It’s a kind of magic. How kids can have fun with math.

The title of this post can seem strange to you. What mathematics has to do with magic? In my opinion, it depends on what feelings you took from math lessons at school, college or university. There are people who were frightened by math or bored by it. But there were also a lucky few who were able to spot something beautiful about math on their own or thanks to a good teacher. There’s another approach when math lessons cannot do the trick for you. Genrich Altshuller didn’t call it magic, but an encounter with a miracle. In the book How to become a genius. Life strategy of a creative person by Altshuller and Vertkin they mentioned that creative people at an early age encountered a miracle that heavily influenced their trajectory in life. If we take mathematics as an example, showing a kid that mathematics isn’t a boring, but actually interesting field to participate in can be such a decisive encounter with a miracle. And it seems to me the best way to appreciate the beauty of mathematics is by actually doing it.

To organize such an encounter for my daughter, I suggested her to create a YouTube Kids channel about mathematics for kids where she can upload videos on mathematics that kids can understand and relate too. She agreed and with a little help from me she was able to create two videos already. One about square numbers, that as their name suggest, have a shape of a square. Another one about a visual way of depicting the addition of two numbers that third graders are tasked to do at school. Let’s take for example, 111 + 37. It turns out that before kids start using column method addition it’s difficult for them to find the right answer. Using binary trees can visualize the composition of the two numbers and help a kid in summing these numbers together.

One interesting aspect of creating such short video clips is that it encourages a parent and a kid to work together to be ready to present the topic clearly in a way that a kid can understand what the video is about. Also, teaching something is one of the best ways to understand it yourself. One additional thing to mention is that the videos in the channel can cover topics that are not explained at school at all or taught only in upper grades, which provides a kid with an advantage of an early exposure to advanced and interesting mathematical topics.

This way of introducing kids to mathematics has a promise of removing boredom and rut repetition of solving similar exercises and shows kids that math has more to it than how it’s usually taught at school.

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