Today we all know that benefits of math are considerable. Math is not a subject one learns by reading the problems and solutions. American children have very little practice with multi_step problems, and very few opportunities to think their way in to and through problems that don't look like 'all the others'. With a packed curriculum and the increased emphasis on testing, our children are taught tons of procedures _ but procedures disconnected from when to use them, and why. Sustained thinking _ the key ingredient to math success _ is painfully absent in too many math classes.

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.

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