Every teacher would admit, in any classroom, there is always a section of students who are terribly bad when it comes to numbers and never ever get passed the paper in any exam.
No matter how good or experienced the teacher is, such students always struggle to learn or master their grade-level math concepts and go on to ‘fail’ the paper forever. Well, this is true for many students. However, many people say that math is like an art and can be learned through constant practice. While many say anyone can master it if we are trained to develop numeracy skills from the early stage. How far is this true?
In this post, we bring some fun activities that can help children build numeracy skills.
FOR EARLY LEARNERS
Playing games like ‘ping pong’ can help fortify your child’s knowledge of number bonds. For instance, if you say an initial number, children would reply with the pair to 10, 20, 100 or 1000, etc. Parents can also encourage children to use their knowledge of smaller bonds, such as 7 + 3 = 10, to work out larger complementary numbers, e.g. 70 + 30 = 100.
Making children learn from real-life activities is one of the best ways to help strengthen their numeracy skills. For instance, parents can use a TV guide and get children to calculate the duration of their favourite programmes. Children can calculate how much time they spend watching these programme over days or weeks. Also, to help improve children’s mathematical reasoning, parents can also use bus and train timetables. They can ask children to calculate journey times and intervals between departure times.
Sorting and classifying objects help children understand the nature of mathematics. Gather a basket or box of toys, cut out numbers from magazines and newspapers or use number tiles and ask your child to put the numbers in different orders. Besides this, you can encourage your child to count different household objects such as bottles, coins, buttons, etc. It sounds silly, but will greatly help them build their numerical skills.
Ask your children to look at different 2D and 3D shapes in their surrounding and form them using play dough. You can also use shape cutters to help guide them. This activity gives your child a hands-on opportunity to learn, observe and manipulate different shapes.
Experiment with objects
Place different-sized jars, cups and containers in your child’s bath tub or bathroom and use them to teach about ‘full’ and ‘empty’ concept and compare capacities. Talk about their experiences as you play. For instance, “My cup is full; no more water can fit in anymore”. You can also talk about the concept of fractions, using example like “Let’s pour water from my small cup to your big cup and see if it becomes full”, explaining how two half cups make one whole cup.
Don’t drop the ball
Play games like ‘don’t drop the ball’ and ask your child to count the number of times you and your child can throw a ball without dropping it. You can also ask another child/student to keep a tally of it.
Learn in nature
Taking a walk in park or at terrace can give your child many opportunities to build numeracy skills. You can ask them to compare the sizes of different rocks, assess how many birds they spot, note similarities and differences between different leaves, and help them jot down things they see in categories.
Learn through patterns
Through patterns children learn sequencing and make predictions, which lead to stronger numeracy skills. Ask your child to arrange kitchen stuffs like dry macaroni, pasta or beads into different patterns or designs.
Building block towers
Building and identifying sequences help develop a sense of order, logic, and reason in a child. It is a fun way to introduce children to sequencing, by following a step-by-step method with a final goal in mind.
Connect the dots
Age old game ‘Connect the Dots’ is a fun way to teach children about number sequencing. You can get your child to make a number of dots on a sheet of paper and then ask him/her to connect them. You can download this free ‘connect the dots’ activity featuring Reggie from Reading Eggs!
FOR MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
The hundred game
This is an interactive math activity that asks students to apply their basic math skills to create equations that equal each of the digits between 1 and 100. However, students can use only four digits the teacher supplies, like 1,4,7, and 9. The rules are as follows:
- All four digits must be used in each equation.
- Each digit can only be used once in each equation.
- Use any mathematical operation – addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, or symbol— radicals, exponents, etc. to create equations.
- Combine digits together to form new digits (e.g., 1 and 4 can be combined to form 14 or 41), fractions (e.g., 1 and 7 can be combined to form 1/7 or 7/1), and decimals (e.g., 4 and 9 can be combined to form 4.9 or .49) and so on.
Equation or Expression of the day
Place a small board in front of the class with an equation or expression of the day. For example, you can just write the date in an unusual way and ask students to guess the date. Like, instead of writing March 28, 2020, you can write March 3(x – 23) = 15, 2020 and ask students to solve the equation to uncover the date. Once they figure out the solution, ask again to create at least two mathematical expressions or equations that have the same solution. This is a great way to provide students the opportunities to apply and synthesize their mathematical skills and help them strengthen their abilities to solve and create multistep algebraic equations and expressions.
In this uniquely named puzzle game, the digits are replaced by letters of the alphabet. The goal is for students to uncover the puzzle by determining the digit for each letter. The rules for this puzzle-based game are:
- Each letter represents a digit between 0 and 9. A letter cannot represent multiple digits, and a digit cannot be represented by multiple letters.
- Numbers must not begin with a zero.
- There is only one solution to the puzzle.
For instance, the puzzle SIX+SEVEN+SEVEN=TWENTY (650+68782+68782=138214); (S=6, I=5, X=0, E=8, V=7 and N=2). These puzzles can also be expressed as multi-digit subtraction/addition, multiplication, and division problems.
Additionally, to help polish students’ numeracy skill to a greater extent, teachers can challenge students to create their own cryptarithmetic puzzles and ask their classmates to solve. This would not only strengthen their skills but also encourage sense of participation and competition among them, which eventually will help them learn more and more by practicing.
Being good at numbers or having sound numeracy skills is not just a good thing but have lots of advantages in various fields. Whether you are a teacher or parents, you can try the above fun activities to help strengthen the numeracy skill of your students or child and help them reach their goals and beyond.