Sunday, February 16, 2014

Mathematical Dice Games

J spent a day sick at home last week. It was a minor illness, so he was very antsy about being inside all day. He pulled out his dice to pass the time. J's great aunt had given him the Tenzi Game (affiliate link) over the summer. We haven't played it the way it's supposed to be played (getting all 10 dice to show the same number, which sounds like some super Yahtzee game), but we now have 40 dice to play with however we want. This is heaven for this math mama! Let me tell you some fun math games we've played with them and how we plan to continue to grow and develop mathematically with the dice.

We started out with each person having their own color of dice, so we can easily distinguish who rolled what.

The Bigger Number Wins!

J actually came up with this game on his own. We started out with one dice (aka. die) each. We rolled the dice, and J first counted the dots on each die and told me which die had the most dots. As we played more, I encouraged J to make his decisions quicker, without counting.

This game is great for older toddlers (who won't shove dice in orifices that they shouldn't be in) and preschoolers to understand the concept of greater than/less than.

Addition: The Bigger Number Wins!

The next game included two dice each. Again, having different color dice is wonderful for determining what numbers belong to each person.

We rolled the dice, and J added up the dots on everyone's rolls. Whoever rolled the biggest number wins! J also ranked who came in second, third, and last. We also increased the frequency of rolls and decreased the amount of time between each roll as we progressed. This challenged our 4.5 year old to make quicker decisions and encouraged more mental math rather than counting dots. In our picture example, the yellow dice wins with 11, green comes in second with 10, white is third with 9, and blue is last with 7.

For older kids: This game can be adapted to use more dice for a greater challenge.

Subtraction: The Smaller Number Wins!

We haven't played this game yet. I imagine it going something like this:

Each player gets two dice of the same color. Everyone rolls their dice and each person's smallest number rolled is subtracted from the larger number rolled. Whoever gets the smallest number wins! In our picture example above, we have a tie for first: yellow and blue both have 1. Green comes in next with 2, and white loses with 3.

For older kids: This can also be a two player game with two dice of different colors each. Pick a color to always subtract from the other color. Note that this might give you negative numbers! The smallest number still wins.

More Math Fun with Dice!

During his childhood, my husband was given a dice game by his grandpa (he has no idea of what it is called). After his old game broke, John went on to design one for himself on his 3-D printer and uploaded it to Thingiverse (to share with other nerdy people). The goal of the game is to use mathematical operations (you know, please excuse my dear Aunt Sally's loud radio - the mathematical order on how you're supposed to solve complex problems parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction from left to right) on the 5 white dice in order to get the result of the two black dice added together (so on the picture above: how would 2, 3, 3, 3, 6 make 42?). If you want more details on the game or want to print one of your own, visit the Dice Game Thingiverse page. This game is also great for older kids.

Do you have any fun math games you play with dice?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Scientific observations of different balloons

I promised J some science after naptime. I decided to nap too instead of prepare a science lesson. He awoke pretty excited, so I asked him what kind of science he wanted to do. Since he was close to our stored, small helium tank while waking me up, he pulled that out. Not wanting to repeat the hover balloon lesson, I had to think of something else with balloons on the fly (which is harder to do in a sleepy stupor and with preggo brain). It's also been bothering me from the scientific standpoint that a post is going around Pinterest saying that our baking soda + vinegar reaction blowing up a balloon is a good alternative to helium.

I decided that we should play with the weight of the balloons and that this could be a good lesson for J in making hypotheses (educated guesses about what he thinks will happen when conducting the experiment).

*To determine what three different balloons will do: sink or float. The three balloons would be filled with 1. air (blown up with our mouths); 2. helium; 3. carbon dioxide (CO2) which is the gas product of the chemical reaction between baking soda and vinegar.
*To determine which gas is heavier: air, helium, or carbon dioxide.

J's Hypotheses:
*Hypothesis 1:
     1. Air will sink.
     2. Helium will float.
     3. Carbon dioxide will sink.
*Hypothesis 2:
     1. Air is heavier than carbon dioxide.
     2. Helium is lighter than air.

*Fill 1 balloon with air from your mouth.
*Fill (or obtain) 1 balloon with helium.
*Conduct the baking soda + vinegar reaction (see link above) and tie off the balloon once it's full of carbon dioxide gas.
*Hypothesize about what the balloon will do when dropped: sink or float?
*Drop each balloon and observe what happened.
*Make conclusions on your observations: where your guesses correct?
*Now using what you just learned from your balloon dropping observations, make hypotheses about which balloon is heavier or lighter.
*Weigh the balloons on the scale/balance (like the one we used in our balance game), or create your own balance from office supplies.

*Helium floated.
*Air balloon sank.
*Carbon dioxide balloon sank.

*Air balloon is heavier than helium:

*Carbon dioxide balloon is barely heavier than the air balloon, but it is also smaller.

*The air balloon is slightly heavier than a deflated balloon (but not by much).

*There is a difference in balloon volume between the air and the carbon dioxide. We didn't have a large enough reaction to really blow the balloon up to the same size as the one we blew up with our mouth. Even with a smaller balloon volume, the carbon dioxide balloon is heavier than the balloon we filled up with our air.
*It's also important to note that carbon dioxide is a product of what we exhale when we breathe (or blow up a balloon). However, there are a lot of other gases mixed in with the carbon dioxide.
*We couldn't figure out a good way to measure the weight of the helium, so we tied it to the scale, which immediately raised the scale on the side of the helium balloon, but helium is lighter than air.

Some other fun we had:
*We played, what can we tie the helium balloon to in order to keep it from floating to the ceiling.
     - We ended up using a Cootie Bug.

After the experiment, J thought it would be fun to launch balloons with our balance/scale.
     - I always recommend well-supervised free play time after experiments.
     - Kids are awesome at finding fun new ways to explore their world.
     - Don't forget to explain what's happening as they make new discoveries.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Guessing Game - Practicing Descriptive Words

Lately, J has been playing this game where he pulls out everything he owns and hides it behind his back. He then makes us guess what it is by his clues. Luckily, his clues have gotten better as the game has progressed.

This is a great game for beginning to use descriptive words, which are useful in the scientific world. 

These words can describe:
  • what the object looks like.
    • Is it big, small, colorful, etc.?
  • the shape of the object.
    • Is it round, oval, square, rectangular, etc.?
  • what the object feels like.
    • Is it smooth, slimy, bumpy, etc.?
  • what the object is used for.
    • Is it used for cooking, cleaning, fun, a specific purpose?
  • what letter the object begins with.
  • what sounds the object makes.
  • if it can be used more than once.

My favorite clues J has come up with:
  • It is used to hit a baseball. (Baseball Bat)
  • I wear this on my head to protect my eyes from the sun. (Baseball cap)
  • It begins with an M and is used to make cold food warm. (cardboard microwave - this one threw gma off during a Skype guessing game session)

One that threw us off:

  • He said there was something behind his back.
  • He was not holding it.
  • It's blue.

Yay for static electricity!

Seriously, this game has killed much time in our household. It's usually an impromptu game due to boredom, but we love to play it on Skype with his grandparents. It's fun to see him improve on his descriptions too.