How many times have you heard an adult say they are no good at math or that they hate math? So many times, it isn't that they weren't capable, but that they were never really shown how to do it with real world applications or with understanding. They were just taught algorithms and formulas and didn't see why they needed them. The way math is taught now is very different, or at least it should be. I am a strong believer in making sure that things make sense so that they can be applied to other situations. What might seem straight forward or clear to one person might make no sense at all to another person. Just think about the different ways math is used. It isn't just adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing numbers. It is also measurement, geometry, coordinates, graphing, statistics, just to mention a few. Some people are really good at numbers and calculations, while others have great spatial awareness, and some can solve puzzles while others struggle to see the relationships between shapes and designs. Math has it own language as well. This can be confusing for some people. Word problems are very hard for some people to figure out. Over the years, i discovered that it is necessary to go back to the basics and make sure that the building blocks are in place before attempting more complex or abstract concepts. When I was working with intermediate students in small groups, I found that many of them didn't know their basic facts and they struggled with addition and subtraction strategies. This made multiplication and division almost impossible for them to do well. I took them back to the basics and in time they were doing much of the work covered in class with some proficiency. They still needed extra support, but it was starting to make sense to them. They even started to enjoy math instead of dreading it. You can find out more about ways to help kids improve in this blog post. Practicing math skills during the summer will go a long way in helping to maintain skills for the new year. There are plenty of fun and engaging activities you can plan for kids during the summer that incorporate math and keep them learning. Here are some ideas: Math themed scavenger huntCreate a scavenger hunt where kids have to solve math problems or puzzles to find hidden objects or clues. You can design it around a specific math concept, like geometry or fractions, and hide clues or objects that reinforce those concepts. Cooking and baking Involve kids in cooking and baking activities that require them to use measurements, conversions, and fractions. Encourage them to follow recipes, measure ingredients, and calculate serving sizes. They can also explore the concept of ratios by experimenting with different ingredient proportions. Outdoor measurement explorationTake advantage of the outdoors to explore measurement concepts. Have kids measure the height of trees, the length of their shadows at different times of the day, or the circumference of various objects using a measuring tape or ruler. They can record their findings and compare measurements. Math board gamesIntroduce kids to mathfocused board games or card games that involve strategic thinking and problemsolving. Games like Monopoly, Set, or Sudoku can help improve their math skills while having fun. Math art projectsCombine math and art by engaging kids in geometric art projects. They can create symmetrical designs, tessellations, or use grids to draw patterns. This allows them to explore concepts like symmetry, shapes, and angles while expressing their creativity. Math related craftsEncourage kids to engage in crafts that involve math concepts. For example, they can create paper origami shapes, construct 3D models using geometric shapes, or design and build structures using various materials. These activities promote spatial reasoning and critical thinking skills. Math apps and online gamesUtilize educational math apps and online games that provide interactive learning experiences. There are numerous apps and websites available that offer math games, puzzles, and quizzes suitable for different age groups. Math journalingHave kids maintain a math journal where they can record and explore math concepts they encounter in their daily lives. They can write about reallife applications of math, solve problems, or illustrate concepts. This encourages reflection and critical thinking. By integrating math into summer activities, you can help children strengthen their math skills while having a great time. Related PostsThe sunshine is here and kids are anxious to get outside, so why not take advantage of this and do some outdoor math activities and other lessons? Many different subjects can be done outside the classroom walls if you add in some creativity and movement. Here are 5 fun ideas for teaching math and social studies outdoors. Taking Measurement OutdoorsMany classes study measurement in the spring. A culminating activity for this could be an outdoor event where teams practice linear measurement. Here is a resource that might help. Outdoor Measurement Games Team Events Working With Time And RacingIf you teach time in the spring, perhaps you could go one step further and introduce stopwatches. Timing different events can be fun and many different devices actually have stopwatches on them now. You could have a fun day with different activities that need timing, such as running, filling different containers, wheelbarrow races, etc. You could also set a time to beat and have the kids do activities that have to beat the time. For older children, comparing times, looking at the data and maybe even figuring out elapsed time could also