6 tips to help your child have a solid understanding of counting

Counting is an interesting concept that I find many people have a misunderstanding about. Counting may seem simple but it requires a high level of thinking in order to have a strong foundation of number.

Many parents come to me for advise when their child begins to struggle with Mathematics during school. It is important to gather data on what concepts the child is having difficulty with. Usually a child has formed a misunderstanding or has not gained an understanding about a particular Math concept. Counting is one concept that can cause children a lot of grief later in school if they do not have a strong understanding in this foundational concept.

So what should we as parents and educators be helping our children do when it comes to counting? Below is a list of 6 tips that parents and educators can use to ensure that their child is gaining a strong foundation in counting.

Tip 1: Importance Of Rote Counting

imagesRote counting, which means counting without equipment and any help is the first stage of building a strong foundation in learning to count properly. From the age of 2, children should be observing adults counting often through everyday life experiences. I know my 2 year old son hears me count to three many times in a day before he goes to timeout. Children will begin to emulate adults and start to count, even if it is their own version, mixing lots of the numbers up. Encourage your child to count with you while you are doing your fruit and vegetable shopping (count the potatoes as you put them in the bag) or going up or down stairs.

Once children are able to count to 20 by themselves, they have already succeeded in achieving the first stage in counting. It is hoped that by the time the child is 5 - 6 years old, they should achieve this stage. However there are some 3 year olds that would also be able to achieve this step. It is all about modelling and practice.




Tip 2: Number Mispronunciations 

imagesOnce children become confident with counting, they begin to count faster and numbers begin to sound joined together. If a child is not pronouncing their numbers correctly, it may cause misunderstandings in Mathematics later on. The most common mispronunciation is the “teen” and “decade” numbers.

Many younger children will sound like they are using decade numbers for the teen numbers.

eg 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 20, 21, 22

This may seem harmless but it can lead to a lot of misunderstandings. When asked questions like “What number is after 16?”, they will say 70. I try and reinforce the correct pronunciation with the idea of “angry numbers” and “Tea numbers”

I ask the child to show me an angry face and get them to realise what their mouth is doing. (Usually teeth together, mouth slightly apart and stretched). I tell them that this is what the mouth has to do for the angry numbers also known as teen numbers.

I then ask the child to show me how they can pretend to drink tea. (Usually a pincer grip, thumb and pointer finger together, and flicking the wrist). I get them to do this action for the decade numbers “ty” aka tea numbers. 30, 40, 50 etc.

This will help the child distinguish between both the decade and teen numbers. It is also important for us, as adults to pronounce our numbers correctly as children need to hear it, in order to say it.

Tip 3 - Counting forwards and Backwards

For some reason, many children are only exposed to counting forwards and not backwards. Both ways are essential for counting yet as educators and parents, we tend to favour forward counting and give our children little or no experience with counting backwards.

Counting backwards is important for a number of reasons. The most apparent is for the concept of subtraction. Children are more likely to be able to answer the question of what is one more of a particular number, then what is one less of that same number. To work out one less, they usually take one object away and then have to recount all the objects again.

To help your child, start with a particular number of toys on the floor, say 16 and get them to pack them away back in the container. Help them start with the number 16, as they put one away say 15 left, as they put another away say 14 left etc.

Practising to count backwards with make a huge impact on their understanding of how numbers work. Try not to count larger numbers, but instead opt for counting backwards. It will be tricky at first, but once they understand it, they will flourish.




Tip 4 - Use equipment

imgresIt is important for children to see objects in order to help them develop their one to one correspondence. This means that they can point to an object and say a number, then point to the next object and say the next number in sequence.

To develop one to one correspondence, children need to organise their equipment in a logical way. If a child does not know where to start I tend to guide them into putting them in a line or putting them in a pile and they can move the object across while counting.

Using board games is a great way to develop the concept of counting. With my four year old, I play trouble and snakes and ladders a lot. She is now able to move her players piece two and three places without even counting as she has a solid understanding of two and three.

It is essential to focus on small numbers for one to one correspondence for a long time. Once they are really confident with numbers under 10, they should be able to transfer this knowledge to all other numbers.

Tip 5 - Encourage faster ways of counting

images-1Counting by ones is only an efficient strategy for children if there are only a few objects. Help your child understand the idea of counting by twos and why we would count by twos. You could count pairs of socks, people’s legs and people’s eyes by two’s. Let them see a number line so they can visualise the idea of skipping a number.

Once your child has mastered counting by 2’s (both even and odd numbers), get them to count by 5’s and 10’s. Make sure you always start at a different number so they gain the understanding that counting by 5’s is saying every 5 numbers. Eg Counting by 5’s could be :13, 18, 23, 28, 33, 38

Tip 6 - Get rid of the number chart when they are learning to count

imgres-1Using a number chart can really confuse a child. I tell all the educators and parents I work with to get rid of the chart and replace it with a number line. Numbers need to be viewed as linear as they increase over time. A chart can confuse a child as you need to count row by row.

The number charts can make a return however, when the child is in Year 3. By then they understand the concept of how numbers work and will not be confused by how the chart is constructed.

I hope everyone has enjoyed this week’s blog and has learnt something new to take away and try with your child or class. Next Tuesday night we will be having an interactive Q and A on our facebook page for anyone seeking advise or answers about any educational concern they may have. Further information about this will be posted on our facebook page. Make sure you like our page to always receive the latest information from our website and blog.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

Click here to email this post to yourself or a friend

 

Ensuring A Successful Transition Into Kindergarten - 11 Aspects To Consider To Ensure Your Child Is Ready

Welcome to my first blog since school holidays. I am well rested and ready to start my weekly blog again. This blog focuses on the issue of when to send children to school and how you know if your child is ready for Kindergarten.

