Math Activities: The Handling Math Program

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The math activities included on are taken from Diane Massie's Handling Math Program. The activities are listed below and are followed by an introduction to the Handling Math program.

Introduction To “Handling Math”

Diane Massie, a contributor, introduces the Handling Math program. Over the coming weeks, many lessons, activities, and other resources from the program will be added to the site.

Handling Math is the keystone to ensuring your children have a solid foundation for all of the Math concepts taught to them at school. First hand experiences build connections between your child's own life and the world around them. For example, playing in the sandbox using nonstandard units of measurement including pails and shovels, funnels and measuring cups, pots and pans, (with your permission of course!), teaches your child estimation, measurement and comparing. Listen to them as they play. Better yet, climb into the sandbox with them and join in on the patter. It is at this point where you can direct their play, thought processes and ultimately their learning.

The math activities in the Handling Math program emphasize the application of math concepts into your child's life and real world situations. Math is all around us; we use it every day.

  • How many fingers are on your right hand? Five.
  • How many fingers are on your left hand? Five.
  • Put your two hands together. How many fingers do you have altogether? Ten.
  • Two hands equals ten fingers. 2 x 5 = 10.
  • Now include my fingers and hands. 4 x 5 = 20.

Numbers, skills and mathematical concepts are not used in isolation, but are linked to real life situations in your child's surroundings and shape the way they think about Math. When your child plays they are indirectly and directly beginning to make connections to the world around them. Providing them with the opportunities to explore the world through play will instill math concepts.

Providing your child with a wide variety of activities that are open-ended, hands-on, long-term projects and on-going practice will solidify connections between their world and the global community. Write your families birth dates on a calendar. Count how many days there are until each person's birthday. Ask questions like; whose birthday is the furthest away? Whose birthday is the soonest? What is the difference between the two dates? Many more questions can be asked around a calendar.

Open lines of communication are key to reinforcing the concepts verbally with your child, as well as, giving you insight into how they are processing the information; talking provides you with a window into how your child is thinking, how they are processing the concepts and also helps you to keep track of their understanding and progress. Encourage your child to explain and discuss their mathematical thinking in their own words. Ask your child to solve a problem. "We have five dollars to buy ice cream. One ice cream cost $2.00 and we want two. How much change will we get?"

Problem solving develops children's critical thinking. Opportunities to verbalize their thoughts and strategies give them the chance to clarify their thinking and gain insights from others. Discuss and share your ideas, feelings and thoughts about the world around you too.

Your child's day can be filled with a rich and balance of multiple basic skills to practice and Mathematical activities to experience. You can guide and support them and provide them with frequent feedback.

First hand experiences brings mastery of a skill and concept.

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