be included. Because the kids are having fun and moving around, they won't realize that they are studying time, but they will be applying skills to real world situations. Taking Mapping Skills OutdoorsReading maps and understanding them is still an important skill in today's digital age. Many people rely on the maps feature in their vehicle or on their phone to get them from point A to point B, but they don't have a clear understanding of how to read maps on their own. Learning how to use mapping skills like directions and grids helps when using maps at places that don't have a digital option. For example, when you go to certain amusement parks, zoos, or other events that have activities and events spread out around the grounds, being able to follow a map is important. Just think of all the maps in malls, at parks, or even at visitor centers that have "You Are Here" indicated on them. Can you follow directions from there to get to where you want to go? Teaching kids how to use these skills in practical settings requires practice. Here is a chance to get outside and actually try to use them to find things, locate different areas, and be able to help others to find them too. Creating maps of the neighborhood or school grounds can also work as practice using grids, directions, and even symbols and legends. Here is a resource that may help. Mapping Skills Using Grids Using Grids And Working With ScaleUnderstanding how scale works is an important skill when interpreting maps, blueprints, house plans, and other documents. A great way to practice doing this is using grid paper and measuring the perimeter or area of an object and then drawing it on the paper. It is important to indicate what the size of each square is so that the measurements match what is drawn on the paper. You could choose the school yard, playground, surrounding neighborhood or any other area or object for your topic. Here is a resource that may help with understanding perimeter and area along with some activities to practice using both. Perimeter And Area Solving Math Word ProblemsWord problems can be especially challenging for some kids, so taking them outdoors and actually doing some hands on work with them might help. I remember creating puzzles when I was geocaching that required people to solve math questions using objects in the park in order to find the coordinates. Something similar could be done in the school yard. For example, check out and find all the trash containers, swings, trees, signs, basketball hoops, hopscotch or foursquare marking, etc. Using these objects around the school yard, create math word problems that must be solved. You could work in pairs, individually, or even in teams to solve them. The Sky's The LimitThese are only a few of the different activities that can be done outdoors to work on math and social studies skills. Depending on what you are studying and how creative you are, there are many others that can be done as well. So get outside, have fun, and keep the learning going. Related PostsWhen babies take their first steps, they wobble and they often fall. With help and practice they begin to take steps by themselves. Before long they are running and they are able to hop, skip, and leap over things. Baby steps lead to bigger steps. That is true in all areas of life including Math. The basic facts are the baby steps that lead to more complex and abstract skills. Once the basic steps are mastered, it is time to move on to more complex problems using double and triple digit numbers. Complex problems can be daunting, but the good news is that there are many strategies that can help. Looking for tensThis strategy involves breaking down the big numbers into smaller, more manageable ones. We search for numbers that can easily be combined or subtracted in groups of ten. Finding pairs of numbers that add up to ten make calculations easier. It's like a treasure hunt where we search for numbers that can make adding and subtracting easier and use that knowledge to solve more challenging problems. Using A Number LineNumber lines are a great tool for addition and subtraction. They provide a visual representation to help with seeing how numbers relate to each other. Kids can see the steps needed to get from one number to another and it helps them to understand more complicated calculations as they hop to the answers. Regrouping Using Base Ten Blocks And MoneyRegrouping is another strategy used when working with larger numbers. Using base ten blocks as you practice this skill will help with visualizing why we regroup and what it really means. Regrouping is really just trading ones for tens or tens for ones which helps to make calculations easier. Once the concept of regrouping is understood there are several other ways to help with remembering how it works. My favorite is banking. I teach my kids to take 10 pennies and trade them for a dime when adding. If they don't have enough pennies when doing subtracting, I tell them to go to the bank and trade a dime in for 10 pennies. As they move on to 3 digit addition and subtraction I tell them that 10 dimes makes one dollar so they can trade dimes for dollars or dollars for dimes when doing their calculations. Working With Expanded Notation And Combining PartsWe also have expanding notation which allows us to break down numbers into their individual digits. This helps us to see the value of the individual digits and it also helps us to add similar values. We can also use expanding notation for figuring out subtraction. See the image below for an explanation and example. Standard Algorithm For AdditionMany of us grew up with an algorithm for addition. This