Donkeys and Salt (Age 8)

The Activities

  1. Topics: History of Math, Mathematicians: Mathematicians Are People, Too: Stories from the Lives of Great Mathematicians (Volume One) by L. Reimer and W. Reimer, Chapter 1 (Thales).
  2. Topic: Story Problems: Minute Mysteries 2: More Stories to Solve by T. Witkowski and J. Hirsch, Chapter 1 (Bake Sale).

  3. Topic: Programming: We did the Conditionals with Cards offline activity from Hour of Code.  As a follow up, I dealt three random cards as “YES” and three cards as “NO” cards, and they had to write a conditional expression to separate the two groups of cards.IMG_1800

How Did It Go?

We had all five kids this week.

Mathematicians are People, Too

I was a bit worried they might find this book boring, particularly since the chapters are a bit long, but the Thales chapter held their interest the whole time.  Our daughter immediately noticed that the story of the donkey and the salt was the same as one from a book of Aesop’s Fables she had listened to, and went to get the paper copy.

Minute Mysteries

Once you extract the relevant information, the problem to solve is “There are 180 brownies and cookies, combined.  There are twice as many cookies as brownies.  Brownies sold for 10 cents each, cookies for 5 cents.  How much money did the girls make total?”  The kids were able to solve this problem without any help at all.  One kid made two nice insights: first, that they needed to find a number X so that 3 * X = 180; and second, that the amount of money from cookies = amount of money from brownies, since there are twice as many cookies but they cost half as much.

Conditionals with Cards

We started with the warm-up exercise suggested in the activity, where I went to each kid in turn and then they had to do something different based on what I did.  This was very easy.  They also had very little problem with the main activity: each team takes turns flipping over a card, and then either they or the other team gets points depending on the card.  The first one (“If red, we get a point, otherwise they do”) was very easy; the second (“If red, we get a point, otherwise if <= 5, we get that number of points, otherwise they get a point”) some of them firmly understood and a others were a bit shaky.

The follow-up activity, where they had to write a program to separate two sets of cards, was quite a bit harder.  Two of the kids didn’t make much progress; another had a good initial idea but got stuck; a fourth got correct tests which together could make a correct program but they weren’t nested properly; and a fifth started slow but ended up with a correct program.

Afterwards, I realized that they would probably understand this much better if it were expressed in tree form (similar to the Choose-your-own-adventure activity we did a while ago).  We’ll revisit this activity soon and try again.


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