Math Monday::It’s hip to be square!

Yep, we’re still being square over here for Creative Math Club. We had a few new kids, so we basically just went back over how to find a square number using square pieces of paper (cut lovingly by moi the night before…it was a good excuse to get the super cool paper cutter from Costco…).

We also started putting together a square number book, where each page had the square number on it with all the different notations that equaled that number. For instance, the first square number is 1, so that page looked like this:


First, we wrote down the “1”, because that’s how many squares there are on the paper to make the square number. Then I asked them how many squares there were going across (1) and how many squares there were going down (1) which gave us 1*1. Then I explained that another way to say it was “1 squared” while I wrote down the 1^2 sign. I didn’t do the square root sign right away, first we explored the other numbers so I’ll skip it for now.

It took us about an hour to get the first 4 square numbers explored like that, with all the different notations on the paper, until we ended up with this:

Square numbers

Once they all were pretty comfortable with understanding how to use all the different notations to explain the square number they were making, I introduced the square root idea.

Usually, Sonia would be doing all the explaining because she is, in fact, a math tutor. I am, in fact, a mathmatical idiot. But, she was out with the flu so I did my best. I had a little break down when explaining the square root idea, lol, and luckily another mom was there to help me get the notation correct. Personally, I think my mistakes are as good a tool for learning than what I get right. So many kids are afraid to fail or afraid to be wrong, but when the person ‘teaching’ can say, “Oops! I totally got that wrong! But I found out the correct way to do it, so let me go over why it wasn’t right before and learn it the correct way…” then the kids are less afraid of having to say the same thing. Also, I feel that my absolute fumbling ineptitude helps break the ice a little bit, and gives the kids more confidence. As in, “I’m terrible at math, but this lady is even worse! And she’s doing it, so maybe I can keep trying too…” At least, that’s what I’m hoping.

So, anyhoo, the square root was done–like I mentioned last Monday–by saying, the number of the side of the square is…. and then they’d get it.

We spent another 15 minutes after doing all the mosaic work to look for patterns. What did the numbers on the papers have in common? Could they predict the next square number without knowing it? Could they predict the next number notation in the sequence, ie., 1*1, 2*2, 3*3, 4*4, …?

And then we all took a break and ate more square food.