10 Big Math Ideas


Math is more than memorizing  facts. Children need to interact with the concepts and ideas that are behind the facts. Here are  10″Big Ideas” to help your daughter or son learn, understand, and enjoy math.

  1. Introduce the concept through experimenting and physical activity. For instance, if you are going to talk about adding, why not start by playing a quick game of counting how many shots can make into the waste basket in 5 minutes with your son. Add up the baskets  and for the sake of an examples you made 6 baskets and he made 11. Altogether there were 17 baskets made. (How many more are needed to get to 20? and the math continues!)
  2. Create math problems that are personal. Let’s say that your daughter wants to buy a Lego set that costs $16.00. Have her figure out how much will she need to earn if she has saved $3.75?
  3. Act out math scenarios. How about setting up a grocery store that has things that can be “purchased”? Use old cereal boxes, empty yogurt cups, etc., mark the prices that you determine and have your child  go shopping. Addition and subtraction can be used for this activity. You can have your shopper go through and pick out what he wants and add up the total. Another time you can give your daughter a set amount and she must stay within that amount to purchase the groceries. If you don’t have time or the inclination to create a store, then use the grocery ads and go shopping that way!
  4. Use as many manipulatives or physical examples when possible. Counters are a much needed aid when students are first beginning to learn the idea that a number stands for a unit.They are also helpful in teaching about sets, addition, multiplication, subtraction, and division. Help your student “see” concepts through illustrations and online videos if reinforcement is still needed.
  5. Talk about math! Have your child explain the answer that they calculated. For instance, 2+2=4. How does she know that? Can she show you how she determined that to be the answer? Sometimes the way a student arrives at an answer in a surprising manner.
  6. Think of different ways to arrive at the number you have chosen. For instance the number is 12. You can have your son think of three different ways to add numbers to have the sum of 12. (9+3, 6+6, 10+2 are just a few examples). You can also do this with all other mathematical operations.
  7.  Use math in a purposeful activity. Baking is a wonderful, practical way of showing fractions in action. If you are working on adding or dividing fractions you can double or halve a recipe. Creating an art project or building something is also a terrific way of “seeing” fractions. This is how I visualized fractions when I was first learning the concept.
  8. Play board games. If your child is learning to count, then rolling a dice (or two) helps reinforce counting. Hi-Ho Cherry-O  is great for children to see the one-to-one correspondence between objects and numbers as they count out the cherries (as well as adding and subtracting). Monopoly, Life, and Masterpiece are all good games for learning about money.
  9. Make math fun! If you are working on graphs, create a questionnaire to ask friends and family and graph the results. Ideas for questions to ask could be: favorite color, favorite food, favorite sport, etc. You can also buy a bag of M&M’s and graph (and count) the colors. You can also use this for an addition or subtraction activity and sets. Oh, the possibilities!
  10. Math takes time! Don’t get discouraged if your child is not catching on to math quickly. Math requires concrete and abstract thinking. Sometimes we are quick to rush through concepts because of the curriculum, but if your student is not ready, do not barge ahead until the concept is learned and understood. Math requires a solid foundation to advance. Do not worry! The understanding will happen, just be patient and keep reviewing. 🙂

~ Lisa


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