# Thinking Rationally With Your Tween

Students typically start exploring positive and negative numbers towards the end of elementary or early middle/junior high school. And it can be a bit weird. It is literally the opposite of what they had been taught for the last ten years in a number of ways (Puns intended.). Here are some ways you can support your child in their negative number journey to make it a positive experience (Dang, I am on FIRE!).

1. Bring in finances. “In the Red” and “Black Friday” are references to business. When a company in “in the red”, they are in debt. They owe money. Traditionally “Black Friday” (The Friday after Thanksgiving) was the first day of the fiscal year companies got out of the red and posted a growth. Credit cards are another great place to explore debt and credit. A debt would be what you owe and would be represented as a negative number. A credit would be a positive number. Show them your mortgage and credit card statements and discuss terms such as “deposit, credit, debt, with drawl, etc.”. The stock market is a great place to discuss negative and positive fractions and decimals. Pull up the daily NYSE and discuss which companies have an increase (or positive) and which have a decrease (or negative) change that day.
2. Football Season!!! This is a fantastic place to bring in integers (positive whole numbers and their opposites). If I gain six yards on a drive, how could I represent that change? (+6 or 6). What if the QB gets sacked? How many yards did they lose? (ex: -7). How far do they now have to go to get a TD? If your child is interested in football, use it to your advantage!
3. Playing Cards. Below are a couple of games you can adapt to include negative numbers. I prefer to omit the face cards and only use numbered cards, but you can make Aces = 1 (and -1) and the face cards values after 10 (and -10).

War! Black Cards are positive values; Red Cards are negative values

1. Shuffle and divide the cards evenly among players. Keep your cards in a pile face down. Everyone flips over their first card. Player with the greatest value wins all the cards for that round. Tie? Flip another card and whoever has the greatest value that round wins all the cards from both rounds. Whoever has all of the cards at the end (or the most cards when you get bored) is the winner.

Example: I flip over a red 9 (-9) and you flip over a black 2 (2 or +2). A gain of 2 is greater than a loss of 9 so you win the cards.

You can also play that the winner is the one with the smallest value.

1. For students who are learning to add integers. Shuffle and divide the cards evenly among players. Keep your cards in a pile face down.

Everyone flips over TWO cards and finds the sum (add them). Whoever has the greatest (or least) sum wins the cards for that round.

Example: I have a black 2 and a red 4. 2 + (-4) = -2.

You have a red 4 and a red 2. -4 + (-2)=-6.

Since -2  is greater than -6 (a loss of 2 is better than a loss of 6), I would win.

1. Go Fish! Black Cards are positive values; Red Cards are negative values

Shuffle and hand each player 7 cards. The rest are in a pile in the middle face down.  The objective is to be the first one out of cards.

How do you get rid of cards? By making matches of cards that have a value of 0.

Example: Jen has a 5 black (5 or +5). She says to Chris, “Do you have a negative 5 (5 red)?” Chris does, and hands the 5 red (or -5) to Jen. Jen takes the positive 5 and the negative 5 and lays the pair in front of her.

This is not an exhaustive list so I will be adding other fun ways to integrate math into your home conversations. Let’s make math a positive experience for our kiddos!

# Number Choices Matter

I had the privilege to work with fourth and fifth grade teachers this week. We explored multiplicative comparison problems in fourth and division with fifth (more on those in another blog). What I came away with is this: NUMBER CHOICES MATTER.

We don’t get much choice on the concepts we teach, nor often on the program we have to use. But we do get to choose what numbers we use with children. This could make all the difference for kiddos. If we choose our numbers wisely, we can build understanding through the patterns they see, the differences that appear, and talk about why those differences happened.

For example, consider the following set of problems:What is the same about each? If I am thinking about this as a partitive model and using base 10 blocks, I am sorting the amount I am given into 3 equal groups each time.

What is different about each? The amount I am giving to each of the 3 groups.

In the first example, 36 can be created by using 3-tens and 6-ones, and each can be fairly shared without any problems. Each would get a ten and two ones, or 12.

In the second example, I can still give out a ten to each of the 3 groups, but now I have to figure out what to do with the leftover ten and eight ones. This one builds off the first example, but pushes students to think about exchanging (regrouping).

The final example builds off the 48, but leaves 2 left that students have to consider. This allows to have a conversation about remainders.

These three build understanding of division, regrouping and remainders through strategically chosen problems to build from one to the next. Students have something to grasp on to when negotiating meaning with this tough tough subject.

So where can you build understanding through your number choices? I challenge you to think about what you want your students to learn next week and how your number choices can contribute to students understanding those goals!!!!

