- Last Updated: 14 February 2011 14 February 2011
Many people fear math. Maybe it was difficult for them or they don't remember their Algebra, and consequently, they might be a little trepidatious regarding math lessons. Here are some fun ways to teach elementary math that you and your children are sure to enjoy.
Firstly, what is elementary math?
Elementary math is the basic math skills children learn in grammar school, and it includes counting, drawing numbers, the number line, greater than, less than, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, decimals, and fractions.
Make math a part of everyday life
It's easy to complain about being required to learn something when it doesn't seem to have any relevance to everyday life, so try to show the kids and demonstrate whenever you use math in everyday life. I sent my husband to the grocery store last night for four boxes of baking soda. He came back and talked to my daughter. "The name brand was 89 cents a box. The store brand was 79 cents a box. I bought four boxes of the store brand. How much money did I save?"
My kids and I never, not once, sat down and practiced counting numbers. Instead, they helped me do chores. They counted eggs when I baked. They made even piles of treats for the ferrets. They counted how many toys they had in the bathtub. We sang about beer bottles on the wall; although, we changed it to milk bottles. My point is that learning to count was a part of every day and had nothing to do with a pencil and paper.
Recognizing numbers and writing them
The written symbols had to come into play when recognizing numbers. I had my kids read price tags at the grocery store. We read counting books with numbers together. And, of course, they had to practice drawing their numbers. Writing numbers can get boring after a while, so I let my kids make their numbers out of play dough, or when we baked bread, they can shape the bread like numbers or letters.
Memorizing those math facts
While you need to make math a part of everyday life, you can't get around the kids needing to memorize their "math facts." For those, consider playing games. Whenever I taught at math camp, we played games to learn addition and subtraction. Don't worry, you don't need expensive games. You simply need a deck of cards and some dice.
Kids learn to quickly recognize which numbers are greater and smaller in this game. The rules can be found at Wikipedia
Game of "13" or "12" or "11" or "10"
The game of 13 is good for adding numbers up to 13. Take the card deck and assign the value of 11 to the Jacks, 12 to the Queens, and 13 to the Kings. The aces have the value of 1. Take the jokers out of the deck. Have the kids go through the deck and pair cards up that equal 13. As they make pairs, set the cards aside. If the child does this correctly, there will be no cards left over.
This game can be edited for other values by just removing cards. So, for the game of 12, remove the kings from the deck. For the game of 11, remove the kings and queens from the deck. For the game of ten, remove all the face cards from the deck.
The dice game can be played anyway you want, but here's my way. I brought out a pile of pennies or opened up packages of smarties. It doesn't matter what it is, but you need some kind of kid-currency. Then I told the kids if we were doing addition or subtraction. The kids took turns rolling the dice (two, three, or four dice depending on what we were working on). Competition against each other does not work well for my children, so I set a timer for about thirty seconds. The children who got the answer correctly in that period of time, got prizes.
Triangle cards work for either addition and subtraction or multiplication and division. Take some index cards and cut them down the diagonal to make triangles. Put
*/ in the center of the triangle and put numbers on the edge. For example, for a
+-, you could put
7. 5 + 2 = 7, 2 + 5 = 7, 7 - 5 = 2, and
7 - 2 = 5 are the equations that the child should be able to make. When you play with the cards, cover up one of the vertices and have the child say one of the possible equations and the answer under your hand.