When it comes to gardening, there’s no question that the time your family spends plotting, purchasing, picking and preparing can add up to plenty of wholesome family fun, not to mention additional time spent being active and outdoors. But did you know that by grabbing a hoe and digging in, you’re also helping hone your child’s math skills? That’s right, digging in the dirt and mathematics really can go hand in hand. Here are a few examples of how.
Planting for good measure. Make a measuring tape, ruler or yardstick a staple in your gardening toolkit. Not only will your child enjoy measuring out distances between plants, heights of mounds and depths of holes when planting, but he can also see how his planting efforts measure up by keeping track of how many inches (or centimeters) of progress each plant makes from day to day and week to week. You can also have him measure the length and diameter of the various veggies. The more your children measure, the merrier.
Tally Ho. Picking produce is the perfect time to introduce young children to the concept of keeping count using tally marks. Whether they make their marks on a piece of paper, a dry erase board or in a gardening notebook, they’re sure to take pride in their math and gardening work.
Farmer’s market finances. Children who garden tend to be children who appreciate farmer’s markets. With most fruits and vegetables ranging from twenty-five cents to several dollars, these family-friendly gatherings of local produce vendors can offer a great opportunity for your child to practice her purchasing skills. From reading signs and figuring out costs, to handling coins and bills and counting change, your child is sure to value the experience. For those of you who find yourself with more produce than your family can consume, you can even consider having your own mini farmer’s market.
Cooking calculations. From cups and teaspoons to ounces and pounds, there are countless opportunities for kitchen calculations. Even young children can offer hands-on help by using measuring cups to add water or counting aloud as you add ingredients. Even the simplest of recipes can help your child learn such key math skills as ordering and sequencing. As he gets older and masters the basics, mix things up by tackling harder recipes, doubling or dividing them, and focusing on fractions as you find new ways to prepare all that your garden has to offer.
Hopefully these mathematically-minded gardening tips will keep you and your child gardening for good measure!
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