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Number of the Day

One of my favorite math activities for any age child is Number of the Day.

This is a great activity for anyplace you happen to be! It will give your child lots of computation practice, be a good deal of fun, and everyone (even you) will be forced to “prove” that they are correct!

Let’s say that our “number of the day” is 6. Everyone has to think up one way to make 6. Young children will probably begin with simple addition.

Example: 4 + 2 = 6

Ask your child to “convince you” (prove) that 4 + 2 = 6.

Everyone has to come up with an equation that equals 6, and each one has to be different.

After gaining in confidence, encourage your child to think of 2 different things that equal 6.
Example: 3 + 3 and 5 + 1

Then ask them to find 3 things that equal 6
Example: 1 + 2 + 3 = 6

See how many different ways everyone can find to make the number of the day. Write it all down if pencil and paper are handy.

Depending on your child’s age begin to encourage the use of other operations such as:
• subtraction 9 – 3 = 6
• addition & subtraction 8 – 4 + 2 = 6
• multiplication 3 x 2 = 6
• multiplication & addition 2×2+2 = 6
• division 24 ÷ 4 = 6
• all 4 operations in one equation
(50 ÷ 2) x 3 – 70 + 1 = 6
• coin values – 1 nickel and 1 penny =
6 cents
• fractions 4 ½ + 1 ½ + 6
• decimals 2.4 + 3.6 = 6 or 12 x .5 = 6
• integers – positive 10+negative 4 = 6

Family members can take turns choosing the number of the day. What about the day of the month, someone’s age or weight, number of windows in your home, the sum of your telephone number, etc. Try a variety of numbers, including large ones (such as 555 or 62,437) and small ones (they can be just as challenging as large ones).

Well, you get the idea! Dad might be coming up with 4 x 25 – 80 – 14 = 6!!
Does he have to prove it??!! Absolutely!

Parents as Math Teachers

Parents, Children, and Math Games

Math games for kids and families are the perfect way to reinforce and extend the skills children learn at school. They can also be a dynamic, motivating mathematics instructional tool for homeschoolers. They are one of the most effective ways that parents can develop their child’s math skills without lecturing or applying pressure. When studying math, there’s an element of repetition that’s an important part of learning new concepts and developing automatic recall of math facts. Number facts (remember those times tables?) can be boring and tedious to learn and practice. A game can generate an enormous amount of practice – practice that does not have kids complaining about how much work they are having to do. What better way can there be than an interesting game as a way of mastering them?

Games are fun and create a context for developing children’s mathematical reasoning. Through playing and analyzing games, children also gain computational fluency by describing more efficient strategies and discussing relationships among numbers.

Games offer a pleasant way for parents of homeschoolers to energize the memorization of basic math skills.

Here are some other benefits of using math games in the homeschooling context:

• Meets your state’s grade-level mathematics standards
• Easily linked to your child’s mathematics textbook
• Offers many opportunities for you to discover your child’s strengths and weaknesses
• Meets the needs of diverse learners, such as English-language learners and special needs children
• Supports concept development in math
• Encourages mathematical reasoning
• Engaging (maintains interest)
• Repeatable (reuse often & sustain involvement)
• Open-ended (allows for multiple approaches & solutions)
• Easy to prepare
• Easy to vary for extended use such as making any game harder, easier, or just meeting the needs of your child
• Improves basic skills, i.e., addition and multiplication facts
• Enhances number and operation sense
• Encourages strategic thinking
• Promotes mathematical communication
• Promotes positive attitudes toward math

Teachers Search for Ways to Energize Math

As an independent, elementary mathematics consultant, I work with elementary teachers all the time as they search for ways to motivate and energize their students in math. I just read the following article about Indiana elementary teachers on that very quest. Take a look at how a grant brought together ISU professors and Vincennes teachers.

One of the instructional strategies they are trying are math games, an effective, hands-on way to teach math concepts. No matter which textbook your district uses, games can easily be incorporated into instruction. Some textbook companies are “seeing the light” and have begun to implement games as a part of each unit.

Even if your textbook does not incorporate games, identify a skill need almost all your students have, and give a game a try. I guarantee it will be more of a learning experience for the students and more informative for you of what your students know and can do than a workbook page.

Here are some of the many benefits of using math games in the classroom:

• Meets your state’s elementary mathematics standards
• Easily linked to any mathematics textbook
• Offers multiple assessment opportunities
• Meets the needs of diverse learners
• Supports concept development in math
• Encourages mathematical reasoning
• Engaging (maintains interest)
• Repeatable (reuse often & sustain involvement)
• Open-Ended (allows for multiple approaches & solutions)
• Easy to prepare
• Easy to vary for extended use & differentiated instruction
• Improves basic skills
• Enhances number and operation sense
• Encourages strategic thinking
• Promotes mathematical communication
• Promotes positive attitudes toward math
• Encourages parent involvement

Parents and Math Games

Parents often ask for suggestions about activities to do with their children at home to help further their mathematical understanding. I’ve been teaching math to children for many years, and I’ve found that math games are, from a teacher’s and a parent’s point of view, wonderfully useful. Math games put children in exactly the right frame of mind for learning. Children are normally very eager to play games. They relax when they play, and they concentrate. They don’t mind repeating certain facts or procedures over and over.

Children throw themselves into playing games the way they never throw themselves into filling out workbook pages or dittos. And games can help children learn almost everything they need to master in elementary math. Good, child-centered games are designed to take the boredom and frustration out of the repetitive practice necessary for children to master important math skills and concepts.