12 Brain Building Math Board Games for Curious Kids

12 Brain Building Math Board Games for Curious Kids1

With summer coming up, I’m on the lookout for a new game or two to liven up quiet afternoons.  It’s an added bonus if I can sneak a little math practice in without anyone noticing what I’m up to.  Here are my top twelve picks for fun games with math skills at the core.  Take a look at this previous post on math board games for even more inspiration.

1. Smash-Up Game

Aliens, Ninjas, Pirates, Dinosaurs and more battle to smash more bases than the opposing team.  Eight different factions and dozens of combinations to try.  ‘It’s really fast setup, it’s really fast play … It’s easy to pick up the rules.’  

2-4 players, recommended for age 13+.

2. Melissa & Doug Shut-The-Box

A deceptively simple game, this is a favourite for all ages in our house.  An easy way to practice number bonds for younger children, with plenty of strategy to keep everyone else interested.  ‘This a great coffee table game for adults, as well as beginning adders!’  

2-4 players, recommended for age 6+.

3. Educational Insights Shelby’s Snack Shack Game

A counting game that will appeal to pre-schoolers and slightly older children alike.  Simple number recognition, and beginning addition and subtraction skills are used to help Shelby find the bones she’s buried at the beach.  ‘Parents (or relatives or friends) of pre-schoolers: Look no further, this is a perfect gift!’ 

2-4 players, recommended for ages 4-10.

4. Prime Climb 

A blend of strategy and sheer luck makes this an appealing game regardless of your mathematical ability.  You’ll practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division using the colour-coded board to scaffold the learning.   ‘Engaging and challenging enough that no one was bored but easy enough to understand that no one was frustrated.’  

2-4 players, recommended for age 10+.

12 Brain Building Math Board Games for Curious Kids2

5. Clumsy Thief 

A fast-paced card game to practice addition skills.  A winning mixture of luck and tactics make this a fun and engaging game.  ‘As a homeschool mom, I love anything that has my kids learning but makes it so much fun, they don’t even realize that they ARE learning!’  

2-6 players, recommended for age 8+.

6. Brain Quest Smart Game

Different question levels mean that this game works well for mixed age groups.  Race to answer questions on Science, Math, Arts, Reading, and The World.  ‘One thing that is so great is you can start playing with your 1st grader and go all the way through 6th grade.’  

2-4 players, recommended for ages 6-12.

7. Task Cards: Word Problems Grade 3 Board Game

Contains 100 different task cards for word problem practice.  Write-on/Wipe-off cards are always appealing to children, and these are linked to Common Core Standards to help you target specific areas for improvement.  

Suitable for individual and group use, recommended for ages 7-8.

The Maths Insider Guide to the Best Parent - Tested Math Products

8. Make 7

A simple game to encourage familiarity and speed at additon.  The aim is to get your number tiles to add up to seven in any direction.  ‘The strategy is very deep. Something like a chess game but much quicker.’  

2 players, recommended for age 7+.

9. Farkle 

Quick set-up, and super easy to learn.  Like all the best games, strategy and chance both play their part.  ‘Great game, tons of fun, easy to learn.’  

2+ players, recommended for age 8+.

10. Teacher Created Resources Jumpin’ Chips Multiplication

 Five different games in one.  Master multiplication facts to 12×12 in these checkers-type games.  ‘Students love this game. They ask to play all the time and even ask to borrow it to bring home.’  

1-4 players, recommended for ages 7-11.

11. City of Zombies Maths Board Game 

Roll the dice and try to stop the zombies in their tracks.  A flexible cooperative game that can be easily adapted to focus on different areas of math.  ‘What price would you be willing to pay for a bit of argument-free time, knowing that your kids are totally absorbed in a game that does not pit one child against another but makes them combine forces against a common enemy?’  

1-6 players, recommended for age 5+.  (Please note, this game only ships from the UK).

