Thursday, October 6, 2011

Making learning math facts fun!

While I'm still working with Red's teacher to figure out where to place her in math, I'm also working on getting math facts solid in her head without making her miserable.  She has a weekly math test on Friday and is supposed to be doing one fact worksheet per day at home to help with review.

I remember the afternoons I spent as a kid with my parents drilling flashcards over and over and over.  While I believe there is a place for memorization in math study, I'm hoping to find a better way.  We've been supplementing her math from school with Singapore 1A Standards, which so far has worked out swimmingly.  We do 1-3 pages  from the workbook with me using the HIG (Home Instructor's Guide) to help her work out anything that she doesn't understand.  We try to do it daily, but often don't get to it depending on her homework load that day.  It usually takes about 10 minutes to do.  Red is also a big fan of "gum".
No, it's not real gum but that's what she calls it.  They are colored tiles that I got in the Rightstart manipulative set I purchased a couple years ago.  They are excellent for illustrating word problems (e.g. There are ten green birds on the branch.  Two fly away.  How many birds are left?) or helping show things like multiplication.  We had ten rows of sets of three tiles to help her with her math homework about the 3 times table a few evenings ago.  And when you're done doing your math stuff, you can make fun designs with them on the floor or the table.  Out of all the manipulatives we own, we use these most often.

Another game that Red seems to enjoy is tossing a ball while saying math facts.  For example, I'll say, "Three times two is?" and throw her the ball.  When she catches it, she says, "Six!"  Red then comes up with her own problem and says it and throws it back to me so I can answer.  Tom Thumb even likes to get in on the action.  A couple of days ago we were playing and whenever we'd throw it to him he'd shout out a crazy answer, like three times one equals eleven.  We all had a good laugh.  Then, we'd go around the circle throwing it and saying, "Three times one equals three!" a few times before switching back to doing different problems each time.

After working on the three times table so hard, it turns out that Red's math test is on subtraction anyway!  We had a bit of a communication problem with her teacher.  Oh well.  For the next few years, math memorization is going to be a way of life so I'd love to find more ways to make it enjoyable.  

How do you make learning math facts fun at your house?


mo said...

I love that idea of tossing the ball and doing math problems. I think getting the facts to be automatic helps a lot. We play a lot of games like yahtzee and cribbage to help her enjoy math but she struggles a bit. I a m going to try your game tonight.

Sock Monkey Mommy said...

Zoe's class is doing Touch Math:

So far we are seeing an exuberance for Math. But I DO LOVE LOVE LOVE the ball idea for memorization! Great idea!

The Reader said...

Math games are good -- yahtzee, monopoly or monopoly jr, any card game that involves adding up points (ex, mille bourne is good, or any normal card game), things like that.

The stuff you mentioned doing (love that ball idea; we'll have to do that!).

There's a neat multiplication game for the computer called Timez Attack which is loads of fun.

Oh, and allowance. If the child has to count up the money, save for x purchase, etc. you can do a lot with that. "How much do you have now? How much does your item cost? HOw much do you still need? or How much will you have leftover after you buy it?" Plus it's a bonus of teaching money facts, too.

Help with cooking as well, especially when it gets to fractions. measuring, timing things, etc. Cut the cucumber in half. Now cut each half in half; that makes quarters. Now if we cut those in half, so we have eight pieces, that's eighths. And so on.

Sounds like you are fairly intuitive, though, if you came up with the ball game and the gum game ;) Have fun!