April is Mathematics Awareness Month: Week 1


Hello all.
For April, I am planning to send 4 Math Newsletters, one per week, so we can celebrate Mathematics Awareness Month together!

For this first week, let's look again at Number Sense. In coming weeks, we can have some fun with Geometry, Algebra, Data and Statistics, and Measurement.

As a culminating event to celebrate this month, we have scheduled our Family Math Night for grades 3 through 5, for the evening of April 30th. More details about this event will come soon.

Number Sense: What is it?
From Scholastic: (Please follow the link and visit the site. There are some great ideas included there!)
Plain and simple, number sense is a person’s ability to understand, relate, and connect numbers. 

How can we support children as they learn and strengthen their sense of number:
Look for math everywhere! Go for walks and talk about the things you can observe. 

House or building numbers:
  •   They be large and excellent examples of place value and magnitude.
  •   They provide examples of consecutiveness and show ascending or descending order.   
  •   They also form patterns of even and odd numbers.

Discuss these concepts with your child.
  •  Is 538 even or odd? How can you tell?

Comparisons are also wonderful. (Use the words compare and contrast.)
  •  Compare these three numbers, which is larger than, or smaller than.
  •  Which is the greatest?
  •  Which is the least?
  •  How can you tell?
Focus on the process and the thinking, rather than on the "correctness" of your child's responses.

Counting: Count everything!
The steps you're taking, the cars passing you (both ways?), the new flowers you're seeing, the birds you're noticing, all of these ideas present opportunities to practice counting. If you are hearing mistakes, where it is possible, have your child recount. Try to avoid providing the accurate number. Talk about why there might be two different totals and have your child resolve the issue.

Always give feedback in the form of praise for his or her thinking or reasoning.
For example: I like how you explained that; now I understand it also.
Or: That is a great explanation! I can hear how much thinking you put into that!

Simple and quick activities:
  •  Count by 1's, 10's, 100's, 1000's (determine which number by the age of your child)
  •  Make the greatest or smallest number possible, given a set of 2, 3, or 4 digits. This activity reinforces place value.
  •  Estimate! Everything! Estimate time, steps, almonds in a cup, etc. It's fun and helps build Number Sense.
  •  Decompose a number: 10 is 3 + 7, or 2 + 8, or doubling 5. Have frequent conversations using this idea of how numbers can be expressed in so many different ways!
  •  There are numerous ways to talk about time! (Pun intended.) Have at least one old-fashioned analog clock in your home. Estimate the amount of time a task will take. Calculate amounts of time while waiting for events, or go backwards to figure out elapsed time.
Use words to describe Base 10 markers (decade, century, millennium). Weave other time words into conversations: second, minute, hour, day, week, month, year, etc. Time is an abstract concept about which children build their understanding slowly, so have patience! 

If your child enjoys writing and/or drawing, consider having her or him start a math journal. The act of writing to explain your thinking is a powerful way to cement concepts. Creating drawings (visual representations) is also a vehicle for deepening understanding and comprehension.

To finish this page, here's a neat video from Jo Boaler of youcubed.org:

If you have questions or comments, please let me know!
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