Tuesday, September 13, 2016

"How much?" vs. "How many?"

Can you believe it? I haven't blogged since April... and it's been amazing!
You heard me right. I've been busy enjoying life and summer. On the scale of life, family time has definitely outweighed work time. This doesn't mean I haven't been thinking math. I have enjoyed lurking on Twitter and reading blog posts here and there. Keep up the great work everyone.

So, I'm dusting off the blog and wiping away the cobwebs so I can share just one gift of parenting a six year-old, learning the English language. Well, at least one part of the English language: when to use "how many?" and when to use "how much?"

I provide my son with a healthy amount of questions that involve estimation. I know, big shocker. So it shouldn't surprise you (or me for that matter) when he fires them back at me. However, it's extremely interesting that most of the time he begins his questions with "how much".

Here are some examples. Hey Dad, I wonder
  • How much air is in the tire?
  • How much pumps of air the tire will need?
  • How much miles it is to the beach?
  • How much pancakes will we make?
Can you spot which questions need help?
What advice would you offer a six-year old (and his dad) so he is better equipped to know when to either use "much" or "many"?

Here's what I offered him:
If it something you can count, use "how many"
  • How many pancakes will we make? 10
  • How many eggs are in a dozen? 12
  • How many pumps did it take to fill the tire? 6
  • How many minutes until we leave for soccer practice? 5
If it is something that is difficult to count, use "how much"
  • How much air is in the tire? not much
  • How much sunblock did you put on? only on my face
  • How much ketchup would you like? a lot
I'm more fond of my criteria for using "how many", but I'm not entirely convinced my criteria for "how much" will win me English/Math teacher of the year. I know there is a way to quantify the air inside a tire. There is a way to quantify the amount of sunblock applied. Help me make the criteria better and easily comprehensible for a six-year old.

Hope the school year is going well!