How to Help Elementary Math Students with Rounding Numbers

Rounding is an essential math skill that students usually start to learn in third grade. If your child is struggling with rounding numbers, you may want to start with visuals and hands-on activities.

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Teaching Elementary Students to Round Numbers

Elementary students learn best when you present new material in a variety of ways that use three senses - seeing, hearing and touching. This will include visuals, music, rhymes, hands-on activities and games.

Rounding to Tens

Use a Number Line

Using a number line, show the number your child needs to round - for example, 138. You can show him that 138 is closer to 140 than 130, so you would round it to 140. Show this kind of example until you're sure he understands it.

Give and Make Rounding Poems

Children may remember how to round better with a catchy poem, such as:

0, 1 - 2, 3 and 4 - You might as well lay down and snore,
This number won't change any more.
5, 6, 7 - 8 and 9 - You'd just as well toe the line,
'Cause that number's going to climb.

Have your son or daughter make up his or her own rhymes. You can find more ideas online.

Use Music

Find CDs that teach math through music, including songs that teach rounding. Many children like to make up songs; encourage your child to try her hand at 'rounding music.'

Play Games

You can find or make up many games. Here is an example:

Tell your child there are ten houses on Ball Street. (Draw a line on the paper with ten evenly-spaced houses with a 'fence' or straight line between each of them.) The house numbers are 0, 10, 20, 30 and so on - as many as you want for the game.

Report that a new family moved into the neighborhood; they have a very round, plump dog. Write a number on the dog, such as 19, and tell your child that the dog's name is 19; he never goes very far from home. The nearest and closest house is where he lives, but he's not sure which house that is. Ask someone to help 19 out and take him to his house.

Once your child can easily help the dog - no matter what his name is - turn this into a team game. If you have multiple children, or other family members around, create teams and give each a round dog. When you tell the teams the dog's name (a number), they should quickly take the dog to the correct house.

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