Starting school can be a very stressful time for parents. There are so many unknowns, so many questions and so many decisions to make. Now is the time that parents are deciding whether to send their child on their formal educational journey or to hold them back another year.

We all want our children to have a successful transition into school. Below is a list of 11 aspects that parents need to consider to ensure that their child is going to have a successful transition.

  1. Independence

imgres-3Children who have a successful transition into Kindergarten are very independent. They are able to commence tasks on their own and are able to complete all self care tasks independently. These tasks can include taking a jumper on or off, opening their own lunch box and unpacking and packing their own school bag.

Parent ideas to develop this in your child

  • Child needs to dress and undress themselves everyday
  • Child needs to pack and unpack their preschool/daycare bag everyday
  • Child can make their own lunch and morning tea
  • Child could help younger siblings complete tasks
  • Child needs to do up and undo their own seatbelt
  • Child could help set up craft activities eg pour paint into containers




  1. Organisation

organise clothingMany children who struggle in the first few terms of Kindergarten lack organisational skills. They usually forget where they put things, cannot complete a task in the correct order and they do not get all the required resources to complete the task. Children need to have many opportunities prior to school to gain a sense of responsibility for their things and practice setting themselves up to complete a set task.

Parent ideas to develop this in your child

  • Child needs to get their own clothes out for the day
  • Child needs to put everything they need for the day in their bag
  • Child can clean up/pack up a game before starting a new one
  • Child could get all the equipment needed for a game and set it up
  1. Problem solver

Kindergarten is a new experience for a child and there will be many problems that the child will encounter. Children who have good problem solving skills will be able to cope with these challenges when they arise. Many children who find the transition period difficult will get quiet upset at the smallest difficulty and require an adult to solve their problem for them. Unfortunately there are usually only a couple of adults and a lot of children, so they may spend a lot of their time waiting for the teacher’s attention instead of being on task.

Parent ideas to develop this in your child

  • When your child experiences a difficulty do not tell them what to do but guide them in finding out a solution for themselves
  • Children need to build a lot of resilience so they need to be given many opportunities before school to do this.
  • Set up opportunities for your child to find solutions for themselves. Eg do not put a new toilet roll on, do not refill their drink, do not get the tomato sauce for their dinner etc




  1. Fine motor

using scissorsFine motor skills begin to develop before a baby can walk. By the age of 5 or 6, it is expected that most children have very developed fine motor skills. In the first few terms of kindergarten, most tasks require many fine motor skills such as drawing, writing, cutting and gluing. If a child has under developed fine motor skills they tend to have many incomplete tasks and get upset that they cannot do tasks that others in the class can do. If you have a concern about your child’s fine motor development ensure that you see an OT (occupational therapist) before starting kindergarten. They will be able to offer advice about specific tasks that your child should be doing to strengthen their small muscles in their hands.

Parent ideas to develop this in your child

  • Screwing and unscrewing lids
  • Doing up buttons and tying simple knots
  • Forming letters in their name
  • Drawing basic shapes E.G. square, rectangle, circle and triangle
  • Cutting on straight lines
  • Cutting around shapes
  1. Gross motor

imgresDeveloped gross motor skills are essential for good posture and muscle coordination. Children with poor gross motor skills find it difficult to keep up with their peers on the playground and tend to be more “clumsy” in the classroom. When a child turns 5 years old they should be able to complete the following:

  • Stands on one foot for at least 5 seconds
  • Able to hop on a foot at least 3 times
  • Jumps over an object with two feet
  • Runs around obstacles
  • Walks up and down stairs while holding something
  • Skips on alternate feet
  • Hangs from a bar for 5 seconds
  • Walk on a balance beam
  • Catches a small ball with hands only

If you have a concern about your child’s gross motor development ensure that you see a children’s physiotherapist before starting kindergarten. They will be able to offer advice about specific activities that your child should be doing to strengthen their large muscles and help their coordination and balance.




  1. Learning skills

children readingChildren need to be motivated learners in order to have a successful transition to kindergarten. They need to be able to listen while sitting still on the floor, spend at least 30 minutes concentrating on a task and have the ability to follow instructions.

  1. Speech and Language skills

Children need to be able to have highly developed speech and language skills to be successful in the transition period to formal school. They need to be able to participate in a conversation, explain their ideas, answer questions appropriately, retell a story and understand what someone is saying. Many children start kindergarten with underdeveloped speech and language skills and this significantly affects their writing and reading. If you have a concern about your child’s speech and language development ensure that you see a children’s speech pathologist before starting kindergarten. Early intervention is the key. The sooner your child starts therapy the less their speech and language will affect their success in their classroom.

  1. Letter sounds

Even though it is not essential, children who are familiar with the letter names and the corresponding sounds definitely have an advantage when they first start school. They will have a strong foundation to build their knowledge about writing and reading on which begins as soon as they start school.

Parent ideas to develop this in your child

  • Identifying the names and sounds of letters in their name (first and last name)
  • Identify the first sound of objects E.G.  “C is for cat”
  • Pointing out letters on signs, books you read and labels
  1. Numbers

jumponanswerChildren who can identify numbers 1 – 10, can count past 20 and count using one to one correspondence (pointing to a single object at a time) will have a solid foundation to begin formal learning about mathematics.

