Adding Up

pounds and penceOne of the books I brought back from the U.K was a beginners math book. It uses money as the focus and (at the beginning) keeps the problems simple. Recent experience with Australian students visiting my Japanese high school showed that of all the lessons they joined, the math lesson was the most stimulating because they could join in. There was no language barrier. Truly a universal language and another chance to practice writing skills; a simple math lesson seemed like a great idea for our morning 10 minute practice time.

I have been practicing simple addition with the sprog for some time now. She loves to be tickled, and the build up to being tickled is perhaps her favourite part. I started by asking her “What’s 1 + 1?” and holding up my fingers for her to count. After that came “What’s 1 + 1 + 1?” and so on until we got to five. The answer was never five though, it was ‘the tickler’, and the tickling began. As she got used to the format, so the questions became a little more difficult. “What’s 3 + 1?, What’s 4 – 2?” and so on. I feel that this gave her a good grounding for further math practice.

Yesterday morning, the sprog chose the math book from her rack of workbooks (I like to vary the morning practice sessions). I still had some pounds and pence from the U.K trip so I dug them out. The book itself is second-hand with the first few pages already filled in. No matter. It was a good excuse to introduce the number line.

Visit the Kahn Academy website and have a look at the elementary math video lessons. The number line is a great way to (further) introduce addition to a young learner. Drawing the number line is also a good chance to practice numbers and the fine motor skills needed to use a ruler and draw the linking lines. In fact, the whole math practice idea is just a great excuse to use some ‘out of the ordinary’ language with your sprog!

Today we practiced drawing the lines and writing the numbers, and had a few minutes spare for some addition practice. Try to make sure the youngster draws the looped linking lines to the actual number point itself or it could get messy. We write out the sum first below the line (5 + 2 =  ) and then used the number line to find the answer. The second problem I gave was the first one in reverse (2 + 5 =  ). I didn’t point this out as I think it is a little too early. We counted the first number in the sum first, then added the second. My daughter kept starting with the second for some reason particular to being 4 years old I suspect, but I nudged her in the right direction.

If you do give this a try, keep it light. Remember that you are teaching them a method, a process that if done correctly will be useful as they progress (especially if following the Khan Academy videos). They don’t need to fully understand the concept of addition in order to complete the process. Have fun!

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3 responses to “Adding Up”

  1. Chris Drew says :

    We did exactly the same thing on a trip to Britain a few years ago! I found it very useful to buy some British play money

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Money-Sterling-Pounds-Coins-T09378/dp/B0035AMK2S/ref=sr_1_3?s=kids&ie=UTF8&qid=1358497399&sr=1-3

    This not only helps with maths, but has the useful cultural aspects as well (using £s with the Queen on instead of €s in my case).

    Maths has caused us a bit of a problem, as the methods used here even in France differ ever so slightly to British methods. So I’ve had to let my wife take charge of maths, as I was teaching things a different way from in school.

    • teachthesprog says :

      Wish I had picked some of the play money up on the trip back, but then there is always something else. We have some real coins. May draw the rest.
      I do worry about teaching something that will be taught a different way at school. However, if I don’t do that with English she will never learn it properly.
      I don’t usually trust yahoo news, but there was an article a while back which talked about the importance of introducing math at home in practical ways. They gave the example of dividing a pizza up for the family. You get the point. In terms of the value for her second language, that approach would seem to be better.

      • Chris Drew says :

        Agree totally with the teaching of English – my sprogs would also not have learnt it properly had I not done it “my way” (sounds like a good song title there…). I’ve done the times tables (in both languages), but I found that even the simplest stuff, like ‘carrying over’ with additions, are done differently. What I have done, and which the eldest sprog has loved, is buy a set of books about maths in English which are very much like the horrible history series (which we also have books about). This is the link (the series is called murderous maths)

        http://www.amazon.co.uk/Murderous-Maths-Collection-Kjartan-Poskitt/dp/B005HVD9GY/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1358772224&sr=1-3

        I also found this on youtube, by the author, and which the girls have loved watching

        We also do practical stuff (recipies are a great way for this!)

        best wishes

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