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Life is a puzzle. Let's see how simple math tips can help us navigate through this puzzle joyfully and efficiently. Learn how to create more storage space, optimally organize your kitchen, shop smarter, create a treasure hunt for your child's birthday, adjust your TV or fight your traffic ticket.
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Apply the flight attendant's secret to your closet. Roll your clothes instead of folding them; they will take 15-20% less space as rolling pushes air out. This won't work for everything, but consider it for jeans, T-shirts or towels. Take a look at how much space these towels occupy when folded versus rolled:
Instead of creating daily shopping lists of the products you run out download, edit and print TheMathMom's Grocery Master Shopping List. Before heading to the store, cross out the things you see in your refrigerator. You will not forget milk or bread anymore and believe it or not, you will be playing with the Set Theory. The products on your list that you need to buy will be a Complement Set of all the products you crossed out because you have them. Every time you discover a new product that you like - expand your original set. If you prefer to keep separate lists for different stores, such as wholesale and local supermarkets, fair enough. There is probably some overlap between those lists. To avoid buying twice, as soon as you are back from one store, cross out the duplicates from your second store list. These duplicates are intersection of your wholesale shopping set and your local supermarket set.
Rely on math to fight your traffic ticket. Read To fight or not to fight (with the police...)
Before taking your next flight, try visualizing your route on the globe. Take a piece of thread and hold one side of it at your departure point and another side at your destination. Pull thread to lie tightly on the globe's surface. The curve made by this thread is your shortest route. Perhaps you can spot something interesting on the way and make an extra stop. Impress your kids and other passengers with this knowledge. Read more about the great circle and the shortest distance between two points on the globe.
Does this sounds familiar: You put a dirty plate in, you take a clean plate out. And you repeat it all around again and again? See if you can organize your house optimally and intuitively. Can guests staying overnight find clean towels and make tea or coffee in the morning? How many steps does it take you to change wet sheet in the middle of the night? Are you shelving plastic dishes low enough for your kids to serve themselves? Encourage participation and simplify your life.
Does the order of the discounts matter? How a pair of $300 boots may cost less than $30 sandals? Rely on math to convince yourself to buy almost anything you want, or to talk yourself (or your spouse) out of any purchase. Read Shopping math or how to convince yourself to buy anything you want.
Do you trust your teenager to not drink-and-drive? Use this cool trick to test her/his awareness level over the phone.
Use math to declare clear closet clean-up guidelines for your mess makers. Define a ratio of order vs mess. A ratio between a number of properly shelved items to a number of messed up items. When it gets to 1 - time to re-organize. Read about more uses of signal-to-noise ratio.

Summer brings abundance of math toys: fragrant, smooth, sweet, colorful delights to count, compare, measure and then gobble up. Do all the snap pea pods host the same number of peas? Make a heirloom tomato contest to encourage some tasting and play with math. Measure your height in carrots and then fence with them. Here are some specific summer math game ideas.

If people on TV appear heavier than people around you, and not the other way around, see whether you need to adjust your TV's display options.
Do you like crispy brownie edges or soft chocolate-rich middle squares? Can you design a brownie pan where all the squares would have at least two edges? Do some fun math brainstorming with your family and then check out this solution and try solving the cheese puzzle.
Impress your kids by guessing their height from their shadow on a sunny day. You probably know your height. If not - look it up on your drivers license. Stand next to your kid, with the sun behind you, and ask someone to mark your and your kid's shadows. Then, compute together:
kid's height / height of kid's shadow = your height / height of your shadow
from this:
kid's height = your height x height of kid's shadow / height of your shadow
Read how the height of Egyptian pyramids was measured from their shadow.
Make a Cryptographic Treasure Hunt Game for you child's next birthday. Buy loads of candy or some other treasure and hide it in a secret place. Write a note describing this place (e.g. "Where sweet dreams come to you," if you hid the treasure bag under your child's pillow). Above each word in this sentence write the number corresponding to the word's order in the sentence.

Cut the sentence, with scissors, into words. Hide each word in a separate place. Create a pirate style clue map drawing of your home or describe where each word is hidden. Tell your kids that each word by itself does not have any meaning, but by combining all the words they will have a "key" to the treasure place.
Think statistics: is your living room empty 25 out of 30 days a month, while you work out of a tiny, stuffed home office? Of course you have hopes of populating the living room with book reading or chess playing kids on a daily basis, but past experience shows they are more likely to be found in the family room watching TV or doing homework in the kitchen. Don't wait for your life style to fit your home, act to make your home fit your needs today!

To get a clear picture of these needs, download this home usability statistics spreadsheet and modify it for your family. List all rooms and family members, then add up the hours that each person spends in each room every day. Analyze the results with your family. Now you can convert this 95% idle living room (guilt free) into a glamorous CEO office for yourself, or place homework & crafts table in it, or make family's dream come true with a pool table. Read more about using math to gain more out of your home.

Anyone can do these simple yet impressive card tricks. Share them with your friends and family and reveal how math makes them work. Card Tricks.