Arithmetic Help: Tools for Teaching Children Arithmetic

Would you like to help your child boost his or her performance in math? Are you unsure of what to do? Start here, with information about how to use a variety of tools to ensure that your child understands each math topic.

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What You Need to Know About Arithmetic Tools

Manipulatives (or hands-on materials) will allow your child to manipulate objects in order to visualize the math process he or she is performing. For example, your child could model an addition sentence using paper clips. You could also use an actual clock to help your child with telling time and calculating elapsed time.

You can choose to purchase math manipulatives or use household items, such as cookies, crackers or coins. Keep in mind, if your child incorporates more than one of the five senses, he or she will be more likely to understand the math skill. Charts or diagrams can also be useful mathematical tools when working with fractions, patterns or decimals.

Show Me a Fraction

For this activity, have your child visually model fractions using construction paper. To begin, ask your child to draw a shape and then cut it into equal pieces. For instance, if your child draws a square, then he or she may divide it into four equal parts. Then, encourage your child to manipulate the pieces in order to show different fractional amounts. For ½, your child should remove two of the four parts that make up the square.

For lower elementary students, it is important to discuss halves and also how fractions equal whole numbers. For more advanced students, you may want to use multiple shapes to include some practice of mixed numbers and improper fractions. You could also have your upper elementary child convert the modeled fraction to a decimal amount.

See Me Multiply!

To prepare for this activity, gather a collection of household items that your child can use as manipulatives. You can use buttons, paper clips, pieces of candy or coins. Provide your child with a multiplication fact and have him or her determine the answer using the manipulatives. For example, if you said 4 x 2, your child would show either four groups of two or two groups of four. This would help your child to actually see how 4 x 2 = 8.

For lower elementary children, this activity could be adapted for addition and subtraction practice. If your child is an upper elementary student, you may want to use manipulatives to help them with division.

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