking of great questions.

One of the many reasons I love our pastors at church is their openness. They are willing to admit they don’t know everything and are constantly encouraging us to test everything we hear against Scripture. Why is this important? We aren’t to simply intake information, accepting it for truth; we…

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Mathematician of the Month – Pascal

pascal

Blaise Pascal was an extremely gifted Frenchman who spent a majority of his life devoted to God and the Christian faith. However, he was a genius mathematician who as a young boy and was saved from becoming just another obscure mathematician due to his remarkable contributions and discoveries.

When he was a kid, he was amazing at geometry and not having known about some mathematical discoveries, he rediscovered many of Euclid’s findings. At the age of 18, he invented an adding machine that seemed way ahead of its time. His invention was so well received that there is a computer language that is named after him.

Pascal and another top mathematician called Fermat invented probability in a bid to help a friend who had a gambling problem and was losing a lot of money. It turned out to be one of the most widely used branches of mathematics and perhaps the most important.

While working on the theory of probability, he did what he was slowly starting to get recognized for = rediscovering. He rediscovered an ancient Chinese triangle that is now popularly known as Pascal’s Triangle. I could go on about this triangle but it would give me you a headache so I won’t go there.

2008-01-02-the-other-pascal's-triangle

At 23, Pascal unfortunately developed a condition called dyspepsia which along with his insomnia made his life extremely difficult. Descartes suggested he should stay in bed and live on a diet of beef tea. This didn’t help him. Shortly after, he had a freak accident where he dangled from a bridge and his horses drowned. He convinced himself that it was a sign from God, telling him to give up Math. Vowing to live a more spiritually oriented life, he lived with Math. 16 years later, he died from stomach cancer.

Apart from his mathematical contributions, he is known as the inventor of the one-wheel wheelbarrow, of hydraulics and of public transport. It is safe to say he lived a very full life – the effects of his great work are felt even to this day.

How to Teach Children to be Pragmatic

It’s very important for kids to learn the language of pragmatism from an early age. The pragmatic language involves specific ways of communication, sometimes also known as ‘social skills’. Kids must learn the use of language for different reasons such as greetings, farewells, asking questions, narrating anecdotes, etc. It’s important to change the language based on each type of communication, for example that with a teacher, a peer, a parent, et al. Pragmatic skills also involve turn-taking while talking and not interrupting, introducing new topics, correcting errors or altering something in a different way when a message is not understood the first time, maintaining eye contact and correct body distance while talking, and knowing how to talk to different groups of people (peers versus adults). So what’s the best way to introduce kids to the pragmatic language and help them master it? Check out the following.

Inside My ClassroomImage Source – https://www.flickr.com/photos/knittymarie/4802941163

Day-to-day happenings at home contribute significantly in developing a child’s pragmatic language skills. Encourage your child to greet parents and siblings at the breakfast table, say goodbye to whoever is at home while leaving for school, and wish a ‘good night’ before retiring to bed every night. Praise your child if she exhibits good communication skills.

Have you ever thought that the scientific method may be useful in contributing significantly to a child’s pragmatic skills? The scientific method is more than just a way of approaching sciences; it’s a way we live. The scientific method of studying has been developed taking into account our day-to-day lives and therefore devising the best possible way to approach a solution. The approach of the scientific method includes five very pragmatic steps – hypothesis, formulation, experiment, and conclusion. The four steps will help any child even beyond her science lessons – to understand life with a pragmatic approach. So have your child solve such scientific method worksheets which explain each step in detail and inspire her to adopt the approach in her day-to-day life.

Role-playing with children is another great way to help them becomes pragmatic in their approach. Pretend to be a teacher, a peer, a parent, or a stranger and converse with your child. Talk about various problems that are specific to each role and try to elicit a reaction from the child. Here are a few questions for two of the roles mentioned on which you can base the role-play.