 

Parent ideas to develop this in your child

  • Count objects as often as you can
  • Identify numbers in the environment eg letter boxes, speed limit signs
  • Playing games with a dice




  1. Social development

CountingThis is an important element that contributes to a successful kindergarten transition. The child needs to be able to wait their turn, use manners, know when to talk and when to listen, cooperate with their peers and have empathy towards others. They will be going into an environment that has a high adult to child ratio and therefore their needs cannot be immediately met. They need to negotiate, compromise and be assertive when dealing with other children. The social development of a child is the main focus of all early childhood educators so if you have concerns about your child, speak to your child’s current teacher for some advice.

  1. Age

images-2This is a current educational debate that many parents find themselves involved in. Do you send your child to school if they turn 5 in January to July? I believe that this has the biggest impact on a child’s success in Kindergarten. Every child is different, however in most kindergarten classrooms today, there can be a difference of up to 18 months between children. Just think about a newborn compared to an 18month year old. The difference is substantial. My personal recommendation is if your child will be turning 5 in March or later you need to hold them back. They need to spend another year developing the above 10 aspects. It is harder to see the age difference of 18 months when they are 5 or 6 years old but as formal education begins it becomes very apparent, very quickly. However, there are the odd cases (mainly with girls) that are born later than March and show readiness. However, these are few and far between. I have never met a parent who has regretted holding their child back, but have met plenty who have regretted sending them.

We all want the best for our children. We want to set them up for success in life and the beginning of their educational journey is no different. Starting school is a big step and I hope these 11 areas have given you some insights to ensure the transition to formal school is a smooth and exciting one for your child.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

Click here to email this post to yourself or a friend

 

It’s report season! - 10 Facts That All Parents Must Know Before Reading Their Child’s Report

Welcome back to Creating A Learning Environment. I can not believe that it is nearly the end of Term 4. Where has this year gone? The end of a Semester, means a very busy time for teachers. This is the time where teachers use all their observations and assessments to provide a formal document about each child in their class, to reflect on what that child has learnt and developed over the two terms.

This blog will look into the world of “grading” for reports and give parents information about what they need to know before they even open their child’s report.

New South Wales Primary schools send student reports home twice a year. The first one being at the end of Semester 1 (End of Term 2) and the second one at the end of Semester 2 (End of Term 4). The report’s aim is to give parents information about their child and give the parent an understanding of whether their child is meeting benchmarks for their age.

Reports can cause a lot of mixed emotions for many households. It can be a time of celebration of a child’s achievement or a realisation that your child is struggling to meet the expected level of a particular grade. With all situations, reports need to be used as a conversation starter between you and your child and between you and your child’s teacher.

Below is a list of 10 facts that all parents need to know before they read their child’s report.

1. The Board Of Studies - What is a KLA?

BoS%20Logo[1]The Board of Studies is the governing body for the implementation of teaching and assessing of students in NSW. They are responsible for setting the core curriculum that is being taught in schools and regulates how much time is allocated to the teaching of each KLA (Key Learning Area). A Key Learning Area is a term used to name a particular area of study.  There are 6 KLA’s in Primary School. They are English, Mathematics, Human Society and Its Environment (History), Science, Creative Arts and Personal Development, Health and Physical Education. Some schools may have the addition of Religious Education as their seventh KLA. All these KLA’s need to be assessed by a child’s teacher and a child is given a grade for each of these KLA’s on their reports.

2. Time allocation for each KLA

KLAsSchools are restricted to how much time they can allocate to the teaching of each KLA. Teachers must assess each child for each KLA in the allocated time per week. In Primary school the time allocations are; English (25%-35%), Mathematics (20%), Science (6%-10%), HSIE (6%-10%), Creative Arts (6%-10%), PDHPE (6%-10%) and additional time for Religious Education, assemblies etc (up to 20%). As a general guide 6%-10% is usually 1.5 - 2.5hrs in a typical teaching week. Many infant classes use combined units to incorporate a few KLA’s in the one learning experience.

3. Stages in Primary Education

children readingThere are 4 stages in Primary Education. Early Stage 1 is Kindergarten, Stage 1 is Years 1-2, Stage 2 is Years 3-4 and Stage 3 is Years 5-6. There are many different types of schools within NSW. Some schools operate in year groups and some schools operate in stage groups. Some schools operate in single classrooms while others have open learning (a few classes work in their own space in a large room). All students are different and they thrive differently in different environments. All schools are bound by the same curriculum, time allocation for teaching each KLA and grading responsibilities, however, schools can chose the best way to deliver the teaching and learning experiences to their students.

4. Outcomes

teacher assessingEach KLA has outcomes that address a particular concept in the area of study that is related to what stage level the child is at. Teachers assess whether a child has not achieved, achieved or has gone beyond each outcome at the particular stage of each KLA. A teacher must look at the child’s achievement across all the outcomes in a KLA that have been taught and then communicate that to the parent and child in the form of a grade for that KLA. An example of a Kindergarten outcome in Mathematics is “Counts to 30, and orders, reads and represents numbers in the range 0 to 20”

5. Kindergarten grading

reading 1Kindergarten is the only grade in Primary school that does not have “Grades”. Teachers generally communicate a child’s achievement in relation to them achieving an outcome or working towards an outcome. This is their first year at “formal schooling” and being it is its own stage, grading does not commence until the children move into Stage 1.

