10 Ways To Help Your Child With Math

The teaching of Mathematics has changed significantly over the past 20 years. No longer are we focusing on ensuring children learn processes but ensuring that children understand concepts and have a variety of strategies to solve mathematical problems.

FDPpuzzlesIt can be quite difficult for parents during Math homework time as the problem solving methods that they were taught are very different to how their children are being taught.

Below is a list of 10 ideas that parents can use to help teach Mathematics to their child.

1. Always have maths equipment at home that is easily accessible

CountingChildren need to participate in real world mathematics. This means Mathematics is part of every day life and children need to engage with it in order to be a successful person in our society. It is important to have rulers, scales, measuring cups, tape measures and calculators at home to enable children to use them when they need it. Children need to see adults and help adults when using mathematical equipment as well. This could include, helping to cook by measuring ingredients or helping to use a measuring tape to see how long something is in the home.

2. Use Mathematical Language in your everyday conversation. 

imgres-5It is very easy to fall into the trap of using the same words to describe many things. A classic example of this is the word “big”. Using big to describe the height of something or the length of something or the weight of something or the volume of something does not give the child enough exposure to mathematical language. Adults could use words like “tall” or “high” to describe height, “long” or “short” to describe length and “heavy” or “light” to describe weight. It is important that we use to the correct language to help our children form the right understandings about these mathematical concepts.

3. Give your child time to answer a question

searchAs parents and educators, our main role in educating our children is to facilitate learning not to determine what a child will learn and how a child should learn. Children need time to process questions and process what they need to do in order to solve a task. They need to go through a few steps (even though it may not be the most efficient strategy) it is important to give them time. If we always rush in to “help”, the child will always come to expect this and not try to use any strategies that they do have. If your child comes to you with a question, try and think of another question to ask them that will guide them to the answer. For example, if a child asks you what is 33 + 99, you could ask them if they know what 99 is close to. Then encourage them to go back and think about that and see if they can come up with anything.

4. Always ask how they got to an answer

images-1We may be elated to see that a child has solved a question correctly but getting the correct answer does not really give the teacher or parent much information about their mathematical thinking around a particular concept. We must always ask the child to explain how they solved it. If they can explain their strategy and tell you why they did it, it will prove that they have a very solid understanding about that concept. For example if the student solved the above addition task by saying 132 it shows that they have an understanding of addition. But what level of understanding do they have? Asking them to explain how they got to their answer will shed more light onto this. For example if they said “I drew 99 lines and added another 33 lines and then counted them all”, this shows a very low level strategy to solve an addition problem. If they said “I added 9 and 3 and that was 12, then I put the 2 down and put the 1 near the 9 and then added 9, 1 and 3 which was 13. I then wrote 13 next to the 2 which gave me 132.”, it shows that they have learnt the process of pen and paper trading, but they do not have a good understanding of why they are doing this process. If they said “99 is close to 100 so I just added 100 and 32, because I took away 1 from 33 so I could make it 100”, this shows a very high level strategy that is efficient and shows a solid foundation. Yes they all got it correct but their problem solving strategies explain a lot about the child’s level of understanding.

5. Worksheets

imgres-3Thinking about the information above, it is obvious why worksheets (drill and practice) do not help a child understand a concept. Worksheets and mathematical text books are all about practising processes over and over again until it becomes second nature. Worksheets do not allow conversation about how they solved a problem as it is very limiting and its whole purpose is to teach a process strategy not the concept. It is far better asking a child to record as many number problems that would equal to 20 as they can. This open ended task invites the child to show what they know and areas that they need further development. This question could be asked at children of all ages as the depth of answers should increase with the age of a child. For example it would be expected that children in Year 6 could use fractions, decimals, basic algebra, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction and squared numbers in their answers.

6. The Number Triad

searchIt is important for children to have a strong number sense as this is essential for all areas of Mathematics. Children need to be able to understand the three parts of a number, also known as the number triad. They need to know what the number looks like (symbol), how to read the number (words) and be able to make that number (quantity). As parents and educators, we can expose them to lots of numbers in the environment eg number plates, house numbers and speed limit signs, we can ask them to read numbers that we come across eg read a telephone number that you need to type into a phone and we can constantly ask them to make a number with a collection eg ask them to get you 14 potatoes for a potato salad you are making. All three areas of a number need to be developed to have a strong number sense.

7. Ask the teacher

teacher-meeting-467x267[1]If you are struggling to work out the best way to help your child in a particular area for Mathematics just ask their teacher. Most teachers are more than happy to help by running mini maths lessons for parents to help them understand the way Mathematics is taught in the 21st century classroom.

8. The relationship between Literacy and Numeracy

imgresMost children struggle in Mathematics due to the language of Mathematics. They may not be familiar with particular terms so it necessary to ensure that a child is comprehending the words in a maths task just as much as the mathematical concept behind it. If a Mathematics question is asking a student to find the second least favourite food in a survey, they need to have a good understanding of the words “second” and “least” before they can even attempt to answer the problem.

