I handed my 8 year old this packet off magnets and, “Half for you, half for your brother.”

“Wait…so we get 4?” I wasn’t sure how she’d decided on 4 as half of the package. As I tried to formulate my probing question, she said, “Wait. (Long pause). 1, 2, 3, ….we each get 5. Wait…5 is half of 10? Yeah. We get 5 each.” She wasn’t in the mood to explain her thinking though, so now we’ll never know what was going on in her head! One interesting thing I’m noticing often is that she says an answer quickly, then continues to work on the problem in her head nearly always catching her own errors and correcting then unprompted. I’m going to have to talk to her about why she gives the answer so quickly, before she’s sure she has the right one. And I need to get her to do some stuff in writing to see if this is only happening with mental math calculations.

This past week we spent a few days in Toronto. We had an Air BNB in the building where my brother in law lives. We found it when were visiting the CN Tower.

Tall, right? We were on the 6th floor. To get to his condo, we had to ride the elevator to the 15th floor, exit, wait for the other elevator, then go up to the 34th floor. Here are the things we practiced: counting backward, figuring out how many floors until we would reach our destination, how long we’d been waiting for the elevator, counting forward, paying attention to the pattern of button pushing so we’d know whose turn it was to push buttons. These questions have come up in other elevators, but there was renewed interest since my children have never been in such a tall building. The CN Tower elevator doesn’t have numbered buttons or a countdown display, so that was a bummer. The elevator was pretty slow most of the time, but slow enough for us to have time to work out “how many floors until…” Maybe I should ask the kids to figure that our now! I feel like these conversations were all about developing number sense. Thirty-four isn’t a very big number, but it really high up in the air when one is in a skyscraper. Fifteen also isn’t very big, but looking over the pool railing from the fifteenth floor makes 15 seem really high!

We also had lots of conversation about the size of the pool and how it compared to other pools we’ve used this summer. It’s deeper than 2 of them, shallower than 1. It is longer than 2, but shorter than 1. It is a rectangle (clear in this picture but not as clear to kids standing right beside it) but we were in 2 square pools earlier in the summer.

I like the recognition that the bigness of the number is relative. 34 stories is a lot bigger than, say, 34 jellybeans. I am also impressed with how much math is available every day if we keep ours eyes open.