Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Seventh Blog


Learning about fractions can prove to be quite difficult for many children.  There are so many rules when adding, subtraction, multiplying, and simplifying fractions, it is no wonder many children might feel frustration when trying to learn fractions.   It seems that much of the confusion might stem from not really understanding what the fraction actually stands for, or how much it is worth.  For many students it can also be mind boggling when the denominators are different.

The trick then is how to make fractions make sense for kids.  Many students need concrete materials to understand the concept of fractions.  Students need to understand that a fraction really just means a part of a whole.  Teachers can introduce the words numerator and demominator, though I think for elementary students the focus should be for them to understand the concept of fractions.

The main point of learning fractions is the it is equal parts of a whole.  A good way to demonstrate fractions is to use hands on activities, manipulatives, and many illustrations and drawings.  Make connections to fractions with the students.  You could put them into groups of eight and have them roll out a circle of playdough the cut it into eight pieces.  Then have students tell you what part of the whole or what fraction of the playdough they have, if they each get one piece.


Some ideas on teaching elementary school students about fracions.

  • Use manipulatives, like blocks or triangle pieces of different colors to show different fractions.

  • Let students help with recipes, they love to measure and pour ingredients, this is a great time to ask how many 1/4 cups make 1 cup.

  • Take regular pieces of paper, then have the students fold it into 8 squares or more, have the students open up the paper and then label each part with the correct fractions. 

  • Have a fun pizza party

  • Use graham crackers to teach 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and 1 whole piece.
Some helpful websites for teaching fractions.

Fun games

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sixth Blog

Learning division for many students can be challenging, multiplication, like addition seems to be a bit easier to grasp for many children.  There is even something a little intimidating about the word division, it is a rather large word for students to process.  It is important then to explain the meaning of the word to students and to be sure they understand prior to teaching children how to divide.

Teachers can help students make connections with the word division by making up word problems and asking students questions.  If you were to ask a student a question they could relate to, it might help them to better understand division.  An example might be, "If you and your brother had a box of 10 mini donuts, how many donuts would you each get?"  I bet if you actually had a box of donuts kids would easily be able to divide them equally.  Though for some reason on paper it is difficult for students.  When you use numbers that do not divide equally, that is really a challenge for students.

Teachers and parents could help students with division if they use manipulatives and hands on activities so it makes more sense for students.  Make it fun for kids, teachers also have to have a good attitude even when students are frustrated.  Start with easier division problems so that students will gain more confidence when doing math.  Remind students that practice is the key to success.

Some ideas on teaching elementary school students about division.
  • Use manipulatives, like cubes or jelly beans.
  • Have students draw large circles for the numbers they are dividing by, then put a tally mark or an x in each circle for the number they are dividing.
  •  Remind students that division is reversed multiplication.
  •  Have students divide the class into different numbers of teams to practice division, then they get to get up and move around their room a bit.
  • Teach students different algorithms.
  • Partial Quotient algorithm
  • Column division
  • Long division

Some helpful websites for division.

Fun games

Fifth Blog


Students start learning multiplication even earlier these days, compared to back when I was in school.  It seems they are even teaching it as early as first grade.  Kids really are much smarter now, and while I'm sure that many of the multiplication facts are not memorized by then, it is great to introduce students to multiplication.

I will say that I really enjoyed learning multiplication in fourth grade.  I liked memorizing the times tables.  I thought a few of them were easy like 0, 1, 2, 5, 10, 11 and as a kid I thought the 9's tricks were neat.  I do remember my teacher reminding the students that multiplication is adding the same number multiple times together.

There are a few different actions that teachers can remind students to help them learn multiplication.  When multiplying, the numbers can be multiplied in any order to find the answer, example 5x7=35 and 7x5=35.  Any number multiplied by zero is zero, example 8x0=0.  Any number multiplied by 1 remains that specific number, example 5x1=5.  Multiplication is basically repeated addition, example 5+5+5+5=20 and 5x4=20.

Some ideas on teaching elementary school students about multiplication.
  • Use manipulatives and group same objects together.
  • Have students draw arrays, and then add up the dots.
  • Make sure student understand that multiplication is repeated addition.
  • Have student memorize one times table at a time, prior to moving on to others.
  • Teach different algorithms so students can use their preferred method.
  • Lattice method
  • Partial products method

Some helpful websites for learning multiplication.

Fun Games

Monday, July 16, 2012

Fourth Blog


There are many children that find subtraction challenging.  I remember as a child I also found subtraction much more difficult than addition.  I'm not exactly sure for the reason, though it might be because when learning about numbers and counting we learn to count upward first, not many children learn numbers by counting backwards, at least not many that I have heard. 

I have seen in the schools that I volunteer at, that they are familiarizing students with fact families.  I think this is a super idea, this strategy reinforces the connection between addition and subtraction.  I have also witnessed teachers teaching about turn around facts.  I think this is a great way to make subtraction seem less challenging for many children.