9. Compare things

imgres-1Encourage your child to compare the size, shape or orientation of objects. Get them to order items from largest to smallest or lightest to heaviest. This should be done during their play. For example, if they are playing with containers in water get them to try and order the containers from the container that holds the most water (largest volume) to the container that holds the least (smallest volume)

10. Develop all areas of Mathematics

imgres-2It is easy to just develop the Number concepts such as Place Value, Fractions, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division. Equal time needs to be placed on other areas of Mathematics like Measurement (length, area, volume/capacity, mass, time), Data (surveys, graphs, charts) and Space and Geometry (3D, 2D, Position). All these areas need to be developed in context. It needs to mean something to the child in order for them to learn and understand it.

I hope these 10 ideas have given you something to think about.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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10 Free Boredom Busters for School Holidays

School holidays has come upon us again and there are parents everywhere looking for some inspiration for ideas to keep their children entertained that wont break the budget yet still are engaging. Look no further than the latest blog from CREATING A LEARNING ENVIRONMENT.

Welcome to my newest blog “10 Free Boredom Busters for School Holidays”. I draw my inspiration this week from the famous saying “the best things in life are free”. I have collated 10 great inexpensive activities that will keep your children occupied for hours. All have a great educational benefit as well.

Below are two ideas for organising these 10 boredom busters which will be easy to do in any household.

School holidays activity chart

boredom-busters-fridgeHave all the activities written out in categories. Next to the chart have a holiday calendar with all the days written. Get the children to allocate the activities on particular days. Fill in all the day trips that you have organised as well so the children will know ahead of time their schedule for each day. This will prevent your children constantly asking you what will be happening on each day.

Boredom busters jar

imgresWrite all the activities on single pieces of paper and put them in the boredom busters jar. Each day your children can select one activity to complete by closing their eyes and picking a paper from the jar.

 

The 10 Free Boredom Busters for School Holidays

1. Painting Garden rocks - Art 

garden rocksFind garden rocks in your backyard or go for a walk and collect them. Select a variety of paint colours and get creative. This image shows some ideas that you may want to try.

 

2. Flower pressing - Art

flowerpressingCollect a variety of flowers. Lay them on baking paper with paper towel on top. Put another piece of paper towel and then baking paper on top of it. Stack some heavy books (or bricks if you have them) on top of it all. Leave it for 24 hours.

 

3. Library - Literacy

libraryLocal libraries usually put on some free holiday sessions for children. Check out your council’s website for more details. If not, why not sign your children up to become a member and borrow some books, DVDs and toys.

 

4. Animal homes - Science

animal-densGo for a walk in some bushland close to your house. Encourage the children to make animal homes using items that they find in the bush. This could include dens or nests.

 

 

5. Recycling Craft - Art

recyclingcraftCollect all your recyclable goods and put in a large tub. Give the children markers, sticky tape, glue and some other bits and pieces and see what they can create.

 

6. Chalk drawing - Art

chalkdrawingGive the children a box of chalk and send them outside to create. They may draw roads for a bike track or a maze or even some pictures. Chalk can wash off anything so let them go wild.

 

7. Cooking - Food

bakingHave a list of child friendly recipes that you can make with your child. These might include pizza, pasta, cakes or something else. Cooking is a great activity for a rainy day.

 

8. Mason Jar craft - Art

3-mason-jar-aquariumGive children some mason jars and some items that they can use to create some different worlds. The worlds could be under the sea, outer space, in the snow, in the desert or an imaginary world. Fill up with coloured water (filtered water and food colouring work best) and add some glitter.

 

9. Egg Drop - Science

eggdropGet your children to create a container that would keep an egg safe while it is dropped from a height. They may need to modify their design a few times if the egg keeps cracking. Ensure you have a few cartons of eggs for this experiment. Try dropping the egg capsule from differing heights.

 

10. Decorating Cookies - Art

decoratecookiesMake some cookie dough with your children and use a variety of cookie cutters to cut out cookies. Bake them and after they have cooled set up a decorating station with lots of edible items that they can use.

 

 

I hope you have found some inspiration by reading this post. Happy holidays and I hope everyone stays safe during this period.

Until next time…

Kelly Pisani

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20 Activities For The School Holidays That Will Keep Children Busy For Hours

Holiday activitiesSchool holidays can be a trying time for many parents. Not only does it mean having the children home for two or more weeks, eating them out of house and home but it usually involves listening to what seems like the endless whinging from their children claiming they are bored.

Unfortunately our society makes us believe that we need to spend money in order to entertain our children. We need to take them places, buy them the newest technology and arrange for many play dates for our child with their friends. I am hoping that I can dispel these myths with this blog.

Below is a list of 20 great activities that you could do with your child during the school holidays. You may get them started on one of these projects and then let them continue it. All these activities are engaging, inexpensive and help your child develop some of their skills.

1. Grass Head

grassheadFill stockings with soil and put some grass seeds in the soil. Tie a knot in the stocking and stand the ball of soil up the correct way. Your child can decorate their grass heads however they want. Over the coming weeks the grass will start to grow and your child can give their grass heads haircuts. Make sure the grass heads are put in a sunny position and are watered regularly.

