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Monday, January 9, 2017

Learning Basic Math Facts

We are beginning to focus on learning basic addition and subtraction facts. Some of us are just beginning to learn them while others of us are much more comfortable with them. This is such an important skill to practice at this age. Familiarity with the basic addition and subtraction facts will make such a difference in your child's math career. I know I have mentioned this before but I have taught grades 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 (including Algebra). I can tell you that those students who had a solid foundation with their basic facts were so much more ready to tackle new math concepts and to use those basic facts to solve more complicated problems.  Now is the time to practice those facts with your child for a few minutes each day. We have begun to learn new games - both online and offline that will help us practice our basic facts. You can also help by asking your child to solve a fact as you are driving in the car and then ask them how they solved it or you can play various games both online and off to practice (rules for one game you can play are below). You can use whatever method you and your child enjoy. It's just important to work at it a little bit each day and to keep it fun and interesting.

Having said all of that, I do want to emphasize that what I feel is most important for students to learn in math is how and why things (like addition) work the way that they do. I want to develop their mathematical thinking and problem solving skills. If I had to choose between learning basic facts and developing mathematical thinking, I would absolutely choose mathematical thinking. Thankfully we don't have to make this choice. I will, however, always focus more on mathematical thinking in class and spend smaller amounts of time learning the basic facts. In our every day lives, we have so many tools at our disposal that can help with basic facts but we don't have tools that can do the deeper thinking and understanding for us so that is where my focus be.

Addition Top-It

The game is played with a deck of number cards, 4 cards for each number 0-9. (This can be a regular deck of cards with the face cards removed.) As many as four children can play, but at first, children should play the two-player game.

1. Shuffle the deck and place it on the desk with the cards face down.

2. At each turn, players turn over two cards and call out the sum. Players should check each other's sums.

3. The player with the higher sum takes all the cards. In case of a tie, players turn over two more cards and call out the sum. The player with the higher sum takes all the cards from both plays.

4. Play continues until there are fewer than 4 cards left in the deck. The player who took more cards wins.

Information for Parents
Last year I ran across this article about learning basic facts that I thought you might find interesting, too:

Learn math without fear, Stanford expert says 

You can find more math resources for parents on the Parent Resources page of our crew blog.

Fun apps,websites and board games to help practice basic math facts:

Door 24 Plus - use i-Ready login information
Hungry Fish

Resources page on our crew blog has links to several good websites for addition and subtraction practice

Board Games:
Shut the Box
Prime Climb - click here to see a short video about the game Prime Climb and how to modify it for younger children

Important Dates
1/13 No school for students - Professional Development Day
1/16 No school - Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
2/2 Chinese Folktale Play Performance with Ms. Chelsea at 3:30 pm
2/17 No school for students -  Professional Development Day
2/20 No school - President's Day
2/23 Winter Voyage for 1st grade - one day only, not an overnight trip, no day of rest needed
3/20 - 4/3 Spring Break

Because we don't have school on Friday, we will visit the library in small groups throughout the week. Please have your child return their books as soon as they are finished with them and then they can visit the library to check out new books.

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You
Thank you to Calvin for donating another Snap Circuits set to our crew. It is helpful to have another set so it is easier to share with 24 students. Thank you to Nicholas for donating a big package of AA batteries to use in the Snap Circuits. We couldn't use the sets without batteries. We are learning so much from the Snap Circuits already!

If you would like to make a donation to our crew, we can always use sets of headphones for our ipads and computers. Thanks to Connor for donating a set already.

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