Summer Math: Canadian Tire Money

My children have been collecting Canadian Tire money this summer. It started one day in July when I received two 10 cent bills there.  I gave them each one, and the collections were born.  The grown-ups in our family aren’t serious about it, so they have found it lying around, in drawers, on their dad’s dresser, and used as book marks.

We need to go to go out this morning for some errands and my daughter just said, ” Can we go to Canadian Tire today?”  I asked her why and she replied, “You know I’m filthy rich with Canadian Tire money!”

I sent her to count out her money. We’ve done this a few times now this summer.  I am convinced that counting money is the only way kids learn how to count money.  No amount of classroom instruction or worksheets will truly help.  They need their hands on the money!  We had a lemonade stand and they counted up that money.  Claire is saving her money to buy her own tablet, so we’ve counted up that money over and over and over. And of course the Canadian Tire money.  She has no plan for what she can buy today.

Here are the skills we have practiced:  sorting the money, grouping the money to count it, rolling the money in to coin wrappers, adding on by 5s, 10s, 25s and dollars.  We are getting pretty good at it.


Summer Math: Vacation

I handed my 8 year old this packet off magnets and, “Half for you, half for your brother.”


“Wait…so we get 4?” I wasn’t sure how she’d decided on 4 as half of the package. As I tried to formulate my probing question, she said, “Wait. (Long pause). 1, 2, 3, ….we each get 5. Wait…5 is half of 10? Yeah. We get 5 each.” She wasn’t in the mood to explain her thinking though, so now we’ll never know what was going on in her head! One interesting thing I’m noticing often is that she says an answer quickly, then continues to work on the problem in her head nearly always catching her own errors and correcting then unprompted. I’m going to have to talk to her about why she gives the answer so quickly, before she’s sure she has the right one. And I need to get her to do some stuff in writing to see if this is only happening with mental math calculations.

This past week we spent a few days in Toronto. We had an Air BNB in the building where my brother in law lives. We found it when were visiting the CN Tower.

Tall, right? We were on the 6th floor. To get to his condo, we had to ride the elevator to the 15th floor, exit, wait for the other elevator, then go up to the 34th floor. Here are the things we practiced: counting backward, figuring out how many floors until we would reach our destination, how long we’d been waiting for the elevator, counting forward, paying attention to the pattern of button pushing so we’d know whose turn it was to push buttons. These questions have come up in other elevators, but there was renewed interest since my children have never been in such a tall building. The CN Tower elevator doesn’t have numbered buttons or a countdown display, so that was a bummer. The elevator was pretty slow most of the time, but slow enough for us to have time to work out “how many floors until…” Maybe I should ask the kids to figure that our now!  I feel like these conversations were all about developing number sense. Thirty-four isn’t a very big number, but it really high up in the air when one is in a skyscraper.  Fifteen also isn’t very big, but looking over the pool railing from the fifteenth floor makes 15 seem really high!

We also had lots of conversation about the size of the pool and how it compared to other pools we’ve used this summer. It’s deeper than 2 of them, shallower than 1. It is longer than 2, but shorter than 1. It is a rectangle (clear in this picture but not as clear to kids standing right beside it) but we were in 2 square pools earlier in the summer.

math, Number Sense & Numeration

Summer Math: Math Before Bed

We love doing “Math Before Bed” as part of our “read at bedtime” routine.  We get out of the habit sometimes though because we also love to play card games (UNO, Go Fish, Old Maid, Memory) before bed. Last night I pulled up this picture:

I quickly counted them:  10 per column, 4 in each row. 40.

My 8 year old started counting by ones.  She said, “I think there are 38.”  Knowing she was not correct, I asked, “Besides counting by ones, how else could you find the answer?”  At the same time, I started counting the far right column. Only 9.  Hmmm. I counted again.  Yup.  I had assumed all 4 columns had 10.  We chatted about this.  We talked about how we could use my original answer of 40 to find the answer.  “There are 2 missing from the last row!  How can we use that?”  She had a bit of trouble figuring this out.  She kept saying, “10, 20, 30, 40.” over and over. I said, “Well, 40 but two are missing.  Maybe someone ate them!”  She counted backward to 38 and we were done.

Then she asked, “Can I make my own picture like this tomorrow?”  So that is what we have just finished.  She decided to use plasticine.  I was recruited to mix colours together and help her make tiny balls.  She decided she needed 60 of them. She also decided she wanted to do rows of three because 2’s and 5’s are too easy and she likes a challenge. (HOORAY!!!)  After counting over and over by 3’s, making a few mistakes along the way, I prompted her to notice that there were 10 in a column.  “10, 20, 30.  Oh.  Halfway there.”  🙂

In the end, we had more than we needed. She put those into groups of 5 (and one group of 4) to figure out how many were left. “5, 10, 14,” she said.  It’s so interesting to me that she can skip count, but often counts by ones.  She says this is because “ones is more easier.” She only switches to larger numbers and skip counting when she has a lot of things to count. I suppose this makes sense.