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I have to face it. It’s that time of year. My kiddos are super excited about Christmas being right around the corner. They are a little more energetic than normal, and a lot less focused. Oh, and did I mention they are tired too from the extra fun we have been having?

All of that makes for some interesting school days, and with that said I know we need a change of pace.

We all need a change of pace as we look forward to celebrating Christmas and spending time with our families.

With that thought in mind, a decided it would be a great time to try out some word problems that can’t be solved in just a few minutes, or maybe even in one class setting. If you are in a classroom you know that Common Core is all about solving real word problems, and even if you are homeschooling I’m sure you can agree that math is understood better when applied to our daily lives.

Now that we all agree on that, why not use this crazy (but so much fun) time of the year to try out some real life problems and get you children thinking.

Let’s Build a Rink mainly address area and perimeter using a model. The children are asked to design three rinks with Cuisenaire rods. They are then asked to give the area and perimeter of each shape.

### Area and Perimeter

There are two levels to this problem. The first level allows children to figure out the area and perimeter using whole numbers. Here is what they need to do.

- Get out green rods, red rods, and light green rods.
- Design three rinks using at least one of each rod.
- Figure out the area and perimeter of each rink.
- Decide which one would make the best rink and explain why.

### Multiplying Mixed Numbers

The second level is to assign the green rod a different value. When you make it one whole, everything else becomes a fraction.

Just as in the first problem, the students are required to use a green rod, red rod, and a light green rod too. You will notice that the value for those rods is never mentioned, adding another level of difficulty to this problem. But just so you know, the light green equals 1/2 and the red equals 1/3 of the dark green rod!!

Our upper elementary kiddos will follow the same steps as our younger children, but instead of doing basic operations with whole numbers they will be forced to add and multiply mixed numbers.

### Solving Area Using Models

My math education consisted of the teacher telling me how to solve a problem and then performing that operation over and over. the majority of the time I didn’t have a clue as to why I was doing what I was doing.

When we pull out manipulatives, we give our children the chance to understand the in and outs of a problem. We could simply say, “To find the area you need to multiply the length times the height.” While it is imperative that our children know that, it is also important for them to explore the concept and see why they should multiply.

When it comes time to solve for the area, you can increase their understanding of area using whole numbers by a simple extension.

- Have the children fill in their rectangle with Cuisenaire rods.
- Have them figure out what the length is.
- Ask them count how many lengths are used.
- Write an expression adding up all the lengths.
- Discuss easier ways to solve. (Instead of adding over and over, would there be an easier way to figure out the answer?)

Modeling area when fractions are involved is much harder. I would not recommend it with Cuisenaire rods. Base ten blocks make modeling the area of two mixed numbers much easier. It is so important to model any math skill, and here are a few resources you can check out.

After they are finished, our wonderful students are required to write a persuasive piece on which rink the city should use. Included in the free printable is a graphic organizer to get them started!!!

Yes, this time of year can be difficult as we try to keep our student’s focus, but I would love to hear how trying out some real life word problems worked for you.

You’ve Got This!

### Get your FREE copy of Let’s Build a Rink HERE

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