## Saturday, March 07, 2009

### Murderous Math Round 2

I said back in mid-September that Sean wasn't too interested in the Murderous Math books that Brian used to love so much. Right after we returned to Moscow from Singapore in mid-January, he started reading the entire series every day. He's read many, if not all, of the books at least 3 times. I'm sure he understands only bits of the books, but that's the beauty of these books, kids enjoy the comics first, and learn more and more each time they re-read the books, without ever realising that they're learning. The best kind of learning, in my opinion.

After reading the books, Sean would draw, make things (eg make shapes out of paper) or find things in real life that he feels are related to what he's learnt from the books. I don't remember Brian doing much of this in the past. I think it's Sean's way of internalising what he's read and reinforcing his understanding.

Some examples:
Pythagoras Theorem illustrated. He's just drawing what he's seen from the book, it doesn't mean he really understands how to use the formula.

And here he's tri-secting (I don't think tri-secting's the right word but that's what he said he was doing) regular polygons, from 3-sided ones to nine-sided ones. He offers this nugget, "The more number of sides the shape has, the smaller the central angle will be."

And one day, he came by with these two blocks and points to the semicircular bit and tells me it was a Reflex Angle (an angle more than 180 deg but less than 360 deg).

He spends hours using the protractor, drawing angles, folding paper, cutting out shapes (yes, he's been left alone a lot the past month, I was sick lah). For some time, he kept bugging me for a UK 50p coin cos Brian had told him it was the shape he (Sean) was looking for, a heptagon.

I couldn't find him a 50p coin and was still not sure if it was really a heptagon till I googled it 10 seconds ago. True enough, 7 sides. Not many coins with 7 sides right? Must remember to keep a 50p coin for Sean next time I'm in London.

While I was typing this, Sean came by to ask, "If each side of an equilateral triangle was 33cm, how many 3cm equilateral triangles would fit in it?" Upon drawing the big and small triangles, we then find out it's 121 triangles, ie the 11th (33/3) square number.  So if the big triangle was 48cm-sided, and the small triangles were 2cm-sided, it'll just be the 24th (48/2) square number, ie 576 small triangles would fit into the big triangle.

MM books put many mathematical concepts within the grasps of primary schoolchildren. Heck, it's useful for adults too, since we never learnt many of these in school, at least I didn't. I thought I learnt quite a lot when Brian was using the books cos he would tell me all the interesting things he had read, but this time round, I'm learning more new stuff too with Sean cos he learns in such a different way from Brian.  It probably helps that I've had 1 round of MM with Brian, so some of the basics have been covered, and I'm not as clueless as before.

Kjartan Poskitt is truly my hero, math-wise, that is. I just wish he'd write an MM book on Calculus soon.

petite fleur said...

My head is reeling from all the math on your blog !!

For now, I'm just happy if Nathaly can count to 10.

Lilian said...

This is recently becoming like a Math Trivia blog, I agree! One more post and we should be done for a while, fingers' crossed.

Counting is good. The building block for Math starts with counting.

monlim said...

I think your kids have a natural affinity to maths, so they're drawn to MM. L-A read them once but that's it. Andre won't even touch them, he says he doesn't understand a thing...

Lilian said...

Really ah? What about the comics, Andre doesn't enjoy them?

Maybe you're right, the boys like reading the Knowledge, Math and Science series, but not so much Horrible Histories. They even prefer Horrible Geography to Horrible History.

Alcovelet said...

So cool! Man, you make me wanna start reading the books myself (after my spy thriller, that is). RK loves the science ones but he hasn't ventured to take out the math ones. Leave him be lah - he's got all these things going on in his head now anyway, and he'd hate it if I interfered!!

The comics are just hysterical and extremely wicked! Tks for introducing the MM series!

Lilian said...

I haven't even read the books myself, don't think I ever will. I'm pretty sure RK will get to the books on his own time, if he enjoys inane humour, he'll love these books.

Sean was so tickled by just this silly picture of a trapezoid with a cross in the middle, and the different points, instead of being labelled A B C D etc, were labelled B I G P A N T S...to spell Big Pants...like that also laugh so much. Like siao gee na.

Anonymous said...

Wow all your math postings remind me so much of my geeky ex-bf! Now he is a professor. Somehow I see your kids gravitating towards that direction. My ex could talk about a whole topic so cheem that everyone else around him would be completely lost except him... :D Honestly, I think he is blessed with the brains.. it's amazing... He was definitely not boring....I enjoyed his company alot but somehow I had decided to go for someone more conventional... probably I knew him too early. :D

qx

Lilian said...

Wah QX, your ex so brainy, is your current just as brainy :)

Actually, I don't think my boys are that mathematical, they just like funny stuff and trivia. The really mathematical types would read thick math tomes, written for adults, with no comics inside. I've met a boy just like that, he lives and breathes math. Really brilliant.

Anonymous said...

heeheehee....of course not the same kind of brainy otherwise why the change?...but brainy in making \$\$ bwaaaaaaah...

Oh somehow I see traces of your kids in my geeky ex. It really does not matter what they read, it is how their brains are wired...so brilliant and amazing. I really think your kids have great potential. :D

qx

Lilian said...

