No matter where you or your child falls on the love-hate spectrum, teaching math does not have to be an ordeal! One of the best ways to help make math more enjoyable for parent and student alike is to use manipulatives. Consider these tips for incorporating math manipulatives in the Getting Excited stage of learning.
Tips for the Beginning to Understand Stage
At this age, children begin seeing how numbers are applied in real life. They will feel very grown up when they learn to make graphs, measure things, tell time, count money, and write the date. During this stage, it is important for children to start memorizing math facts instead of only relying on fingers or other counters to help them add, subtract, multiply, and divide. Even so, there is no reason to discontinue use of aids, and manipulatives will continue to be very helpful through this stage and beyond!
- Continue incorporating manipulative suggestions from the Starting Out stage, adjusting as needed. For instance, upgrade shape-related manipulatives to include three-dimensional shapes like spheres, pyramids, etc. This will offer recognition and familiarity that will prepare them for the basic geometry they’ll learn in the next stage of learning.
- Write three digits on separate pieces of paper. Now ask your child to arrange the numbers to make the biggest number possible and the smallest number possible.
- Create a daily schedule and give it to your child.
- Help your child save up for something. Give him or her a jar and draw a meter. Every time he or she adds tooth fairy, birthday, or Christmas money, color in the meter.
- Play Math Facts War. Instead of one card, put down two. Add, subtract, or multiply the two cards to see who wins.
- Make something in the kitchen and have your child help you double or halve the recipe.
- Give your child is or her own ruler, yardstick, and measuring tape. Ask for measurements of different objects.
- Use a family calendar and let your child add events or cross off days.
- Create a graph of temperatures, precipitation, favorite fruits, favorite colors, or favorite pets.
- Teach both English and metric weights and measures with measuring cups and spoons and packages of food.
- Write fractions and decimals on separate index cards and let your child match the equivalents or put them in order.
- Make a fraction pizza out of poster board. Cut the pizzas into different fractions and practice finding equivalents.
- For auditory learners, sing or chant math facts.
- For kinesthetic learners, do jumping jacks or toe touches while repeating math facts.
- For visual learners, copy math facts in different colors.
- Although many manipulatives can be replicated with inexpensive household items, if possible invest in a set of base ten blocks. These can be used all the way through the elementary years and on into early algebra courses, so they’re well worth the expense.