6. What does a “C” mean?

Grade AThis is an area that causes the most stress to parents as the meanings of grades have changed a lot since they went to school. Most parents want their child to receive an “A” but many parents do not realise how difficult it really is to receive an “A”. A “C” is given to a student who is meeting all the requirements of that stage level. They are able to work efficiently in the classroom and achieve all benchmarks at that stage. Most students, as a result, will receive a “C”. Even though some parents are not happy with their child’s “C” for a KLA, it actually informs them that their child is doing exactly what they are meant to be doing.

7. How a teacher grades

assessmentsGrading is not an easy task. Many students can be on the border line of two grades. Two students could receive a “C” for a KLA but one could actually be a high C (nearly a B) and the other could be a low C (just higher than a D). Even though each grade could have such a big spectrum this is not written on the report. A teacher must use all the assessments completed, written evidence in work books and their own observations to give one grade for an entire KLA. They must look at everything that has been taught during the Semester and the contribution that the child has made to group tasks, individual tasks, projects and class discussions to get an overall achievement level.

8. Student’s strengths

littleboyParents may find a grade unjust for their child if their child may be particularly gifted in an area of that KLA. For example, If a child is a particularly gifted skier and they receive a “C” for PDHPE, their parent may believe that this grade is not a reflection of their child. What the parent does not realise, is that within each KLA there are many strands that need to be taught. In PDHPE there are several strands. All health modules, Dance, Gymnastics, Games and Sports, and Active Lifestyle. This child may be gifted in Skiing but that is only one sport out of many that may or may not be taught within the school. They may achieve at a “normal” level with all other sports and their understanding of the theory component associated to PDHPE, so their average grade for all areas of PDHPE is a “C”. This is reflected in all KLA’s.

9. Report Comments

ParentsreadingReport comments can be particularly difficult for a teacher. They are restricted by how many characters they can write and also how they are allowed to describe different learning attributes of a student. The best advice I have for parents is LISTEN in your parent-teacher interviews. This is a time where teachers can go into more detail about your child and show you examples of your child’s work. They can suggest specific activities you could do at home with your child that targets your child’s area of weakness. Always attend the parent-teacher interviews as they usually offer so much more information than a grade on a paper.

10. Working out a plan

parentteacherPrior to reading a child’s report, a parent generally has a good idea of their child’s academic ability. If you have concerns about your child’s rate of development and reading their report supports your thoughts, speak to the child’s class teacher about it. Just because a child is struggling it does not always mean that they will struggle for the rest of their educational journey. Work out a plan with your child’s teacher about the next steps that you or the school will undertake to identify what your child’s additional learning needs may be. This could include going to a GP, having a speech or hearing assessment or having an observation survey completed by an OT or specialised teacher. Early intervention is the key, so the earlier you identify the extra needs of your child, the more success your child will have. Always book a date for the next meeting with the teacher in order to discuss what has been completed since the previous meeting.

Grades of an A,B,C, D or E enables parents to have a small insight into the academic abilities of their child. Teachers encourage parents to not use grades as the only way to judge their child’s success at school. They need to also think about their child’s social and emotional development as a factor in assessing a child’s “success” at school.

If your child has special needs and you and their teacher believes that “no benefit” will come from your child reading all “E’s” in their report, you can request to have a report with no grades and just comments. The special need’s teacher at your school can offer more information about this idea.

Reports cause a lot of stress for children, parents and teachers. Always remember to use reports as a way of starting communication with your child about their strengths and weaknesses at school. Try not to compare their grades with their peers or with other siblings. Use it to get your child to set some academic goals they want to achieve before the end of next Semester.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

Click here to email this post to yourself or a friend

 

15 Ways To Learn Fractions, Decimals and Percentages

Welcome to the final blog in the series “How to help your older child”. In this blog we look at the world of fractions, decimals and percentages.

As children get older, it seems like it is a habit to remove equipment and games from teaching Mathematics. I strongly believe that as children get older it is more important to have resources and meaningful learning experiences to keep students engaged in more complex thinking and more difficult concepts. How do we achieve this? The answer needs to be by making the learning fun, interesting and important to the world of the child.

Unfortunately the teaching of fractions, decimals and percentages usually goes hand in hand with the use of worksheets and text books. Does this constitute as fun, interesting and meaningful to the child? Create a love of mathematics not a learning experience that is dreaded, with a child who is full of anxiety and an area they have no success at. (Think about your experience of Mathematics at school. Do you have a love for the subject? What engaging methods did your teachers use to help you understand mathematical concepts? - if any)

Some Facts About Teaching Fractions, Decimals and Percentages

  • Try to teach them together so the child realises the relationship between all of them
  • When reading a fraction always use the correct terminology eg 6/8 should be read as six eighths, not six over eight
  • When reading decimals always use the correct terminology eg 0.43 should be read as 43 hundredths, not zero point four three
  • Use equipment to show parts of a whole
  • Fractions, decimals and percentages need to be taught as part of a whole and part of many. (eg Part of a whole - cutting up one orange and Part of many - how many of one colour lolly in a packet of colourful lollies)

Please find below a list of 15 games that children can play to develop their concepts about Fractions, Decimals and Percentages.

1. Chalk pictures

chalk fractionsChildren draw a variety of shapes and divide them up into equal sections. Once they have divided up a shape equally they can colour some parts and say the fraction, decimal and percentage relating to their drawing.




2. Play-dough

PlaydoughfractionsChildren make shapes with play-dough and use a plastic knife to divide the shape into equal parts. Once they have divided it up equally they can remove some parts and explain using fractions, decimals and percentages terminology how much they have taken and how much they have left.