# Relational Thinking to 10, More or Less

Our lives in kindergarten land are immersed in the idea of making 5’s and 10’s. Here is an activity you can do (After playing Make a 10…See previous blog!) to build relational thinking to 10.

Materials: Deck of Card, 3 post-its

Objective: To determine whether two addends (cards) make a sum (total) that is less than, more than, or the same as 10.

1. Have your student write less than 10 on the first post-it, the same as 10, or just 10 on the second post-it, and more than 10 on the third post-it. (Note: You can also include the symbols <, =, >, but I prefer to work on the concept FIRST then introduce the symbolic notation later.) Place the post-its on a workspace that has lots of room.
2. Shuffle the cards. Place deck face-down. I typically hold the deck and place two cards face-up for the child, but if students are playing in small groups they take turns taking the top two cards and placing them face-up. The child decides whether the sum is less than 10, the same as 10, or more than 10. If in small group, the others confirm or debate. Once the value is established, the student puts the cars face up as a pair under the correct post-it.
3. Continue until all cards are used (That is A LOT of addition they are doing!).

Note: I totally stack my deck. I want to make sure some of the first pairs have a variety of sums so that the child (or children) see cards under each post-it. Here are a few of my favorite sets of cards to ‘stack’…

• 1+2 (I like to start with a known fact and something a lot smaller than 10.)
• 1+9 (Again, building on the “one more” facts, but this time it is 10.)
• 3+9 (Relational to 1+9. If 1+9 is 10, then adding more makes more than 10. HUGE!!!!)
• 10+4 (Any 10+ is great, as students really need to build to 10+ for first and second grade. It is amazing how many children do not see this as immediately more than 10, so it is a great one to have a conversation about!)
• 2+3 (We have done so many that are greater than 10, nice to go back to a set less than 10.)
• 5+5 (One of the first known facts for making 10.)
• 5+8 (Similar to 1+9 above. If 5+5 makes 10, then adding more makes more than 10.)
• 5+2 (Conversely, if 5+5 makes 10, then adding less makes less than 10.)

## Alternative Games for Older Students

• Use larger value cards and work less than, equal to, or greater than 20, 50, 100, etc.
• Use cards with decimal values and play less than, equal to, or greater than 1.00.
• Use cards with fraction values and play less than, equal to, or greater than 1.
• Use black and red cards (reds are negative, blacks are positive) and play less than, equal to, or greater than 0.

# Game: Making Ten

Kindergarten kiddos are immersed in addition and subtraction right now! They are exploring addition as adding more ‘stuff’ and subtraction as taking away (or removing) ‘stuff’. Many of the kids are in their Level 1 Counting All stage in which they rely on counting one-by-one to get the sum or difference.

For example: 3 + 4. A child at this level would count 1, 2, 3 then 1, 2, 3, 4; putting them together, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

This is acceptable for Kinder kiddos! This is awesome! This is the first step! But it isn’t where we want them to stay, particularly at the end of first grade. I tutor some students in grade 1 who haven’t moved past this level. So I took a game that has been around and edited to push kids into Level 2 Counting On.

## Make a Ten!

Object: To find as many pairs of cards that add to 10 in your round.

Materials: Cards 0-10 (4 of each). Note: This is the most crucial component. I will talk more about the cards below.

Directions: (Below is a video clip. Sorry about the sniffling; it is allergy season here in TX!)

1. Shuffle the cards. Lay out 4 rows of 4, face up.
2.  Player 1 finds as many pairs of cards that add up to 10. He takes the cards and (I made them do this!) says, “________ and __________ make 10!” He continues until there are no more cards that pair up to make ten.
3. Take the remaining cards (if any) and put them back in the pile. Reshuffle and lay out 4 more rows of 4 cards.
4. Player 2 finds as many pairs of cards that add up to 10. She takes the cards and (I made them do this!) says, “________ and __________ make 10!” She continues until there are no more cards that pair up to make ten.

Continue alternating until there are not enough cards left to play. Player with the most cards wins.

Chris did struggle with 4 + 6 (or 6 + 4). I pulled out a ten frame to help with, “How many more do you need to make 10?”.

Chris refused to have any extra cards. In fact he got quite cheeky about it. This was his modification (he called it a ‘cheat’). I was perfectly fine with it, as I am sure you would be as well! I did not give him the word ‘altogether’ to use; that was a natural piece of the conversation. Woot! Woot!

