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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Making Math Fun

The younger child learns through play. This is a well-known fact that prompts many fun ideas in preschool educators; but once children hit elementary school, the fun tends to slowly diminish over time. Hands on projects are replaced with worksheets that display fewer and fewer pictures as kids make their way into higher grades.
Because math is a difficult subject for many children to grasp, keeping the fun alive may just be a way to assist students in their quest for knowledge. Realizing that not all children learn in the same manner, it makes sense to pepper your math lessons with audio and visual tools. For some elementary aged children, there is a need to be very hands on for learning and retention to occur.
For the teacher who presides over 20 or so squirming second graders, it can be a bit scary to consider introducing new lessons that may get out of hand. Classroom control is always in the forefront of the elementary teacher’s mind; and rightfully so. However, an outdoor lesson that is engaging and fun can hold students’ attention even better than a lesson in which they are sitting quietly at their desks.
To keep children engaged, give them real-life objects to use for counting. This could be stickers, gold coins or skittles if they have been very good. Kids enjoy counting objects that are interesting and familiar. Colorful objects can be mentally stimulating and kids get a kick out of the novelty. A teacher can make changes to objects used for counting throughout the year as a way to consistently challenge students and hold their attention.
When teaching about money, it makes a difference what you use. Whenever possible, use real money to teach about this subject. Handling money is a real-life skill, and for children to adequately grasp and retain information, it helps to use real-life objects as much as possible.
It is always essential for a teacher to relate with their students. This is true regardless of the subject being taught. Fun math will include kids’ interests. This is why using small snacks such as colored candies, grapes, pretzels or marshmallows goes over so well with younger students. Planning a fun math lesson that includes snacks can be a great end of the week treat to reward children for a week of positive classroom behavior. Kids also love sports; which allows a teacher to utilize some of their favorite sports when teaching statistics.
Word problems prove to be a real challenge for many students. A teacher can help by creating fun word problems that students can relate to. For instance, use the name of a student in the word problem, and a real-life situation that student may encounter. “Sally had three pickles in her sandwich and ate two...”
Kids and math can be a great mix with a little planning and a focus on the fact that children learn through play. These tips for fun math can be used effectively throughout elementary school and even into junior high.

Emily Suess, who loves creating lanyards and a graduate of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, writes about recent school trend topics like conference tips and college issues. She has worked for over seven years as a freelance writer/editor and is now focusing on early childhood education. Her works have been published in Children’s Digest magazine and Indiana Insight magazine as well as on the web.


Michelle said...

You should check out www.dreambox.com where there is an online math game for k-3 students. It is not just any game, the game will become more challenging as the player proves that they are improving their math skills.

The best part is the parent dashboard that provides a report on the progress of the player along with areas that may require more support.

Try it for free for 14 days - www.dreambox.com

Anonymous said...

While I agree – to a degree - with the author about making math fun for kids to learn, I wonder why, if I’m correct, our kids’ math level is not higher than the one our parents and grandparents had. At some point, we should be able to ask our kids 5 + 6 and they should answer 11 in less than 2 seconds. I don’t think that we have to draw every time we talk math. Check this out,ourFlashcards.com, I used it with my 9 years old son and it worked great.

Anonymous said...

I agree that math and school in general gets more and more boring as children progress through the grades. We need to make school more fun since this is where the children spend a great deal of their time. Children would be much more engaged and would learn more if the content they were learning was appealing to them.


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