Valentine's Day is a great opportunity to give your kids a fun and engaging math activity. There are a number of themed activities and math worksheets available through a quick Internet search. Here's how you can use these resources to give the kids a math lesson that they'll enjoy. You can create a number of other fun activities to bring out the inner_mathematician in a child. For example, if you want to teach kids about the basic ideas of volume and surface area, then Valentine's Day could really lend a hand. Fill three glass jars that differ in size with some heart_shaped candy. Ask the kids to estimate how many sweet treats they think each jar contains. The candy could also help children practice their ability to make tallies, data charts and graphs. Using heart_shaped candy of different colors, ask your child to tally how many of each color there are. You could even use one of the themed math worksheets to help. Once they have created a total for each color, ask your child to compile the totals into a bar chart. If you are feeling kind, then the candy can become a generous reward for the hard work that they've done.
Engagement entails much more than rote repetition of a procedure. Math worksheets tend to present very similar problem types over and over, leading to mundane practice of disassociated skills. For students who understand the material and successfully complete an assignment, another worksheet becomes meaningless. On the other hand, for the students who don't understand the material, an alternative method of instruction is what's needed. Another worksheet simply adds to the student's frustration, or worse, contributes to a belief that "I'll never understand math." A cute image or a "fill_in_the_blanks" riddle does nothing to increase engagement or learning (and let's face it, those riddles are not funny!). Instead, teachers need to increase engagement by providing students with exercises in which they discover patterns and relationships, solve problems, or think creatively about math relationships.