Teaching Math Creatively – Guest Post By Julie Diamond
For many parents, math can be a very daunting subject to tackle at home. As the founder of a tutoring company, many parents call me to request tutoring services, saying that they ‘can’t teach their child math’, and that they were ‘bad at math in school too.’
If you have anxiety about math, your child is likely to feel the same way. Instead, try to think outside the box and use objects around the house or everyday problems to make it relevant and fun for you both. Math is a great way to teach your child about building grit and confidence, how to solve problems, think critically, and accept mistakes as part of the learning process.
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Here are 12 creative ways to help you which are focused around the big ideas of the current K-6 curriculum here in BC:
1. Using dominoes, have your child match numbers together, count the dots, add or subtract, or skip count (by 2s, 5s or 10s).
2. Play ‘I spy’ using numbers by saying ‘I see something in this room that there are three of.’
3. When shopping, teach your child how to round up and down and keep track of the total. For a challenge, give them a budget. For younger students, ask your child to estimate the number of fruits, vegetables and meat you will need for the family for a meal or week.
4. Give your child an object at home (an eggplant, lemon, milk carton, etc) and several different lengths of ribbon. Ask them to estimate which ribbon will fit around each object and why.
5. Identify things by their shape, size and directional locations (up, down, over, under, between, through, beside, behind). For a challenge, give two-part directions such as, “It’s a square-shaped object that is under the table and to the left of the chair.”
6. Give your child 50 popsicle sticks or straws and a roll of masking tape and ask them to build the tallest freestanding tower that they can. The only rules are that they can only use the materials you give them and the tower can’t be taped to or leaning on anything to support it.
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7. Have fun teaching your child a sequence of dance moves. Have them copy you, then create a pattern together and make a TikTok.
8. Arrange spoons in a line following a pattern of facing up, up, down, up, up, down. Have your child continue the pattern and increase the level of difficulty as you go.
9. Use vocabulary to demonstrate the passage of time, such as, “It took us 20 minutes to make dinner.” Or, use the time in the context of daily activities like, “It is 12pm and in 30 minutes it will be lunch time.”
10. Use games to reinforce telling time. You can play ‘I Have’, ‘Who Has’ or a Bingo or Concentration game with both analog and digital times.
11. Financial literacy is an important skill. Play games involving money. One example is playing the role of banker/accountant by taking turns with each role asking for amounts of money that use coins only (to start). Play a game as a grocer/customer and calculate tax, and make change.
12. Practice probability using a traditional game of First Nations people called Lahal. It is a guessing or gambling game involving two teams. The object of the game is to get all the sticks from the opposing team.
I hope these ideas help make Math fun and alleviate some of the stress of teaching it during the school break.
Julie Diamond is a certified teacher in Canada. She is also the CEO & founder of Teachers to Go which is an online tutoring company that matches students with teachers looking for support with all grades and subjects across Canada. For more information, please visit www.teacherstogo.ca.
For more great activities, tips and resources, check out our latest issue! You can read the full March/April issue of WestCoast Families magazine online here.