12. Times Square – A Fast & Fun Times Tables Maths Game 

Play this as a standalone game, or use it to expand the City of Zombies game above.  Easy and fast to learn, and provides hours of fun.  ‘The game comes fully differentiated with a range of different play modes, and tips to make it easier or harder, which can be swapped in and out at a moment’s notice.’

1-6 players, recommended for age 7+.   (Please note, this game only ships from the UK).

The Maths Insider Guide to the Best Parent - Tested Math Products

15 More Cool, Beautiful and Inspiring Math Quotes

Math Quote Inspiration

Are you looking for some cool and beautiful math inspiration? Check out the Math Quote GIF’s below that highlight the eternal beauty of math.

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For more math inspiration check out my post 13 Cool, Beautiful and Inspirational Math Quotes. Enjoy!

1

“Wherever there is number, there is beauty.” -Proclus

2

“The book of nature is written in the language of Mathematic” -Galileo

3.2

“Mathemathics is the queen of the science” – Carl Friedrich Gauss

4

“The advancement and perfection of Mathematics are intimately connected with the prosperity of the State” -Napoleon

5

“A Mathematician who is not also something of a poet will never be a complete mathematician” -Karl Weierstrass

6

“The mathematician does not study pure mathematics because it is useful; he studies it because he delights in it and he delights in it because it is beautiful” Georg Cantor

7

“Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas.” -Albert Einstein

8

“Do not worry too much about your difficulty in mathematics, I can assure you that mine are still greater.” -Albert Einstein

9

“How can it be that mathematics, a product of human thought independent of experience, is so admirably adapted to the objects of reality?” -Albert Einstein

 

12

“Beauty is the first test; there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics.” -Godfrey Harold Hardy

13

“The study of mathematics is apt to commence in disappointment.” Alfred North Whitehead

14

“A Man is like a fraction whose numerator is what he is and whose denominator is what he thinks of himself. The larger the denominator, the smaller the fraction.” -Tolstoy

10

“All mathematicians share… a sense of amazement over the infinite depth and mysterious beauty and usefulness of mathematics.” -Martin Gardner

15

“in the fall of 1972, President Nixon announced that the rate increase of inflation was decreasing. This was the first time a president used the third derivative to advance his case for re-election.” -Hugo Rossi

16

“He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.” -Confucius

 Which is your favorite of the above Math Quotes? Do you have any other inspirational quotes about math to share? Let me know!

How to Help Your Child with Math – Even If You’re Not a “Math” Person

Have you ever found yourself going round and round in circles when trying to help your child with math? Believe it or not – I’ve been there! Yes – I’m a math teacher – a lover of math

 

 

Hello, this is Caroline from www.mathsinsider.com and I’m going to talk today about a question that a Maths insider reader asked which was,” How can I help my child with their maths if I’m not a math person?”

I understand where you’re coming from

MATHS ROTATING DAYS FB POSTSSo to start off, I’d just like to say that I obviously…I really like maths, I love sciences, I like geography, history I like most of the subjects, but one of the subjects that I don’t feel completely confident in supporting my kids in is English or Language Arts. I kind of like reading sometimes, I don’t like fiction, most of what I read is nonfiction and the whole kind of grammar and constructing sentences is just not my kind of thing. I obviously like to write a bit, hopefully if you’ve looked on Maths Insider you’ll see that, but I can feel you when you say that you feel as you’re not a maths person, I feel as though I’m not like a languages kind of person, and to make things more interesting, I am actually home schooling my 9 year old, so I need to support his English learning, his writing and his grammar.

This is my advice based on my knowledge of maths and my experience as a home schooling mother who has to support her children’s English learning.

1. Research math education tips

No. 1 is to do lots of research, Maths Insider obviously, is a good place to start, I’ve got lots of articles about how to help your child with maths, but also look in other places, there are some good Facebook groups you can have a look at, or school support Facebook groups and also some home school groups. There’s lots of information in home school groups about how to help your child with maths. Often you can get drawn into a political discussions about, is Common Core good or is this method bad, but it’s best to just research, just have a look at the different kinds of ideas.

