I’ve been in a “blogging about math” funk for a few months. One of my summer goals is to write more, so I thought I’d start a series of blog posts about the math that I am doing with my children at home this summer. To be clear, this is not a series that is planned. Instead, I am going to try to be very mindful of the times we do math together formally or informally. My children, who just finished grade 1 and 2, are probably involved in informal math conversations about the same as many children of teachers. Both of them are pretty good mathematicians, and by that I mean they use flexible strategies to do mental math calculations, they notice math in the world around them, and come up with strategies for solving math problems that naturally occur around them. I’m a firm believer that this happened because I am intentional about helping them mathematize their world, just as I am intentional about making sure they learned to read by reading to them at least every night before bed (and usually more often!)

Earlier in the week I received an e-mail about the latest Mathies resources. This morning we finally had time to sit down and explore a bit. I picked a game for my 6 year old called “Representation Match” and if it wasn’t for his Minecraft addiction I think we’d still be playing it (he only gets to play on Saturdays and when he sneaks my phone into his closet unnoticed so it’s tough competition!)

I chose the numbers 0-20 for him, and I chose all the representations of those numbers. He had to find matches – two ways to make 14, or 19, or 17, or any number between 0-20. These are all the choices available.

He had to work at this! He was not able to subitize all the numbers so we had a few conversations about how to figure out the number represented. For example, there were 3 dice, two showing 6 and one showing 5. I prompted him to think about 6+6 which he knows is 12. Then I pointed to the 5. He counted on by 1’s to get to 17, then chose the numeral 17 as it’s match. Sometimes he had to match two picture representations.

When he played again, he chose 2 or 3 representations for himself, always a different combination. My daughter did the same. She played with the 0-20 cards, even though she is in grade 2. She likes to get answers fast, so this appealed to her. She was also playing with the cards hidden, more like a traditional memory game and said she had a lot to keep track of in her mind if she was playing with the higher numbers.

We use Dreambox a lot at school. I love it! But I also like to have students doing some targeted math activities that keep them immersed in a specific skill for a while. Dream box allows them to pause a game and move on to something else, which is fine, but also lets them give up too easily sometimes. I think this Mathies game would make a great supplemental activity for us during the first month or more of school when we are talking about counting strategies, as well as for practice throughout the year. Did I tell you I’m scheduled to teach a grade 1, 2, 3 split next year? I haven’t taught grade 1 before so I am anticipating how that will look. The “Representation Match” game will let me set them up to match numbers 0-5, 0-10, 0-20 and 20-50, I think it will be good for the whole class.

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