Shappy Valentine Day (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 3 (Archimedes).
  2. Topics: Factors, Logic:  We played the Big Bad Wolf game (idea from youcubed).  It’s really a puzzle, not a game, since the moves of the Wolf are deterministic.  You start with the numbers from 1 to N (we started with 6 and then moved on to 10 and 15).  Each turn, the player picks a number, and then the Wolf gets all the factors of that number.  The Wolf always must get at least one number.  At the end, the Wolf gets all the numbers that are left.  Whoever has the highest total wins.IMG_1825
  3. Topic: Codes:  We finished decoding the little kids’ Valentine’s message from last week.

How Did It Go?

We had four kids this week.


The kids seem fairly interested in this book, but the chapters are a bit too long — they take at least 20 minutes to read.  From now on, I’m going to figure out sections to skip so the book takes no more than 10-15 minutes — probably a bit more than half of each chapter.

Big Bad Wolf Game

The kids are good enough at factors of smallish numbers that they can play this game.  Some of the kids realized you should pick numbers that only give the Big Bad Wolf one number — but they didn’t realize you also want the things you pick to be as large as possible (as far as I know the greedy strategy of picking the largest number that only gives one thing to the Big Bad Wolf isn’t optimal, but it does pretty well).  A couple of the kids got tired of the game after a bit and stopped making progress, but one of the kids who was playing it for the first time really liked it, I heard later that they mentioned it at home.

Decoding Valentines

The kids had trouble getting started decoding the two harder messages.  I helped direct the work, and we were able to decode one of them without too much trouble.  The main challenge with the first of the two was that you couldn’t tell the boundaries between numbers (i.e., 26 vs. 2 and 6).  The other was considerably harder because it was written in a color changing pencil, was hard to read, and the rows of numbers overlapped.  As a result, we thought the first letter of the second line was part of the first line, giving us “Shappy Valentine Day”.  The kids thought this was hilarious.



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