Math in the Home: Kindergarten through 1st Grade

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“Home work” can be fun! Here are several fun Math in the Home games and activities that you can do with your grandchildren that they’ll enjoy so much they won’t know they’re learning! Everything you need can be found in your home.

A-Weigh We Go!

Kindergarten-Grade 1

Using simple bathroom and kitchen scales at home prepares children for using equipment in school to weigh and measure.

Observing, estimating, weighing and comparing are all essential mathematics skills.

What You Need

  • Bathroom or kitchen scales
  • Objects to weigh, such bags of sugar, flour, potatoes or onions; boxes of detergent and cookies; shoes of different sizes
  • Paper and pencil
  • A small plastic zipper bag filled with sugar and much larger zipper bag filled with cornflakes (or popped popcorn)
  • Suitcase

What to Do

  1. Show your child two objects, such as a five-pound bag of sugar and a ten-pound bag of potatoes and ask him to guess which weighs the most. Show him how to use a scale to weigh the objects and see if his guess is right or wrong.
  2. Next show him several objects and ask him to guess how much each weighs. Have him write his estimates, then weigh the objects to see if they’re correct.
  3. If you choose, have your child estimate his own weight, as well as that of other family members, and use the bathroom scale to check his guesses.
  4. Extend the activity or make it more challenging by doing the following:
  5. Show your child the small plastic bag filled with sugar and the larger bag filled with cornflakes or popped popcorn. Ask your child, which will weigh more, the smaller or the larger bag? Have him weigh the bags to check whether his guess is correct. Afterwards, point out that bigger does not always mean heavier.
  6. Ask your child how he can weigh a suitcase that is too large to fit on the bathroom scale. Listen carefully to his answers-try some of his suggestions, if possible-and praise him for learning to think through problems. If he doesn’t come up with a solution, show him that one way to find the weight of the suitcase is for him to stand on the scales while holding it and noting the total weight. Then put the suitcase aside and weigh himself again and note his weight. If he subtracts his weight from the total weight, the answer is the weight of the suitcase.

Penny, Nickel, Dime

Kindergarten-Grade 1

Children can be confused by money. Some might think that the larger a coin is, the more valuable it is-so a penny or nickel would be more valuable than a dime.

Activities that involve money are a good way to develop mathematical reasoning and to reinforce what children are learning in school about numbers and arithmetic operations, such as addition and subtraction.

What You Need

  • Die
  • Pennies, nickels, dimes

What to Do

This is a good game to play with the family.

  1. Have each player roll the die and say the number. Then give the player that number of pennies. Explain that each penny is worth one cent.
  2. When a player gets five pennies, replace the pennies with a nickel. Explain that five pennies have the same value as one nickel—that is, five cents. When she gets five more pennies, replace the pennies and the nickel with a dime. Help her to see that the value of five pennies plus the value of a nickel (five cents) equals 10 cents, which is the value of a dime.
  3. The first player to reach a set amount—25 or 50 cents, for example—wins.

Treasure Hunt

Kindergarten-Grade 1

Keeping the tone of math activities light will increase the likelihood that children will want to do them and make the activities seem less like “homework.”

Once children begin school, math-related activities at home can help to reinforce what they are learning about numbers and arithmetic operations such as addition and subtraction, as well as reinforce classification skills and mathematical reasoning.

What You Need

  • Large container
  • Buttons, bottle caps, old keys or any other small items that you can count

What to Do

  1. As a rainy day activity, place the items in the container and give it to your child. Have him sort and classify items into piles: keys, buttons and so forth. Then have him explain how the items in each pile are alike and how they are different. For example, some buttons may be big and some small; some keys may be silver-colored and some gold-colored.
  2. Have your child choose one of the piles and organize the items in it by one characteristic, such as length. Have him lay the items end to end then compare and contrast what he sees. For example, how many short keys? long keys?
  3. Next, ask your child to use the items in another pile of items to solve simple math problems. Try problems such as the following: a) If you have 10 bottle caps and give me two, how many bottle caps do you have left? b) If you have three big buttons and three small ones, how many buttons do you have altogether?
  4. Create activities that challenge your child to use mathematical reasoning. Ask him, for example, to look closely at items and answer questions such as the following: a) Is a gold-colored key always heavier than a silver-colored one? b) Do the big buttons always have more holes than the smaller ones?

In the News(paper)

Kindergarten-Grade 1

Newspapers also can be used to help young children learn to recognize numbers in different sizes and kinds of type and to understand that the way a number looks does not change its value.

Newspapers are good resources for building number sense and arithmetic skills and using mathematical reasoning.

What You Need

  • Newspaper
  • Scissors
  • Pencil or crayon
  • Glue
  • Paper
  • Hole puncher
  • Yarn

What to Do

  1. Give your child a newspaper and a set of numbers to look for, for example from 1 to 25 (or 1 to 100 if she is familiar with the higher numbers). Have her cut out the numbers and glue them in numerical order onto a large piece of paper. Call her attention to any ways in which the numbers differ-for example, some will be a bigger size than others, some will be in bold or italic type. Have her read the numbers to you, then put the paper aside. Have her practice counting up to that number then counting down from it. Also try having her count to the number by 2s or 5s.
  2. Next, have your child make a counting book by using pictures she’s cut from the newspaper. Have her write the page numbers at the bottom of each blank page and paste one item on page 1, two on page 2 and so forth. Explain that all of the things she puts on a page must be alike in some way—all animals, all basketball players, all cars and so on. Help her to write the name of the items on each page.
  3. Have your child read the book to you. Afterwards, ask her questions such as the following:  a) How many pictures did you cut out altogether (1+2+…+10)?  b) How many total pictures are on pages 1-3? on pages 1-6?  c) We know that 6 = 2 x 3.   d) Are there twice as many pictures on page 6 as on page 3?  e) Are there twice as many pictures from page 1 to 6 as from pages 1 to 3?  f) Which are there more of: pictures on pages 2, 3, and 4, or pictures on pages 5 and 6?

Source: US Dept of Ed

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