2. Pick suitable math resources

My 2nd tip is to pick resources that suit you and your child, because you’ve got your different strengths and weaknesses, your child has different strengths and weaknesses and preferences, so if your child has been at school all day, where they are likely to have done lots of writing, and they come home, don’t let them do lots and lots of worksheets. Maybe pick something that’s an app or a printable board game or just some oral questions. So try to tune any resources that you use, try to tune into what resources will work for you and your child.

3. Learn the math with your child

The last tip is to learn with your child, so for example if you need to help your child with addition of fractions with different denominators, then learn how to add fraction with different denominators with your child. So Google adding fractions with different denominators. Australia year 4 for example, if that is your country or Common Core grade 4 or UK year 4 or year 5 and have a look to see what videos are available, if there are images available, if some examples are available and sit with your child and show them, “Look I’m not really sure about this, but let’s learn this together,” and that is actually going to help your child feel better, because it’s not okay sort of, you know everything and they know nothing and you’re going to put the information their heads, it’s, “So okay, there is a problem here let’s figure this out together.”

So if I go back to the beginning:

No. 1 is to research, look at Maths Insider, look on Facebook groups (the Maths Insider Community FB Group would be a great place to start!) and another good tip for researching, I forget to say this earlier on, is actually go to the book store, get a workbook and maybe have a look at the book for younger than your child’s grade level for your child’s grade level and have a look in the contents page because then you’d likely find a list of the topics. So flip through the books and you’ll be able to see, “Oh yes, my child does know this, this, this and this, but maybe this they don’t know.” So that’s a good way of trying to figure out exactly what kind of topics you are going to need to support your child in.

  • Number 1 is do your research
  • Number 2 is pick resources that suits you and your child’s learning style and teaching style
  • Number 3 is learn with your child

The Complete Guide to Faster Times Tables in Just 31 days.

Quotes - Alice in Wonderland

I’ll try if I know all the things I used to know. Let me see: four times five is twelve, and four times six is thirteen, and four times seven is–oh dear!”-  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

 

If, like Alice, your child is struggling with remembering their times tables, you’re not alone!

Ask a random selection of kids some of the trickier times tables and you’re going to get quite a few “Ums” or “It’s….well…it’s…….”

The thing is – it’s not necessarily your kids fault that they’re not comfortable with the times tables facts. Perhaps:

  1. They weren’t given time to thoroughly learn them
  2. They haven’t had time to practise them
  3. They don’t see the point of being fast at them

 

In this article I’m going to share with you:

  • Why it’s important at all for your child to learn the times tables
  • The best age to start learning the times tables
  • What your child’s needs to know before tackling this important task
  • The DIY system that parents around the world are using to guide their children in the times tables success
  • The resources you need and where to get them.

Are you ready to get started?

Great! Let’s begin!

Why is learning the times tables so important anyway?

So, why is learning the times tables important? Why can’t your child just get by? Well, High School math is filled with questions that require the use of times tables. Algebra is a lot easier if your child isn’t constantly reaching for their calculator.

Also, when your children grows up they’ll be:

Managing their finances

Splitting checks at the restaurant;

Working on a recipe conversion;

Trying to figure out if that price really is a good deal in the sale.

Using the times tables

All these require a good level of comfort with the multiplication facts.

In a BBC survey only 40% of the adults surveyed could give the correct answer to 8 x 9 but among the over-55’s in the survey, the number of correct answer rose to more than 60% so numeracy skills are definitely declining.

In a survey of California, Algebra 1 teachers, they reported that 30% of their students do not know their times tables.

So actually if your child can learn their times tables it’ll not only help them be more confident with math, it’ll put them ahead of the general population!

 

So what age should the children start to learn the times tables?

In this age of competitive parenting where we race to toilet train our kids soon after birth, this is a valid question.

Well, there are some five year olds that know their times tables, maybe even you were this young when you learned yours, but six or seven years old is a good time to start learning the times tables, even if it’s starting with skip counting by 2’s, 5’s and 10’s.