is still valid today, but it is important to understand how it works and what we are actually doing when we use it. Most often we stack the numbers one under the other and make sure that the digits line up. The ones would be added and then the tens would be added. For regrouping, you would need to carry the extra tens and add them to the tens column. See the images below for an example. Standard Algorithm For SubtractionThe standard algorithm for subtraction works the same way, but when regrouping we need to take from the tens column and add it to the ones column when we don't have enough ones to do the subtraction. See the images below for some examples. Anchor Charts For Addition And SubtractionWhen learning the basic facts for addition and subtraction, many strategies are taught and practiced. Each person will have some strategies that work well for them and they can apply these strategies to more complex questions. Get a free copy of these anchor charts by signing up for my newsletter. If you are interested in some practice worksheets to go along with the different strategies, check them out here. I hope you find these tips helpful as you continue to guide your students through the complexities of math. Related PostsLife is a series of give and take and in math class, this is also true. We give and take when we work with addition and subtraction and it is important that we learn how to do this well in order to be able to apply skills to real life situations. Last week I focused on addition strategies for basic facts. Today I would like to look at subtraction strategies. You may notice there are many similarities between the two. As with addition, I recommend starting with manipulatives such as base ten blocks, number lines, ten frames. These visuals will help the strategies make sense for many children. Subtraction StrategiesDeciding what strategy to use will be different for each person, but in order to be able to choose, it is important to be introduced to a variety of strategies and have opportunities to practice them. Here are 6 strategies you might find helpful. Zero FactsJust like in addition, zero is a special number for subtraction. Zero can be subtracted from a number and leave the same number or it can be the answer when a number is subtracted from the same number. When kids see a zero they should be able to automatically recognize this fact. It will come in very handy when they start to use larger numbers. Counting BackIf you have a ruler or a number line, you can use a counting back strategy to figure out the subtraction question for basic facts. It is possible to do it for larger numbers as well, but it is not a very efficient strategy for subtracting double digit numbers. Place your finger on the first number and count back the number of spaces of the second number to get your answer. If you use a pencil and paper with a number line, you can actually draw the steps backward. This will help to avoid getting lost or miscounting. Related FactsRelated facts help when you know one fact and need to figure out the other fact. When you look at the question, think about the related fact to figure out the answer. Sometimes it is easier for us to figure out the related fact and then solve the question. It's just the way our brain works sometimes. DoublesIf you are taking away an amount that doubles to equal the first number of the subtraction question, then the answer will be the same as the amount taken away. This strategy depends on how well one knows the doubles facts. Looking For TensWith basic facts, tens can be a useful strategy. For instance, if you know the different combinations of numbers that equal ten, you can use fact family triangles or number bonds to figure out the different subtraction questions. If you are subtracting using a ten frame, colored objects or circles help you to see how many are remaining. See the image below as an example. For larger numbers up to 20, you could use a couple of ten frames. Change To AdditionSometimes it's easier to think of the question in addition rather than subtraction. You can also apply addition strategies to this. For instance, in the example below you could use doubles plus one to figure it out, or you could count on to get the answer. Once the basic subtraction facts are well practiced, moving on to double digit subtraction and more complex questions requiring regrouping will make more sense. Next time I will talk more about double digit addition and subtraction and strategies that will help these make sense. Related PostsDo you know your basic facts? This may seem like a silly question, but there are many people who struggle with the basics and this is why math is so difficult for them. When I worked with intermediate students that were struggling, I discovered that they were missing the building blocks that would help them with more complex situations. They didn't have a solid foundation and they struggled to find strategies to help. Math is all around us and it can be frustrating if we don't have a good understanding of how to use it well. As a primary teacher, I know just how important it is to start building strong foundations in math. Learning basic facts is like laying bricks for a sturdy house  without them, the structure can easily crumble. Fortunately, it is never too late to master the basics and improve math skills. There are many different strategies and approaches available to accomplish this. I would like to focus on a few addition strategies today. Basic Facts Addition StrategiesMoving from concrete to abstract is important, but first it is necessary to make sure that the foundation of basic facts