Practical Math

My son and I have ... A struggle with math and I have to admit that I am not always sure what to do with it.   He's been getting a bit weary with the struggle (as am I). 

We had picked up a math program last year that I thought would work well for him but it has proven, over time, to be far too easy for him, yet I know he has gaps in his learning (as evidenced today when, to my surprise, I learned that he doesn't really get what fractions are)...yet he has done lots of fraction work and done it well!   So... I'm currently feeling a bit floored and flummoxed.

So anyways, the point of this post is about math.. practical math as you can see from my post title, and how needful taking a day away can be.  Susan from Homeschooling Hearts and Minds is hosting the Virtual Curriculum Fair this month and math is the focus this week.

Recently I had to bring a bunny to London, a person from Toronto was planning to come by to get the rabbit, but we live in South-western Ontario where we are prone to winter storms, so bunny needed to travel in something that would hold for a few days, if their person couldn't make it.

ERGO enters a practical math problem.

Our issues:
  • Normal rabbit carrier is frozen solid from an unexpected leak
  • Bunny will be staying at gramma's so tidyness is very important (measuring lower side height)
  • bunny needs sufficient room to move around for health and mental outlook (area)
  • Needs to hold food and water dishes for continuity of care (perimeter)
  • needs to open and close easily to avoid confusing gramma.
 I'd heard about rabbit carriers being made out of rubbermaid containers so thought that might be the route to go.

Canadian Tire had a sale on containers so off I set.

We came home with two containers (in case we made an oops).

 What we needed:
  • a drill with two different sized bits
  • jigsaw
  • wire for the side
  • wire cutters
  • zipties
  • rubbermaid container
  • very sharp knife
  • markers
  • straight edge
My son asked me "How is this practical math if we aren't actually doing measuring mom?"

I said "Math is more than measuring, it's doing estimation and lines, learning how to use a straight edge and stuff like that".     So we used line of sight, hand measurements, estimation and approximation, and so forth.

He was happy.. he got to use a drill once I showed him how to do a quick up and down with the bit.  He learned how slippery plastic was to cut and so learned to slow down so he wouldn't take mom's fingers with it.

I have to admit, that even though my lad is very good with knives I didn't allow him to do any cutting.   Cutting plastic can be temperamental and using a really sharp knife is a must.  As it was I got nicks taken out of my fingers.

First up.   Taking one piece of wire (taken from an old bird cage) and eye ball it to see what we have to cut back.  It was too wide and a touch too long.

We needed to consider having room to connect it, maintain the stability of the container, and not waste the wire we had.

Using the wire cutters with the wire was pretty easy though dad had to lend his strength to cut through the thick wires.

Cutting through the plastic had dad helping with drilling holes into the corners.  We learned quickly that regardless of what markers I used they didn't hold well on the plastic making it difficult to see the lines, so after helping cut one line with the jigsaw and not being able to see the lines he left me to cut the rest with my sharp blade.

We needed to put two holes close together to hold the wire onto the sides.

We discussed if it was better to put the wire on the outside or inside and had differing opinions until Dad called from across the room.. put in on the inside...keep the rabbit from nibbling on the plastic.  That cemented the decision-making for us.  :)

It proved to be a two person job to attach the wire.   Working from opposite corners we managed to get the job done.

The lad completed the job by trimming off the excess ziptie (to keep bunny from thinking...ooh.. free nibbles here!)   Yes, bunnies can be silly.

This took us about a half hour from start to finish, including installing bunny in her temporary home.

Does she look content?   Hay given, water and pellets when she gets to gramma's.   She should do well eh?   Opens from the top as well as the sides for ease of access.  Turned out to be a good thing as gramma couldn't figure out the side panels at all.

The bedding for those curious, is a mixed shaving and straw bedding.  Safe to use with small animals.

My math weary child was so delighted to use this project for his math work, it inspired him back to doing "regular" math... even though fractions proved more problematic than we thought they would.  :)   go figure.   Sometimes taking a day to do practical math.. even without actual numbers .. is just what a lad needs.

This post is part of the Virtual Curriculum Fair, it's math week .. having fun with numbers.

Please visit my fellow homeschool bloggers who are talking about Discovering Patterns: Math and the Mathematical Sciences this week:

Finding Our Math Equilibrium: Our Plan for 11th, 7th, 5th, and 2nd Grades + Free Printables! by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Math Resources and Programs for All Ages by Amanda H @ Hopkins Homeschool
Math (doesn’t) Stink! by Jennifer King @A Peace of Mind
When Math is NOT Your Thing by Michele@Family, Faith and Fridays
Math U See and All the Supplements by Laura H @ Four Little Penguins
Discovering Patterns in Our World: STEM Studies by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
Junior High Math by Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life
Science & Math for Struggling Learners by Yvie @ Gypsy Road
Maths: a subject in progress by Sarah @ Delivering Grace
Taking Mathematics out of the Textbook by Dana Hanley @ Roscommon Acre
Maths for a Very Maths-y Boy by Lizzy @ Peaches At Home
Practical Math by Annette @ A Net in Time
One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling by Kim @ Good Sweet Love
Math, How I Loathe Thee by Shecki @ Greatly Blessed
Math and Logic in Early Elementary and Preschool {virtual curriculum fair 2017} by Meghan W @ Quiet In The Chaos
Low Stress High School Science and Math by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
Are these toys or manipulatives? This is math? by HillaryM @ Walking Fruitfully
When You Don’t Have a Math Plan by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart
Clear Horizons by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens
A Few Thoughts on Teacher Math by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset

An InLinkz Link-up

This post will also be linked up on January 25 with the Canadian Homeschooler


  1. Great practical project! The bunny looks quite comfortable.

  2. Fantastic! Practical math is sometimes the best way to go, which is one reason the girls like being in the kitchen - I'll call it math! Love the project. Tell him he did a great job. - Lori

    1. it worked well too, though next one we make, the bottom needs to be higher as they can kick the shavings out. It was a good project for us.

  3. What a great project! We've been taking more days off to look at the practical math around us. :)

    1. what practical math projects have you found?

  4. What a great hands on real life math project. Couldn't ask for a better one than that!

  5. Wonderful way to make math a practical skill! Great job, Mama!!

  6. What a great way to take math and actually use it! No more, why do I need this! Bunny looks happy as well!

    1. All the conversation we had with surprised. If found more ways to connect to math then I thought.

  7. This is fantastic. And it is why we are studying math in the first place, right? To solve real world problems. It is so easy to get caught up in the daily grind of solving made up equations on paper and lose sight of what it's all for. Thank you for sharing. :)

    1. Precisely, that's why we did this. :)

  8. Not quite sure why the bunny was moving but glad that the problem presented itself so your son could start to appreciate math again. We may not have bunnies to move but we have had the kiddos gather up their stuffed animals, Legos, or whatever toys they want to help make the math problems come to live. Anything that we can do to get the kids to understand there really is a reason for why we learn math. Kudos to you for finding what works for your son!

    1. Thanks, sometimes I feel like I am stumbling in the dark. :)

  9. Oh Annette, I loved how you made a math lesson so much fun! You are so creative!


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