However, even teens who are still shaky on their times tables still have time to straighten out those multiplication facts. It’s certainly not too late.

 

The one thing your child really should be good at  BEFORE starting their times tables

Whatever age your child is, there’s still one thing they should know before starting the times tables:

They need to be confident at addition and subtraction;

and if they’re not, then this needs to be sorted first.

Fluent addition and subtraction skills will make the whole learning-the-times-tables process much easier, since not only are times tables just repeated addition, but some times tables shortcuts depend on addition and subtraction.

Click the image for a color or black and white printable Times Tables Cheat Sheet

 

cheat1

If you ignore this piece of advice then the whole learning in the times tables process is not necessarily doomed to failure, but it’s just going to be a more difficult. So if at all possible – sort  out the addition and subtraction first.

 

So how long will it takes for your child to learn their times tables?

Well, if they are working on it daily – only about 10 minutes a day –  then it’s only going to take them a month or so.

Start selling that to your child, “Hey – you could learn the times tables in a month if we did 10 minutes practise a day”

Can you find 10 minutes a day?

How to get to started?

Well, the first thing, the really important thing, is to plan in advance what time of day your child will be working on their times tables. Choose a time when both you and your child are free. You might not be doing anything more reminding your child to practice their times tables, but still it’s important to set aside this “reminder” time.

A great time to get on with this type of practice is first thing in the morning after breakfast, before school. If you walk or drive your child to school, this is another good time to review.

After school as a warm up to school homework also works well, but whichever time you pick, pick that time and let that be the “times tables time”.

So, what is it you actually need to do? What system do you need to use?

Well , let me tell you what I usually do with my students. I start at the beginning. I start with the two tables.

Now maybe you’ve got an older learner, so you might be tempted to start with the six times tables because they are fine on the 2’s 3’s, 4’s and 5 times tables, but my advice is just start with the two times tables.

Let them whizz through the easy tables, and then they can spend more time concentrating on the higher tables with their renewed confidence.

If you really want to rush the process, you can start AT THE LAST TIMES TABLES THAT THEY KNOW WELL.

But my advice is just to start at the beginning.

Let’s break down the 31 day times tables system

Now it would be great if your kid can do a 100 times tables questions each day – that is  definitely worth aiming for. If they can do 100 questions in just five minutes then brilliant! They are fluent and fast in their times tables and they can move on. If they are doing 100, two times tables in five minutes then great, they should move on to the three times tables.

With the multiplication facts, we are aiming for them to actually answer each question in about three seconds, so if you’re using audio, or you are reading out questions to them use the rhythm of three seconds per question.

If it’s taking them 10 minutes for 100 questions, that’s still fine. But you need to just check – are they taking 10 minutes because they’re staring out of the window or fiddling with their pencils, or are they actually taking 10 minutes to concentrate on each of the questions and answering the questions?

If they’re hesitating on each question or using their fingers, it’s worth repeating these early tables to get them to lose the habits that could be hijacking their chances of success.

I would advise that they probably need about  3 to 4 days for each of the times tables. So if they take them 10 minutes the first time, let them repeat that particular times tables, for a 2nd, 3rd or maybe even a 4th day to see if you can get their timing to closer to five minutes.

If after 4 days on that set of times tables facts, they’re still taking 10 minutes that’s fine – let them move on.

If they’re taking 15 minutes or more, then step back to the previous times table (or to the last times table that they were fluent in) to help them build up their speed, then go back up to the problematic set.

Now while most people think the process goes like this:

3

Which can definitely work:

I prefer to run through the times tables so it plays out like this:

4

But my kid HATES times tables worksheets

I hear you on this! My 2 older kids ploughed their way through times tables worksheets and learnt them that way with no fun and games, but my younger 2 are worksheet-a-phobes!  

Everyone learns in different ways. I’m very much a be a visual learner and maybe your child is a hands on learner and your child’s times tables efforts will get better results if you can tailor their work to their learning style.

