how to support 5 year old's interest in "learning math"? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 02-10-2013, 09:01 PM - Thread Starter
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My 5 year old DD is in preschool and will start kindergarten (public school) in September. Today in a conversation where she was adding and subtracting the members of our family, I told her what she was doing was math, and she said, "I can't wait to learn math!" I try to be aware of bringing math concepts into our everyday life, but I wonder if this is a window of interest I should seize on. But what should I do? Pick up a pre-K/K math workbook at Rite-Aid? i don't want her "learning math" at home to be computer/screen-based. I can try to increase the frequency/level of our math conversations, but I suspect that when she thinks about "learning math" she's imagining something more pencil-and-paper based. And honestly, given how academic, skill & drill public school kindergartens are these days :-( , using pencil-and-paper at home in a no-rush, no-pressure, this-is-fun-and-interesting! environment may not be a bad thing.

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#2 of 10 Old 02-10-2013, 09:27 PM
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"Family Math" is a great book for parents of kids 5-12 by Stanmark, Cossey and Johnson. Full of games and explorations for kids and parents together. 



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#3 of 10 Old 02-11-2013, 07:11 AM
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Have a variety of manipulatives around. Counting bears, pattern blocks, dice. Play games that involve counting. Let her help you cook, especially if you're measuring.  Have her set the table.  Pour dried beans/rice into a big bowl, and let her play with measuring.

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#4 of 10 Old 02-11-2013, 07:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Red Pajama View Post

Have a variety of manipulatives around. Counting bears, pattern blocks, dice. Play games that involve counting. Let her help you cook, especially if you're measuring.  Have her set the table.  Pour dried beans/rice into a big bowl, and let her play with measuring.

That's all good stuff, but those are things we already do -- I don't think she sees that as "learning math." She is interested in adding and subtracting, which I think she thinks of as "real math," so I guess I'm thinking about how to help her learn more about that, besides the verbal adding and subtracting games we already play. (Like, we'll be on the bus and I'll have her count the people on the bus, and then when the bus stops and people get on or off, I have her do the math -- there were 7 people and 2 got off, how many are there now? That's right, 5 people on the bus! 7 minus 2 equals 5!) She finds this kind of thing hugely entertaining, but I think she wants to learn about writing it down.

Our library system has the Family Math book so I requested that. Any other suggestions?
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#5 of 10 Old 02-11-2013, 08:09 AM
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My girls love math as well, and we do "math quizzes" by request in the car most trips.  They also love math "tests" I make for them, though they request them more now that they have learned to write.  Be aware of this, it can often be mistaken for reluctance.  


One thing I love about making our own math sheets is being able to tailor them to what is wanted and the proper level.  I'm able to ask them what was easy, boring, hard and fun or hard and frustrating, then I make a new one based on that.  I like that they can request addition or multiplication or division, even though their grade levels stay at addition and subtraction.  And they only cost 1/500 the price of a ream of paper--or cheaper if they are on the back of scrap paper.  


I think it's fine to play with written math at this age, but one of the biggest favors you will be doing for her is to continue pointing out that math isn't just what's on paper.  Maybe you want some new vocabulary for math done on paper to help this along.  Then to preserve her love of it as long as you can, let it be at her request--both to start and to stop.


My friend just introduced me to a fun activity that my girls were excited about--for a minute at least, but their friend loves it: paint one side of a few beans, then toss them and create an equation from the beans.  8 sides painted+ 8 sides plain= 16.


My girls also loved exploring the calculator.  I can't count the number of times I've heard "Mom! 15+15=30!!!!!!!"  Their little video games helped them add by tens, hands by 5's.


It's wonderful to see kids so in love with all things math.  


We love Anno's Math Games, but those 3 volumes are slim on counting, more on concepts, but the presentation is wonderful and it is a good read anyway.  Recently we had some books by someone or other that the girls enjoyed, but I can't think just now.  I'll try to remember and get back to you.

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#6 of 10 Old 02-11-2013, 08:27 AM
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I'd be focusing on conceptual math. She likely won't get much of that in school so it would be a nice thing to provide foundation for what they will add I'd think.

You could use Cuisenaire Rods for example. This site has fantastic educational videos using c rods to teach math--not for her but rather to show you how to use rods to build those conceptual understandings. You could watch some and see if it's something that she might like before purchasing rods.

Another thought is MEP math. She would be Year R (reception/K). It's conceptual and enjoyable. It's free to print so, again, you could look and see what you think.

I've never seen it but have heard really good things about Kitchen Table Math books.

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#7 of 10 Old 02-14-2013, 12:55 PM
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Have you asked her what she means by "learning math"? 


I'd find out, more specifically, what it is she wants to learn. If she can't say specifically I'd go with a few examples of things she might like  learn to do (learn to pay for things in the shop, learn to tell the time, learn to count and take away, learn to play Snakes and Ladders) and see if any enticed her and go with those.


I'll be honest, I wouldn't make too much of it really, I'd keep bringing it into daily life. In the example you give, her learning was very firmly rooted in her family, in emotion. I'd keep it very, very concrete and o at her pace. I wouldn't buy a book yet, but if you really did want to I'd personally recommend Miquon.


Really and truly, I would not rush to get her sat down doing worksheets or workbooks. At the end of the day, you want her to have a great, concrete foundation for later maths-which is what she was doing for herself in your example. You are NOT going to get that by just starting her on a workbook, aside from, possibly, something like Miquon (montessori-ish) but with a LOT of extra fun stuff thrown in. I'd keep on with what you are doing tbh, as its obviously working!

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#8 of 10 Old 02-14-2013, 01:07 PM
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Kumon Books has workbooks that she might enjoy. 

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#9 of 10 Old 02-15-2013, 11:20 AM
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I'm not sure what your looking for exactly but I do think you may want to take a look around some montessori manipulatives. Like the hundreds board or the spindle box. Or the red rods.

This website will give you a good idea of what I'm talking about:

I don't think you need to out and buy a complete bead cabinet but this might fit the bill...age, interest, tangible, physical, not reling on writing and can be play based. Many of this things can be DIYed. I made a spindle box by gluing 10 toilet paper rolls to a strip of cardboard and saving every set of chopsticks from takeout (and my friends as well). We painted it together and it fit the bill.

Have fun. Enjoy.

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#10 of 10 Old 02-18-2013, 04:58 PM
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We like the MathStart books by Stuart Murphy.  They are little stories that explain math concepts.  My son also loves the Bedtime Math site.  They will email you a daily math problem.  My son looks forward to it every night!

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