real math problems

[Math] Solving REAL math problems

by mievee @ on January 29, 2016

Since attending Primary 1, Vee has little time for home practice.

Nevertheless, learning takes place anytime anywhere, so here’s how he got to solve 3 real math problems yesterday:

1. Me (on the way home): “How much water did you drink today?”

Vee: “2 and a half bottles!”

Me: “Wow, let’s find out how much that is.”

Capacity of water bottle = 550ml
2 1/2 x 550ml = ?

One method:

2 x 550
= (2 x 500) + (2 x 50)
= 1000 + 100
= 1100

1/2 x 550
= (1/2 x 500) + (1/2 x 50)
= 250 + 25
= 275

Total amount of water drank:
1100ml + 275ml = 1375ml

He solved this mentally and verbally.

2. He is collecting recycled newspapers for school.

Total height of newspapers collected:

2.5cm + 8cm + 17cm
= 10.5cm + 17cm
= 27.5cm

Again, solved mentally.

3. We were folding origami. Instructions asked for folding paper into thirds.

Use ruler to measure length of side: 15cm

1/3 x 15cm = 5cm

Solved mentally.

Such problem sums are relevant to his life and he practises mental / intuitive math on the go.

We aren’t restricted by any syllabus. As long as the situation calls for it, he’s keen to learn new math skills from me.

That’s why we’ve covered the basic operations, fractions, decimals, percentages, negative numbers, large numbers, exponential, etc. — all before he turns 7yo.

And it isn’t just him. The younger kids at home (4+yo & 2+yo) are also picking up math skills with ease and joy.

Math is all around us. Bring it alive and chances are your child will enjoy it. Happy teaching!


~ MieVee

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Lim Xue Min April 18, 2016 at 11:15 pm

Can you share on how to teach basic operations, fractions, decimals, percentages, negative numbers, exponential, etc., to kids during the 0-6 years? I am really interested in this topic as I am finding it hard to teach my 4+yo maths.


mievee @ April 30, 2016 at 1:33 am

Hi Xue Min, I started off only with introducing basic numbers and operations at a young age. Then point out math to him in daily life. (There’s a lot, as long as we try noticing them.)

Gradually, he became more interested, so we progressed with his interest.
It’s much easier to teach a child who’s interested in the subject / topic.

Some children may appreciate subjects other than math, so they may need a lot more motivation to get them interested. One way is to observe his/her favourite interest and try to link it to math. Then move from there.

All the best! :)


Yean April 19, 2016 at 8:27 am

Hi MieVee,

Tks for the tips. This tips are indeed creative yet practical.
I have questions on multiplication.
Shichida method taught mulplication with the main multiplier in front..example
2 ×1 = 2
2 ×2 = 4
2 ×3 = 6

But for the chinese multiplication 说说唱唱乘法表 uses main multuplier at the center as below.
1 ×2 = 2
2 ×2 = 4
3 × 2= 6

How should we handle this to avoid confusion to our children? My children are more used to chinese version though as they started with chinese version.

Also, how do you teach division to your children?
Always looking forward your creative idea which has inspired me alot. Thanks alot.


mievee @ April 30, 2016 at 1:26 am

Hi Yean, my observation so far is that the Chinese way is as you mentioned. (My mum learnt it this way too.)
The English way is as the one Shichida CD uses, which is also the way I learnt growing up in Singapore.

I offered both to my eldest. He loves reciting but rejected the Shichida multiplication CD, and took to the Chinese CD very well. That’s why we’ve stuck with that. When solving math problems, we’re bilingual. So he may recite in Chinese to get his answers to a question in English. Doesn’t matter. Math is a language by itself. As long as the child understands the concept well, it’s ok. No confusion if child is comfortable with multi-languages. (They’re naturals at learning to switch languages.)

First introductions to division can be at snack / meal time. Mummy has 12 slices of apple to distribute equally between Mummy and child. How many slices does each person gets?

What if distribute equally among Mummy, child and sibling / friend / doll? How many does each person get?

When the child gets the concept from life experiences, I find it easier to teach more.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: