Mathematical principles are core to our understanding of other subjects and the wider world. Whatever your child’s age, bringing maths to life through the subjects they love can open the door to a deeper understanding of the subject.
Maths Inspires Art
Since the 4th century, artists have taken inspiration from mathematics. From the tessellations of Escher to the computer visualizations of four-dimensional geometry by Tony Robbin — maths and art go hand in hand.
A great way to help children understand how maths underpins art is by learning about perspective drawing. Perspective drawing is the key to creating realistic, three-dimensional artwork. It can visibly improve a child’s drawing if they’ve not worked this way before. By understanding how objects appear smaller and closer together when far away in a scene, children can bring their flat images to life.
This tutorial to drawing trains in one point perspective is a good way to get started.
Sand pendulums are a fun activity to introduce children to the idea of harmonic motion. This video by science teacher Bruce Yeany gives you instructions on how to make one. If it’s too much to try at home, the video is still worth a watch! Swap the sand for paint and use the resulting image as the basis for creating stunning visuals like polymath artist, Anita Chowdry.
Maths Structures in Music
There are direct links between the skills needed to succeed as a mathematician and those needed to be a musician. The skills learnt in each discipline reinforce one another.
Making music is an easy way of demonstrating mathematical principles such as counting, rhythm, sequences and patterns, to younger children. You can also talk about fractions, like crotchets (quarter notes) and quavers (eighth notes). For older children, explore how wavelengths and frequencies determine pitch. This can be demonstrated by playing a guitar and shortening the string length to create different notes.
Sheet music itself is a way of recording patterns for musicians to follow. Beethoven wrote some of his best music while he was losing his hearing. This was due, in part, to his understanding of how patterns on a musical score would make beautiful music.
To help you get started, Teach Early Years have some great ideas for teaching younger children about the links between maths and music.
The next time you listen to music with your child, encourage them to think about how maths and music are connected. Count the beats in a bar, tap along to percussion or even try making your own songs!
Mathematics in Programming
An important part of programming is the ability to strip away unnecessary information to reveal the important properties that make up code. This is called abstraction and is an important element of solving mathematical equations.
Maths and coding also teach us about how we view a problem. Just because an equation is presented to us in a particular order or form, doesn’t mean it’s the best way to tackle it. This is also an important skill in programming.
Our Botley™ coding robot activity set is the ideal introduction to coding (without involving a screen!). Children as young as 5 can engage with step coding and logic. Botley encourages early programming skills and helps little ones to develop critical thinking and problem-solving — core skills that are also vital to mathematics. Seeing Botley perform the actions of their programming will help young children visualise how coding works.
We’ve also put together some fun screen-free coding activities to introduce younger children to the basic principles of coding.
To Wrap up
Giving children real-life examples of maths in practise can make the subject more interesting, engaging and fun. By making maths relatable to them, you’ll capture and keep their attention, broadening their knowledge of the subject.