is solid. Using manipulatives and simple strategies help to make sense of the different concepts, so don't be too quick to remove them as you try out the strategies shown here today. Adding zeroAdding zero is a concept that can be demonstrated easily with concrete examples. When nothing is added to something, there is no change. As you can see in the example below, it doesn't matter if the zero comes at the beginning of the number sentence or the number of objects comes at the beginning of the sentence, the answer still stays the same. Turn it aroundIt's funny how our brains work sometimes. We can figure things out faster when we see a question shown in a certain way. Both of the number sentences below have the same numbers in them, but for some reason it may be easier to recognize the answer faster looking at one of the sentences. That is the beauty of understanding that the cummutative principle of addition means we can turn the question around and still get the correct answer. We may not use the formal term when we teach this strategy, but the visual makes it clear. Counting onCounting on is a strategy that is well used for addition. Think of the number of times you may have noticed a child using fingers to count on when figuring out how much more is added. Maybe you have used your fingers to figure things out as well. Using a number line is another great visual for counting on. Place your pencil (or finger) on the first number in the sentence and count on the number of spaces of the second number to get your answer to the question. Making tensMaking tens is a great way to help with figuring out addition questions. Start with looking at different ways to make ten using dice, fact families, number bonds, and ten frames. Making Tens And MoreAfter becoming comfortable with tens you can add in some of the larger numbers to figure out other basic facts. For example: If you know that 8 + 2 = !0, then for 8 + 9 , you can take 2 from the 9 to make 10 and that leaves 7, so 10 + 7 = 17 See the image below for a visual representation. DoublesLearning doubles can be a very helpful strategy. Here are some pictures that can be used as reminders for the doubles for each of the numbers from 1 to 9. There can be other images substituted for these depending on what may work for your students. It will take practice to remember these hints. An anchor chart might also help. eyes for 1 + 1 : easy to remember because we have 2 eyes domino with 2 + 2 : counting by twos also works using dice with 3 + 3 : shows the two rows of 3 dots spider legs for 4 +4 : spiders have 8 legs hands for 5+ 5 : counting by fives works as well carton of eggs for 6 + 6: a dozen is 12 calendar for 7 + 7 : each week has 7 days 2 octopus for 8 + 8 : each one has 8 legs 18 wheeler for 9 + 9 : each side has 9 wheels Near doublesSometimes it helps to use doubles and add one when you need to add two numbers that are close together. For a simple example, check out the image below. Some facts are harder to remember than others. This strategy can work well for some of these situations. For instance, many struggle with 8 + 9. If they double the 8 and add one, it can help. Here is an addition mandala that is fun to do and helps with practicing basic facts in addition. It comes in both English and French. Get a free copy by signing up for my newsletter. There are other strategies that can be used as well, but I wanted to focus on a few tried and true strategies that my students have used. Once the basic facts are solid, moving on to more complex addition will be easier. I will share ideas about more complex addition in a future post. For now, I hope that these ideas and strategies help your students to build a strong foundation in math. Related PostsDo your students struggle to make sense out of math? Do they grumble and get frustrated whenever it is time for math? Maybe they just need to have more practice manipulating things and visualizing concepts. Using concrete materials and hands on activities is the best way, in my opinion, to help kids make sense out of the math concepts they are being taught. However, at some point they need to be able to move from the concrete to the abstract. Here are a few ideas that combine both as they move towards that transition. Basic FactsWhen we talk about basic facts, we usually mean addition and subtraction facts of single digit numbers. These are the foundation for all other addition and subtraction problems and they are also the base for multiplication and division. If kids are to make sense and be successful with more complex situations, they need to have a good handle on their basic facts. Start out by using objects and combining them for addition and removing some for subtraction. As these steps are practiced, try using words like adding and plus or taking away and minus so that when the number sentences are used, they will be familiar with the language. When the number sentences are added, make sure to have an image of the objects there as well so the correlation between the concrete and abstract is visible. Fact Families and Number BondsFact family triangles help kids to see the relationship between addition and subtraction and the separate elements. Number bonds are another way of representing this. Try using objects and breaking them down into the different sets so that they can actually count and check to see that the addition and subtraction sentences work. Here are some resources that I created to practice using fact family triangles and number bonds. Click on the images to check them out. Representing Numbers And Place ValueOnce kids are able to recognize numbers up to ten, it is time