War!(HUH!) What is it good for? (Absolutely lots in Math!)

With my family on the go so much during the non-lazy days of summer, we need easy games to entertain the tiny humans that don’t require mass amounts of attention from the adults (who are often in conversation). Enter the game of War. This versatile game can be used for all age groups and can really keep your child’s skills in arithmetic in check during the “summer slump”.

How to Play (Basic Version)

  1. Grab a deck of cards (I keep one in my purse and in the car at all times). You don’t have to, but I prefer to take out the face cards and jokers. Shuffle the rest and divvy out to all who are playing.
  2. All players shove all of their cards into a “deck” and keeps the deck face down.
  3. All players (at the same time to avoid cheating) flip the first card. The player with the largest value is the winner and takes all of the cards in the round.IMG_5434
  4. If there is a tie (that is the largest value), those players place 3 cards on their original face down and flip the fourth card. Whichever player NOW has the largest value gets all of the cards from the round. IMG_5435
  5. Continue playing until either a) one player has all of the cards; or b) you get sick of playing. The player with the most cards is the winner.

Additional Versions

  • For younger players: Use only 2-5 from the decks and play with those. The game dot cardsgoes faster and they are working only with 2, 3, 4, and 5. You can use the aces as 1. Even better, use number cards or dot cards (see below for links). Print on cardstock (4 cards per number) or go online and buy a set.
  • For any age: You can also play and whoever gets the smallest value wins. This is great for preK-1st graders!
  • For students who need review with addition: Play two cards at a time and add them. The player with the largest sum is the winner of the round.
  • For students who need review with multiplication: Play two cards at a time and multiply them. The player with the largest product is the winner of the round.
  • For grades 5-7: red cards are negative values; black cards are positive values. Flip over one card. If I have a red 6 and you have a black 2, you are the winner since positive values are always greater than negatives. IMG_5434
  • For grades 6-8 (or 7-8 if using Common Core): Play two cards and add them, using reds as negatives and blacks as positives. The player with the largest sum is the winner of the round.
  • For grades 6-8 (or 7-8 if using Common Core): Play two cards and multiply them, using reds as negatives and blacks as positives. The player with the largest product is the winner of the round.
  • For grades 6-8, use only values ace (for 1) through 5. Flip the first card; that is your base. Flip the second card; that is your exponent. The player with the highest value wins  the round.

Different Sets of Cards:

  • You could probably look on Amazon for different card types, but I love the sets at 52 Pickup. They are of high quality and there are many different types ranging from dot cards to ten frames to cards that go through the thousands (so you can work on place value!)

https://sumboxes.com/collections/types?q=52%20Pickup%20Card%20Decks

 

War!(HUH!) What is it good for? (Absolutely lots in Math!)

Response to Confusion 43-13

So today a friend tagged me in a FB post regarding the “frightening” method that students MUST solve subtraction problems. I have posted the link below, and I believe the link is at the bottom of this post as well! Take a look.

So let’s summarize the tutor’s concerns. 1. That we are writing problems horizontally rather than vertically. 2. That students are using a strategy of “adding up” rather than “stack and subtract”. 3. They MUST use this strategy and no other.

I would like to address each of these and provide some comments.

  1. Most of us are used to seeing math problems vertically. Why? Well, for one, it makes the problem ready to go for  the algorithm  of “stack and subtract” (which is not the ONLY algorithm in the world, mind you). I would contend it also saves space for publishing companies in their workbooks. If the problem is already written for the algorithm, publishers do not have to provide additional space and therefore can fit more problems on a page, and save money. (Yeah, I went there. Bring on the comments!) However, when you write a subtraction problem vertically, you lose the essence of the numbers.   IMG_7211Here I only see single digit subtracted by single digit. I do not see 40 – 20, but 4 – 2 and 5 – 1. This is okay for problems where we do not have regrouping. However, some students get so stuck in the process of regrouping that they no longer see the value of the places and just write a very ‘random’ value as the difference. When I write the problem horizontally (45-21), it allows me to view it from a place value perspective. My eyes look first at the tens and then the ones, versus the horizontal example where I start with the ones and then look at the tens. Also, writing it horizontally does not constrict me to a “stack and subtract” method. (See prior blog for more info on great subtraction strategies to help kiddos.) Really, both are fine; no need to get all uppity about it. And if a teacher says they HAVE  to write it that way, it is not true, but what is true is that they learn to think about relationships and different strategies using place value and properties of numbers BEFORE learning the standard algorithm. In fact, the standard algorithm for multi-digit subtraction should not be mastered until grade 3: CCSS.Math.Content.3.NBT.A.2
    Fluently add and subtract within 1000 using strategies and algorithms based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction. So students have lots and lots of time to process what it means to subtract and its relationship to addition.
  2. (and 3.) Adding up is one strategy students can use. Makes sense to me! If I already know how to add, I can simply use that to help me figure out the missing addend. This is all a subtraction problem really is: a missing addend problem! Consider the following: 43 – 16. This is really finding out 16 + ____ = 43. Now typically, students do not need to go to the next five as the tutor suggests. And really a number line is FABULOUS for modeling adding up. Here is one way to get the value. IMG_7213Notice this is a great strategy for students who struggle with regrouping, because there IS NO REGROUPING!!!  I went up 4 to the nearest ten (20), added 20 more (40), and ‘hopped’ 3 more to get to my end point (43). 4 + 20 + 3 is 27. Therefore, 43 -16 = 27.                                                               Using the tutor’s problem (43-13), I think adding up is efficient, if you move up by tens. I can simply add by tensIMG_7214 until I reach 43. 3-tens is 30. Not sure why it is so convoluted in her explanation and NO! Students do not have to add up the same way the tutor did. In fact, that is the wonderful thing about Common Core. CCSS.Math.Content.2.NBT.B.7
    Add and subtract within 1000, using concrete models or drawings and strategies based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction; relate the strategy to a written method. Understand that in adding or subtracting three-digit numbers, one adds or subtracts hundreds and hundreds, tens and tens, ones and ones; and sometimes it is necessary to compose or decompose tens or hundreds. Notice that students can use any method, with or without drawings or concrete models!!! Super awesome! Hooray for creativity! I no longer have to use one method (that I don’t really get and just memorized because my teacher told me to); I can use any method so long as I keep in mind place value and my rules (properties).
“Our classrooms are filled with students and adults who think of mathematics as rules and procedures to memorize without understanding the numerical relationships that provide the foundation for these rules. The teaching of mathematics has been viewed as a discrete set of rules and procedures to be implemented with speed and accuracy but without necessarily understanding mathematical logic. For the majority of our nation, knowledge of mathematical rules has not allowed them to use math confidently in their daily lives. With almost two-thirds of the nation’s adult population fearful of mathematics, they have simply said “NO” to math and closed the doors to careers that require higher math” (Burns, 1998; Parrish, 2010).
Let’s allow students to make sense of number relationships, what the operations MEAN, and figure out what makes sense and how to approach the mathematics based on the numbers given.