Worksheets are a great way to learn the times tables if your child takes to them, but after doing worksheets all day at school, the last thing your child may want to do is more worksheets!

There are some children who do find worksheets terribly grown up, and you don’t necessarily need to avoid worksheets altogether.

In my 31 Days to Faster Times Tables program, you’ll find printable games, audios, activity suggestions AS WELL AS worksheets to suit different learning styles.

If your child responds well to visuals, you can get them to read out the questions themselves and then shout the answers and then YOU write down the answers (or just keep a running check on whether they’re getting the answers correct).

Or you can read the questions to your child and and she writes down the answer.

You can even print out copies of the worksheets and then have a race against your child – if they like a bit of competition!  

For auditory learners you can use audio instead of worksheets. There are audio CD’s that you can buy or if you look on YouTube you’ll find plenty of times tables raps, rhymes and songs.

Your kids could even make their own times tables audio that they can listen to!  

Want some resource ideas? Grab my 31 Ways to Practise the Times Tables FREE PDF eBook

Click here to grab the FREE ebook

Games, games, games

Remember I told you that my youngest kids are worksheet-a-phobes? Well the one thing that’s really helped them with their times tables are times tables games.

My kids love playing the printable games that I printed out and laminated. Some needed dice and counters but they seemed to love the ones that used those washable whiteboard pens!

You could even make up your own games with just a pair of dice, a pack of playing cards, or a random number generator (Google will be able to help you out there!).  

You can have your child play an online multiplication game or download a times tables app and give your child a smartphone or tablet to play on. Sentencing your child to 10 minutes a day on a smartphone won’t be such a bad thing on their eyes! 

There’s plenty more ideas in the FREE 31 Ways to Practice the Times Tables eBook

So where can you find these resources?

Well, bookstores are a good starting place. They’ll have plenty of workbooks, CD’s and also some pre-packaged games or flashcards as well.  

A YouTube search will give for times tables resources will yield a huge amount of results. When I looked up “times tables raps” there were over 300 YouTube videos for times tables raps and time tables songs, as well as instruction videos showing how the times tables work.

Google is also a great resources, whether for buying times tables products or looking for free worksheets, you’ll get  plenty of choices, but the difficulty is how to choose between all these resources.

Of course you can also grab my 31 Days to Faster Times Tables program

Choosing the right resources

Whether you choose ready-made resources or you are writing your own worksheets, make sure you start with the easy questions first. So don’t just go straight into 8 x 9

Start with 2 x 2, 2 x 3, 2 x 4 etc. then make sure the questions increase in difficulty gradually.

Make sure the questions have some built in review, so for example if  they learned the five times tables, once they finish practising those, then make sure to include some questions on the 2, 3 and 4 times tables before moving on to the 6 times tables.

More importantly, choose a resource that fits with your child’s learning style.

If your child is a hands-on learner, then you probably want to spend more time playing games. Worksheets are fine with these types of learners, but supplementing these by playing some hands-on games will help to fix the multiplication facts.

If you want a way to get started immediately. I’ve developed the 31 Days to Faster Times Tables program which contains all the worksheets (including built -in review), audio, printable games and activity ideas to guide your child to faster, more confident times tables in one month.

Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 4.05.56 PM

You can find out more about the faster times tables program here.

In the meantime let’s go over the main steps:

  1. Start once your child has great addition and subtraction recall
  2. Begin easy and master each times table before moving on
  3. Build in review
  4. Use resources suited to your child’s learning style

Now whether you’ve choose to use the DIY system that I’ve just laid out for you or whether you choose to go ahead and purchase the done-for-you 31 Days to Faster Times Tables program at www.fastertimestables.com it  is really, REALLY important that you start to develop a plan, tomorrow or in the next couple of days, to really tackle those times tables with your child.

Once you get started, it will only takes 10 minutes a day to help your child to faster more confident with times tables!