to start looking more closely at numbers with two or more digits. They may be able to count past ten and even up to one hundred, but do they really understand what the digits in the numbers mean when they look at them? In most cases, they think of a number such as 324 to be a 3, a 2, and a 4. They hear three hundred twentyfour when they say the number out loud, but they don't really understand that it is 300 plus 20 plus 4. There are several ways to help them figure this out. Here are a couple of ways that I like to use. Base Ten BlocksBase ten blocks allow kids to manipulate objects to show different numbers. They can touch the hundreds, tens, and ones as they count them and move them around. Once they can accurately create numbers using the blocks, they can draw them using large squares for hundreds, rectangles for tens, and small squares for ones. Expanded NotationExpanded notation stretches the number out so that each of the digits is represented with its value. For example: 523 is really 500+20+3. Start out using the base ten blocks to show what it looks like before moving to the abstract addition sentence. Practice saying different numbers and then representing them with the base ten blocks. Once they can show the number correctly each time, add in the written component. Draw a picture of the number using base ten symbols and write the expanded addition sentence under it. Once they get comfortable with recognizing the standard notation and representing it with base ten blocks and expanded notation, matching the 3 different formats can be added. Here is a resource I created that does that. It also has a bingo component. Click on the images to see more. Check out the video below for an explanation about how to use this resource to help kids understand ways to represent numbers. Another way to show numbers with their actual values is to make card stock strips with 100,200,300,400,500,600,700,800,900 on them, and shorter ones with 10,20,30,40,50,60,70,80,90 on them, and shorter ones with 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 on them. Hand out the strips to the kids and have them show the actual numbers by standing together with the correctly numbered strips. For example: 362 is the number. The kids with 300, 60, and 2 would stand together to show that they make the number 362. They could also overlap their strips to show the standard notation number. if you would like some worksheets to practice representing numbers in a variety of ways, check out my place value category in my store. There you will find sets for different holidays and seasons. I have also created a sample set that is free for signing up for my newsletter.. These are only a few ideas for using hands on activities to help make sense of math concepts. Moving to the abstract will be an easy transition for some, but will be difficult for others. If necessary, add in concrete activities along the way to help kids see the relationships and apply concepts to other activities. Next time I will share some addition tips and strategies. Related PostsWatching kids "get it" is exciting. There is that confusion and frustration at the beginning that gradually changes as things begin to make sense. Suddenly the light bulb goes off and the smiles appear. There is a definite sense of "Aha". This is often the case in math when kids work with concrete materials. Hands on activities and manipulatives made the difference. That is the magic of using hands on activities and manipulatives to teach basic concepts in math. Here are some different types of games and activities as well as resources that may help as you venture into teaching with concrete examples. Number senseBefore kids can move forward in math, they have to understand what numbers are and be able to work with them. This includes recognizing what the numerals look like, counting objects, making one to one correlation with the number and the object, etc. Counting by one, two, five, and ten can all be done with concrete objects. It's important to make sure that there is understanding of one concept before adding in the next one. Counting by one: Start with picking up objects one at a time and counting them sequentially. Try counting up to five, then ten, and then twenty. Practice this until they can do it without help. Pointing at objects as they are counted also works. Make sure to also work on counting objects that may not be lined up but are in random positions. Counting by two: Once they are able to count by one without prompting, start introducing counting two together. There are several ways to do this. It is important that they understand that they are counting two objects at a time. You could put the objects in pairs and have them count by saying the odd numbers quietly and the even numbers loudly at first, and then have them say the odd number inside their head and the even number out loud. With practice, they will be able to say only the even numbers and do the skip counting by two. Counting by five and ten: Counting by five and ten require a good understanding of larger numbers. Practice using number lines and hundreds charts to expand to larger numbers and do lots of activities to help kids see how these bigger quantities work. Then work on patterns and skip counting by five and ten. Use things like hands or coins for visually counting by five or ten as well. Teach children that numbers have many representations, such as dots, fingers, counters, numerals, objects, ten frames, etc. The goal is to help them to see patterns and relationships between the numbers and objects. The goal is to help them to start understanding how different concepts like