Do you ever hear this: I hate math. Why do we have to do this? Math is boring. Math is hard.
Math gets a bad rap. Parents and teachers who don’t like math can pass that attitude on to kids who then don’t like math. How we talk about and teach math matters.
So how do we create math lovers? Discover the joy of math yourself if you don’t already love it. Share your enthusiasm for math. In your classroom keep math fun—and give students reasons to love math.
17 Reasons to Love Math
I’m sharing 17 great reasons to love math. (And I’ve made them into a free poster to help you keep the love of math at the forefront in your classroom.)
1. Math can save you money.
How much would that new video game be if there is a 20% off sale? Is it better to get the big box of cereal or the little one on sale? If you count up all the coins in your piggy bank can you buy a new soccer ball? You use math to figure it out.
2. Like patterns? Like math.
Have you ever noticed how shapes fit together, the spirals in a sea shell, and the details of a snowflake? This is math in action. You can make predictions based on patterns you see. Fun!
3. Math builds problem-solving skills.
Math uses critical thinking and builds problem-solving skills. Learning to look at a problem—whether a math problem or a life problem—and come up with a plan is an important skill to practice.
4. Math encourages curiosity and questions.
You may think of math as looking for the answer to a problem in a book or on a worksheet, but math really starts with wondering or asking a question. Helping students to start by wondering builds interest and motivation.
5. Math helps out in the kitchen.
What’s the easiest way to cut a pizza evenly to serve 12 people? Can you divide 15 apples fairly between 4 friends? If a batch of granola calls for 2 ½ cups of oats, how much do you need to make a double batch? Fractions, multiplication, measurements, estimates… these are all parts of math that show up in the kitchen.
6. Math is black and white.
Some people like math because it seems more black and white than other subjects. The answer is right or it isn’t.
7. You can take lots of approaches to math.
Even if math has a “right” answer, there are lots of ways to get to it. Teaching students different approaches gives them tools to solve different problems, helps them understand concepts, and lets them choose an approach that makes the most sense to them.
8. Math is play for your brain.
Your body needs exercise and your brain does too. Think of math as running around at recess for your brain.
9. Enjoy puzzles? Math’s for you.
Logic puzzles, finding the solution to a Rubik’s cube, and any other number of puzzles use math. Help students see that math is more than numbers on a page.
10. Math and science go hand in hand.
Do you have a budding marine biologist in your class? Or a student who wants to be a vet or a doctor? Do you have kids who ask: How does it work? Math is essential to the study of science. The act of questioning, testing, and problem-solving show up in both areas.
11. Finding the answer is satisfying.
Math problems aren’t easy to solve, but finding the answer can be very satisfying. Remind students that some problems are easier than others, and part of the fun is figuring it out. Bring a sense of curiosity and adventure to math class.
12. Building, sewing and other hands-on activities use math.
How much wood do you need to build a bookcase? Do you need another box of tiles to finish the mosaic table? Do you have enough fabric to make this bag? How can we use our paper most efficiently if we need to cut out 12 circles? Measuring, area, volume . . . math shows up in many projects that we do. If you do creative projects with kids, show them the math that is involved.
13. Math is a journey.
Too often we think of math as an answer to get to. When a paper gets turned back with red correct marks or wrong Xs, students lose sight of that journey. Understanding that the destination (the answer) is important, but so is the journey (how you think about and solve a problem) for building a love of math. Where will math take you?
14. Use math to create art.
Let students play with pattern blocks or use compasses and rulers to create art. Explore spirals and symmetry. You can dig into mathematical concepts like angle measurement or Fibonacci sequence or encourage kids to notice things about their work and others.
15. Math is about wondering and asking questions.
Some people enjoy the mental exercise of working through problem after problem. Others want calculators or computers to do the work for them. Either way, it starts with a question or a wondering. Sometimes when practicing many problem sets to get a process down (adding fractions or doing long division) students forget why they are doing it. Use student generated questions and wonderings to build problems for solving. Talk about problem sets like piano scales or drills in sports.
16. Math is useful in everyday life.
“When will I ever use this?” is a question that comes up often in math class. Brainstorm with your class ways you use math every day. I’ve given some examples for cooking and shopping and creating. Other ideas to get you started: Use math to decide if you have enough of a particular item for everyone in class or to decide if you have enough time to play a game. Use math to figure out how many days of school before break or to add up a score in a game. Post your list in your class—and add to it as new things come up!
17. Math is fun.
Math is fun! Help your students to see that through your attitude and approach. One of my favorite ways to show students that math is fun is to use math games regularly.
These are some of my top reasons to love math. What would you (or your students) add to the list?
Free Reasons to Love Math Poster
Get your reasons to love math poster to use as a reminder and motivator in your classroom. Just fill in the form below.