Monday, 29 July 2013

Bedtime Math Fun Daily Problems for Kids

Bedtime MathWe've been doing Bedtime Math on and off for a while and now it's the summer vacation my kids are doing it every evening before bed. Bedtime Math provides a daily math problem for kids from age around 3 up.

To get your daily math problem you can choose an app, email subscription, visit the website or buy the new Bedtime Math book.

Bedtime Math was started by Laura Bilodeau Overdeck, who has an astrophysics degree and started giving math problems to her own kids. They loved it so she rolled out the service to others.

The premise is that kids are encouraged to read before bed every day, why aren't they encouraged to do math in the same way? This is a great idea. My kids are 5 and nearly 7, which is just the right age for bedtime math.

The video for the Bedtime Math app gives a good explanation of the idea and the way the problems work.

Schools focus so much on reading. Math seems to get less attention. And I feel that expectations are much lower for math. My kids enjoy math and seem to be fairly good at it. We do bedtime math because we want our kids to have a solid foundation in the basics and because they like it.

In our house both parents have math degrees and we could set our own math problems easily, but our kids might be resistant to that. Besides it's fun seeing what the problem will be each day.

Each day Bedtime Math has a theme with some introductory text and a picture, which older kids could read themselves if you want to combine reading and math. The theme is often tied to a special day, an event in the news or a fun topic that will interest kids - it builds up their general knowledge too and there are often links to further information. You can see some examples of the kinds of problems in the video for the new Bedtime Math book.

The problem is actually a series of problems that increase in difficulty and which build on the theme. It starts off with a simple question for "Wee ones", my just turned five year old does this as a warm up and then he is usually able to do the question for "Little Ones." He can sometimes do the Little Ones bonus, if not we pass it over to his big brother who at nearly 7 does the Big Kids question. Some days he can do the Big Kids bonus. Other days one of his parents does it with him showing him the method. Sometimes there's a harder 'The sky's the limit' question which we will work through together.

"Is there any more Bedtime Math?" 
My older son often asks for another problem, and the great thing about it being summer is there's no school tomorrow so he can! We've found that Bedtime Math is brilliant for stretching him. He's not used to having math problems he finds tricky so he has a tendency to give up if he can't answer instantly. This is a great way to build up his stamina.

The problems tend to be basic arithmetic problems written in words. There's a big focus in education on kids being able to extract math problems from sentences so this is a good skill to practice. The problems are great for building up every day math skills.

One thing I would like to see is more use of metric measurements in the problems. The world of science and engineering uses grams and millimeters not pounds and inches! Maybe this is because parents would struggle with the unfamiliar measurements. The old style measurements are handy for working with factors, but I'd like to see a mix.

The email subscription, website and app versions of Bedtime Math are all free. You can even print out a sticker chart to keep track of progress.

There are also a few fun videos like this Ninja Training one:  

A great way to keep kids math skills going over the summer and to build up their confidence throughout the year. 

Get Bedtime Math
: iPad/iPhone App | Email | Website | Book

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