more, less, equal to, greater than, less than, etc work. Basic facts for addition and subtraction followed by multiplication and division are also part of number sense. Number sense is key to all aspects of math. It is important to make sure that kids have a solid understanding of how numbers work and the relationships between different operations happen in order to ensure that they will be successful with more abstract and complex concepts. Basic factsWhen we refer to basic facts, we usually mean adding and subtracting single digit numbers. It's important to have a good understanding of these facts and how they work in order to do more complex math questions. Games are a great way to work on these. Start by working with numbers that add up to ten. Making tens is a key concept for many different other skills and concepts. Using dice work well for teaching basic facts to ten. Check out the video below to see how I used dice for teaching how to make tens. Ten framesUsing ten frames is another great visual for how to make ten. Working with ten frame cards or placing objects in containers that represent ten frames help kids to see when they have a ten and how many are needed if they have a number that is less than ten. The more they see these visuals, the easier it is for them to quickly recognize numbers up to ten and what numbers go together to make ten. Check out this video to learn more. I loved using these ten frame cards to play games with my students. They had fun, and they became very good at recognizing similar numbers quickly. Playing "Snap" added an element of friendly competition. Another fun activity was playing with teams using the large cards. One person from each team came forward and as the cards were shown, whoever got the answer correct first got the card. When the cards were all played, the person with the most cards got a point for the team. Then the next two players came up. The cool thing about this, was that all the others saw the cards at the same time and they could mentally practice recognizing the numbers while waiting for their turn. Once kids have a good understanding of how to make ten, they will be more prepared for the rest of the numbers needed for basic facts. Knowing basic facts is important for working with the different math operations successfully. There are many different strategies for working with addition and subtraction to practice basic facts. I will share more about this another time. There is a danger in trying to move kids to abstract concepts too quickly. Take the time to have them work with concrete examples and you will find that the abstract situations will be much easier for them to understand and grasp. When I worked with several students that struggled in early intermediate grades, I found that returning to the basics and using the concrete activities made a world of difference not only to their understanding, but also to their confidence and engagement. It was exciting to see them find light bulb moments and attempt more difficult concepts as a result. Next time I will focus on more skills such as how to represent numbers using base ten models as well as fact families and number bonds. I will also show some other ways to represent numbers as we move from concrete to ablstract. Related PostsDo your students struggle with math? Are you searching for ways to help them understand? Do you sometimes think you are talking in a foreign language? Here are some ideas to consider that may help you to navigate through the confusion and frustration. Seeing and touching things helps with understanding and making sense of ideas. I love to use hands on resources when teaching math skills. It's exciting to see the light bulb moments when kids get it. Blocks, dice, sticks, links, counters, lego, string, apples, cookies, and a good imagination can serve as effective tools for learning when they are used in your lessons. They help kids learn with concrete examples. Here are some more ideas and tips to help with teaching kids math concepts and skills. Availability Of MaterialsIt's important to make sure you have a selection of materials available and enough so that they can be used with small groups, or even full class activities. You may need to collect items if you don't have access to them. Many schools are well equipped with manipulatives that can work for math. However this isn't always the case. Sometimes you may need to source out items for yourself. There are lots of different things you can use that are free or inexpensive to obtain. Dollar stores are a great source for small items such as erasers, beads, popsicle sticks, paper clips, small blocks, dice, playing cards and many other little items that can work for many math activities. Garage sales also can be a good source. Measuring tools such as rulers, measuring tapes, scales, and containers should be available for doing standard measurement activities. Play money, base ten blocks, ten frames cards, snap cubes, links, pattern blocks and geometric solids are also useful for teaching math concepts. Organization Is KeyOnce you have collected or located the necessary materials you will need to find a way to organize them. Tubs and buckets work well. For small items, you can use recycled containers with lids as well. If you have a cart to hold the containers, that is bonus. Otherwise, you will need to find shelf space or some other spot where you can store them. I had two carts of tubs for math manipulatives that were available for my kids. They were a popular choice for free time activities as well. Understanding Concepts, Not Just AlgorithmsNowadays, kids are taught a variety of ways to