Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Candy Math

Young elementary students respond really well to manipulatives and games for math - at least, that's what the experts say.  I think it's true of my daughter as well.  She can certainly do worksheet after worksheet, but she seems to catch on to new concepts more quickly when she can 'see' the how and why behind the numbers on the page.

Addition didn't come easy to Ella when we first began doing it on paper.  So, I put the worksheets aside for a few weeks and we did hands-on addition with manipulatives (beans, marbles, buttons, fabric coasters, etc.) instead.  When it came time for addition flash cards, she would look at 2 + 3 and say, "If I have 2 apples and add 3 more then I will have 5!  2 + 3 is 5!"  It clicked!  

Every student is different and some catch on to new concept more quickly than others.  I've learned that my child needs a lot of repetition in order to retain new concepts and information.  We spend a lot of extra time on each subject and I do not move on until I feel she has mastered it.  I care more about mastery than I do about saying, "Look at the amount of worksheets we've completed this year!"  And if my child were in public school, I'd want to know that she truly understands the subject instead of knowing just enough to pass a test (it's quite possible to do that - I did it often myself in school!).

Want to add more motivation to boring addition facts?  Make it more interesting with candy.  If your child correctly adds the candy, she can eat it.  While she eats it, she subtracts out-loud the number of pieces she is eating and tells you how many pieces are left.  This idea isn't original to me, but it's a good thing to keep in mind if your child's eyes begin to roll when you pull out the math book.  We don't play candy math everyday because that would be unhealthy :o)  But playing it every now and then keeps it fun and new.

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