2. Time Capsule

timecapsuleChildren can put anything they want in a time capsule that they can open at a later date (usually years later). They may write some things about themselves, about their life or about their environment. They may want to write it down, make a movie and save it on usb or do something completely different. Encourage them to be as creative as possible. They can decorate their time capsule and put it away for safe keeping.

3. Camp

camp indoorSet up some tents in the backyard and have a camping adventure while never leaving your house. You can cook your food on an open fire. (Always have parent supervision for this). You could get creative by making damper. If the weather is not good, why not put the tent up in the lounge room.

 

4. Create a flower garden

Flower gardenLet your child set up their own little garden in the backyard or on your balcony. Get the child to put their own little fence up and plant some flowers that they have chosen. They may want to paint rocks with the names of the types of flowers that they have chosen.

 

5. Magical garden

Magical gardenLet your child use their imagination and create a magical garden for fairies or elves. They can collect things on a walk that would suit a magical garden. Buy a couple of little solar lights to add to the magical element. Be as creative as possible.

 

6. Play garden

Play gardenSet up a garden that children can play in and get dirty. Put lots of gardening tools and buckets in the area and let your child loose in there.

 

7. Recycled furniture project

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you are feeling a little more adventurous why not try up-cycling an old piece of furniture into something else. Your child can help with sanding, painting and decorating. There are many ideas on the internet and Pinterest.

 

 

 

8. Bird house

birdhouseHelp your child construct a bird house with anything around the house. Get your child to paint it and help hang it up in the backyard or on a balcony. They can add bird seeds and water. They could try and take photos of birds that use their little bird house.

 

9. Make play dough

makeplaydoughChildren love making things so why not try your hand at making play dough. There are so many recipes out there, some that use cooking methods while others require no cooking. Your child could read the recipe and complete all the steps with your supervision. The best part is, after they have made it, they can use the play dough to make other things.

10. Conduct Science experiments

flowerexperiementChildren love investigating how things work so allowing them to conduct experiments will keep them entertained for hours. There are many simple experiments that can be set up at home. My next week’s blog will consist of 20 easy science experiments that can be conducted at home to help develop children’s understanding of our world. Keep your eye out for it, if you are interested in this area.

11. Building with pop sticks

popstickcreationsPop sticks can be purchased from any discount shop. All your child will need for this activity are pop sticks and craft glue. You may give them ideas of what to make or leave it up to them. Ideas could include, towers, bridges, or houses.

 

12. Art Activities

ArtactivityLots of children love creating artworks. Why not complete this simple, yet effective hand art piece. Research other simple artworks that your child could have a go at.

 

 

 

13. Making a boat

BoatMaking boats is a time honoured tradition that many children enjoy on a regular basis. If your child has never experienced this, it is a good one to try. Collect lots of recycling items and get your child to investigate the best designs for boats through trial and error. If you do not live near a body of water, you could just fill up a large container or bath to test the boats. You could also have a competition to see which child can create a boat that sails the furthest or floats for the longest.

14. Making Catapults

catapultThis is an activity that boys tend to be drawn to. Children make simple catapults with the aim of pushing something through the air. They can continually change their design to get an object to go further. There are many designs on the internet that children can use for inspiration.

 

15. Making Pasta

makepastaCooking has always remained a great activity for children to be involved with. Creating pasta from scratch is an engaging activity for children. Pasta rolling machines are inexpensive these days. It is important that children learn how things are made as many of them only have an experience of eating food from packets on the shelves of supermarkets.

16. Using Tools

buildingUsing an old piece of wood, get your child to use tools to attach things on it. They could screw in a screw or hammer in a nail. The options are endless. The image above gives you some ideas of what they can put onto their wood.

17. Large painting

LargepaintingUsing a large piece of calaco, or old bed sheet, draw pictures on it and allow your child to paint it in what ever colour they want. Spread it out in the backyard and each child can be responsible for an area to paint. When it is finished, you could use it as a table cloth or cubby house roof.

18. Beading

beadingYour child can create a lot of things using beads. A great idea is a sun catcher. Attach strings to a branch and put beads on each. After each string has enough beads tie a secure knot. Hang the sun catcher up outside. Alternatively you could make a wind chime or jewellery.

19. Balloon bowl

Balloon bowlBlow up a balloon. Cover the bottom half with craft glue and put confetti or bits of scrap paper all over it. Allow it to dry. When it has all dried, pop the balloon and the bowl will be ready.

20. Paper Mache

papermacheThis messy play is loved by many children. Cover an object in your handmade glue, using flour and water to make the glue (and some salt to prevent mould). Put newspaper strips over the glue and continue the process until the entire object it covered. Allow to dry over night and do a few more layers the next day. Leave it to dry again. Your paper mache is now ready for painting. You could make a piñata or animal or anything else that your child is interested in.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this post and it has given you some inspiration for some activities to do with your child during the school holidays. Your child will be engaged in these activities and will develop so many skills and deepen their knowledge from completing them. These activities will keep your child entertained for hours while not ruining your bank account.

Thank you for continuing to share my blog. I really appreciate it. I would love to read about any great ideas that you have that have been tried and tested in your household for school holidays.

Until next time …

Kelly Pisani

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