apply their thinking to different mathematical concepts. That wasn't always the case. If you ask older adults about math, many will say they don't understand the "new math". They were taught formulas, but not really shown how they work. There are many adults who will say they are terrible at math or they didn't like math as a kid. This might be the reason why. It goes without saying that you need to understand the concepts to make sense of abstract concepts.. If you have only worked with algorithms and haven't really looked at how they work there might be some gaps in understanding. In order to teach kids how concepts work, it may require revisiting these concepts and making sure you understand them and can explain them using concrete examples. In order to teach a concept using concrete materials and examples, it is necessary to break it down and analyze what is going on. Because kids learn in different ways, it is important to make sure that you can address as many of those ways as possible when teaching a concept. This may include visual examples, anecdotal examples, and kinesthetic examples. Since we all make connections in different ways, approaching concepts from different angles will help more connections and understanding to happen. Planning For SuccessPlanning is important if you want kids to understand the concrete ideas and apply them to abstract situations. This means having an idea of the different materials and approaches needed before you actually teach the lesson. Once you have the materials you need and they are organized for easy access, you can start to figure out the different kinds of activities to use for each of the math concepts you wish to work on. This is where your imagination and creativity come into play. Each of us has a different way of approaching learning and a teaching style that works for us. Use these skills to help direct your students as they are introduced to new concepts and as they practice concepts they have already learned. You may need to teach the same concept a few times in a variety of different ways before kids can actually process it and understand it enough to be able to apply it to abstract situations later on. Next time, I will talk more about some of the concepts and tools that can be used to teach them. Related PostsIf you want excitement, watch how kids react to the first sign of snow. When I woke up a few days ago, there was a light dusting of snow on the ground. Little did I know when I headed to school, it would be a few inches by lunch time. The kids kept looking out the window and watching the clock waiting for recess break so they could get outside and play. Of course this meant allowing more time for bundling up and preparing to go outside, then unbundling and dealing with snowy gear when they came back inside, as well as the many stories they had to tell about playing in the snow. Teachable MomentsTeachable moments are rampant at times like this. I like to use these events as springboards into different activities. You can still meet requirements of the curriculum by adding them in, they just have a fun twist to capture the excitement and focus of the kids. I learned early on to take advantage of this excitement instead of trying to squash it so that they could get back to work. Here are a few different ideas that I would do. Story telling and writingI would build in time to allow them to share their stories and then I would use that to help them write stories. Story writing using the fun activities they did outside can help even the most hesitant writer to put pen to paper. Once I had my class imagine what it would be like if the city froze. We talked about all kinds of crazy scenarios and possibilities and after brainstorming as a group, each person did some more brainstorming on their own. Then, they wrote stories and tried to add in many details and descriptive words to paint the picture in the reader's mind. Sharing the stories later was so much fun. Here is the template we used for the stories. Grab a free copy of Frozen templates by subscribing to my newsletter. Math And Science ActivitiesSometimes, I would take a math or science approach. This might include measuring the snow, seeing how long it takes to melt when brought inside, building a fort outside, seeing who can throw a snowball the farthest, making snow families, or checking the temperature at different times of the day to see if it gets colder or warmer. Snow AlternativesIf you live in a place that doesn't get snow, you could try doing some activities that might mimic those we did. For example: Use rolled up socks as pretend snowballs and see who can throw them the farthest. Shave up some ice and form snowballs and try to make a small snowman. Use ice cubes to build small forts Check the temperatures in different parts of the world for a few days in a row and then graph the results. Imagine what a snow day would be like and write about it. There are several winter language and math activities that you can do, but adding in the real life moments just makes them so much more fun. Here are some other winter resources that might be of interest as the cold, white days continue. Winter Sports Bundle Winter Word Work Language Activities Winter Parts Of Speech Silly Sentences For lots more ideas, check out my winter math and literacy category. Winter novel studies are also a great way to include a winter theme into your language arts. Here are some novel studies that might interest you. Emma's Magic Winter The Kids In Ms. Coleman's Class  Snow War Stone Fox Horrible Harry And The Holidaze Grab the excitement and wonder of winter and add it to your lessons for