[Originally published as Moving Math]
My husband and I recently moved into our first home together and we’ve done a lot of math along the way! Below are a few ways math is used while moving into a new home.
Buying the Home
Buying a home requires a lot of paperwork, some of which lists numbers such as your down payment, closing fees you owe, closing fees the seller owes, etc. All those numbers need to be checked (my husband actually found an error in one draft they had to fix), which requires basic adding and subtracting on a calculator with decimal numbers (and knowing what to add/subtract).
Where should we put ______?
Determining where furniture goes isn’t always as easy as it sounds. But rather than lifting it and trying it in lots of places (which can be really hard on heavy pieces), measuring the piece and measuring the room (or part of the room) can help figure out where to put it without breaking your back.
Addition and subtraction (including of fractions), as well as unit conversion, also come into play. For example, if the window is 45 1/2 inches high and the table comes up 30 3/16 inches, how much space will be between the table and the window? Is it enough for a project that needs to be 5 feet off the floor to sit on?
Installing Curtains and Hanging Pictures
Buying a new home, we had a lot of things we needed to install, from curtains to towel racks to cabinet doorknobs. And then there’s hanging pictures. Measuring helps you know where to drill the hole for the screw/put the nail so it all ends up at the right height. Not only do measuring and basic arithmetic help out here, but so do problem-solving skills.
When my husband installed the kitchen drawer handles, he had to think through how to get them centered. After all, neither screw needed to be in the center of the cabinet—the center of the handle needed to be there, but the screws were on the sides of the handle. He had to think through that if he measured the length of the handle and divided it in 2, he’d find the distance from the center of the cabinet on either side he should put the screws in order to have the handle centered.
What size rug do we need to buy? Will that loveseat fit? If we put the loveseat there, will the recliner still have room to recline back? All of this requires measuring, addition, and subtraction (sometimes of fractions). When will my furniture arrive if shipping takes 2 weeks? That again requires addition!
How much are we spending? How much do we have left to spend? Again, addition and subtraction (with decimal numbers this time) in action!
Math is far from a mere textbook exercise—it helps us complete tasks. Those are only a few tasks math helped my husband and I complete lately.
As you teach math, be sure to let your child use math outside of a textbook too. Doing a home improvement project? Let them help you figure out the cost, make measurements, etc. (If you don’t have a project, you could make a hypothetical one to work on—that could be as simple as seeing if a certain piece of furniture would fit in another room, or how many gallons of paint would be needed to repaint a room (and how much it would cost at $24.99 a gallon).)
Remind them that God gave us work to do here on earth, and math is a tool to help us in that work. And it’s a tool we can use while praising the Creator and working to His glory.