## Card Choices

• If you are just starting out, only use 0-5 and make sets of 5. This is foundational and kids do not spend enough time on fact fluency to 5 before jumping in to 10.
• The cards I used were from Eureka Math. I love them, as they are friendly shapes and are in sets of 5’s. So 10 is represented as two-fives. This link will get you to the cards I used as well as others they have (like ten-frames) http://eurekamath.didax.com/exclusive-items.html/
• If students do not need the symbols (or you are pushing to counting on or fact fluency) I would suggest just write the numbers 0-10 in four colors on index cards. That would be cheap and easy.  You could also make your own cards with dots (if they need the dots to count) or ten frame cards this way as well.
• You can mix/match as well. Use 2 of each number card 0-10 and 2 sets of each dot or ten-frame card. That way, students have to use counting on for some of the sums.
• Another site for cards would be Sumboxes. They have number cards larger than 10 so you can play to other sums (like 20, 50, 100, etc.). They also have fantastic dot cards/ten frame cards together for some great exploration! https://sumboxes.com/collections/types?q=52+Pickup+Card+Decks&page=2

Whatever cards you choose to use, make sure they are appropriate for the level of the learner!!!

# Quick Shows With Ten-Frames

I was asked to come in and work with small groups (4-5 students) in Kindergarten today using ten-frames. The teacher wanted students to unitize by 5, 10, and 15, counting on the rest by ones. For example, if I asked a student, “How many do you see? How do you see them?”, she wanted the students to understand that you could find the value in a variety of ways. Here are a few of the anticipated answers she wants them to give by the end of the year:

• I counted them all. One, two, …twelve, thirteen, fourteen (Level 1)
• I saw two- 5’s, so 5, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 (Level 2)
• I saw a ten, so 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 (Level 2)
• I saw 5’s and 1 missing. 5, 10, 15, (counting backwards) 14 (Level 3)

I had a deck of ten- and double ten-frame cards, so I decided to do some “quick shows”.  I would show a card to the kids for about 5 seconds, and they had to ‘think’ about their value (versus just shouting out the number). We rotated who gave the value first, but every child had to give the value they thought was on the card. I chose a different student to explain how they got the value, then gave every other student a chance to share their thinking. We did this for about 15 minutes per group of 4-5 students.

Here are our ah-ha’s:

• Out of the 4 groups, only one group stayed within the single 10-frame. I was getting answers from this group that were bigger than 10 every time. For example, when I showed them a card with 8 dots, one said 8, one said 12, and the other two were still counting by ones. I quickly drew a double (or triple) 10-frame and grabbed some counters (plastic circle thingies) and would show them their answer, then the original card. That worked for all but one student. For him, I kept on the table the card with the ten-frame filled in, then did the quick show. That clicked for today, but I need to do some hands-on work with this group. I also need to go back to a 5-frame and really focus on 5+ values before moving beyond 10.
• Students needed to be convinced that the two cards below each showed a value of 5. Great for starting the discussion about the commutative property! We rotated the card over and over until someone said, “It is just the same thing! You didn’t put more on or take any off. Geez!”

• The sequencing of the quick show was instrumental in students building strategies beyond counting one-by-one. The order that seemed to work the best today was as follows: 3, 5, 5 (again, upside down), 4 (to see it was 1 less than 5), 6, 8, 10, 9, 11. Notice we kept them seeing 1 more/less so they could use that strategy as well.
• For the groups that could “just see” the ten-frame, I worked up to 20. Here is the order we used with those groups: 3, 5, 5 (upside down), 8, 10, 12, 15, 14, 20, 18. 18 was tough (see the number of dots), as students really needed to push to 5’s versus  counting 10 then by ones.
• One group finished about 5 minutes early, so we played war. That way, they each had a different card and had to tell me their value before determining who had the most dots. This was interesting, as they had the cards to touch and many reverted back to one-to-one counting. We will need to think about that for next time.

What I loved about this activity was that I had 15 solid minutes to informally assess each child. I heard what they understood and where they struggled. I was able to note for the teacher which cards each child got quickly, and which he/she reverted back to counting by ones (or guessed). Every child was engaged and had to listen to their friends as each shared out their strategy. And most important to me, every child left my group smiling, asking when I was coming back to do more “quick thinking”.

For large ten-frame cards: https://lrt.ednet.ns.ca/PD/BLM/pdf_files/five_and_ten_frames/ten_frames_large_with_dots.pdf

For double ten-frame cards: We made them by cutting/pasting two ten-frames together. I am sure you can buy the cards, but this was cheapest for us.

