Written by Lou Duggan Creative Studio staff, Central Library
Did you look at a clock today to find out what time it is? Did you cook yourself a snack? Did you play a game of cards? Whether you realize it or not, everyone uses math every day—to tell time, to play games, to cook, to build things, and to do almost any kind of work.
But what exactly is math? Mathematics, or math, is the study of numbers and how they are related to each other and to the real world.
Although math is used in our daily lives, many people suffer from "math anxiety, opens a new window". We think we’re anxious about math because we’re bad at it, but it’s often the other way around! Researchers believe that math anxiety can spread from person to person – in other words, if your parents and teachers have math anxiety, you’re more likely to develop it yourself.
So how do we break the cycle and ensure we give our kids the best chance to succeed at (and even enjoy!) math? It starts with an attitude change towards math. Instead of dreading or avoiding math, we should focus on the creative aspects of math in order to make it fun. If you’re reading this thinking that there’s no way math could ever be fun, then you probably suffer from math anxiety! Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. Here are some easy and fun math activities and games that you can do at home with your kids to help cultivate curiosity in math.
The Tower of Hanoi Puzzle
The Tower of Hanoi Puzzle, opens a new window challenges players to stack discs in order of their size, with the smallest disc always on top. The challenge is to move the entire stack from one place to another without ever violating the rules of the game: discs must be moved one at a time, and a disc can only be placed on either an empty space or on top of a larger disc. Simple, right? See for yourself!
Make your own Disc-O-Math, opens a new window art using a compass and straight edge, to be creative and explore mathematical relationships. With a few simple steps, turn an old CD into a basic math tool that can be used for creating art with math!
Get a Jump On It
Get moving and practice math facts with Get A Jump On It, opens a new window, a classic game of Hopscotch with a math twist. Once kids develop a sense of how numbers and quantities work, knowing math facts automatically helps them tackle harder problems with greater ease.
In this Geometric Shapes, opens a new window project, geometry doesn't need to be just numbers and diagrams! See how lines, points, and surfaces can come together to form 3D shapes in this applied mathematics activity.
Magic Squares, opens a new window are square grids of numbers in which each row, column, and main diagonal adds up to the same number. Learn the secret behind magic squares and try it yourself!
Did you try one of these creative math activities? Do you have your own fun math games? Let us know in the comments!