more engagement and motivation. I would love to hear some of the other ways you weave winter into your lessons. Don't forget to grab your free copy of Frozen writing templates. Related PostsDo you sometimes wonder if teaching about money is important any more? Do you think children need to know how to use coins and other currency? These questions and many others often start to surface nowadays. Handling money and using it to pay for things is becoming less common now with so many of our transactions being done online or with debit machines and plastic. This doesn't mean that teaching about money is becoming less important. This means learning about money and practicing how to use it is more necessary if children are to be able to handle money situations in the real world. It is sad to see that many adults can't handle money correctly anymore. They rely on the machines to tell them how much they need to pay, and how much change to give. They struggle to count out money to make purchases. Standing in line at the local fast food place the other day, I watched the worker struggle to make change correctly and call her manager to help. I could see that the customer was getting frustrated. Unfortunately, this is going to become even more common if we don't teach our students how to count money and correctly make change. When it comes to teaching kids about money, there are a few key things to focus on. Identifying coins, counting money, and making change, are essential skills that kids need to learn. Here are some tips to help. Identifying coinsIdentifying coins is key to being able to handle money. After all, those quarters don't look anything like pennies! Do lots of activities that involve matching coins. You could do memory games, bingo, I Have, Who Has? games or any games that make coin recognition automatic. It is also necessary to recognize how money is written so that kids can recognize price tags and costs of different things. Counting coinsCounting coins is another skill that is important. Play money can be used for this, or real coins if you have access to enough of them. 1. Practice counting coins of equal value so that it helps with using the coins later. Count by ones with pennies, by fives with nickels, by tens with dimes, and by twentyfives with quarters. 2. Practice making dollars with the coins. How many of each coin is needed to make a dollar? 3. Practice counting coins of different values and seeing what they total up to. Making changeMaking change is a difficult skill for kids to master. There are a few other skills or steps needed first. It requires being very familiar with coin values and different coin combinations that make the same value. Activities that help with creating money amounts using different coin combinations and trading of coins to make similar amounts is a good first step. It is important to be able to add and subtract multiple digit numbers as well so that this skill can be applied to using money. Counting up is also important. Counting up from the amount paid until it matches money given is one way of making change. In Canada, we no longer have pennies, so it is necessary to also round up or down when paying with cash. Machines have been adjusted to help with providing the correct change, but it still requires understanding when to round up or down when paying. Sadly, many people cannot do this. Connecting to real life situationsTeaching the skills is one thing, but providing opportunities for kids to see its use in the real world is necessary so they can make the connections that will help them to internalize them. If you give a child a handful of coins or bills, they often don't really understand the value of what they are holding. A cheque in a birthday card means even less to them. I remember watching as my grandchildren opened cards received from uncles or others and they didn't even look at the paper cheque that was inside. They just handed it over to their parents. Although in some way they realized it was money, they didn't understand its value or use. The more we give them practice handling and using money the more we will prepare them for how to use it and the better prepared they will be to understand its value and how to use it wisely in their everyday lives. This could involve setting up a store in your classroom, pretending to be at a restaurant, or even setting up mock debit machines and debit cards for kids to use. (If you are interested in trying out a using a menu, I have a free copy of Elisa's Café available for subscribers below.) Resources to helpI had the opportunity to do a simplified version of parts of the entrepreneur study with my Grade 3 class one year. We were learning about money and it became a unit of money lessons that were created with my class. We also made and sold items for a spring fundraiser and used the money to pay for a bus trip up island to meet up with another class in a different town. Talk about making it a real life experience! You can find out more about this here. Here are some resources that could help with practicing money skills. American and Canadian versions are available. Counting Money  How Much Money American version Canadian Coins Match Up Money Lessons For Children Unit Rounding Up And Down With Money Money Word Problem Task Cards For Kids Don't forget to grab your free copy of Elisa's Café by signing up for my newsletter. Related Posts 
About Me Charlene Sequeira
I am a wife, mother of 4, grandmother of 9, and a retired primary and music teacher. I love working with kids and continue to volunteer at school and teach ukulele. Categories
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