Teacher

  • How long does it take you to reach school? Is there a better way to commute?
  • If you forgot to get your stationery on a math project day, what would you do?
  • If there’s just one chalk in the classroom and your friend is using it to demonstrate a problem on the board but you need it urgently for a project that the teacher has assigned to you. How would you approach your friend or tackle the situation?

Peer

  • Your best friend is going for a movie with her neighbor-friends. She insists you accompany her even though you not comfortable with them. How would you react/what would you do?
  • You are appearing for an exam and you notice your neighbor has not got a single pen/pencil with her. You haven’t got any spare stationery either. What would you do?

Practice story telling with the kids. Provide kids with connecting clues and sequences and help them string them together to form a story. For example, to weave a story on a day out to an aquarium with family, supply her with clues such as ‘when did you wake up’, ‘how did you go’, ‘who went with you’, ‘where did you go’, how were the animals at the aquarium’, ‘have you bought any souvenir from there’, ‘would you like to go back to the aquarium on another day’. Give her the freedom to use her imagination to tell the story, so don’t interrupt her if she sneaks in unreal events!

It’s important to be pragmatic and give your child the opportunity to develop her pragmatic side of personality with these tips.

Learning Activities with Water Beads

Water beads are such a versatile yet hardly explored tool for learning that you’ll not realize its benefits unless you start playing with them. Add a handful of water beads to the child’s activity time (well monitored to ensure kids don’t swallow the beads) the next time she brings out her toys and see the difference. Learning will reach a different level altogether with the effective play tool.

Learning Math with Water Beads

Have fun simply counting the tactile, colorful water beads with the kids. Line up a handful of water beads in a row and take out a couple from it. Ask kids to count how many remain. Add a few and ask them to recount. Play the symbol game where you write two digits on the left of an ‘equal’ sign and a resultant on the right. Ask the kids to guess the math symbol which will get the resultant and have them write the symbol with water beads. Though water beads don’t hold any topical significance in this activity, kids will be eager to play it out just to enjoy the tactility of the beads. If you are playing with a group younger than 6-7 year olds, here are a couple of more activity ideas.

  • Have them put red beads in one spot and the yellow ones in another. Ask them to count both the groups individually as well as together.
  • Have kindergarteners make shapes and patterns with the beads. You can choose to make the first shape and ask them to follow you.
  • Ask them to count if they’ve got more blue water beads or white water beads? If they have mastered their math by now, ask them to count the difference in the number of beads of the two colors.

Learning Science with Water Beads

It’s time to explore the science behind water beads that swell up to look like the way they do. Start by handing over an unopened pack of water beads to the kids. Let them experience the fun of these tactile beads from the beginning. Have them play with these beads which have not been soaked in water yet. They’ll be coarse to touch, similar to M&M candies. Keep a notebook handy to document the experiences step by step. Read out the packet instructions to the kids and have them follow. The steps will mostly ask you to add a liter of water to a packet of beads. Find out if the kids are surprised at this stage at the proportion of water to the beads. Let the beads soak in the water and the kids marvel at the change of the beads’ appearance. To add more fun, divide the beads into three bowls and add a few drops of food color to the water in each to get colorful beads. Let kids squash, squeeze, squish, and smash the beads and understand why the beads swelled up. Encourage them to test out the properties of the swollen beads and compare these with the ones with which they started. Do they roll, bounce, go flat or back to their original shape? Explore the possibilities with the kids.

Learning English with Water Beads

Right at the beginning, we told you water beads are versatile. Well, here is an English activity too with the multipurpose water beads! Play this activity with the kids before the water beads go all dry and you have to throw them away. Fill up a bowl with squishy water beads and add a number of letters into the bowl. Instead of using tongs or another similar tool to pull out the alphabets, blindfold the kids and have them put their fists into the bowl and pull out any three random letters. Next, ask them to make a syllable or a word with them. If the letters cannot make up a word or a syllable, you can give them an imaginary vowel to complete the task. You’ll be surprised at how long this alphabet game can go on!

Explore the many learning possibilities of water beads with the kids as you play with them!