Do You See What I See?

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Over the past week, I’ve been observing how my kids take in and process information. This little experiment has been fascinating.  What I’ve come to realize is that although we might be looking at the same thing, my kids and I “see” different things. This is particularly true with my 8-year old son.

My son had just finished a few pages of his multiplication workbook and asked me to check his answers. He’s much (much, much) more mathematically inclined than I am, so I wasn’t surprised when he answered all the math problems correctly. What did surprise me was a pattern he saw when multiplying by 5.

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A Creative Way to Teach Multiplication

In an earlier post, I mentioned how my oldest son asked to learn multiplication. To encourage his love of math, I bought a multiplication workbook and left it, along with a pencil, in the living room. What I’ve found is when my son comes into this frequently used room, he grabs the pencil and starts working on multiplication. In thinking about other ways to nurture multiplication, we started playing “Multiplcation War.”

What is Multiplication War? Well, it’s like the card game War, but rather than using regular playing cards, we use multiplication flash cards. Here are instructions:

  1. Grab a set of multiplication flash cards, or make your own by writing down the 12 Times Table. To create your own cards write down one multiplication problem per index card. Start with 1×1 and go all the way to 12 x 12. Note, don’t write down the answers on the index cards. Once you’ve written down all the multiplication problems, you should have 144 index cards.
  2. Deal out all the cards. Players do not look at the cards. Keep them face down. The goal of the game is to win all the cards.
  3. Players turn over their top card. Each player computes their multiplication problem. The one with the higher total wins the cards. Keep playing.
  4. If players turned up cards are equal, there is a War. Saying, “W-A-R spells WAR” each player places 5 cards face down onto their original card. Each player turns up their last card. The player with the higher total wins the cards.
  5. The game ends when one player wins all the cards, or after a designated number of rounds. When you end the game depends on how much time you have. If you play until one person wins all the cards, it can take a long time. Hint: playing until one person has all the cards is a great way to pass a rainy day.

We’ve been playing Multiplication War for the past week. What I love about the game is that it helps my oldest son reinforce his knowledge of multiplication. And, though I thought Multiplication War would be too difficult for my Kindergartener, he’s addicted to the game. It turns out, my younger son is able to look at the numbers on the cards and conceptually figure out which multiplication problem results in the highest total. He told me, “9×3 is more than 8×1 because 9 and 3 are bigger than 8 and 1.”

Even though my youngest son isn’t able to guess every multiplication problem correctly, he’s learning the basic skills that will help him get ready to multiply. To help younger children play Multiplication War, you can provide them with a 12 Times Table answer key. See the example below or use this link for a printable version. Additionally, earning a masters of arts in teaching will teach you new and exciting methods to make learning fun for students of all ages.

Multiplication

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A fun, creative, and inexpensive way to encourage multiplication!

What To Do with a Kid Who Loves Math?

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So, asking what to do with a kid who loves math may sound like a silly question. But for a parent (namely me) who naturally gravitates to language arts rather than numbers, having a child who loves math is quite foreign. It’s like having a kid who loves vegetables. Though I’m prone to memorization when it comes to math, my oldest son was born with an ability to understand mathematical concepts and theories. He’ll turn anything into a math assignment. This even includes writing a book report. Talk about creativity. LOL!

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Ideas are a Result of Genetics and Experiences

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The other day I saw my 7-year old son’s homework strewn about on the kitchen table and asked if he needed help. He replied, “It’s not due til Friday. I don’t need to start it yet.”

I though, ‘Ah, the makings of a procrastinator.”

After a bit of encouraging, my son decided to do a portion of his homework. The assignment included reading a book, completing a worksheet, and creating a diorama. My son had read the book previously, so he started on the worksheet. To complete the worksheet, my son needed to list the main characters, the title, and then write a few sentences about the beginning, middle, and the ending of the book.

Interestingly, as he began what I considered a language arts assignment, he started asking me about math. My son’s questions included, “What’s 31 divided by 3? Can you show me how to divide? What is a third of 31?”

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Creative Ways to Teach Math, Part 2

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A few weeks ago I shared tips on how to creatively teach skip counting. Since then, readers have asked for more ways to teach math and logic. Here’s one for you from the “way back” machine. Why way back? Well, the tips I share are from a bedtime routine my husband started when our oldest son was about three. Fast-forward…and 2006 seems like eons ago!

Each night before my son went to bed, my husband would make up a bedtime story. The story was based on a little boy (my son) who had to find three crystals in order to escape the precarious situations he had gotten into. In order to obtain the crystals, the little boy had to solve challenges. These challenges involved word problems, logic and math.

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Creative Ways to Teach Math

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You might ask, “Is there a creative way to teach math?” I remember the days of learning multiplication tables by rote. Things are changing…for the better. A version of this was originally posted on Quora. With the great positive feedback, I thought it would be good to share on Daily Creativity. The Quora question was, “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” My answer…

I believe creativity in the classroom has more to do with individual teachers more than anything else. As a creativity practitioner from time to time I work with teachers and classrooms to incorporate creativity into the curriculum. One of my experiences involved working with my son’s kindergarten class to teach skip counting (counting by 3′s, 5′s, etc.).

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