I get more requests for help with math skills than any other subject. It’s no wonder! With new expectations, math now involves both reading and writing, which penalizes a student who struggles in language arts but otherwise might succeed in math. Students are expected to find different answers, explain them in writing, and read long word problems. It’s easy to see why parents are complaining. Top that with the reality that this “new math” is different than anything we’ve seen before, and it’s a breeding ground for failure.
The first step to math success is to make sure the student has a strong number sense. This is often overlooked, especially when the student is having to read, write, perform math computation, and come up with various answers all at once. So, take a breath, and break the math down into bite sized chunks. Today, let’s just focus on some fun math games that can build a strong math foundation for your child.
* Buy a host of colorful dice. Pick two dice and roll them. Depending on the student’s ability, have him/her add or multiply the numbers that were rolled.
* Get a ball. Bounce it back and forth between you and your child. You can start by counting, then counting by two’s, three’s, four’s, etc. This skip counting will help with multiplication facts and number sense while getting the body involved for memory.
* Have the student put the dice in color patterns, such as blue, blue, red, blue, blue red. This simple skill is often missed for children struggling in math.
* Word problems can be tricky. Have the student use colorful markers and draw out the problem. Focus on the usual math operations that pop up in word problems, such as more than, less than, etc. Write these in colored marker on a card and have them available to the child.
* Get a paddle ball and have the student perform mental math operations with each paddle.
* Get a deck of cards and play math bingo.
* Use the deck of cards and have the student use the numbered cards and and place them in order from 1 (ace) up to ten. Or, you can make larger number cards and go up to fifty or one hundred.
* Practice math facts with the deck of cards. Each card played is multiplied, added, subtracted, or divided by the previous card (if possible). If not, have the student explain why for practice in explaining math at school.
* March, sing, play ball, hopscotch, jump rope, or any other physical activity while chanting math facts and operations.
* Roll a cup of dice and have the student count the dots while touching each dot.
* Play visual memory games such as concentration or memory with the deck of cards to help hone this important skill. It’s tough to memorize math skills when visual memory is weak.
There are so many things you can do to stretch these games that will lead to math mastery.