Steps to Calculus with 6 yo. Step 1

Our Beginning Calculus with 6 and 7 yo was not much of a formal study, but like much of their learning at that age, it was a variety of math games and explorations. I wanted to take a note of our progress, so I can have a future reference ( for repeating it with our youngest).

There so much that can be discovered as one starts on the path. And I wanted to take notes along the way, not to loose jewels we will unearth.

You will notice that I called these series of posts "Steps". They are not lessons, really. They are more of a steps in a direction of math discoveries. And differently from "Lessons", "Steps" can last for longer then just one session, we can just decide to linger longer, working on one concept, playing and having some fun.

We started with building rectangles. By now, my children are very comfortable with Mortensen Blocks we are using (but you can also use MUS blocks, cusinaire rods or any base ten manipulatives-blocks). We discovered the concept, that any number of blocks, put neatly on top of each other, create various rectangles.

We took a little side step, as kids got fascinated with squares. So we discussed square numbers and played with them for a bit.

And then we talked about Calculus for a bit. Not much to start with. We just talked that Calculus is full of exciting problems and solutions. Its like a regular math with a twist. With regular math one can calculate the area of the flat house roof. With Calculus, on the other hand, one can figure out the area of the non-spherical shape like the dome of the Sydney Opera House!

Architects need to know the area of an unusual dome like that to determine how much materials they will need, how much it will cost, how much will the finished dome weigh (which in turn will determine how strong the supporting structures will need to be!) Calculus is exciting stuff!

We started with Differential Calculus. The big name "Differentiation" is just a fancy way to describe the curve's slope, or steepness. We will learn more about it later. But for now we decided to ride on the idea, and played the "Glide and Fly" game. Like the mountain skiers, first glide on the snow picking up their speed and then fly up in the air, we played the game of "Gliding" ( counting the number of squares "over" or from left to right horizontally) and "Flying" (counting the number of squares "up" or from bottom to top, vertically).

We would record our findings, like this:

And discuss which skier had the better, bigger or most exciting jump!

Sounds easy, isn't it? But in the process we have learned and observed a lot. And we had lots of fun with building rectangles, calculating their factors and sharing our make-believe stories.