To aid your child’s math understanding and retention, you can incorporate lessons about numbers into real life situations. This strategy will show him how math concepts have real applications. According to an article published by the National Association of Elementary School Principles, a hands-on approach such as this helps elementary students understand basic ideas, gain a greater depth of understanding, become more willing to participate and ask questions better than conventional instructional methods.
Money is one of the most universal applications of math and numbers in real life. If your school-age child receives an allowance, he can learn how to save his money for a coveted toy. He can count the money he already has and subtract it from the total cost of the toy to see how much he needs to save to reach his goal. Show him how to calculate tax for the item on a calculator and add that to the total cost. When he purchases an item, he can count the money he needs to give the sales clerk.
The topic of fractions can be demonstrated with food. The child can look on as you cut some food into equal sections, such as a pizza, apple, cheese slice or a loaf of French bread. Even a large cookie that he has to break into equal sections to share with mom works for this lesson. All that matters is that the food has equally-sized pieces. For example, you could show him that if he took two pieces out of eight, it is two-eights or one-fourth. Four slices is four-eights or one-half. After the lesson is done, reward him for his hard math work by letting him devour the food he's been working with.
Not only is cooking with an elementary-age child fun and messy, it also offers a real life educational scenario on how to use weights, measurements and volume. You can let him choose a recipe and allow him to measure the ingredients out. Measuring spoons and cups can be used for dry ingredients, such as sugar or baking soda. Liquid ingredients need a measuring cup by volume, such as one with ounces and liters printed on it.
Kids games are not only entertaining, several of them offer real life math strengthening activities. Kid-friendly card games, such as 21 or Rummy, require strategy, number sequencing, counting card values and adding or subtracting points. Board games allow a child to work on counting dice and moving the appropriate amount of spaces. If there is money counting involved in the board game your child plays with his friends or siblings, even better.
- Bosnia Project Elementary Mathematics Module – Patterns, Relationships, & Number Sense; Nancy K. Mack
- Patterns, Functions, and Algebra for Elementary School Teachers; Virginia Department of Education
- National Association of Elementary School Principles: Manipulatives: A Hands-on Approach to Math
- USDA: Lesson 2 Food Math
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