Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Math is Real Life - February 2015 Edition

 I am happy to once again join up with the fabulous linky hosted by Miss Math Dork, 4mulafun, The Teacher Studio, and Teaching to Inspire in 5th! 

My use of math this month doesn't actually include any numbers, but as we know there is so much more to math than just the numbers. This month's post is all about logical thinking and problem solving.

So my 3 year old son, like most young boys, has a love for Thomas the train. For his second Christmas my husband made him an amazing train table, complete with the island of Sodor (where Thomas lives for those of you that have never had to sit through an episode). He used it off and on and the table was a main piece of furniture in his room until recently. Seeing that his love of Thomas seemed to be fading we decided to move the table downstairs to the play area to make room for other things in his bedroom.

Well, a change of location seems to have peaked his interest again, because every time we come downstairs he wants to make a train track. When he was younger we often heard the phrase, "mommy/daddy, can you make me a train track?", which has evolved into, "mommy/daddy, can you help me make a train track?", which will hopefully, one day become, "mommy/daddy, look at the train track I built!".

So how does building train tracks relate to math? A lot!

First of all, my son quickly discovered that there were a lot more possibilities if we built the track on the floor, that way he wasn't restricted by the perimeter of the table.

He would often start with a plan of what elements he wanted in his track, i.e. the loop, the mountain, bridges, junctions, etc. From those elements we would start to build.

Once you start building you will quickly realize that it does take a little bit of thought, you need to think ahead to how you want the track to look and how you are going to be able to make it a complete track.

The beginning stages are pretty easy, but when you get down to the end of actually connecting everything together, it takes a little problem solving. Often times, we would have to backtrack and make a few adjustments in order to make it work, but in the end we created some pretty neat tracks.

 Now we just need to problem solve a little more, and figure out a way to prevent his baby brother from destroying the track 5 minutes after we build it!

The best part of the whole thing, other than spending time with my son, is sitting back, and just watching him deep in thought. I could honestly see his brain working when we got to those last few pieces of track! From very young he has always been a very logical thinker. He has always been happier figuring out how a toy works, rather than actually playing with it!

So, here we are a little later, and the train track phase is fading once again. So what do I have planned to keep him busy and thinking next month? He discovered a maze in one of his activity books and has been hooked ever since. I found a great site to print off free ones here, then realized that I was wasting a lot of paper. So, being a teacher, I remembered that I just so happen to own a laminator. So here we are making double-sided reusable mazes!

Mazes are a great activity to have on hand for those early finishers or just a break from the ordinary. I guarantee those reluctant learners who might "struggle with numbers" will love them.


  1. Love his spatial reasoning!!! Such a crucial part of the mathematical world! Thanks so much for linking up!

    Jamie aka MissMathDork!