Click here to grab the FREE ebook

12 Cool and Quirky Math Teacher Gifts

12 Cool and Quirky Math Teacher Gifts

The right math teacher can make the world of difference to your child’s learning experience, and to their attitude towards math and learning in general.  If there’s a special teacher, tutor, or instructor in your child’s life, then why not show your appreciation with one of these cool, quirky gifts.  You can also check out our list of 13 Marvelous Math Teacher Gifts for more inspiration.  Whether you’re looking for something funny, practical, or just something a little unusual for a teacher who’s helping your child to reach his potential, you’re sure to find a gift that’s just right.

  1. Statistics Blackboard Courier Bag – $141.00

Math teachers can make a statement about their love of the subject with this large, sturdy, messenger bag.  Featuring a blackboard design with statistical formulas ‘chalked’ onto it, this is an unusual way to carry a laptop, or to take that pile of marking home.  A “very sturdy” bag with a “secure, comfortable, and snug fit” this one has received great customer reviews.  You can find an array of other bags for math teachers here. Also available in the UK and Australia.

  1. Dividing By Zero Is Not A Game Coffee Mug – $17.80

School teachers know that coffee cups are always in high demand.  Save your math teacher from the frustration of stolen mug-theft, by buying this distinctive mug that proclaims, ‘It’s all fun and games until someone divides by zero.’  Mugs for math teachers come in all kinds of designs, from the beautifully arty to the groan-worthily funny.  A custom coffee mug will put a smile on a teacher’s face. Also available in the UK and Australia.

  1. I teach Algebra, What’s Your Superpower – cashmere bath mat – $27.05

Children usually think that their teachers live and breathe all things educational.  If you know a math teacher who fits this description, then what better gift than this geeky bath mat to dry their toes after a morning shower?  Bonus points from your tutor if you can explain the formula!  One reviewer described this as “the softest bathmat I’ve ever set my feet upon”, which seems like a glowing recommendation to me.  If that one’s a little too obvious for your tastes, then take a look here for bath mats featuring antique multiplication tables, numbers, and more. Also available in the UK and Australia.

  1. Math Teacher Owl Flameless Candle – $31.60

A gift or the teacher who has kindled the math flame in your child’s life.  Whether they’ve supported your family through exams, or just helped to boost flagging confidence, they’re sure to love this vinyl-wrapped LED candle.  A subtle show of appreciation that would be well suited for either home or classroom use.  Take a look at other candles that would make good teacher gifts. Also available in the UK and Australia.

  1. Math Teacher Grillmaster Adult Apron – $21.55

Even when they’re off-duty, tutors can display their math love with pride, by wearing this apron.  ‘Math teacher by day.  Grillmaster by night.’  This “well-constructed” apron has “big and functional pockets.”  Tea towels, cake toppers and cutting boards are also available to brighten up the kitchen. Also available in the UK and Australia.

  1. Math Geek’s Vintage Multiplication Tables Porcelain Serving Platter – $72.51

Steampunk style, vintage French multiplication tables, printed onto a beautiful serving platter.  Beautiful design paired with a geeky edge that any math teacher is sure to love.  Click through to see other math-inspired large serving plates. Also available in the UK and Australia.

  1. Math Lessons Puzzle – $18.10

A jigsaw puzzle printed with a plethora of mathematical equations.  Vectors, volume calculations, and Pythagorean theory combine to make an unusual gift that’s sure to be a talking point.  From puzzles to poker, and from poker to ping-pong, these gifts will help your math teacher to enjoy his or her downtime. Also available in the UK and Australia.

  1. Cool Fun Calculator – Math Pi Number Digits iPhone 6/6s Wallet Case – $26.95

Some teacher gifts tend to be a bit pointless, after all, there are only so many cutesy photo frames one person can find a home for.  The practicality of this iPhone 6 case will be appreciated though.  A “cushiony case” with “a velvet like feel on the inside.”  Alternatively, you could go for a laptop sleeve or, a pi USB flash drive. Also available in the UK and Australia.

