Summer Challenge! PATTERNS

Summer is BUSY and so are PATTERNS!  Challenge your child to create patterns based on color, size, shape, and category out of toys, kitchen utensils, treats, and more.  Increase difficulty for older kids.

Here is an example of a color pattern I gave my son:

He had to continue the color pattern (not sizes).

This excercise reinforced his knowledge of colors and challenged him to follow the rule of pattern!

Here is a list of ideas to help you come up with your own patterns:

• Blocks
• Legos
• Tupperware
• Lids
• Spoons and forks
• Candy
• Shapes
• Balls
• Puzzle pieces

A Clever Way To Understand AREA

The idea behind AREA is a basic concept that most students, and even adults, don’t understand.  Most people know to label area with square units such as 30 square feet.  But WHY?

The area of a shape or room is simply describing how many actual squares (measured by feet, meters, or another unit) that fit inside the shape.  Most students learn that area is what’s “inside the shape” but they don’t connect it with the physical squares it takes to fill it up.

For example, if a living room measures 10ft by 12ft, the area is 120 sq ft. That means 120 squares that are a foot by a foot would fit inside like a PUZZLE.

Here is a great way to start piecing together a PUZZLE that demonstrates the foundation of AREA!

These foam pieces connect to make a rectangle measuring 2 pieces by 3 pieces.  It’s area is 6 sq. pieces. Meaning, to fill the shape it would take 6 squares, which can be easily observed.

Here is another example using foam mats. This rectangle is measuring 3 pieces by 4 pieces giving it’s area 12 sq. pieces.  Have your child count the actual squares connected, which should come to 12!

Look for other examples of area using squares!

5 Tips To Raise Your Child To Like Math

Having a good attitude is essential in being successful with math!  Start now and use these strategies to raise your child to not HATE math but LIKE it!

1. Apply It; Use It–  A topic is never interesting if it doesn’t have a purpose.   For example, use cooking to demonstrate fractions, money for decimals, the grocery store for unit rate, toys for counting, real-life shapes for geometry, and more.   Make sure YOU are doing math so your child can see how practical and helpful it is.

2. Encourage trial and error-  Growth in math relies on failing.  Failure is GOOD in math if you learn from it!   My students learn more when they fail and are interested in fixing what they did wrong than those who just want to be right and move on.  Give your child a challenge, let them try FIRST, then give them tools to try AGAIN, and lastly walk through the correct way to solve the problem.

For example, I was working with my son on identifying his numbers.  He saw the picture of  9 and couldn’t tell me the number.  I told him to try it.  He said, “Well, it’s green.”  I told him that’s true and to try to remember the number again.   He said “Six?”.  I replied, “I see why you think that looks like 6 but that’s not it”.   We started counting and I stopped at 8.  He continued to 9 and said that’s it.

3.  It’s not about you-  Let me say it again, it is not about you! Make sure you’re not setting an example of a BAD attitude!!!!  It doesn’t matter if you hate math or were not good at it.  STOP talking badly about math!

4. Related to something interesting- I had a student a few years ago who was a fanatic about a certain TV show.  He knew every fact about the characters and episodes.  I would translate test questions about fractions and decimals and use the characters from the show.  His brain took off like a wildfire and the problem seemed less foreign to him.

5. Get physical- Model or demonstrate a math problem as much as possible.  Visuals and hands on practice are vital to exploring, understanding, and retaining math concepts.

Using LEGOS to Introduce Fractions!

Legos are wonderful toys that can be used for more than building.  They can be used for counting, color ratios, AND as an introduction to fractions.

Before we start we need to understand that what we call a “whole” can vary.  For example, if you offer someone a whole candy bar one person might think of a King Size and someone else might think of a Fun Size.  With Legos, we can count each color as a whole or a single unit (1, 2, 3…).  We can also change the unit we are counting by (1/3, 2/3, 3/3).

Here is a basic example of using Legos to talk about fractions.

This example illustrates equivalent fractions.

