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Playing at Maths

28 October, 2010

After our big day out at the Sydney Children’s Festival one would think that children would be weary and ready for bed. But not the Parnell family.

I can’t quite remember how it started, but while sitting at the dinner table I started writing maths problems. The first was related to the ice creams the children had bought that afternoon.

“I bought three ice creams for $1.20 each. How much change would I get from $5?”

This is quite a complex question for a seven year old, especially as we haven’t done anything about multiplication yet, at least in a formal sense.

She sat down with Daddy to talk it through.

Then came a different type of question.

“(A certain relative) will turn eighty in thirty three months. In what month and year will she turn eighty?”.

Again, Zoe sat down with Daddy to work it out. And came to the right answer. This question has all sorts of assumed knowledge like how many months are in a year and what the names of the months are in order and understanding that one year from now it will be October 2011.

Reuben and I also started assigning each other questions. Reuben gave me cryptic questions like:

“1 + 2 + Reuben = ” where I had to work out what “Reuben” meant (his age).

I started setting him questions like:

“The number of fingers on your hand + the wheels on a car + 3 = ”

They wanted to keep on going and going but we sent them to bed. An hour later than usual.

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