How I scammed my kids to teach them maths


Whilst I am scarpering off (in character) with all of the play money, my eldest son finishes fitting masking tape to a cuboid to seal in the... "what happened to the money!" he announces, and then realises he'd been duped into purchasing a line of worthless products that was supposed to protect the funds, now spent, from mutant money eating slugs.

Following this revelation, a "policeman" arrived with a warning about a scam artist and is looking to recruit some young special agents to help track down the villain.

The Con


A mutant-money-eating slug had escaped from a local science facility. The TrustUs Corporation sold the children vaults to keep Lego purchasing funds safe. This device became ineffective after another slug mutation. The TrustUs Corporation quickly responded to additional slug evolutions by selling "Slug Tape For Square Things" (£1 per cm), then "Slug Tape For Rectangle Things" (£2 per cm), and finally "Slug Tape For Triangle Things" (£3 per cm).

Each time, the children had to work out how much tape they needed; figure out how much that would cost; and then fit the tape to the shape to see if they had brought too little or too much. All the while handing over piles of cash, especially for mistakes, until they had nothing left.

Review
What went well
- Posting the first letter through our own front door without telling the children what was going on 😀
- Sabotaging the vaults and seals whilst the children were reading the letters for the next stage of the game
- Letting them make mistakes and ruthlessly taking their money
- Ceremoniously hiring them to highlight the end of the exercise
- Reviewing decisions to see if they would have had money left over at the end of the game

What didn't work
- The whole scenario was too complicated for the youngest to follow along
- It only lasted an hour, but I thought it would take us 2.5

What did they learn
- what a perimeter is
- how to calculate the perimeter for squares, rectangles and triangle shapes
- to be suspicious of people making money from scaremongering

This experiment was a lot of fun! I don't know what the next chapter is yet, but it's going to involve the barking frog accomplice and a trail of money to set the scene for recovering the play money.



Play Along
If you wanted to run the scenarios yourself you need:

- Around £200 of play money
- A cube, a cuboid, a pyramid to acts as the money vaults
- Masking tape (or similar)
- An official looking hat for the character change at the end
- The letters to progress the game to the next stage, which can be downloaded from the Slug Tape google drive folder


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Contact

joe@joejames.io. You wont find me on social networks (because I'm not there).