Adding candy to equation makes algebra more fun

If you’ve read the recent article My Daughter’s Homework is Killing Me, then you know that parents all over our country are scratching their heads, wondering when homework got so dang hard.

I think that part of the reason is that complex concepts (like algebra) are being introduced in earlier grades.

In an ideal world, an early introduction to algebra would help prepare students to master advanced math in middle school and high school. It’s scaffolding for the future.

In the meantime, parents look at their kids’ homework and go “Whoa.”

Here’s a trick that might make homework easier. Add candy to the equation!

To show how this can work, I’m using an example similar to what you would find in the 5th grade Houghton Mifflin Math Expressions textbook, which the Edmonds School District uses.

Problem: Mrs. Garcia’s neighborhood has 28 pets. There are twice as many cats as hamsters and four times as many dogs as hamsters. How many of each pet are there?

You could use guess and check to figure this out, which would take forever. Or you could use algebra. Or you could use algebra and candy…even better!

(There’s more than one picture, so don’t forget to click.)

Let one piece of candy corn equal the number of hamsters. Two pieces of candy corn equals the number of cats, which is twice the number of hamsters. Four pieces of candy corn equals the number of dogs, which is four times the number of hamsters. In all, the total number of pets is 28. That would mean 4 hamsters, 8 cats, and 16 dogs in the neighborhood.

Once you introduce candy into the equation, math homework becomes more fun. Just don’t forget to have toothbrushes on the ready!

More in Life

Bob Jepperson’s Wild Love Story

A perfect circle of sounds, pictures and storytelling from the Anacortes author.

‘Shape of Water,’ ‘Big Little Lies’ lead Golden Globe nominations

“The Post” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” also collected a number of nominations.

Mukilteo Police Chief Cheol Kang is known for his people skills

The city’s top cop’s calm demeanor and holistic approach earns him the nickname “Yoda.”

Three posh places to escape this winter in north Puget Sound

Whether it’s wine country, backcountry or the seashore, a relaxing retreat is close at hand.

Getting a glimpse of what’s coming as we age

Everett Public Library reading to help you understand the changes ahead in your elder years.

This author is throwing a virtual party for book lovers

Jennifer Bardsley is hosting a Facebook get-together for young-adult book authors and readers.

Leanne Smiciklas, the friendly lady who served customers of her husband’s Old School Barbeque from a schoolbus parked in front of the Reptile Zoo east of Monroe, has died at 64. (Dan Bates / Herald file)
Without her, beloved BBQ hotspot in Monroe can’t go on

Leanne Smiciklas, who ran the now-closed Old School BBQ along Highway 2 with her husband, died.

Taylor Johnston waters a philodendron at her home on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Three guidebooks to help the novice houseplant gardener

Indoor plants are popular again — and we’re not talking about your grandma’s African violets.

Bustling Dublin offers big-city sights and Irish charm

The dynamic city has a great story to tell, and people who excel at telling it.

Most Read