3. Fraction Bingo

fraction bingoMake up a bingo card with different representations of fractions. All players have a different bingo card. All the fraction cards are placed in a bag and the caller picks one at a time out. The caller reads the fraction out and players cover up the relevant fraction if it appears on their board. First player with all their fraction pictures covers calls out bingo and becomes the winner.

4. Fraction picture

fraction pictureChildren can make a picture (eg ice-cream bowl) with a variety of colours/flavours. After they complete it, they must describe the amount of colours using the fractions, decimals and percentage terminology. EG 20% of my ice-cream is chocolate or two fifths of my ice-cream is chocolate. (start with objects out of 10 to make it easier)

5. Colour fractions

colourfulfractionsGet your child to cut five equal paper strips using a different colour for each. They can then cut each one up in different ways ensuring that each section of the strip is equal. They can cut one strip in half, one in thirds, one in quarters, one in fifths etc. Let them experiment with more strips. They can paste them all next to each other to help them understand equivalent fractions. EG, A half is the same as two quarters.

6. Clothesline

fractionslineCut up some cardboard and write a variety of fractions, decimals and percentages on them. Give them to your child and see if they can peg them up on string from lowest to highest. They may need to peg some underneath each other to show that they are the same. This will help them with transferring their knowledge to a number line.

7. Puzzles

FDPpuzzlesHave children create their own puzzles that match the same fraction, decimal or percentage together. They may even make up a few and give it to somebody else to put back together.

 

 

8. Bottle caps

FDPmatchingcapsWrite a variety of fractions, decimals and percentage on the back of bottle caps. Hide all the caps around the room or house. Your child must find all caps (make sure you tell your child how many there are) and then pair up caps that mean the same thing. EG two quarters and 50%.

9. Dominoes

fdpdominoesCreate fractions, decimals and percentages dominoes out of cardboard. Children need to put the dominoes next to each other that mean the same.

 

10. Deck of cards

FDPdeckofcardsMake your own set of playing cards but use fractions, decimals or percentages. Get children to play go fish or memory or pairs with these cards. This will help children to read the fraction, decimal or percentage properly.

 

11. Expanded decimals

decimalexpanderMake up a variety of decimals using tenths, hundredths and thousandths. Pick a colour for each place value, EG Tenths are green. Get your child to select 2 or 3 cards - they must be different colours. Put them together and read the decimal. Take them apart and start again.

12. Decimal cups

DecimalcupsUsing styrofoam cups, write numbers 0-10 around the rim. One cup will need to have a decimal point. One person calls out a decimal eg 3 and 23 hundredths. The child must make this using the cups.

13. Ordering decimals

orderingdecimalsHave a variety of decimal numbers written. Children can work independently or in pairs to order the numbers from smallest to largest. They could work out where each number would go on a number line and use equipment to represent the decimal.

14. Food bag

foodpercentPut a variety of coloured lollies in a mystery bag. The child tips out the contents of the bag and groups matching colours together. They could then describe the bag using fractions, decimals and percentages.

15. Plastic eggs

FDPeggmatchUse a plastic egg that can be separated in half. Write a fraction, decimal or percentage on one half and a matching one on the other. Do this for as many eggs that you have. Take all the eggs apart, mix them up and get your child to match the correct ones together.

Hopefully these 15 games will help your children to be engaged and enthusiastic towards learning fractions, decimals and percentages. Knowing the relationship between them all, will help children solve mathematical problems.

Please share this blog if you have found it insightful and if you believe it offers practical information that your can implement at home or in the classroom. Remember to email a copy of it to yourself for reference later on.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

Click here to email this post to yourself or a friend

20 Great Ways To Learn Multiplication Facts - Times Tables

Welcome to my second blog in my new series focusing on how to support the older child in Primary school. In this blog I share 20 great ways that can help children learn multiplication facts, or more commonly known as times tables.

Let me point out from the beginning, that before helping your child to remember multiplication facts, it is essential that they have an understanding of the concept of multiplication. Multiplication and division can be taught together as they are the opposite operations of each other. Children need to experience both operations together to gain a deep knowledge about the idea of multiplying and dividing.

It is important to expose your child to a variety of terms relating to multiplication so they have a greater vocabulary when it comes to mathematics. Below are examples of two concepts that can be used in multiplication problems.

“Groups of”

applesThis is when objects are placed in groups. You can multiply the amount of objects in one group by the amount of groups.




“Rows of”

imagesThis is when objects are placed in rows. You can multiply the amount of objects in one row by the amount of rows.

Children need to understand the both concepts above as well as knowing the terms multiply, times, product (answer to a multiplication problem) and factors (the numbers that are multiplied together).

Here are some strategies that your child may use to work out a multiplication problem (3 x 5=) before the facts become known. These are the strategies taught in younger years.

1. Repeated addition : 5 + 5 + 5 = 15   or   3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 15

2. Skip count: 5, 10, 15      or       3, 6, 9, 12, 15

3. Use a times table chart

4. Draw a picture  imgres-1

5. Draw an array

imgres

 

 

 

Once the child has a clear understanding of multiplication, it is then time to learn all their facts. Most teachers set a particular times table per week that the children must revise. Below is a list of 20 ways to help children remember multiplication facts.

1. Memory Game

memoryWrite a multiplication question on one card and the answer on another. Do this for as many facts as you want. Turn all the cards over and your child needs to find the matching cards.

 

2. Nine times table trick up to times by ten.

9xtablesHave your child put all their fingers up. If the question is 9 x 6, they put their sixth finger down. The answer is shown on their fingers. The amount of fingers in front of the finger that is down is the tens number and the amount of fingers after the finger that is down is the ones number. Therefore the answer is 54.

