Looking for non-traditional methods and materials for math instruction? These free sites offer creative math exercises and problem-solving activities that can help your children learn math concepts -- minus the dry textbook questions.
Relating Math to the Real World
RealWorldMath: This site enables students to take the math concepts they’re learning and apply them to a variety of tasks using information, images and tools in Google Earth. After downloading the Google Earth application, download lessons at the RealWorldMath site, and you’ll be able to open the files in Google Earth. One lesson gives students practice solving volume problems using some famous geometric places (the Great Pyramid of Giza; the Leaning Tower of Pisa; the World Trade Center site; and others). When you open the file, you can click on and fly to different locations and you’re prompted through the exercises.
Other activities inlude: calculating time zone differences; using historical data and solving cipher messages to find hidden U-boat longitude and latitude positions; finding area and circumference of circles after flying to various “crop circle” locations; estimating and measuring distances between landmarks; exploring mazes and labyrinths around the world. The site’s author also provides suggestions for using the activities in other subject areas, and additional resource links. There is a password-protected “Teacher” portion of the website where you can access lesson overviews, worksheets, and some answer keys. Fill out the form under the “Contact” tab and the author will send you the password.
FoodMaster: The hands-on activities at this site use food and cooking to teach math (and science) concepts. You can download individual chapters and answer keys for grades 3 - 5, and labs for high school. Grades 6 - 8 materials are currently being evaluated, according to the site. Explore measurement and conversions, ratios and percentages, comparisons, etc. using a variety of foods. Many activities involve graphing and experimentation.
MathCounts: Solve a variety of word problems: compare the value of two summer jobs; perform calculations with gift cards; explore percents and probabilities with ice cream, and more. There's an archive, where you can view past problems and answers. The exercises can be searched by topic (Moon Math; Pizza Problems) or concept (measurement, percents and fractions), with new problems presented each week. Also at the site are MathCounts Minis, videos teaching math concepts, with downloadable worksheets and answer sheets.
Math Maven Mysteries: This Scholastic site presents short story mysteries to solve, and in the process, you're reviewing key math concepts. Categorized by skill and diffifculty level, and the mysteries can be downloaded.
Math In Your Backyard
Maths Outdoors: It's amazing what math investigations can be done with just some sticks and stones: shapes and symmetry; angles and fractals; measurement, multiplication and many more. This site is full of a lot of great ideas, not just for exploring math concepts, but for educating outside in the other subject areas.
Careers Using Math
Math Apprentice: Interactive site that shows how math relates to different interests and disciplines. A player takes the role of an intern to explore eight businesses where math is used to solve problems. Enter a building, and an employee explains the math behind a particular job, and presents you with an activity. You can also read more about a career and explore math concepts used in each profession, (eg. learning the importance of shapes and angles when designing bicycle frames).
For additional real world math activities, check out this list of sites from Education World; and this Pinterest page.