Newsletter September 15, 2012

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Welcome to adventurous math for the playground crowd! I am Moby Snoodles, and I love to hear from you at:

Moby Snoodles

Book news

There are just a few chapters left to illustrate. This should be all done by the beginning of October, when we start rounds of final reviews. If you would like to participate in reviews, drop me a note!

One of the main ways we make mathematics accessible to babies and toddlers is… symbols.

“Wait, what?” – you may ask. Isn’t symbolic mathematics harder than hands-on work?

It depends on what types of symbols we use. Here are a few examples.

“Baby signs” are hand gestures parents and kids establish for everyday needs of the baby, such as “Bring me that thing” or “More food” or “Pick me up.” Yes, a hand gesture is a type of a symbol.

Have you ever met a toddler who is crazy about horses, or in love with trucks? Anything referring to the beloved topic, such as a saddle or a wheel, will be dear to that child’s heart. Marketers know this and decorate pajamas, pens or backpacks with horseshoes or hot trucks. A saddle is not just a saddle – it’s a symbol of riding, caring for horses, and a whole world of interesting horse-related things!

Kids around the age of four of five often fall in love with particular colors. A child may only want to wear yellow shirts, or to build with yellow blocks and to draw with yellow markers. More often than not, colors have deep symbolic meaning to children. One mainstream example is “pink” symbolizing “ballet” for kids who love to dance. Sometimes these color symbols come from the media. For example, most cartoon characters have their colors, such as Batman and black. Of course, color combinations are symbols for a lot of things too – like green+red for winter holidays, or colors of its flag for a nation.

Here are two examples from the Moebius Noodles book. In the chapter on mirrors, we switched from formal symbols (numbers and multiplication signs) to visual diagrams that are more accessible:

Mirror Multiplication Tables

And here are symbols for function machines in this incredible triple composition! Can you guess what the functions do? Three-year-old kids with whom we work can!

Three function machines


Our blogs

“The favorite number of Count von Count from Sesame Street was 34969. Why? And what is YOUR favorite number?” – was our question on Facebook.

Paul Solomon’s answer:

My favorite is 27. 3 is lovely, but this is 3^3. Also, I was born on May 27, lived at 27 Midpark, and other such connections. 27 is for me. :)

Read more on his blog post “Exponents and the scale of the Universe” where this picture can be found. Talk about visual symbols!

Talk to you again on September 30th!

Moby Snoodles, aka Dr. Maria Droujkova

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