Enhanced – video article
Taking the Sting Out of Math Title Typography
with Steve Demme
Fun Ways to Remember Math Topics
Either Confucious or Benjamin Franklin was reputed to have said:
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
Here are several ideas to have fun and learn math:
One concept I like to teach children, especially those who are struggling and feeling like they are “not good at math,” is to teach them exponents. You can use coins if you don’t have math blocks. Make a grid, or square that is three by three, and then teach them that this is a square, and three times three (or three counted three times) is nine. Then write this as 32 and tell them that we can also call this “three squared” since it makes a square.

To increase their confidence, I like to tell them that this concept is normally taught in pre-algebra to 12 or 13-year-old students. Now that they know how to make squares, use the blocks to show 4×4 (42) and 5×5 (52) as well as 10×10 (102).

Right Triangles
If a triangle has one right angle, or square corner, it is called a right triangle. The two sides that are each side of the square corner are called the legs. Notice that the first letter of leg is “L” which also has a square corner or right angle in the way we print this letter.
The side opposite the square corner, the longest side, is called the hypotenuse. This can be difficult to remember, so I draw a country scene with a house amidst mountains, with birds flying above the house. Then I draw a rope noose, with a round pot or kettle suspended by it. I like to have the kids try and guess what I have just drawn. It is a high-pot-in-a-noose, or a hypotenuse. Yes, it is corny (and clever), but the cornier it is, the better chance they have of recalling the word!
Pythagorean Theorem
There is a relationship between the legs of a right triangle and the hypotenuse. The leg squared plus the other leg squared equals the hypotenuse squared, or L2 + L2 = H2. Using the 3-4-5 right triangle, 32 + 42 = 52 or 9 + 16 + = 25.
If you have blocks that stack, you can show them how to make cubes. Make a stack of blocks that are three by three by three—this would be three squared on the first level or first floor—and then stack two more floors on top of this. Now you have a hotel that is three stories high with nine rooms on each floor for a total of twenty-seven rooms. This is shown with exponents as 33 = 27.
About Time
Children today have difficulty reading a round, old-fashioned analog clock. I select blocks that are five units long and fashion a circle out of twelve of these five bars. This represents sixty minutes. The top of the circle is where we begin to count. Use a pencil or pen to put in the middle of the circle and move it around the circle clockwise to the right, and skip count by fives, 5-10-15-20… 55-60 (back to the beginning).

When they are proficient doing this, add blocks on the outside of the circle at the end of each five block, to represent the hours. Begin with a one block outside of the first five, followed by a two block, three block, all the way around the clock until you have a twelve block (ten plus two) at the top of the circle. This block clock makes the analog clock come to life.

Geometric Shapes
A paraLLelogram has two “Ls” in the middle of the word, which reminds us that this shape has two pairs of parallel sides.

A rectangle is a four-sided shape with four square corners, or right angles. A rectangle is a parallelogram with four square corners. Have a contest to see who can identify the most rectangles in the room.

Similarly, a triangle has three “tri” angles, and there are bunches of them all around us. Not only can you look for them in your home, you could also give a picture from a magazine and have the children color or trace over the triangles they observe.

Perimeter and Area
When measuring the outside dimensions of a rectangle, square, parallelogram, or trapezoid, add all the lengths of the sides. This total length is called the perimeter. Notice the word RIM in the middle of the term. This reminds us that peRIMeter is the distance around the rim of the shape.

Similarly, when finding the area of one of these shapes, draw the shape and see how many square units are inside. To trigger our memory, use the word SQUAREA, which combines the two words “square” and “area” and teaches us that area is always made up of square units of measure.

If you have floor tiles in your kitchen or bathroom, especially those which are one foot by one foot, or one foot square, you can ask children how many one foot square tiles there are in the bathroom that is five feet wide and ten feet long. If they count them, they will discover it is a rectangle, five by ten or fifty square feet.

“Fun is fun, but fun with Mom and Dad will make memories that will last.”
I like to tell the story of the unique animal that escaped from the zoo and how the zookeepers used their study of shapes to locate him. The name of the animal was a “zoid.” When in his native habitat, he lived in a cave that was near the top of a mountain. His cave had entrances on both sides of the mountain and the ceiling and floor were perfectly parallel. To recapture the zoid, the zookeepers created a replica of his cave and carved a tunnel near the mountain peak with the roof parallel to the floor. When the zoid entered this familiar looking habitat, the doors quietly closed, and that is how you“trap-e-zoid!” Crying Laughing Emoji

As many of you know, I created the MathUSee curriculum, and we have manipulative blocks which we use to illustrate math concepts. However, even if you don’t have these particular blocks, you can use other hands-on materials you may have around your home.

As parents, I hope you will enjoy doing these activities with your kiddos! Fun is fun, but fun with Mom and Dad will make memories that will last for a long time. Enter into the fun. I think your kids may forget the game, but they will never forget your participation.
Watch this video to see Steve offer visuals and additional helpful info!
Steve Demme Signature
Steve Demme

teve Demme and his wife Sandra have been married since 1979. They have been blessed with four sons, three lovely daughters-in-law, and six special grandchildren. Their fourth son has Downs Syndrome and lives with them in Lititz, PA. Steve has served in full or part-time pastoral ministry for many years after graduating from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is the creator of Math-U-See and the founder of Building Faith Families.