# Cross-Out: Sums to 12

Chris asked for a new game yesterday, and I didn’t have one ready (Gasp!) So we made one up together called “cross-out”. This was quick, easy to organize, and he had fun playing it and ‘cheating’.

Materials: white board, dry-erase marker, two dice (we used dot dice, but you can use number cubes to up the level of thinking)

Objective: We played as a team. The goal is to cross-out every sum when rolling two dice (2-12).

How to Play

1. Have your child write the numbers 2-12 on the white board. This is great fine-motor practice!
2. Player 1 rolls the dice and adds up the values. Player 2 crosses out the sum on the board. I rolled a 9, so Chris had to find the 9 and cross it out (see below).
3. Player 2 rolls the dice and adds up the values. Player 1 crosses out the sum on the board. If a sum is already crossed out, continue rolling (and therefore practicing addition and counting on) until you get a sum that you can cross out. No losing turns here!
4. Once your team has crossed-out every sum, you won! Do a silly dance to celebrate your success!

Fun Note:
When we only had the 3 to cross-out, Chris asked if we could change dice to be 0-5 instead of 1-6. “Why?” I asked. “So that I have a better chance of rolling a 3! The only way I can get it is with a 1 and a 2 and that’s tough!” If I had the 0-5 dice at my fingertips, I would have totally given in. This is a great statistics insight for such a tiny human!

He rolled a few more times, got sick of rolling and decided to just roll one die. BAM! First roll he got a 3. He was very proud of his ‘cheating’ scheme!

Differentiation Ideas:

• Use a number cube and a dot die to work on counting on (Level 2).
• Use two number cubes to work on addition rather than one-to-one counting with dots.
• Use cubes that have larger values and work on the teens/twenties. I buy square wooden cubes at a hobby/craft shop and use a Sharpie to make whatever dice I want to use. Easy and cheap!
• Play against each other. Each person could write 2-12 and see who can cross-out their board first.

# Tiny Human Perspectives: What About 0?

What is up with 0? It is nothing, nada, zilch. So why spend time thinking about nothing?

While playing a game with dice (labeled 0-5 each), pre-schoolers had no trouble thinking about zero as nothing.

Student (rolls a 0 and 5): 0 and 5 is still 5!

Me: Why is it 5?

Student (now rolling eyes): Because you added nothing to 5, so it stays 5. You didn’t do anything to it! (Duh…Mrs. M!)

Playing the same game in Kindergarten. Out of 20 students, only 2 (one being my son, since he already struggled with it at home and had made some headway with clarifying what happens when you add 0) students were okay not changing the value of the addend when added to 0. The others added at least one more to their addend, or just sat there and said they lost a turn because they got a 0. ????

## Why the struggle?

### What Can You Do?

Allow you child to play with a die that has a 0. Allow them to make sense of this new phenomena and open their eyes to new learnings about addition. This will help them later, when adding different kinds of numbers (like negatives) results in smaller sums.

Remember, Zero really is a Hero!

# Race to the Top: Kinder Observations

Last week I posted a game called “Race to the Top”. I was able to play the game with all of the students in my son’s kindergarten class. I was one of the stations during center time, and had between 4-6 students each rotation. We kept them 15 min per station, which seemed enough time for their engagement. (One group ran at 20 min and it was too long.) Each person at my station had their game card (see links below for options) and each pair had one number cube (labeled either 0-5, 1-6, or 5-10) and one dot die (1-6 dots).

Here are a few observations and patterns of misunderstandings.

1. Counting different representations is tough! The students were used to having to ‘add’ (i.e. count one-by-one) two dot dice, but hadn’t yet used a number cube WITH a dot die. When we started to play, at least one in each group said their sum was 2, no matter what was on the dice. This is because there were 2 dice. It only took a few rolls for all of them to get the hang of it.
2. For this time of year, the 0-5 number cube was too easy (with the exception of 1 pair of students). I would use the 6-10, as most of our misconceptions surfaced once they passed the number 10. Here are the misconceptions after 10.

## Example: 9 + 5 dots

• Misconception 1 (counted backwards from their number):  “9…8, 7, 6, 5, 4.”
• Misconception 2 (started counting by 10’s):  “9…10, 20, 30, 40.”
• Misconception 3 (counted them separately and got stuck): “9 and 5…pause…”
• Misconception 4 (wanted to put 14 squares on the game board, not see it as one-14)

After about 2 minutes of playing with me direct instructing, the students were successfully independent, taking turns and excited to see what their value was. In 15 minutes, I was able to watch, assess, and intervene every child in my group several times. They were engaged and excited to be playing. We averaged 18 sums per player in the 15 min, which is a LOT of addition!

