Activities

Know thy BIMDAS

Have you seen the video above before? It’s a classic and it makes me laugh every time. It’s funny, but it also highlights the many maths misconceptions floating around in society. And one of the biggest maths misconceptions that comes up time and time again is Order of Operations.
Here’s one of the latest BIMDAS memes being shared around on Facebook:

Ok, so which answer do you choose?
A: 320
B: 20
If you answered B, 20, then you have a great working knowledge of BIMDAS, or Orders of Operations.
Or perhaps you answered C, “Who cares?”.
Here’s why you should care and a few hints […]

Help Your Kids Learn Their Multiplication Tables

As Term 1 draws to a close (not that I’m counting!), the one thing I continually notice holding my students back from success is their lack of knowledge and easy recall of their times tables.
My Year 7s have been working on Prime Factors, Lowest Common Multiples and Highest Common Factors. They understand the concepts but get the questions wrong because their inability to recall their times tables easily is a major obstacle.
My Year 8s have been learning important foundation algebraic skills – simplifying, expanding and factorising expressions. I’m proud of how hard they’ve worked to learn and consolidate these […]

x y z is as Easy as 1 2 3

A recent study just published in the journal Developmental Science looked at the ability of children aged between 4 and 6 to do basic algebra.  It was discovered that children of these ages, before any formal lessons have been taught, have a natural ability to do basic algebra. They used the “Approximate Number System” or “number sense” which is one’s natural ability to estimate the magnitude of a group without relying on language or symbols.  Our innate ANS is said to probably be an evolutionary adaptation which helped humans to survive in the wild.
What is interesting is that if […]

How to Help Your Kids Study for Maths

School is well and truly back and teachers are already thinking about writing the first round of reports. This means that students are currently sitting their first round of assessments and getting lots of feedback on how their learning is progressing so far.
Preparing for a maths test requires a different skill set than preparing for an assessment in any other subject. Here’s a guide to what your child needs to do to achieve success in their maths assessments this year.

1.    Devise a list of topics to study
Hopefully a list of topics and skills has been provided by your child’s […]

Dinner Time Maths – Tell a Maths Joke

Dinner time is the perfect time for conversations and a great opportunity to engage with your children. The idea of Dinner Time Maths is to add a small spark of maths to the conversation. Discuss a mathematical idea as a family or solve a problem together.

Telling and understanding a maths joke can require a good level of mathematical understanding and therefore telling a maths joke over the dinner table can be a great, light hearted, fun way to teach your children (and perhaps yourself) something new. The more maths you know the more instances you’ll understand internet memes and […]

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    Helping Your Child Start Year 7 Maths Successfully – Word Problems

Helping Your Child Start Year 7 Maths Successfully – Word Problems

This year I’m teaching two classes of Year 7s at a school in Perth. After week one I am both pleased at their effort and willingness to work hard and at the good response from parents to do what they can at home to help support their children’s progress.
It’s a tough time for these new high school students. In Western Australia it won’t be until 2015 that Year 7s start high school in the government system, so this makes it even more daunting for private school kids. The Year 7s in my classes have come from a variety of […]

Dinner Time Maths – Skipping Koalas

Dinner time is the perfect time for conversations and a great opportunity to engage with your children. The idea of Dinner Time Maths is to add a small spark of maths to the conversation. Discuss a mathematical idea as a family or solve a problem together.
This is a well known, popular puzzle with variations around the world. The aim is to move the yellow koalas from the left to the right and the green koalas from the right to the left. Playing this game over the dinner table will inevitably generate wonderful conversations, help your children to develop problem […]

Dinner Time Maths – Guessing PINs and Lotto Numbers

Dinner time is the perfect time for conversations and a great opportunity to engage with your children. The idea of Dinner Time Maths is to add a small spark of maths to the conversation. Discuss a mathematical idea as a family or solve a problem together.
We use four digit passwords/PINs for so many things. Ask your children to try and guess your 4 digit ATM PIN code. After a couple of guesses ask them to think about how many possibilities there are. Discuss that there are 10 choices for the first digit, 10 for the second, the third and […]

Back to School Brain Training Games

In a week’s time you’ll be sending your kids off to school to start a new school year, and getting your kids to warm up their mathematical brain beforehand will help you, them and their teacher!
As a teacher, the first few days after the holidays (even the short holidays) are always a struggle for students. It’s like waking a bear after a long period of hibernation! Students are weary-eyed and their brains are foggy as they try to remember what learning is all about and how to get their brain into gear. A few activities on the day or […]

Back to School – Collection of the Best Expert Advice

Heading back to school for the start of a new school year can be stressful on the whole family. We’ve compiled four of the best articles offering advice to parents on how to ease the transition. All four articles agree that starting the day with a good breakfast and being organised to eliminate any extra morning stress are important steps to getting out the door on the right foot.
 
Back to School Preparation Tips – Huffingtonpost

Dr Gail Gross talks about how children “take their cue from their parents”. It is important that parents themselves don’t create a big fuss and […]