Manipulatives are an engaging and entertaining way to teach Math. Younger students, grades Pre-K to second, tend to favor the use of hands on learning. Try various objects to review addition, subtraction, patterns, sorting and easy fractions. Use buttons, marbles or small candies for adding and subtracting. Sort and form fruit loops into patterns, making a necklace or glue them onto a paper plate to make a wreath. Use coins to teach basics about real money, and the value of each coin. Use play money to learn about counting dollars and cents, and review the concept of basic money management. A great book to help with monetary concepts is "Bunny Money" by Rosemary Wells. Using the beloved characters Max and Ruby, this book involves your child in the story by counting and using play money as the story progresses.
Older children, grades three through six are beyond simple manipulatives. Try dice as a way to play Math games. Besides probability, dice can be used to determine numbers to multiply by or divide by. For example, you roll a dice for the number that will be the multiplier. Now have your child roll one to three dice to determine what numbers will be multiplied by your multiplier. Determine the number of dice your homechooler uses by their grade level and skill. Also try a deck of cards for a fun game. Remove the King, Queen, Jack, Ace, and Joker or Wild cards from a deck of fifty two cards. Play a place value review game by turning the cards in an upside down pile. Each person should choose three to ten cards (based on skill and grade level). Keep the cards turned over and then flip them simultaneously one at a time. Have your child determine the whole number for each of you, and who has the greater amount. The loser puts their cards in a pile for the other player. If there are multiple players the player with the highest place value gets all the other players cards. This is a unique and exciting way to learn about and review values of numbers. You can even use a poker chip as a decimal point and arrange cards from the Millions to the Millionths place.
Math can be made fun though simple games and positive reinforcement. Challenge your homeschooler to create a game using manipulatives, dice or cards. You might be surprised at their creativity and skill.
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