Playing Store For Math

Learning about money is about more than just knowing what each coin and bill are worth, it’s about actually using money confidently to do everyday things.  Money is of course used primarily in financial transactions, especially when we go to the store.  So playing store for math makes sense. I’ve been doing math intervention, going back over basic principles of arithmetic with all four of my younger kids, because the older two were struggling with algebra.  You can read more about our math intervention. Money Basics First of all, kids need to know the basics.  You should learn or review these things before you begin this lesson. Names and values of coins and bills How to count money amounts How to count money amounts using different coins, like making 75 cents with 3 quarters or making 75 cents with 7 dimes and a nickle. How to make change.  The video … click to read more

Learning to Write Number Words

How to teach kids to write number words.

Part of math, numbers, and math literacy is learning to spell and write number words.  Kids need to be able to write the words after being given a number written in digits and they need to be able to translate the written version into digits.   My kids are a bit older, but still struggling with a few of the words and word forms.  You can read about how we are learning math from the beginning.  They know the number words, mostly, but it is not fluid and automatic. They have to think still when they hit the thousands comma and the decimal and they forget the dash between the thirty and the four when writing thirty-four. And they still misspell some of the words.  So my plan is to drill it until it becomes automatic.  I wish I had done it from the beginning when they were learning all this … click to read more

More Skip Counting

When I was a third and fourth grader my parents and my teachers tried desperately to drill the times tables into my head. But I knew I could not learn them. Of course that was self fulfilling and embarrassingly I never did learn them until I was teaching my own children. Overall the whole times tables thing was an early failure in a long string of math failures in my childhood and teen years.  But I could do the twos, fives, and tens with absolute ease.  Why could I do them so easily?  Because of skip counting.  In kindergarten and first grade we learned to skip count by twos, fives, and tens.  When multiplication rolled around those numbers were already at hand. In spite of understanding this, I have pretty much failed to teach my children to skip count.  Sometimes the things we think are so easy are only easy … click to read more

Math Intervention Without A Curriculum

Last week CJ, who is thirteen, threw down his math book in frustration.  He just wasn’t getting it.  Even after I explained it.  Repeatedly.  In as many different ways as I could think of.  Even after watching Khan Academy videos.  Even after switching from Saxon to Life of Fred.  Algebra was just beating him up. Seeing the irreversible signs of frustration that would stop any learning for that day, I told him to put away the book and move to another subject.  I pondered the problem.  A few things occurred to me. Math Understanding Does Not Come Automatically For Most People Math is easy for me now, but it was by far my worst subject in school (except for that pottery class my sophomore year, but we don’t talk about that).  I made Bs in all my math classes from Jr. High pre-algebra to college calculus by doing all the … click to read more

Using An Abacus

Hands-on manipulatives help kids turn the idea of math into concrete concepts, and an abacus is one of our favorite manipulatives.  We just use a simple 100 bead abacus.  It has ten rows with ten beads on each row.  The beads are grouped in fives by color.  This just helps kids to begin to see groups without always having to count every single individual bead.  Ours also has the beads reverse color after 50 so kids can see the groups of fifties as well. Here are a few simple ways to use an abacus with kids: Learning Numbers – start by just practicing numbers and counting.  Make it a game where you say a number and the kids sees how fast he or she can show that number.  Each bead on the abacus represents 1, so they start at the top and slide that number of beads over.  If it’s … click to read more

Printable Coordinate Planes

Here are some printable coordinate planes for you to use.  The first is a large one with just one on the page.  This is great for when you are introducing graphing.  You can plot quite a few points on one plane.  Just click on the image to take you to the printable coordinate plane worksheet. And here is one that includes four per page to save on paper when you’re making several graphs.  Again, just click on the image to take you to the printable coordinate planes worksheet. Coordinate planes make for a fun math lesson.  The concept is simple – just take two numbers, called coordinates, and graph them along each axis.  It’s good practice to always label your axes with a x (horizontal axis) and a y (vertical axis) at the beginning.  Khan Academy has an excellent short video tutorial on how to graph on coordinate planes. The … click to read more

Multiplication Tips for Multiplying Multi-digit Numbers

Just when your child has figured out how to multiply across a multi-digit number, WHAMO!  He’s hit with multiplying a two or three digit number by a multi digit number.  Here are multiplication tips to help keep all the digits straight and behaving themselves. Use a highlighter pen to create neat and tidy columns to keep everything lined up. My son was frustrated and overwhelmed by these problems.  Not only was he not keeping the numbers in their columns, but when he was adding without the highlighter, visually the numbers seemed so much more complicated.  The yellow rows break up the problem into manageable bits and keep the columns even, an essential ingredient. I also used a red pen to write the problem while he used his pencil.  This keeps the original problem standing out and unmuddled with all the carrying going on. It took my son three days to … click to read more

Pi Day Activities

Happy Pi Day!  It’s 3.14, so today, you’ve got to teach your kids about Pi with these Pi Day activities! For every circle, no matter it’s size, the distance around the edge (the circumference) is about 3.14 times longer than the distance across the circle (the diameter).  Pi = 3.14, that amount that it is longer. Still confused? Try this: Get a container from your pantry that is a cylinder shape, like oatmeal.  Wrap a piece of yarn around the canister, and cut it off where it meets.  Now stretch the cut piece of string out from one side of the canister, across it; it will go just a bit longer than 3 times across (3.14 to be more exact!)  And that’s pi!  3.14! It doesn’t matter how big the circle is, pi is the constant number that shows the relationship between the circumference and diameter of a circle.  You … click to read more

Easy Math Dice Games

We practice math facts lots of ways.  A favorite at our place is playing dice games.  I have a collection of lots of different dice in all shapes, sizes, and colors.  The kids love to dig into our math bins and choose their dice for the day. We have some with 10 sides and some with 12 sides. We have colorful dice. We have lots of teeny tiny dice.  {Those are favorites!} We also have several dice within dice. We’ve got some plain ol’ boring dice too, but they don’t get chosen to come out and play very often. A super simple way to make math facts practice fun is to do it with some easy math dice games.  The kids are really just doing math problem after math problem, but since there’s a winner and a loser, it’s fun.  Adding game: You need two or more players.  Each person … click to read more

Beach Ball Math

We’re working hard on learning multiplication tables right now.  Really hard.  Because it’s just that – really hard to learn all those numbers and remember all those answers.  Sometimes we all get bogged down in the boring repetition and the same-ol-flashcard drills. Time to breathe a little life back into the lesson, I say. Enter beach ball math. My kids tend to pick things up with lightning speed and accuracy if you put either music or motion to it, so we utilize that a lot at our house.  We’re constantly dancing it out while we memorize, jogging while going over states and capitals, or jump roping while we chant our spelling words.   Beach ball math is another way to incorporate memorization and movement. You take a beach ball and write numbers all over it.  Ours includes zero through 12.  I wrote them in an upper row and a lower row … click to read more