Sunday, August 11, 2013

Conversational Math in the Neighborhood

Our cat is a straight out cat-cat.
My daughter and I were out for a walk this lovely Sunday morning.  We ran into a family sitting on a bench, apparently on a break from a bike ride around the park.  Mom, three curly headed boys, a dog and...a cat.

My daughter immediately started cooing - she loves cats.  "She's actually more like a cat-dog," the Mom mentioned. "She follows us wherever we go."

"Oh!" I said, "We've run into her on other walks. We love hanging out with her."

My daughter noticed the dog. "I don't like dogs. I don't like their licking and their jumping."

"Well," said the Mom, "She doesn't do any of those things."

"So, your dog is more of a dog-cat, then?" I asked.

"I guess that's true," said the Mom.

I looked at the Mom and said, "It's a real Venn diagram of family pets, isn't it?  What if you had more pets, like a..."

"Like a bird?" said the Mom, "Who was also a fish?"

"Like a penguin!" said one of the boys.

"Awesome!" We all laughed, and then tried to figure out a fish that was like a bird - a flying fish!

"That would make a really fun math story book," I said, "About a family with pets like those."

Then, as kids are wont to do, the subject of ages came up. "How old are you?" my daughter asked. "I'm seven," said one.  "So am I," said another.  "I'm eight!" said my daughter. "And I'm nine," said the third brother.

A pause... I could just tell there was awareness of the progression of ages from one year to the next.

"And our dog is ten,"said the nine-year-old, "but that makes him seventy in dog years."

It was time to go our separate ways, but I went home savoring our chance encounter and the ensuing mathy conversations.  It also reminded me of one of my very favorite math book posts, Math is Everywhere: Storybook Edition which I posted last summer.  And, speaking of cats, a report from last September on our annual household Kitty Census.

Did you notice that our math conversation was not all about numbers?  And when numbers were involved, there was more of a qualitative feeling to the conversations - who is older, who is younger, including the dog.

So. Cool.

Where have you found math in your life today?

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