3. Dominoes

dominoesTurn all the dominoes over. Take turns flipping the dominoes over and multiplying the two numbers. You can make it harder by flipping one domino over and adding the dots together and turning over another domino and adding those dots together. Then you could multiply the two higher numbers together.

4. Multiplication jumping

jumponanswerHave all the answers of a particular times table set (eg 5 times tables) written on different cards (or the facts that your child struggles with remembering). Spread them out on the floor. Call out a multiplication question, eg 5 x 6 and the child has to quickly find the answer and jump on it.

5. Dice roll

GridpaperPrint off some grid paper or use grid paper from a maths book. Roll two dice and draw the rectangle or square on the grid paper. Your child then writes the multiplication fact and answer inside the shape.

6. Egg Carton Multiplication

EggcartongameWrite the numbers one to twelve in each hole of an empty egg carton. Put two objects inside the carton and close the lid. Shake the egg carton up and open it. The child says the multiplication question and answer depending on what hole the objects are in. Eg 4 x 3 = 12

7. Karate belts

karatebeltsGet your child to pretend they are a multiplication ninja. In order to get their new belt they must be able to answer all their multiplication facts set on that particular belt. All the multiplication facts for a set (eg 7 times tables) must be in random order to avoid the child just skip counting.

8. Groups of

groupsofRoll the dice and record the multiplication fact using a “groups of” representation. They could do the same for a “rows of” representation (also known as an array).

 

 

9. Multiplies game

multiplesMake a card with a number in the middle. On the outside of the card put lots of different numbers (some multiplies of the number and some not). Your child then uses pegs to pick all the correct multiplies. You can list the correct numbers on the back of the card.

10. Multiplication Jenga

jengaWrite multiplication questions and stick on the side of slim building blocks. Stack the blocks up (3 going one way and then the next three blocks going the other way - just like Jenga) Your child takes time to slide out one of the blocks without knocking down the tower. They need to answer the multiplication fact on the block they got out.

11. Multiplication board game

MultiboardgameMake up a board game with multiplication questions on each square. If your child lands on a square they need to answer the question before they roll for their next go.

 

 

12. Multiply cut outs

numbermultisUse large number cutouts and a texta. Your child writes all the multiplies or multiplication facts associated with that number on the inside.

 

 

13. Number fishing

numberfishingUse magnetic numbers and a string with a paper clip on it. Your child puts the “fishing line” into a bucket with the magnetic numbers and “catches” a number. They need to repeat this to get a second number. They can then multiply the two numbers together.

 14. Multiplication Bingo

images-1Each child has a bingo card with numbers that will become the answers to multiplication facts. Play the game with one child or a few children. If playing with a few, make sure they all have different bingo cards. The caller reads out a multiplication fact and if the answer in on the card, the player puts an object on it. Once all numbers on the card have objects on it, the child can call out “Bingo”.

15. Multiplication Snakes and Ladders

imgres-2Play snakes and ladders with a twist. Each square will have a multiplication fact that the child must answer before they have their next go.

 

16. Multiplication soccer

dcac1bac36106350e19e6122ea144a6dWrite numbers all over a soccer ball. The child throws the ball up and catches it. They look at which numbers their thumbs are touching and multiply them together. If they get the correct answer they can shoot the ball 2 metres from the goal post. If they get it in the goal, they move back another 2 metres and answer a new multiplication fact. The aim is to get back as far as they can. If they get the answer wrong or miss the goal, they must start again. For every correct answer they move 2 metres further away from the goal.

17. Multiplication Battle Ships

images-1Use a battle ship card that has an x and y axis with numbers on each axis. Get each player to draw some battle ships that are 1 ship that is 3 squares long, 2 ships that are 2 squares long and 3 ships that are 1 square long (altogether there would be 6 ships). Each player takes turns to try and work out where the other players ships are without looking. They ask if there is a ship at 6  x 8  position as well as saying the answer. Always start with the y axis. The player puts a counter on successful hits. Whoever sinks all the ships first is the winner.

18. Pack of cards

imagesShuffle a deck of cards and split in half. Turn over a card from each pile and multiply them together. Jacks represent 10, Queens represent 11, Kings represent 12 and Aces represent 1.

19. Multiplication Songs

images-2There are a variety of multiplication songs out there. Get your child to listen to a song for each set of times tables. You can listen to these songs through youtube or buy a CD online.

20. Multiplication with Clocks

searchGet your child to look at the clock and state the numbers that the hands are pointing to. Multiply them together and say the answer. It would be great to use a clock where a partner can turn the hands to various numbers.

Hopefully these 20 ideas will help your children to be engaged and enthusiastic towards learning their multiplication facts. Knowing multiplication facts will help children solve mathematical problems. Ensure that your children have a solid understanding of multiplication before rote learning the facts.

Please share this blog if you have found it insightful and if you believe it offers practical information that your can implement at home or in the classroom. Remember to email a copy of it to yourself for reference later on.

Until next time …timestable

Kelly Pisani

Click here to email this post to yourself or a friend

 

 

 

How To Teach Mathematics To Children - Counting

Asking the right mathematical questions at the right time to your child can make the difference that enables deep learning to occur and a solid foundation for other concepts to be built upon.

CountingAs a primary school teacher, I am often asked many questions about the best strategies to use when helping a child with mathematics or about what mathematical concepts to focus on with a child to get them to have a deeper understanding of mathematical content. There is a lot of information about teaching mathematics to a young child so I thought I would cover a couple of topics through three blogs in a series titled “How to teach mathematics to young children”. This is the first blog of the series focusing on “Counting”.

