(Note: This project uses 4th-, 5th-, and 6th-grade common core math standards.)
I think all math teachers at some point have heard a child ask, “When am I ever going to use this in real life?”
I can agree with the point of view that it is fully possible to go about daily life without knowing advanced math. However, I think it’s important to point out to students that many times, we can apply mathematical reasoning and skills to help us do things efficiently in life.
Some examples of when math can help us in life include:
Making a budget and tracking it so that you don’t go over your budget
Taking measurements for furniture to see if something will fit
Knowing how to use ingredients proportionately, depending on the recipe and how much you need
Calculating sales tax, a sale price, or adding a tip
Keeping track of performance using statistics
Calculating when you should leave the house to arrive somewhere on time
Working out - For example, if a swimmer wants to swim 800 yards for a workout and will be using a 25-yard pool, how many laps would the swimmer have to complete to complete the workout?
If you have a child who is creative and likes to construct things, it can be fun for the child to use math skills while also being creative. This blog post shares a lesson plan that is a perfect way to target the creative side while using math skills. I am happy to share resources from other educators that I have experience with and recommend. This activity uses the first two bullet points from above and is a project-based learning lesson that gives the child the opportunity to construct a dream bedroom. There are many project-based learning activities for math. This is one that I recommend and it applies 4th-, 5th- and 6th-grade common core standards.
Project-based learning is a fantastic way to connect concepts to real-life situations and present an answer when asked, “When am I ever going to use this in real life?” In this lesson, students will apply arithmetic skills, calculate area and perimeter, and use geometry nets to construct the room they would like. They also get to decorate it, which inspires their creative side!
This project has enough parts to it that it can be spread out over several days or weeks, so I think summertime would be a great time to work on it. It will require some parental participation. I should also note that it costs $4.75.
After purchasing it, you get a downloadable or printable PDF with instructions, math questions (with answer keys) and templates to use for building the room. It is a long document, but it's not necessary to print the entire thing. For example, it includes a version using feet and a version using meters, which gives you the option of which measuring system you'd like to use and print. The PDF includes instructions for a teacher, but the parent can play that role over the summer. I suggest that you are comfortable with these areas in math before helping to guide the student/s:
Scale factor (For example: how to read a map when 1 inch = 1 mile or 1 cm = 1 km)
Calculating area, perimeter, and surface area
Keeping a budget (An option is to tell the child that the room must be designed for under $X, where X is a number you decide.)
Geometry nets (This is optional....more below on nets.)
Students will learn to:
learn about scale factor and apply it to drawing a floor plan
learn how to draw blueprint symbols to identify where they will put their door and window(s)
use furniture dimensions to calculate the area and perimeter of their furniture
use furniture dimensions to draw their furniture to scale on their floor plan
calculate the area of their bedroom floor and the surface area of their bedroom walls and use this information to make decisions about flooring and wall treatments
draw a final floor plan to show where all of their furniture will be in their room
The instructions say that building the 3D model of the bedroom is optional, but I highly recommend doing it as long as your child is comfortable with scissors and glue. Putting the dream room together is quite satisfying for the kids and the best part is that they have something to keep afterwards. They usually like that part a lot. If they make any mistakes while constructing it, it is possible to print out new pages.
I also like that it provides different cost sheets based on whether the child knows how to add numbers with decimals or not.
So....what is a net in geometry, anyway? 🧐 I know I was never taught anything about nets when I was in school! Geometry nets are commonly taught now in schools.
A geometry net is a term used to describe what a 3D shape would like if it was opened out and laid flat. Working with geometry nets uses spatial skills. This video is a good explanation of the nets of a cube.
Here are some other examples of nets, including some graphics, some worksheets with answers, and some printouts to practice making 3D shapes from nets.
Project-based learning is usually done in groups, so if you have multiple children of a similar age or if your child has friends in the same grade, this project could be done together, with each of them completing their own bedroom. This allows the kids to see that there are different ways to tackle the same project. It also can bring up discussions. While they articulate what they are doing and why they’re doing it, it can help bring clarity and depth to their understanding. As Judy Zorfass and her colleagues describe, “‘Thinking aloud’ requires students to talk through the details of the problem, the decisions they have made as they try to solve the problem, and the reasoning behind those decisions. Struggling students, in particular, can benefit from slowing down and articulating the problem-solving process, because it gives them time to focus on the key parts of the problem. This helps them to more fully comprehend the problem before they try to solve it.”
If you decide to purchase this lesson and work on it, let me know how it goes! As always, reach out with any questions.
The link to the assignment can be found here: https://bit.ly/3Og6Ldt