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Monster Math! Learning to ADD and Subtract

You may have heard your child say, “3+3=6”, and assume that your child knows how to add. The process of ADDITION and SUBTRACTION entails much more than memorizing the facts. Hands-on experiences help your child understand the why and how of addition and subtraction. It is important to have your child explain to you what is happening in a problem and use various math terms: add, plus, minus, subtract, take away, equals, makes, etc., so it will connect in real-life problems. The shift is away from endless “drill and kill.” Experts say that children learn better by working with objects and discovering various ways to find answers.

1.) Use a wire hanger and 5 clip type clothespins. Cut apart the fact cards and keep the addition separate from the subtraction cards. Choose one of the ADDITION FACT CARDS from the pile. If it said 1+3, you would clip one clothespin to the left side of the hanger. Then, clip 3 more to the right side. Say 1+3 and slide the clothespins together into the center, count the combined total to get the answer. Do this with all the fact cards.

2.) Use the same idea, but use SUBTRACTION FACT CARDS. If a card says 5-2, but the first number (5) of clothespins on the bottom of the hanger and slides 2 away as you say the equation, then equals (count the leftover clothespins.)

3.) Use the GAMEBOARD and ADDITION FACT CARDS and have a partner. Use a button as a marker. Draw a card and move your button 3=2 or whatever the card says. Say the whole equation (3+2=5). The winner is the one who gets to the end first.

4.) Use the GAMEBOARD and SUBTRACTION FACT CARDS and have a partner. This time you will start at the END and move toward the Start of the gameboard. If the card says 5-4, move your button 5 spaces and then 4 back. Say the whole equation with its answer.

5.) Practice 5 Fact Family. (1, 4, 5) (2,3,5) (0,5,5) Using 2 blobs of CLAY and 5 TOOTHPICKS, stick one toothpick straight up in one blob and 4 in the other blob. As you say, 1=4=5, 4=1=5, 5-1=4, 5-4=1, manipulate the blobs together or apart to show the equation. Write them on paper as you do each one.

6.) Put 5 BEANS in each cup of an egg carton. Have your mom take out 0-5 beans in each cup while you are looking away. After she shows it to you, try to count the remaining beans and tell her how many she took with each one.

7.) Tic Tac Toe Addition: Make 2 tic tac toe lines on 2 papers. Then write numbers 1-5 in each square mixed up. (See example) Draw and ADDITION FACT CARD (leave out the ones that add up more than 5), and put a button on the space that matches the answer to the fact card—the first to get 3 in a row is the winner.

8.) Subtracting Zero: Collect 3 groups of 3-7 objects such as books, spoons, or towels. With one group at a time, have your child count the objects and then take away 0 objects. Ask the child to tell you how many objects are left. Using the same groups, have your child subtract the same number of objects in the groups. For example, if you have a group of 5 books, ask your child to subtract 5 books and ask your child to name the number of objects left.

9.) Draw a pond picture. Now draw 5 little ducks and cut them out. Tell stories about the ducks by adding them together or taking them away. Put them on the pond picture as you talk about them. (5 Little Ducks is a great rhyme/song to start with for this activity)

10.) Using familiar objects, such as a set of two dolls and a set of three dolls. Have the child identify the number of dolls in each set. Put the sets together and have the child determine the total number. Repeat with other numbers of familiar objects, such as toy cars, books, blocks, and paper plates. You can have the child, or you write the number sentence so that they can see it.

11.) As you go to the store, have your child add up some of the same things that are bought or different items. For example, you would say to the child, “I have two apples in the bag, and I am going to put two more in; how many would I have in all?” You can also do different items.

12.) Using paper, write addition and subtraction sentences or have the child to it and write the answer on the chalkboard. Use pictures as well as the numbers to help the child see it using both ways.

13.) Us a calculator. Give your child a number sentence and see how fast it takes him to figure it out.

14.) Using the child’s favorite candy, like M&Ms or one with several pieces, have them count how many they have. Please give them a number sentence and have them figure it out. Do addition first and then do subtraction problems so that they can eat the item.

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