“Pass the snake and…”
I heard it from behind the sofa and went looking for my four-year-old. There he was, singing and scribbling something on the wall. Looking up he smiled, then showing me his handiwork and sang again,
Pass the snake and come back straight,
This is the way to make an eight!
I am watching my kid learn maths through music. I couldn’t help but smile!
Two subjects that appear to be impossible to integrate are Mathematics–the subject of practicality, and music-the domain of the emotional. However, my son had just mixed the two happily and successfully.
Can Math and music really come together? Can we not Make math more fun by adding a dash of music to it? It already has rhythm and pace doesn’t it?
Research says that we can.
So, here are 8 ways in which you can teach math through music:
1) Number Songs
1) Number Songs
Just like we pass the snake for an eight, we can make a circle and a line for a nine, or do some tricks for a six!
There are so many ways in which songs can be associated with single-digit numbers. We can attach rhyming words like my son did, or play common nursery rhyme tunes to sing the numbers or make unique funny songs for them.
It’s an open and uncharted space. I’m sure you and your child would love to explore it.
2) Arithmetic Role-Plays
“The sounds from the auditorium were chaotic. I wondered if I was actually in a school,” says Nita who was visiting her elder one’s school. “They were playing arithmetic role plays with these six-year-olds and it looked like a lot of fun,” she explains.
Within a group (even three is enough), assign numerical values to children. For example, Reshu equals 5 and Keya equals 9, and so on. Then sing any song (similar to musical chairs).
As everyone sings, the children have to stand in a queue. When the music stops, randomly remove a child from the queue. The child who is removed adds the remaining numbers (with or without your help). Everyone claps at the correct answer and then starts again by making another queue.
You can play addition, subtraction, division and even multiplication role-plays this way.
Use common tunes like ‘Old McDonald’ or ‘Wheels of the Bus’ when you sing. Even eight-year-olds enjoy these tunes.
3) Tap! Tap! Tap! Clap! Clap! Clap!
“Let’s sing a song,” I said as I drove my son to school. He started tapping numbers on his thighs—with an amazing rhythm. Impressed and intrigued, I asked his teacher about this game and she explained, “They count numbers (1 to 50) while tapping their hands on their thighs. After counting, they spell the numbers and clap when they are successful at spelling out a few.”
She said that there is a pattern of tapping and clapping. For instance, one tap means number one and that is followed by spelling O-N-E. Similarly, two claps followed by spelling T-W-O, and so on. This way numbers are revised and music is created.
The fun is unimaginable!
4) Measurement Songs
Inches, feet, yards, and miles, yards and miles
Guaranteed to bring you smiles
12 inches in a foot, 3 feet in a yard
5-2-8-0 feet in just one mile so far…
“I remember singing this song in the tune of head, shoulders, knees and toes,” says Deepak, my colleague. “My two-month-old is too little for this song, no?” he asks as we sing the ‘measurement song’ from his childhood.
You can sing these measurement songs with your little one too. Change the measurements as per his/her understanding and make the metric system fun.
RELATED: 8 Reasons Why Kids Dislike Math
5) Multiplication Songs
The same concept as measurement songs, multiplication songs are for six to seven-year-olds and above.
If you can multiply 9 x 3,
Say it with me.
If you can multiply 6 x 8,
You are great.
We will multiply 3 x 7.
Look up to heaven.
I found this song from the workbook of a friend’s son. You can make your own songs if you want. I think it’s a wonderful way of learning tables through music. Don’t you agree?
6) Replacing Lyrics
Eleven-year-old Shudh loves music. Rap is his favourite genre. He replaces the lyrics of his favourite rap song with an algebraic formula. “Here, take an A, and then take a B, Yo!” is how one of his raps go. His five-year-old brother dances to Shudh’s tunes and has already learnt most of these songs.
His parents find it so hilarious that they have to leave the room when they’re practising these ‘rap equations.’
Even you can try replacing lyrics. Create your own lyrics to memorise tables, geometrical theorems, or algebra.
“As long as it makes Math fun for them, we don’t mind turning our house into a disco,” giggles Shubh’s mother contagiously.
7) Learning Notations
“He learns the Indian classical form,” explains Lila pointing to her six-year-old.
Her son is practising the sargam, but stops when he sees me. Rushing to us he says, “There is whole note, then there’s the half note and we also have a quarter note. Just like Math, mamma!”
It’s amazing how he associated Math with music. He’s right. A whole note is like a whole number, and a quarter note can define the idea of quarters. Learning notation in music reading is just like understanding fractions.
The rhythm of music and the concepts of Math are easily relatable, provided we use our imagination.
8) Puppet Geometry
The rectangle went to the park and sat on the swing. Now the swing became a rectangle.
The circle said I don’t to be left behind and went and sat on the carousel…
A song that I heard recently and instantly fell in love with. A Montessori institute near my place had organised a puppet show for kids. We went expecting regular dolls jumping around on a small stage. But we were up for a very pleasant surprise.
The puppets were not dolls but shapes. The triangle, circle, rectangle, hexagon and a cube puppet were singing. They were explaining how they create things and how they get divided to form other shapes.
Children enjoyed the show yes, but more than that they retained the concepts of shapes and geometry. My son still remembers how the swing became a rectangle and says that the circle is his favourite puppet.
Hats off to music, rhythm, and Math!
Do you have some fun number tune to share? You could do so by writing in the ‘Comments’ section below.
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