  1. Governed By Number Desk Organizer – $31.25

A subtle nod towards the number-loving tendencies of your maths teacher, this mahogany-finished wooden desk tidy will keep pens and pencils easy to hand.  “A fine addition to any desk.”  Lots of other fun organizer designs available. Also available in the UK and Australia.

  1. Inspire Math Geek T-Shirt – $22.15

The quirky wordplay on this “super comfortable” cotton t-shirt will either have people smiling knowingly, or wrinkling their brow in confusion.  Which category do you fall into?  For other options, check out the range of math teacher apparel available. Also available in the UK and Australia.

  1. At Pi Sign Scarf – $21.20

This soft and stylish jersey scarf would make a beautiful gift for a special teacher.  Falling nicely into the pretty-but-practical category, she’ll reach for it again and again.  “Even the print is soft and comfortable to the skin.”  This one features a prominent @pi hybrid design, but there are plenty of other scarves to choose from. Also available in the UK and Australia.

  1. Eat Sleep Math Card – $3.50

Add the final touch to your teacher gift with a thoughtful, handwritten note.  This card makes the ideal token of appreciation, either by itself or in combination with any of the other gifts.  Whatever your teacher’s personality and sense of humour are like, you’ll find a suitable card for them here.  Also available in the UK and Australia.

Rescue Your Teen’s Math with These 3 Steps

Boom! You’ve just come to the sudden realization that your teen is struggling with math! Whether they’re 13 or 17, the consequences of weak math skills are real. As a parent it’s natural to go into panic mode and blame yourself, then blame your teen, then blame yourself, but DON’T! Watch the video below to see the 3 steps you can take to save your teen’s math today. The transcript of the video is below:

Hello, I’m Caroline from Maths Insider and today I want to talk about teen math problems. So just last month I was speaking to a parent and she said, “How can my child, be 13 years old and he doesn’t know how to do long division!”

Podcast Thumbnails for Blog

There are three reasons why your child probably can’t do long division:

 1)Maybe he can, but just can’t when you are standing right over him growling, “what’s going on!” that he can’t do long division.

2) It could be that he can do long division but he’s just forgotten a step so he’s messing everything up, messing up a whole question.

And 3) maybe he just doesn’t know long division, maybe he was away from school that day, or maybe the teacher went through it really quickly that week when they were doing it a few months ago, or maybe he just really didn’t get it and he’s too shy to ask and it didn’t caught in the school report and the teacher didn’t tell you.

So what’s a parent to do when their teen has problems with math?

Well, don’t make a huge thing about it. The thing about teenagers is that they need you, but they don’t need you. And so the worst thing you can do is to make a huge thing out of it, and make into “Oh! You can’t do long division and your room is a mess and look at those clothes that you wear.” It’s so tempting as a parent, (I’ve got two teens of my own) to just unload everything in one go. So just don’t do that!

Come up with a plan to deal with that particular issue, the long division. But actually don’t make it into big huge deal. Make it seem as though it’s a plan that they’ve actually come up with and just be calm about it and say, “Okay you can’t do the long division, let’s figure out a way to tackle this.”

The next step is to actually figure out why can’t they do long division. What is it about long division that they cannot do? There are so many elements even in one simple long division question, so really in long division the student needs to know:

  • their times tables
  • subtraction facts,
  • how to do subtraction with borrowing or a method for two digits subtraction,
  • how to line up their numbers correctly whichever method they’re using.
  • be able to read their own writing so that the numbers appear clear, so that they are not making mistakes because they can’t read their own writing.
  • whichever algorithm they’ve been taught, “Do this and then do that, do this and then do that for do long division,

………..so exactly which steps of long division is causing them the problem?

If their times tables is not fluent and they are taking ages to figure out how many 8’s are their in 64 –  tackle that issue first – just deal with the times tables.

Fixing the math

Your teen probably thinks, “Oh my gosh, I do not want to deal with this. It doesn’t matter!” but actually say “Look! It is important,here’s a times tables app” or “Here’s a times tables list you can just keep with you, I’ll test you in the car tomorrow on  a particular times table.”

