DEAR TEACHER – by Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts Helping all parents make their children’s educational experience as successful as possible Summer Learning Activities P arents: Your children cannot have carefree summer days any more with no thought of schoolwork, especially math. With the adoption of Common Core Standards (grades K-8), children are now expected to enter the next grade knowing every- thing that they learned in math in the previous grades. What’s unfortunate about this is that most children, whether they are part of a low-income or high- income family, may lose as much as two months of learning in math. This year our summer learning ac- tivities for children are all in math. Un- like reading, an effort has to be made to bring math into daily life. For even more math learning activities and silly math riddles visit our Dear Teacher website. Using Statistics Statistics is one part of math that is emphasized in the Common Core math curriculum. Have your children sit in a spot where a number of people will walk by. You will want to stay with younger children. Depending on their ages, they can observe the shoes of 10, 50 or 100 people. They can make a simple chart headed “Velcro Fasteners and Shoe- laces.” For each person who walks by, they can indicate with a mark how his or her shoes are fastened. They can skip the people wearing flip-flops and sandals. When they have finished their observa- tions, they can use statistics to describe their findings. For example, a young child might say: nine out of 10 people had shoelaces. An older child could say: 20 percent of the people had Velcro fas- teners. 50 WNY Family July 2018 Reviewing Geometric Shapes Young children can start this activ- ity by using from three to five Popsicle sticks to make flat shapes and name them. Older students can use toothpicks and go on to see if they can build shapes with as many as 12 sides and name them. Once children have built flat shapes, they should move on to building and naming solids. The sticks and toothpicks can be held together with marshmal- lows, gumdrops or clay. Younger chil- dren can construct pyramids and cubes, while older ones can try to construct such challenging forms as dodecagons, tetrahedrons and icosahedrons. No mat- ter what they build, it is important that children name each figure and count the number of its sides. A challenge: children can use 24 sticks or toothpicks to form a square with nine squares inside it. They should study the figure carefully. It doesn’t just have nine squares. Challenge your chil- dren to find all 14 squares within the square. Search online “square with nine squares inside it” to find the answer if necessary. Topology Is a New Math Topic to Many Students Topology is a math topic that many of you may not have heard of. However, it is increasingly being introduced to your children in middle school and even earlier. It is the study of surfaces and is often called “rubber sheet geometry.” It deals with the ways that surfaces can be twisted, bent, pulled or otherwise de- formed from one shape to another. Young children can begin to under- stand topology by drawing a figure such as a person or animal on a slightly in- flated balloon. Then they can pull on the balloon from two sides to distort their original drawing. While the image will be different, it will still be a person or an animal. The classic topological example is making a coffee cup and a doughnut equivalent to each other. It may sound impossible, but it isn’t. Just make a cof- fee cup out of clay. Then you can twist, bend and shape the clay to form the shape of a doughnut. The equivalence is that they both have one hole. Here is a math problem relating to topology: Find a blank map that shows a region of the United States and print it out. Then have your children color it so no two bordering states have the same color. They should be able to do it using only four colors. Prime and Composite Numbers A prime number is a whole number greater than 1 that can only be divided by itself and 1. A composite number is a whole number that can be divided even- ly by numbers other than 1 or itself. What your children will do in this activity is cut squares of paper (as many as 12), or they can use playing or in- dex cards. Have your children use the squares or cards to make rectangles with numbers such as 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and so on. If they make rectangles with 5, they will discover that it is only possible to make one rectangle, showing that 5 is a prime number. If they make rectangles with 6 squares or cards, they will have several choices, showing that 6 is not a prime but a composite number. Have the children make rectangles with a variety of numbers to determine if a number is prime or composite. A mathematician by the name of Goldbach made a conjecture that every even number is the sum of two prime numbers. Have young children test it with small numbers and older ones with much larger numbers. Parents should send questions and com- ments to email@example.com or ask them on the columnists’ website at www.dearteacher.com.