Here is one more to get you thinking about making fractions out of toys!

Shapes! Call Them By Their Names

Just before my son’s 2nd Birthday we were at the park.  He pointed to these canopies and said, “Look! Pyramids.”  I was a proud math mama!

Start now and have your child learn and say the CORRECT names of 2D and 3D shapes.  Call them by what they actually are.  Kids can pick up on them just as easily.  Here are the most common shapes you’ll see with your kids and their toys.

These shapes can be found in your child’s toys, books, at the park, at a restaurant, and more.  Take the opportunity to teach them to your child the correct vocabulary.

Here is my son building his 3D shapes!

8 Counting Activities for Your Toddler

There are opportunities everywhere to make counting a game and begin teaching important basic math skills.  Counting activities lead to modeling on number lines which is a large part of Common Core Math taught in school.  The main purpose of a number line is to model counting whether it’s by 5’s or by fractions.  Therefore, it’s essential for kids start at an early age.

1. Shapes– Shapes are everywhere! It’s easy to count specific shapes with your child when traveling or in a restaurant.
2. Candy– For obvious reasons, kids love to count candy.  Candy can be used as an incentive to get young kids to start counting.  Challenge them not to eat until they have finished a task. This leads to the idea of subtraction! Literally! Eating and taking away candy is the basic idea for subtraction. It’s gone; we no longer count it.
3. Balls– Make it a physical game! Challenge your child to throw 5 balls as fast as they can. Count with them as they throw.
4. Cups– My son loves stacking cups.  Build a pyramid and count as you go. Talk about the pattern made with each level.
5. Crayons– Crayons can again be used to count by color.  Also, Crayons usually come in large packs and are great to start to count to 20. Try introducing them to counting by 2 or 5 crayons at a time.
6. Non-Toys– My son and I spend time all around the house like in the bathroom.  I let him play with items like Q-tips and cotton balls. I’ll ask him to count 3 items and put them in a basket.
7. Books– Before bed we always read.  I’ll choose a number for the night and that’s how many books he gets to pick to read.
8. Picking up toys– My son loves to help me clean.  I will challenge him to pick up a certain number of toys. Then, I will have him choose a number of toys I should clean up as well.  We’ll take turns counting and cleaning!

Make all opportunities COUNT!

Why I LOVE Area Models!

Area models come from the basic idea of solving for area.  They are a wonderful tool for younger students to do multi-digit multiplication problems (for example 14 x 17).  They develop student understanding of multiplication, place value, and the distributive property that is later used in Algebra.

I did not learn area models in school but I swear by them with my students and can’t wait for my children to do them!

Let’s review the basic idea of area.  If I want to put tile down in my bathroom and it measures 5ft by 6ft.  We multiply 5 x 6 and 30 total square feet.

Here is the model of this situation.  It shows 6 feet extended across and 5 feet extended down.  When they overlap they create 30 squares that are a foot by a foot.  This example is an area model.

Here is an examples of a double-digit multiplication problem solved with an area model.  This example can be done by students starting in 3rd grade.  I know it is not the fastest way but it teaches students understanding and skills they can use when problems get more difficult.  By 6th grade they will learn to do it the traditional method, which yes, is more efficient.

Let’s solve 14 x 17.

First, setup a square just like real life area problems.

Take each number, 14 and 17, and break them down by place value.  14 becomes 10 and 4 and 17 becomes 10 and 7.

Just like with the bathroom floor problem, we are going to extend each number and draw 4 boxes.  Inside each box will be the answer of the over lapping multiplication problem.

We first solve 10 x 7 and write 70.  Then multiply 10 by 10 to get 100.  (This idea represents an Algebra concept called distribution.  We have distributed the 10 to 7 and 10.)

Next we are going to multiply 4 by 7 to get 28 and 4 by 10 to get 40.  Answers go in each box.

Lastly!  We add up all the answers we got from multiplying.  These answers are called products.

238 is the same answer we would get if we did it the traditional way.