 

Response to Confusion 43-13

Beyond Counting: Ideas and Activites For Your Little Ones

While waiting for his big brother at the orthodontist, my little boy, C,  had the following conversation…

Dr. T: How old are you, cutie?

C: I’m three!

Dr. T: How old is your brother (pointing towards my thirteen year old)

C: Four!

This was such a proud mama moment for me!

Now you may ask yourself, “Why is she getting all excited over this? Clearly, he is not four. Why is she so proud of her little boy?”

There are a number of reasons why this is a critical step towards numeracy. I truly believe that if you start children purposefully thinking about numbers early on, their chance for success in mathematics increases dramatically. So let’s highlight a few of the big ideas C is working towards.

bears

1. Cardinality– This is the idea that the number being used is measuring some amount. It answers the question, “How many?” For example, I can ask my son, “How many bears do you see?” He would count them one by one until he got to the number six. That last number, 6, tells you the number of bears in the set. This is a big deal! The child is no longer counting from memorization; he is recognizing that the number relates to a certain amount of “things”. The more things you have, the further you have to count. C recognized that his brother was older (or “bigger”). Therefore, his brother was tagged to a number after the one he identified with, three. He did not know how many more to go, just that he had to choose a number beyond his own. Cool.

2. Inclusion– This is the idea that the number labeling “how many objects” in a group includes all of the preceding numbers. So even though we have six bears, we can also think of it as “one and some more”, “two and some more”, “three and some more”, and so on. This is critical for addition and subtraction. If I have the number 14, I can think about it as “ten and four more”, which helps me when I want to add or subtract and regroup to make the problem easier. C knew that his brother was older, and therefore had to include his age (three) and some more. Again, he isn’t at the point of knowing how much more, but is on his way. Awesome.

3. Magnitude– The size of the object. In this case, a number (or value) given to a quantity (age) for the purpose of comparing with another quantity. This idea is instrumental for estimation, particularly with very large and very small numbers. In fact, one of the posts requested of me to write is helping students compare fractions. If a child does not know the relative size of the number they are considering then it is very difficult to compare, operate or manipulate it with any real fluency or number sense. How do I know my answer is reasonable if I haven’t a clue what the numbers I am working with represent??? For C, he was able to recognize that his brother had to be a larger quantity than three, because he is older. Super rad!

These three ideas are certainly related, but each has a different feel. You can work with them simultaneously, so long as there is purpose to the questions and tasks you present to your kids. Below are some simple, but powerful, activities you can play with your little ones to build these concepts. I choose the games that you can take on the road, to the doctor’s office, to a restaurant, etc. Instead of sitting around being squirrelly, play a game while you wait. Even five minutes will have a significant impact!

1. Count and Check: Grab a handful of ANYTHING (balls, pennies, beans, cheerios, etc) and ask your child to count how many. Make sure the amount of objects is appropriate. (For example, C is working on objects through 5.) When he finishes counting the last object, ask, “How many _____ are there?” If he cannot answer, that is okay! He is working towards cardinality. He is able to say the objects one by one (which is called one to one correspondence), but hasn’t figured out that the last number he says represents the entire amount. Have him count again, and ask again. If he cannot answer again, say, “There are (say the amount) ______ here.”  You can play this at the grocery store (count the apples, bananas, etc), setting the table (How many forks?), etc.

2. Match Me! Grab a die (one dice) and a handful of ANYTHING in a baggie. (I typically do this with pennies at restaurant.) Have your child roll the die. Let’s say she rolls a five. She takes out that many pennies and lays them out for you to see. Ask her to count them one-by-one to make sure she has five. At the end ask, “How many pennies do you have?” If she doesn’t know, that is okay! Have her recount, then ask again. If she still isn’t able to tell you, say, “I see you have five pennies.” Make sure you roll next and model for your child. Take turns until you get bored or dinner comes!

To bring the difficulty up, after playing each of these, ask, “If I gave you one more item, how many would you have?” This brings in the concepts of magnitude and inclusion! If your child has to recount with one more added in, that is fine! You know he’s got it when he can answer quickly without physically adding in another item and recounting.

Need another level of difficulty? Ask, “If I took away one of the items, how many will be left?” Same idea, but working backwards, and just as important!

Beyond Counting: Ideas and Activites For Your Little Ones