Whew. What a crazy busy month it has been! I’m not really sure how it’s already the end of the month! When I was a kid, April was the longest month of the year after December… since my birthday is the 30th! But as an adult, it seems that the month gets shorter and shorter every year!
Because it’s been so crazy around here, my posts this month have been sporadic at best… so I’ve decided to continue my Marvelous Math mini series through the month of May, because I really do have a lot of wonderful ideas to share with you. I’m not a huge fan of math myself, but Becca certainly is, so I’m learning new ways to make it fun and exciting for her using materials and games that she loves. Today’s flower addition activity is no exception. She loved it, and I’m already thinking I need to make her another set of these.
This idea was born on a rainy day when we were stuck inside, but looking out at the beautiful colors of the wildflowers around our house as they soaked in the moisture… Becca loves adding and subtracting – we do it all day long with food, toys, couch pillows, etc… but it’s usually with smaller numbers, and because it’s verbal, she doesn’t see it written out on paper. So this activity combines what she is used to (adding the “flower” pompoms) with the visual aid of seeing the addition process as well as the vertical math problem in written form.
All you need is THIS FREE PRINTABLE (looks best printed in color/works best on card stock- but not required), a bunch of pompoms and glue, and you are set! I wrote the vertical problems on paper with a marker as we went through and did the activity, and then just cut out around them and taped to the wall next to the sheets. You wouldn’t have to do that, but I feel like the visual of the vertical math problem is helpful to start making those connections that addition can take on many different formats.
If teaching math isn’t something you’re super familiar with, here’s how I talked Becca through this sheet:
- First, we only looked at one page at a time (my original idea was to do these on four different days, but she got so excited about it that we ended up doing them all at one sitting!)
- We would look at the number at the end, and I reminded her the equal sign means total – our total number of flowers will be 10. SO, let’s figure out how we’re going to make 10.
- Then we would count the first addend (the first set of flower stems). Ok, so we need 5 pompoms. She would pick a color and count them out. You could mix your colors, but I liked Becca to use all the same color for the set so that she had the visual of them being alike – this will help when we get further down the road in math and start identifying the type of units we are adding. (If your kids are ready for this topic, you’d of course want both sets to have the same color so that you are adding LIKE objects.)
- Then we would count the second added and add them, counting up as we went (so the second set of 5, we started counting at 6, 7, 8, 9, 10). I did glue dots above each flower stem as she counted them and then she would add the pompom to the glue. Obviously, a good practice of fine motor skills would be to have the child handle the glue, but Becca was frustrated with the glue bottle, and our focus wasn’t on fine motor, but on math, so I did the glue so that she wouldn’t loose her focus in her frustration.
- Then I would write the vertical math problem – Ok, so 5 flowers + 6 flowers equals 11 flowers. Note that as I did it, I was already identifying the units verbally – so that she’ll start to get that idea. She’s just not ready yet for me to explain the concept and make sure that we are adding like units. Remember that you’re never too early to start planting an idea, they just might not grasp the full concept for a while, and that’s ok!!
For example, she said the word strawberry sort of slowly yesterday, so I asked her how many parts she hears in that word, and did a teensy lesson on syllables right there while I was fixing her dinner. Doesn’t mean she’s fully ready to grasp the concept, but it’s been mentioned and is working in her brain. I’ll bring it up several more times over the course of the next few weeks, and judge when she’s ready for a more in-depth lesson based on her response. As for the units, I’m waiting to hear her verbally adding something and adding unit names to it. Yesterday she was adding Duplos and started to get there – she said, “I have three blocks and two and that’s five!” So she started by naming her units, but isn’t fully there yet. I encouraged her by repeating and saying, “That’s right, you have three blocks and two blocks, which makes five blocks! Good adding!” I’ll know she’s ready to start adding like units when she is regularly verbalizing her units… then we’ll talk about well, ok, so these are red blocks and these are blue blocks. So you have three red blocks plus two blue blocks equals five blocks total. Then, we’ll take the next step forward to discuss the concept of comparing apples to oranges. Remember that it’s easy in our adult minds to make leaps forward that our kids aren’t ready for yet. The term “baby steps” has been coined for a reason. Take it slow and be patient… which is the pot calling the kettle black over here… I struggle with patience regularly!!
Need more tips on teaching your kids math, or more fun math activities? Check out my math page here, and be sure to visit my Facebook page regularly for more tips that I share from other bloggers as well!