When I was in school, I frustrated my math teachers. I asked a LOT of questions, and I don’t think they liked that. I never really got theorems (I am 99.9% positive never used Theorem 2.4 in my life after geometry). My algebra teacher would literally beat her fist on her chest to say, “You just have to accept this formula to be true.” *sigh*
However, there was one teacher in college, Mr. Gardner, who was amused by my questions, and he ANSWERED them! For the first time, I understood why I was moving numbers around and what in the world those math concepts really meant. I begin to really enjoy math. In fact, I took trigonometry as an elective!
What changed is my favorite things about math: there are multiple ways to get the right answer. My way may not be the fastest, but it works better for me because I actually understand WHAT and WHY I am doing!
Do you know the first place to start teaching math? Hint: it is not handing the kids the workbook. 😉
The first place to start is presenting the math concept in a puzzle or story problem. There are 2 reasons:
- You can see if the kids really understand the math concept and what part they need to be taught.
- You can hook and motivate them by applying the math concept to something in real life.
When introducing a new math skill, having math tools are key to teaching math. The kids can uses counters, blocks, or balance scale to see if they can figure it out.
The second part of teaching a math concept is showing them other ways they can solve the problem – using more than one problem solving strategies. I use math tools when I am showing them these strategies
Next, kids need to practice. Enter the workbook or math activity AND the math tools. The goal is for kids to get quality practice, and they need those tools to really check their own thinking.
Last, I invite the kids to use this new math skill with bigger numbers OR combine it with another skill. Again, those math tools will be available to support the kids as they s-t-r-e-t-c-h their thinking.
I have some really great math tools that I think you are really going to like – even if you don’t like math. I use them every week. What are they?
A Balance Scale
We use this balance scale when we are learning equations in addition, subtraction, multiplication or division. We also use the balance scale for comparing numbers and measurement of both capacity and weight. Be sure and visit my Pinterest board for ideas of how to use a balance scale each week.
Base Ten Blocks
Using base ten blocks are so helpful when teaching place value – especially when you get to adding and subtracting double digits! We also use them to compare numbers as well. Having these blocks really helps kids understand what the number represent.
Using pattern blocks is a wonderful way to build your child’s visual spatial skills. Of course, they can be used to build traditional patterns, but they can also be used to create pictures that will support your child’s art and design skills, too! Here are some books that will give you some pattern block picture patterns.
I hope you grab some math tools to introduce, practice, and extend the math skills you teach your children.
What other math tools do you like use? Please share in the comments section below!