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 the forth. 10x10x10x10=10000 possibilities. How does this change if you tell them that the first digit is a 4?

You can extend this discussion to consider how many possibilities there are for the winning combination of lotto numbers. Saturday lotto is 6 numbers from 45 numbers, 1 – 45.  Using slightly more advanced concepts than those discussed above we find that there are 8 145 060 possible combinations for the winning set of lotto numbers! According to the simulation on Maths300, it would take 200 years of playing 100 games a week to be assured of winning the jackpot.

These concepts form the basis for advanced statistical studies in high school. Discussing this informally in this context demonstrates how simple these concepts can be and can help make it less scary when introduced to your children in school.

Our inspiration for Dinner Time Maths comes from Laura Bilodeau Overdeck who is the brainchild of Bedtime Math, a brilliant blog dedicated to providing you with ideas to incorporate a maths problem into every day.

Photo credit: davidsilver / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA