A Real Maths Learning Moment

Sometimes real life maths turns up when I least expect it. Maths learning moments suddenly appear. And if I take advantage of these
moments, some wonderful real maths learning can happen…

Yesterday the girls and I were watching art history videos
on the Kahn Academy website. Before we moved off the site, I did a bit of
exploring and found something else that looked very interesting: computer science. There were tutorials for using JavaScript codes to produce
drawings and animations.
“Wow! Can we try that?” asked Sophie.
It all looked a bit complicated but was in fact very simple.
Soon we’d all written programs using codes to produce simple drawings.
We then started to think more about the codes and what
all the numbers meant. We found out that the screen can be thought of as a
number plane 400 pixels wide and 400 pixels high. Some of the codes involve plotting
points using x and y coordinates. The origin is in the top left hand corner of the screen.
“That’s different to maths,” I said. “Usually the origin is
in the centre of the two intersecting perpendicular axes.”
All that sounded a bit complicated to the girls so I needed
to elaborate…
I explained the number plane to them by scribbling
on a piece of paper. Then I found a couple of Gizmos so the girls could
manipulate the points themselves, working out the x and y coordinates and the
quadrants. Finally, I found a Brainpop video and quiz about coordinates.
The girls were very interested. And they understood the
maths concept despite it being above their supposed maths age level. I guess that is because
they saw a use for it. They want to use these maths skills when writing their
programs. Even though the origin is in a different place, number planes
and coordinates are the same for computer science as they are for traditional
I have just looked at the description of another computer
science tutorial the girls want to try: Using Maths ExpressionsIf there’s one thing computers are good at, it’s
doing math. You’ll never need a calculator again.
Maybe the girls think they will be learning more about computer drawing. In actual fact, they are also going to be learning lots more maths.
Sometimes I wonder if people think unschooling maths means that no maths is actually being learnt. But I know my unschoolers learn lots of maths. They are going out there in the real world and learning all kinds of concepts. It doesn’t matter whether these concepts are on the maths syllabus or recommended for their age, or not. That’s not important at all.

What is important is that the girls find these concepts interesting and useful… and they want to learn about them. And my job is to seize the moment and provide the necessary resources to satisfy their captured interest.

Taking advantage of the moment is a wonderful way to learn. Do you have any wonderful maths learning moments to share? 


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  1. Reply

    No maths learning moments to share here, but I do enjoy hearing yours!

    1. Reply


      I was thinking about your son who likes gaming. Does he write his own computer programs? I wonder if he'd enjoy the computer science tutorials on the Kahn Academy site. It could lead to some good maths learning! Maybe you'd enjoy these lessons too.

      Thank you for reading my post. I appreciate you supporting my blog and stopping to comment!

    • Vicky
    • November 16, 2012

    I'm impressed! Our Maths moments have been a bit more ordinary. We've been cooking – trying to get liquids at the right temperature for yogurt making and measuring volume. We've had some Maths moments at the piano, too. And, the children have been calculating money for shopping and working out how much pocket money I owe them. We'll have to look up the Khan Academy – it sounds good. Do you use your T-box to watch the videos?

    1. Reply


      I think Andy was very impressed too! He came home from school to hear, "The girls have been writing programs using JavaScript." Actually it was all quite simple. But it does sound good, doesn't it?

      You are good keeping up with your children's pocket money. I gave up. I just give them a lump sum every now and then. If they started working out how much I owed them, I would be broke!

      I know we can watch Youtube videos using our T box. I'm not sure about other videos. I did get a T box update some time ago but I didn't read it properly. That's a fault of mine! Usually, we just watch online videos on my laptop. That works very well. Or I give the girls the link and they watch on their computers.

      Music, measuring and cooking, money? I AM impressed with your maths learning moments!

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