Number sense is very important for children to be able to effectively and efficiently work with numbers to solve problems in their everyday life. Counting is one part of number sense and it becomes a very important skill that assists children to solve problems.

Children’s early numeracy (mathematical) development can be described using ‘growth points’. These can be thought of as “steps” on a learning journey. Each “step” is a growth point that a child must be successful at before moving onto the next. They move through the growth points to achieve a deep understanding of that particular domain. (eg counting, place value, additions and subtraction, multiplication and division)

Below is a list of the growth points of counting that children should move through and parent tips of how to support their child at home to achieve a given growth point.

Growth Point 1 - Rote counting to at least 20

This growth point is about the child being able to count forwards independently to at least 20 without making mistakes. (skipping a number or saying the wrong number) It is hoped that most children are able to do this before starting Kindergarten; however most children are unable to do this. Giving children many opportunities to count in the early years gives them a big advantage when they start school.

Parent tips for working with a child to achieve this growth point.

  • Give your child many opportunities of hearing you count forwards in your everyday life (eg counting the fruit you put into a bag at the green grocer or counting the number of cars in a line in the carpark as you walk back to your car)
  • Point out numbers in environmental print (print used in everyday life) eg number plates, house numbers on letter boxes, digital clocks, phone numbers on advertisements)
  • Sing counting songs (5 little ducks, 10 green bottles)
  • Read counting picture books (Ten little ladybugs by Melanie Gerth and Counting kisses by Karen Katz)
  • Play counting games e.g. The parent and child take turns saying a number. You could include more people in the game when the child gets more confident with their knowledge.
  • Don’t always stop counting at a number ending with a zero (10, 20, 30, 40 etc) Start at 0 and finish at 35.

Growth Point 2 - Confidently counts a collection of around 20 objects

This growth point is about the child understanding that each object represents 1 and confidently uses this knowledge to count a collection of objects. A lot of children find it hard to organise their collection in order to count it correctly. Most children usually keep their collection in a pile and try to point to each object while counting; however they will miss counting some objects or count objects twice using this method. Our focus should be getting children to organise their collection to make counting the objects easier. By moving the object to another space when it has been counted, or setting up the objects in rows or lines, it will help the child to successfully count them. To achieve this growth point, the child must be able to count at the same pace as they point to the object. (Many children count slower than their finger pointing to the object) This growth point is usually achieved between 4 - 7 years old.

Parent tips for working with a child to achieve this growth point.

  • Give your child many opportunities to count different objects for you (e.g. Ask the child to get 5 potatoes for you to peel, ask them to count how many necklaces you have, ask them how many toy cars they have)
  • Play simple board games to get your child moving their player piece the amount of spots on the board that the dice tells them eg snakes and ladders, trouble (when your child gets good at this encourage them to try and tell you the number on the dice without counting them. This is called subitising and it is important for ‘number’ understanding)
  • Play guessing games with your child. For example, put some (13 - 25) toy cars in a bucket and ask your child to tell you how many cars they think are in there. Then get your child to check by counting them.
  • Practise arranging objects in different ways and get your child to investigate which ways are the easiest to count. (moving objects, placing them in rows, placing objects in a line) You can demonstrate how you set up the objects.
  • Play matching games (eg Matching the collection of objects to the numeral or matching pictures of objects with their numeral)

Growth Point 3 - Counts forwards and backwards from various starting points between 0 - 120 and knows numbers before and after a given number

This growth point is about the child being able to start from any number between 0 - 120 and count forwards from that number and backwards from that number confidently. They must also be able to identify what number comes before and what number comes after each number. Achieving this growth point helps the child with the “count on” strategy in mathematics. For example if a child had 23 apples and a friend gave them 4 more, they could start with 23 in their head and continue counting four more (24, 25, 26, 27) instead of starting at 1 and counting to 27. Children are exposed to lots of language in mathematics and it is important they understand the terms, more and less and before and after to achieve this growth point. This growth point is usually achieved between 6 - 8 years old.

Parent tips for working with a child to achieve this growth point.

  •  Focus on counting which moves from one decade to another (e.g. Asking your child to start at 45 and count forwards by ones. The focus is to see if they can go from the 40’s to the 50’s confidently. Then ask them to start at 45 and count backwards by ones. The focus is to see if they can go from the 40’s to the 30’s confidently).
  • Constantly use lots of terms to ask the same counting question. Children need to be exposed to as many mathematical terms as possible in order to answer questions. Some children get ‘stuck’ on a growth point as they do not understand a particular mathematical term. (e.g. Tell the child to pick any number between 30 - 120. Once they have picked a number, say 67 ask them what is one less or the number before or what it would be if you took one away, or what it would be if you subtract 1. The child needs to understand all these terms. Then you could ask them what is the number after, or one more, or add one or plus one)
  • The biggest error that a child usually makes to keep them from achieving this growth point is knowing the numbers beyond 109. So many children will say 120 after 109. It is important for children to see the numbers in a line (not a table that is usually on posters) so they realise that numbers increase in size as we count forwards. So many children only have experiences of counting up to 100 and this really limits their abilities. Even though we as adults recognise the patterns of numbers children do not. Encourage your child to start at 105 and count forwards or 116 and count backwards. Get your child to make the number 109 with blocks and 120 with blocks and show them that there are many numbers between.
  • Allow your child many opportunities to make numbers over 100. Children need to know numbers in a triad. They need to know what the numeral is, what the name of the number is and what the amount of the number looks like. A lot of parents and teachers take away the maths equipment too early and this creates a lot of set backs to children’s mathematical development. Encourage your child to prove their understanding with equipment.