Fact families often look like triangles with three numbers. 
Then you write the fact family   3+4= 7     4+3=7      7-4=3     7-3=4



Subtraction should not just be about memorizing the math facts, while that will come in handy, students first need to know how to solve the problems, then they can memorize the math facts.  There are many great strategies and activities to help students learn subtraction.       

Some ideas on teaching elementary school students about subtraction.
  • Counting on method
  • Counting back method
  • Use number lines
  • Use charts
  • Manipulatives
  • Subtraction games
  • Computer interactive math games

Some helpful websites for teaching subtraction.

Fun Games

Third Blog


Learning and knowing basic math facts is the foundation of math.  Learning addition is one of the first steps in math after learning the names of numbers and learning how to count.  Many elementary school teachers put a great deal of emphasis on memorizing math facts.  They generally start with addition, then subtraction, on to multiplication and then division. 

When you think about it addition is such a automatic mental process.  When you want to know how much more than one object is, you simply add them up, this is usually fairly easy.  That is probably because your teacher did a great job of teaching math facts.  Learning basic addition facts makes doing addition much quicker and easier.

When I think back to learning addition math facts it was all about memorizing the addition facts, flash cards, and taking stressful timed tests.  Things are different now and teachers have great ideas for helping students learn how to add numbers together, other than just memorizing facts and using pencils and paper. 

Some ideas on teaching elementary school students about addition.
  • Play math games
  • Use manipulatives
  • Let students work together
  • Use computer interactive math games
  • Go outside and find things to add
  • Learn math songs
  • Read stories about math

    2+2=4   7+4=11  1+4=5  3+8=11  9+5=14

Here are some helpful websites for teaching addition.

Fun games

Race for Math

Saved by the Bell

Add It Up

Many addition games

Friday, June 29, 2012

Second Blog


I do believe that teaching estimation skills to elementary students is important.  I think that we estimate more than we think, and it is a great skill for students to learn. 

Think about how many times a day you estimate how long it will take you to complete a task.  When you go the store you probably estimate how much things will cost when you are buying multiple items.  You might estimate how many servings a recipie will make.  You might estimate how many pizzas to order.  

Many people have easy access to calculators while out and about, though it is good for students to learn how to estimate and to practice estimating.  There are times when it is not necessary to have the exact anwser, who doesn't mind if there is left over candy bought for the trick or treaters?  Though often it is required to have the correct answer.  This is another reason why  it is good to know how to estimate.  How many times have you hit the wrong button on the calculator and you knew that the answer just didn't seem right?  Well that's beause you know how to estimate.

Some ideas on teaching elementary school students about estimating.

  • Rounding to the nearest ten, teach students how to round up or down.

  • When the number ends in 1 ,2, 3, 4, then round down.

  • When the number ends in 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9, then round up.

  • Teach skip counting to help learn to round numbers.  5, 10, 15, 20, 25.... and 10, 20, 30, 40, 50.

  • This is a cute rhyme to help students remember when to round up or down.        1, 2, 3, 4, down on the floor, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, climb up the vine.

  • Have a jar of gumballs and have students estimate the amount, the closest estimate wins a gumball.

  • Let students estimate how many steps to the playground.

Here are some helpful websites for estimating.

Fun Games

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Make Math Fun

This summer I am taking both Mathematics for Elementary Teachers courses, and it is my goal to become an elementary school teacher.  As we are going through our chapters, learning and reviewing content I am constantly trying to think of ways that I could teach the new content to students and make it interesting and fun. 

As an elementary student long, long ago I remember sitting in desks taking notes and doing pages of exercises for homework often without any help and occasionally not understanding the content well enough to complete the work.  My goal as a teacher will be to make sure students understand the content prior to going home to practice the exercises so that it would eliminate the frustration of learning new math concepts.

I have been able to observe many wonderful teachers as well as my own children’s teachers at work in their classrooms, and I am so pleased that teaching seems to have really changed during the past few decades.  There are more hands on activities, use of manipulatives, more physical movement around the rooms, cooperative learning, and relating the content to their own lives.  This is a great improvement for helping children learn and making it fun and interesting.

This week in our chapter we were reviewing early numeration systems.  I think one that would be interesting for students to learn about is the Roman Numeration System. 

Some ideas for teaching elementary school students Roman numerals

  • Show students the Roman numeral symbols and the equivalent in the Hindu-Arabic system also known as the base-ten place-value numeration system that we use.

  • Ask children where they have seen these symbols.
  • Examples – book pages, chapters, Super Bowl games, clocks, and dates on older buildings.

  • Make Roman numeral bingo game for students.

  • Have students play a matching game with the Roman numerals to the Hindu-Arabic numerals.

  • Have students pair up and write the Roman numerals on paper or their white boards and have their partner write the equivalent in the Hindu- Arabic numerals.

  • Take the children outside and let the students use sidewalk chalk to quiz each other on the Roman numerals and their equivalents in Hindu-Arabic numerals.

Fun website for kids learning Roman numerals