math games

Number sense: an intuitive feel for numbers and their relationships – develops when children solve problems for themselves. Lisa Wilson Carboni, Education Instructor, Duke University.

I find more and more students are ill-equipped in “number sense,” thus creating a huge struggle when they get to division, fractions, etc.  Before memorizing addition flash cards, students need to play and work with numbers.  Using a number line is ideal in training the brain to hold a baseline visual image of numbers and their relationships.  This approach is especially successful with students who have difficulties in focusing, processing, and/or memory.

I use a method that teaches addition using “Addition Families”. The ‘partners’ in each family are the pairs of numbers that add up to that number.  The partners for the 5 family, for instance, are 0 and 5, 1 and 4, 2 and 3.  When a student can visualize this with the number line, with objects, with the addition fact, then they can automatically know that whenever they see any of these two partners together, they equal 5. Then transferring this knowledge to the inverse operation, subtraction is easy.  Counting on fingers, by the way, should be a strategy that kids no longer need by about the end of second grade.

The following are a few Math games we play:

1. Catch

Use a bean bag or ball to toss back and forth.  You say a number from 0 to 5 when you throw. They say it’s partner when they toss back. Get a rhythm going and then try increasing the speed.

2. Solitaire 

Get a deck of playing cards, lay out a row, in random order, of a black Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, and King. The King is the “0”. Lay out a red row of the same cards, in random order, above the black row.   Pick up any black card and place it on top of the red card that is it’s partner.  i.e., black 1 on top of red 4, until all are matched.  Then try timing it.

3. What do you see?

Help your child transfer math to everyday life.  Make up a math problem or question to go with whatever you see.  i.e  There are 13 people coming to the party and now there are 12 more people coming, how many people will there be altogether?  It’s 4 o’clock, I’ll pick you up in one hour, what time will that be?

Make up your own math games.  Make up silly or outrageous word problems with your child and write them down.  I do this with 7th graders as well as 1st graders.  It’s easy, it’s fun, and it’s so well worth the time to help kids feel confident.

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Lori Lewis is a Sound Healing Practitioner, Special Education Teacher, and Keiki Dance Instructor. She uses sounding (toning with the voice) with moms in particular, facilitating pain relief, emotional release, and getting down to core issues. During pregnancy, sound baths are a magical treat for mother and baby.


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