Sunday, April 5, 2009

Why Do I Need to Know Math?

Have your children ever asked that question? Well, here's a resource that will help you answer that question: Hands-On Math Projects With Real-Life Applications by Judith A. Muschla and Gary Robert Muschla.

Hands-On Math Projects includes 60 lesson plans that reinforce math concepts and make learning math interesting and fun. Most important, it gives students a reason for learning math! 

The lessons easily integrate into other class work including science, social studies, language arts, music, art, sports, recreation, and life skills. It’s perfect for those who enjoy doing unit studies! 

It was written for students in grades 6-12; however, it can be adapted to younger grades depending on interests and abilities. 

How I would use Hands-On Math Projects in a home school setting:

Home school parents can skim through most of the introductory materials that addresses classroom strategies. However, be sure to read over pages 24-42, which includes directions for writing in the math class, an outline of the basic writing process, ideas for using the Internet in math class, and assessment guidelines and forms.

Although each lesson discusses group activities and oral presentations, it’s very easy to adapt these lessons to a home school setting. The projects can easily be done individually and written reports are sufficient. If you choose to have your child do an oral presentation, he or she can perform for family members and friends or in a support group or co-op setting.

I would recommend using the lessons in this book, as needed, as part of a unit study; on a once-a-month or once-a-week basis instead of a regular math and composition class; or as needed to work on a particular math concept.

Some of the lesson plans included are:
  • Math and Science: What is the Weather?, Designing a Flower Bed
  • Math and Social Studies: A Great Mathematician, Creating a Scale Map
  • Math and Language: Fictional Numbers-Writing a Story, Rating Math Web Sites
  • Math and Art: I Wanna Be Like Escher, Designing a Quilt Pattern
  • Math and Music: Numbers and Songs, The Math in Music
  • Math and Sports: Choosing a Membership Plan at a Health Club, Comparing Sports Superstar
  • Math and Recreation: Going on Vacation
  • Math and Life Skills: Making a Budget, Buying a Car, The Costs of Pets
Sample lesson: The Geometry and Art of Architecture. Students are directed to do research at the library and online to find examples of interesting architecture. A suggested list of buildings is included or you might select a structure that is related to a topic you are studying, such as a castle for medieval history or the Eiffel Tower for the country of France. Students are to examine their structures for examples of geometry such as angles, polygons, three-dimensional shapes, symmetry, and parallel or perpendicular lines. They are to draw the structure on poster paper and then label the geometric forms. Finally, they are instructed to write a report about the selected structure, which includes background information on the building as well as a summary of the geometry it represents.

Sample lesson: The Benefits of Recycling. In this lesson, students are instructed to research the benefits recycling offers to people, companies and the environment. After they gather the information, they must analyze it and draw conclusions about the benefits of recycling based on facts. They are to explain their conclusions in a written summary and illustrate with graphs, charts, tables or posters. They must also include a list of resources used in bibliographical format. After the lesson, a visit to a recycling center is suggested. It would also be a good time to start your own recycling projects, such as recycling glass or paper.

Hands-On Math Projects is well worth the investment in time and money. It will stimulate your child’s interest in math, as well as reinforce logic and writing skills. I heartily recommend this book!

For more reviews of homeschool curriculum, see Homeschool Curriculum Reviews.

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