## Tuesday, December 22, 2009

### Great homework

Our son's teacher created an awesome homework assignment.

And it's something parents could do, too.

I just asked my son and his friend if they've finished their homework (it's just two days into the winter break). They both said yes. Even though there was a lot of reading involved, and some math. Here's why.

It's a detective story. It covers about three pages (yours could be shorter), and leads the reader through several interesting "logic puzzles."

Here's a sample plot:
The note says there's going to be a bank robbery.
The reader (child) has to figure out when the robbery is going to take place, at which bank, and who the culprit is.

The clues, and the steps to solve them, are in the story.

For instance, the note can say, "A robbery is going to take place at 1 2-1-14-11 9-14 20-15-18-15-14-20-15."
Detective Bill thought, "I can figure out the blanks by substituting letters for each number. For instance, "A" is "1"."

So now, the message says: "A robbery is going to take place at A BANK IN TORONTO."

Then the detective had to figure out which bank.
He got a list of banks like this:
Bank of Montreal, 24 Quebec St., 431-1435
Royal Bank, 91 Queen St., 987-1243
TD Bank, 43 Canada St., 332-1322

The note told the detective the robbery would be at bank #428.
The detective decides to use a formula for figuring out which one was #428. (Something like, add all of the numbers in each phone number and multiply them by the street number).

You get the idea.

The last clue was about whodunnit.
The note was signed, "Raymo."
The reader had to rearrange the letters to figure out that the culprit was the city's "Mayor."

Kids will get excited about reading and math when the story is about them, and lets them figure things out. Your story could be about a detective who has to solve a mystery surrounding a baseball team. Or with Hannah Montanna. Or in a dinosaur museum. Or a video game parlour. Or whatever your kid's into.

Use your child's name in the story, the names of siblings, pets, her school - whatever will catch her eye as she's reading. She'll love it!

So right now you're surfing the net. You're reading this blog (way to go, you rock, incidentally). But obviously you've got a few minutes before the boss comes back. So use this time to write a quick story. Steal liberally from my ideas, above (after all, I stole them from my son's teacher, a-hem). Don't even worry about including a "mystery" if you want - just make it a story. Don't worry if it's simple, if it's not as good as Robert Munsch would do. Your kid will love it - and she'll be reading.
Photo: iStock.