## Favorite Quotes of the Day

• You cheated! You can’t keep rolling until you get your number! (This would have been me as a child!)
• Wait. We can’t play anymore? Awe.
• I only need two more 12’s to win! You need two more 7’s! It’s a tie! (I get giddy when students do more math than asked!)
• Thanks for playing games with us, Chris’ Mom!

Game Board for 0-10 (Change as needed depending on the number choices for your dice)

Race to the Top Game Board

# 5 Easy Daily Math Ideas

I was walking Chris (5 yo) to school yesterday (as we do most days) and was stopped by his Principal. He commented, “You always are counting when you come to school. I wish more parents would do that with their kids.” So it got me thinking; what are some easy-peasy ways parents can support their kiddos with math in the early years? Here are 5 ideas that you could start TODAY! Choose 1 or 2, and use them every day for a few weeks to really see their number sense and mad math skills bloom! Please comment with other ideas as well so we can have a huge vat of fantastic learning opportunities to use with our babes!!!

1. Counting, Counting, Counting! We do count on the way to school. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. At first, it was to 20, then to 50, and now we are up to 150! We count by 1’s most days, but sometimes we go rogue and count by 10’s (gasp!). Just like singing the alphabet, rote counting is a must to learn numbers. Start with 1’s, then 10’s for Kinders and younger. Move to 2’s, 5’s, 3’s, etc… and you have provided a solid foundation for initial multiplication! Move to counting by 1/2’s, 1/4’s, 1/3’s (you get the idea) and you are rocking initial fractions! Start with a different value that 1 and you are moving mountains!
2. Counting Forwards AND Backwards: Stairs are great for this. Count up when you go up stairs, down when you go down. Don’t know how many stairs? Start at 20 and count down. If you don’t hit 0, oh well!
3. I have...: In the produce section of the grocery store, you need 6 potatoes. Ask you tiny human, “I have 2. How many more do I need to have 6?” This is AMAZINGNESS! I cannot tell you how many teachers have students who struggle with missing addend problems. This will help so much!!! Do it at home with the silverware. “We need 4 plates. I have 1. How many more do I need?” The opportunities are endless for this!
4. Sort! Sort! Sort! Kids can sort the silverware that comes out of the dishwasher (Take out sharp objects first, please!), socks, toys, coins (when you are at a restaurant or doctor’s office), mail, school work, books, buttons, etc. Sorting is super important, as it builds the idea of structure and patterns as well as organizing and classifying information.
5. Guess my Number: A car-time fav in our family. “I am thinking of a number. It is bigger than 5 and smaller than 10. What is my number?” And you can amp this up for older students as well. Use multiples, even/odd, negative values, fractions, square roots, etc. And once they get the hang of it, each person in the car gets a turn to be the number-chooser. Super easy, and builds magnitude of numbers, place value, and relational thinking.

# Race To The Top! Counting On

So my tiny human, Chris, loves to add, but always has to start from one (no matter what the values are). I finally figured out a game to play to push into Level 2: Counting On (see previous blog for more info on the levels of single digit addition/subtraction).

Objective: To get to the top of one of the columns (doesn’t matter which one) first!

Materials: 2- Race to the Top Game Boards (click on link) Race to the Top Game Board 2-dice:  Since Chris is working on making sums to 10, I created my dice. You do not have to, but it is super easy and cheap! Go to a hobby store or home improvement store and buy wooden cubes. On the first one, label with the numbers 0-5. On the second one, draw dots on it (like a normal die), but use 0-5. Notice my mad dot-drawing skills!

How to Play: First player rolls the dice. He ‘traps’ the number (in the case above, the 3) and counts on one-by-one if need-be the dots. He puts an object above the sum’s number on the game board. Please view the example. Note the time it takes for Chris to figure it out, but he still gets it. This is tough when children are used to adding with objects and we replace one set of objects with a number!

Notice how he is also doing some mental work with figuring out “how many more” he needs to win the game.

Player 2: Roll dice, count on, and place the object on her game board. Continue until someone reaches the top of a column.

Look at how many addition problems he had to complete to finish the game! He never even noticed all the fantastic work he did! (Insert evil laugh.)

### For Differentiation

Level 1 (Counting All): Use dot dice for both instead of one dot and one number cube. That way he is working on his one-to-one counting and adding all together! You can also make a 0-6 page and use 0, 1, 1, 2, 2, 3 dots for each cube.

Level 3: Use both number cubes instead of dots. You could also use number cubes 1-6 and create a game board from 2-12.