Leap Year Adds Extra

We patiently wait four years for a Leap Day to roll around. The 29th of February plays host to this special day. Our typical year has seemingly expanded to include an extra day. But how does a 365 day year magically become a 366 day year?

The “year” as we know it is the time is takes for our planet to revolve around the sun. The year we are accustomed to – the year with 365 days – is actually the revolution time rounded to the nearest whole day. In reality, it actually takes Earth a little longer than 365 days to complete the journey around the sun: 365.242190 days to be exact. We choose to end our year after 365 days and carry the quarter of a day. After four years, those extra 0.242190 days add up to approximately a whole extra day: the Leap Day. Too many approximations can cause problems with our calendar, so to compensate for the fact that 0.242190 is not exactly one quarter, some leap years are skipped.

Leap year folklore and traditions are as varied as the cultures they are associated with. For example, leap day is traditionally the day that women are free to propose marriage. If traditions are allowed to dictate social rules, then a man dare not refuse such an unusual proposal unless he wants to lavish the brave lady with gifts and max out his credit card.

How do we know which years are leap years?

In the Gregorian calendar, a leap year is identified by checking if the year is divisible by four. For example, 1945 was not a leap year, but 1948 was a leap year. If you divide 1945 by 4, the quotient is 486.25 which is not a whole number. Dividing 1948 by 4 yields 487, proving that 1948 is indeed a leap year. There is an exception to this simple rule. Years that are divisible by 100, but not divisible by 400, are not leap years. For example, the year 2000 was a leap year. If you test it, you will see that it is divisible by 4, 100 and 400. The year 2100 will not be a leap year as it is not divisible by 400, even though it is divisible by 100 and 4.

In celebration of adding the quarters to get a whole day, Lulu.com is offering 29% off its wide selection of books. Celebrate the day by expanding your library and investing in knowldge for you and your family. Use the coupon code LEAPYEAR at the checkout to access the leap year discount.


Greater Than Less Than Game

Have you played the “Greater Than Less Than Game“? Most people have played some version of the game, but probably don’t recall what the game was called. This game has a myriad of different names, but the one I like best is The Geetee Eltee Game. It is a basic game with huge potential for the classroom and home learning environments. While you can invest some cash and purchase specialist flashcards to play the game, all you really need is a deck of playing cards. While the directions below are written for a classroom environment, they can easily be adapted for homeschooling odd or even-sized groups of students. Yes, this game even works if you are homeschooling a single child. All you need is a student, a willing Dad or Mom, and a deck of cards.

What is the purpose of The Geetee Eltee Game?

The Greater Than Less Than Game familiarizes students (K-1) with number ranking and the concepts of “greater than” and “less than“. The non-threatening environment of the game encourages children to rehearse the skill of number evaluation and comparison for extended periods of time, often far in excess of what they would commit to when completing worksheets or similar activities. Often avoidance of the extended practice of basic mathematical skills is what keeps students from developing competence in those skills. By cloaking the skill development in a game, most students have fun and are totally oblivious to the fact that they are doing basic mathematics.

What will I need to play the game?

One deck of playing cards per two students in the class.

How do we play the game?

1.  Remove the jokers, aces, jacks, queens, and kings from the pack. Number values can be allocated to these cards and they can be reintroduced at a later stage, but it is best that the students become comfortable with the game before adding this extra level of complexity.

2.  Have everyone in the class pair up. (Where necessary, use a group of three so everyone participates.)

3.  Allocate a pack of cards to each pair of students, and divide the pack equally between the two students. The task of shuffling and dividing the pack in half can be given to each group, if time allows. Students must keep their half-pack of cards face downwards. No peeping at the cards before or during the game.

4.  The students take turns to count to three. At the count of 3, each student flips their top card to reveal its number. The student with the highest value takes both cards and puts them at the bottom of their pack. What happens if both students reveal cards with the same number? In the case of a tie, each student returns their card to the bottom of their pack and the game continues.

 5.  The game ends when one of the two students has taken all the cards. If you see that you will run out of class time before the majority of students have finished the game, stop everyone 5 minutes before the end of the class. Have each student count their cards. The student with the most cards in each group is the winner.

Warning: Be prepared for a little noise. Students may forget that they are “learning” and become quite excited while playing.



Learning Math the Natural Way

"Memory Tips for Math" by D. YatesLet’s be honest. Not every child is a natural mathematician. Encouragement and praise is great, but the help it provides can never substitute for real, hands-on, practical help that makes the mathematics learning experience effective. Many children try their best, yet their efforts leave them caught in a constant struggle to grasp the mathematical concepts. Their frustration is evident as they become tongue-tied with the heavy math jargon. How can a parent or teacher reach those children who are not natural logical or mathematical learners? How does one bring the best out of the kids who don’t naturally thrive on numbers and logic problems? In her book, “Memory Tips for Math, Memorization and Learning Styles: The Successful Way to Teach K-5 Math” Donnalyn Yates proposes a practical and creative solution that will take a lot of the “ouch” out of math class.

Memory Tips for Math, Memorization and Learning Styles” recognizes that the three most common perceptual learning styles are visual, auditory and tactile/kinesthetic. Learning activities in the book focus on providing these categories of learners with stimulation that leads to effective learning. Acronyms, pictures, rhymes, and stories help students to develop vocabulary and retain mathematical procedures. For example, think about how you learned the relationship between the gallon, quart, pint and cup. Now imagine if you had discovered this relationship through a story of fantasy. Imagine the Kingdom of Gallon in which lived three queens of the family of Quart. Each Queen Quart lived in a castle with a young prince and princess – they’re the Pints. Prince and Princess Pint don’t have children but each of the Pints has 2 cats – the cats are the Cups. Imagine how much fun you might have had in Math class if you learned using the tools provided in “Memory Tips for Math, Memorization and Learning Styles: The Successful Way to Teach K-5 Math”. As you read the creative examples, don’t be surprised to find yourself conjuring up a few inspired examples of your own to help your child or student learn more effectively.

This book can be purchased at a discount of 30% for a limited period. Use coupon code FEBRUARYCART305USD at check out. The coupon expires on 19 February 2012.



Questions and answers are simply mathematics

If you find the study of mathematics dreadfully boring, it is time to play a little. In “Amusements in Mathematics” by Henry Ernest Dudeney (published by David Gaddy, Nov 2011),  plenty of mathematical fun is crammed into 640 pages. According to the author, this collection of puzzles and mathematical problems was created so that the user of the book could tap into the pleasure of “doing math”.

Henry Ernest Dudeney (1857-1930), an English mathematician, is best known as a master of logic puzzles. The author views mathematical puzzles as perplexing questions begging our answers. The reader is drawn into the hunt for solutions and answers to these questions. Asking and answering questions is a part of human life, and comes naturally to us all. When mathematics is viewed as the process of asking and answering questions, we allow ourselves to bypass any existing “number” prejudices and start to enjoy what comes naturally.

Amusements in Mathematics” also includes a discussion on the psychology of puzzles and the application of math in our daily lives.  It is an excellent resource for mathematics teachers seeking a readily accessible collection of “questions” that will spice up a lesson. However, this puzzle book is just as useful to anyone seeking a little mental stimulation – after all, we can all answer questions and should not shy away from the challenge of doing so often. This extensive collection of puzzles and problem-solving exercises is now available from Lulu.com.  The book can be purchased at a saving of 20% until the end of February 2012 using the following coupon code: 20% off books – Enter code FEBBOOKS12 – Save up to $25 – Offer ends 2/29/12