Growth Point 4 - Can count from 0 by 2’s, 5’s and 10’s

This growth point is about the child recognising simple number patterns by counting by 2’s, 5’s and 10’s. We need to help the child realise that we count by these patterns to make counting quicker and more efficient. We need children to learn how to choose the the most efficient type of counting for each situation. For example if we had 11 pairs of socks, we could count the socks by 2’s or if there were 6 bunches of 10 flowers, we could count the flowers by 10’s) This growth point is usually achieved between 7 - 9 years old.

Parent tips for working with a child to achieve this growth point.

  • Get your child to watch you count objects during your everyday life by 2’s, 5’s and 10’s. You could also get your child to do it with you. (pairs of socks when doing the laundry, counting how much money you have in coins - 10 cent pieces or 5 cent pieces)
  • Rote count by 2’s, 5,s and 10,s in the car, or on a walk and any other time you have quiet time with your child. Make sure you always go past 109.
  • Write out a number line and get your child to colour in all the numbers that you say when you count by 2’s. You can do the same with 5’s and 10’s. Try not to use a table (where numbers are in rows and after each decade the numbers start a new row) as children need to see that numbers are linear (increase in size as a pattern) We have a lot of children who say that the number before 39 is 29 as it is the number on top of it in a table.

Growth Point 5 - Being given a non zero starting point, count by 2’s, 5’s and 10’s

This growth point is about the child using their knowledge of number patterns to count by 2’s, 5’s and 10’s starting from a number that is not usually in the rote learnt pattern. For example the child can start at 4 and count by 5’s. (4, 9, 14, 19, 24, 29 etc) They need to be able to count by these patterns in both a forward and backward direction. This growth point is usually achieved between 8 - 10 years old.

Parent tips for working with a child to achieve this growth point.

  • Practise saying number patterns with your child by saying one number each. Make sure you start at a number that is not normally in their rote learnt pattern. You could take turns at saying numbers in the pattern.
  • Write out a number line and get your child to colour in all the numbers that you say when you count by 2’s from a number that is not normally in the rote learn pattern. You can do the same with 5’s and 10’s.
  • Get the child to continue patterns that you have written down. Eg 86, 76, 66, 56, 46, _____,  ________, ________
  • You can expose your child to the concept that there are numbers that are smaller than 0. Talk about temperatures in cold countries that can get to minus degrees. A thermometer is a number line that goes vertical instead of horizontal.

Growth Point 6 - Can count from a non zero starting point by any single digit number and can apply counting skills in a practical task.

This growth point is about the child being able to count by 1’s, 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, 5’s, 6’s, 7’s, 8’s and 9’s from any number. They can confidently count forwards and backwards by any of these number patterns. They also need to be able to use this skill and apply it to solving mathematical problems. It is important that children are able to communicate how they solved a problem in order for them to have a deep understanding of it. This growth point is usually achieved between 9 - 12 years old.

Parent tips for working with a child to achieve this growth point.

  • Practise saying number patterns with your child by saying one number each. Make sure you start at a number that is not normally in their rote learnt pattern. You could take turns at saying numbers in the pattern. (Count forwards and backwards by 3’s, 4’s, 6’s, 7’s, 8’s, 9’s)
  • Ask your child questions about multiple numbers before and after a given number. (e.g. 3 more than 124, 6 less than 133, 8 after 89, 9 before 121)
  • Practise counting negative numbers. (For example start at 3 and count backwards by 4’s. : 3, -1, -5, -9, -13, -17)
  • Make up mathematical problems that require counting to solve it. (Eg There were 6 tables at a wedding. One table had 9 people on it and the other tables had 8. How many people altogether?)

Growth Point 7 - Counting using fractions and decimals

This growth point is about the child counting by numbers that are less than a whole. They can confidently count using fractions and decimals. For example they can count by halves, quarters, fifths, sixths, tenths etc. They can successfully count forwards and backwards using fractions and decimals. This growth point is usually achieved from 10 years old to the beginning years of high school.

Parent tips for working with a child to achieve this growth point.

  • Practise counting by fractions with your child. Talk about pizzas or cakes to give them a context (a real life situation) You could take turns at saying numbers in the pattern. (half, one, one and a half, two, two and a half, three) or (by fifths - one fifth, two fifths, three fifths, four fifths, one, one and one fifth etc)
  • Practise counting by decimals with your child. You could take turns at saying numbers in the pattern. (count forwards by 0.6 starting at 0.7 : 0.7, 1.3, 1.9, 2.5)

The main focus of teaching your child mathematics is having lots and lots of conversation about it. Mathematics is very literacy (English) based and in order for your child to succeed they need to have a deep understanding of many mathematical terms. We have moved on from textbooks and rote learning that we experienced when we went to school to having a focus on children learning concepts for a deeper knowledge and understanding of mathematics.

I hope you have found this first blog in the series “How To Teach Mathematics To Young Children” useful and informative. The next blog will be about The growth points of place value, which is another domain that has a large impact on a child’s number sense. I hope you have been able to work out what growth point your child is at in counting and have found the strategies that you can do with your child useful to help them move onto the next growth point.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog about counting. I look forward to hearing any thoughts or comments that you have.

Until next time …….

Kelly Pisani

Click here to email this post to yourself or a friend