On New Year’s Day I laid off the math lessons (head a little foggy I guess), but did make a point of mentioning the special date: 1/1/11. To a 7-year old and 5-year old this is highly fascinating and worthy of writing down over and over again on random scraps of paper. Aw heck, it’s fascinating to a 38-year old too. My son definitely gave this some thought because he later told his dad that he can’t wait for November 11 this year. 11/11/11. Wow. I am excited too, and doesn’t this sound like a great excuse to throw a party (especially since we missed our chance on 10/10/10)? While we’re at it, doesn’t this sound like a great excuse to talk about palindromes?
A palindrome is a word, number, phrase, or sentence that reads the same forward and backward. Depending on how you write dates they may or may not be palindromes. For example, 1/1/11 is palindromic as written but 01/01/11 is not. 11/11/11 is for sure a palindrome, and for sure I am having serious thoughts about that party! Here’s another cool one: 11/02/2011.
I asked the kids if they could come up with some palindromic dates on their own. I should have thought it through first because that is a pretty difficult assignment. However, they came up with several “interesting” dates so I was completely satisfied: 1/1/00, 10/10/10, 12/12/12, 05/05/05, and my favorites: 03/02/01 and 01/02/03 (yes they came up with that on their own). For good measure I added 1/2/21 and 10/11/01.
It turns out words are easier than numbers. They gave me Hannah, mom, dad, and bib. Dad contributed stats. I had kayak. My 7-year old pointed out the word tap spelled backward is pat. So we created a palindromic phrase: tap pat. Since this was entertaining, we looked up palindromic sentences on the internet next. Most of them were totally obscure and didn’t make sense (to a kid anyway) so the favorite by far was: Noel sees Leon. They just loved that.
Clearly we ventured far from anything mathematical this morning, but it was a fun and educational time nonetheless. Palindromes have little mathematical significance but they are fun. According to Wikipedia, palindromic dates are “of interest to recreational mathematicians and numerologists, and sometimes generate comment in the general media.” So in other words, awareness of palindromic dates is really not going to help your kids SAT score, or even their PSSA score, but hopefully your kids will find palindromes interesting. By the way, a couple more interesting dates passed us by in early January, like 1/11/11 and 1/12/11. We’re going to have so much fun in 2011 I can tell already! π
Math For Breakfast provides parents of young children with easy ways to integrate math into every busy day. No time for breakfast? No worries, math can be served any time of day!