Wahhaahah, brainy in making \$\$\$, infinitely better!!! How to wire my kids' brains to be more like your current's? LOL!

Anonymous said...

oops! That one must ask my PILs! :P I also must learn.

qx

breve1970 said...

I have a copy of The Great Number Rumble by Cora Lee & Gillian O'Reilly. Did anyone of you great Mummies recommend it to me?

It talks about how the schools in a particular town, ban math but a boy named Sam, who is a self-proclaimed mathnik, sets out to prove that math is fun!! Easy and light hearted reading.

Lilian said...

Sounds like a fun book but definitely wasn't recommended by me. Maybe Adeline.

breve1970 said...

Dear Aunty Lilian

What an interesting blog... I could not finish reading cos mummy is chasing me out of the house to go to school for my CCA.

Will tune it again after I get back tonight. I love Murderous Math too.

Best regards,
Hannah

Lilian said...

Hello Hannah,

Nice to see you here. You write so well! I hope to meet you some day. And keep reading those Murderous Math books, I hear they are murderously funny.

love,
Auntie Lilian

ps Get your mummy to start a blog so we can get to know you and your little sister better. Or maybe you could start your own blog okay? :)

breve1970 said...

Hullo again Aunty

No no. Mummy has to help me spell "interesting" cos I always spell as "interesing".

Yes I will tell her tohave a blog since she always on the PC. HAHAHAHA! Don'ttell her I tell you.

Love,
Hannah

breve1970 said...

Aunty, what isMoscow like? Is it very cold? I hope to go there one day. I havent see any snow. Mummy also told me that they have very good gimnasts.

Mummy and Papa said we might go to Melbourn in June :).

I only know Peter Tchaikovy who is a Russian... he composd Swan Lake and Nutcracker, I think.

Exams coming and all my friends are very nervous. Me too! Everyone hopes to go to the top 2 classes next year, the E class and the F class. I hope I can make it but my friends are very good. But mummy says that I shouldn't think about it going there as every class is the same. she said i should be happy whcih class i go to. you think so too?

Gotta go. Take care. your boys are very very smart. hope to meet them soon.

Love,
Hannah Zou Haijie

Lilian said...

Dearest Hannah,

You're so funny. But I don't think your mummy uses the PC as much as I do! Definitely not.

Moscow is very different from Singapore. It is freezing almost half of the year. My boys like it cos they get to play with snow and ice-skate a lot. Me? I hide in the warmth of my home and use my computer a lot, not very different from my life in Singapore :), or in London or Frankfurt for that matter!

I'm sure you will travel widely in future. You are really knowledgeable to know of Moscow and Russian composers. At your age, I only knew of places to eat charkuey teow and rojak and of people like the sugarcane juice and ice-kacang sellers. Melbourne is beautiful, you're very lucky.

Your mummy is very wise. You should be happy whichever class you go to. At Pri 2, you shouldn't need to be nervous about exams! Just pay attention in class, do your homework and the work your mummy assigns you, and relax.

Remember to relax knowing that you've done your best. As long as you know that, it doesn't matter how others do. You are you, don't compare yourself to your friends.

You seem like such a sensible and mature girl with a wonderful attitude, Singapore exams will not be able to test that and these are things that matter most. So keep being yourself, relax and be happy always!

love,
auntie lilian

breve1970 said...

Wa you ah?! My daughter is so smitten with your blog entries. She also wrote something on Ad's blog about Math Reading but think she didn't manage to post it.

Han will be very happy to read what you have written to her when she comes home tonight. Thanks a ton, Lilian. Very good counseling from you. This daughter of mine, sigh... very kan cheong and sensitive type. (Ad can attest to that.)

One thing's for sure. She will be busy reading everyone's blogs during the June hols now that she knows how to go about navigating.:)

Lilian said...

If she's gancheong then you don't have to push her to work, less headache for you. The sensitive bit, she may grow out of it, I dunno. Monica has more experience with little girls!

But she does seem really mature, old soul in a little girl's body eh?

breve1970 said...

You bet, Lilian... han internalizes alot and that worries me sometimes.

She is also very emotional when it comes to relationships with her friends and classmates. Think I am like that too. Haha.

Am still busy reading the entries on your Tokyo trip. So exciting!

Lilian said...

Ann, seriously, if she grows up to be anything like you, then there's no need for you to worry about her. Since you think she's just like you, let her be, we all like you so much hehe :) She's gonna be very popular when she grows up.

So is it gonna be Melbourne or Tokyo?

breve1970 said...

Wa... you are good! You can read my mind, Madame. Still deliberating between Melbourne and Tokyo... might end up elsewhere... I am horrible!

breve1970 said...

Hallo *again*....

I've only 3 MM books.U hv....um...how many MM books, I dunno.Gosh,gotta go 'cos Mum is shooing me out of the studyroom , telling me 2 practice my piano!

Check bk later!!!

Love from,
Hannah

Lilian said...

Hi Hannah. Er, I dunno either how many MM books we have, but we have them all :)

Which ones do you have and do you like reading them?

xoxo