Make it really casual but deal with it because that’s really important! If they’re struggling with subtraction – make sure that they are clear on how to do it.

With my own teenagers, I often just find a video on YouTube and send it to them and say “Hey look! There’s a video on this topic which might be useful!” and then check to see if they’ve watch it, check to see if they understood it. Perhaps find one on subtraction with borrowing, and maybe a step-by-step video on how to do long division.

Let them feel as though it’s not something that you’re setting and teaching them how to do. Let them feel they are accessing the knowledge themselves.

Maths Insider Secrets

In the Maths Insider secret program, I go through and show you step by step how to figure out what are the gaps in your child’s knowledge and I show you the exact free websites that you can use to figure out what those gaps are and develop a plan to fill in those gaps.

Click here for more info on the Maths Insider Secret Program

11 Award Winning Math Books to Share With Your Child

Are you looking for some fantastic books to help boost your child’s love of math?

collageWhen done poorly, a book about math can be dull and confusing. However, when done well, and accompanied by unique perspectives and colorful illustrations, math books can be fun!

The following list of number-crunching books will prove this to even the most dubious of readers. All titles are winners of the 2016 Mathical prize, which honors books that cultivate a love of mathematics in young readers.

Whether you want to introduce a young child to their very first math concepts or supplement an older child’s math curriculum, this list is for you:

1. Just the Right Size: Why Big Animals are Big and Little Animals are Little, by Nicola Davies

Using animals to explain math concepts is brilliant, because, which kid doesn’t like animals? In “Just the Right Size”, the author seeks to amuse children with animal trivia while using these familiar creatures to explain geometry concepts such as size and surface area.

Children are drawn to the cartoon characters, and parents enjoy learning new math and science trivia at the same time. The fun presentation makes it an ideal way to introduce concepts to inquisitive learners and reluctant math students alike.

2. The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel, by Deborah Hopkinson

Primarily a historical medical novel, The Great Trouble sneakily introduces math to young readers in the form of money.

While following the heroic adventures of the main character, who is struggling to support himself, readers are plunged into the world of economics.

The Maths Insider Guide to the Best Parent - Tested Math Products

Suitable for both fun and classroom, readers describe ”The Great Trouble” as:

” …historical non-fiction for kids that is also interesting for adults…”
“…perfect for young scientists.”
“…educational, yet by no means boring.”
“…a fascinating look at money, poverty, survival and illness in Victorian London”

3. An Animal Alphabet, by Elisha Cooper

Both a counting book and an alphabet book. The pages are filled with illustrations depicting over one hundred animal species (along with animal facts) and pages of counting opportunities (up to the number eight, the author’s preferred number.)

Definitely not a traditional counting or letter book, but one any preschooler will treasure, ”An Animal Alphabet” is :

“Illustrated with joy…an alphabet book to pore over, worth adding to any collection.” — School Library Journal, starred review

4. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

A classic book that introduces abstract mathematical concepts, and personifies both math and words as literal characters. The Phantom Tollbooth has delighted readers for over three decades, and continues to pique mathematical interest in readers of all ages.

Many parents today describe “The Phantom Tollbooth” as their first favorite book, and enjoy it even more as adults. What better book to share with a child?

5. Count With Maisy, Cheep, Cheep, Cheep by Lucy Cousins

This preschool book provides a fun reason for counting–they must help Maisy the Dog find all of the baby chickens before bedtime!

As a lift-a-flap book, it’s already interactive, and parents can make it more so by using the bright illustrations to teach numbers, colors, and farm animals.

“…Count With Maisy is an adorable book that my toddler loves.”
“Counting baby chickens with Maisy is my daughter’s favorite part of bedtime.”

The Maths Insider Guide to the Best Parent - Tested Math Products

6. Secret Coders by Gene Luen Yang

Here is a book that offers a modern take on the importance of math. Not only is it a mystery novel filled with old-school learning concepts, such as logic puzzles, it focuses on one of the most progressive uses of math in our world today–computer coding.

A perfect gift for a child who is into computers or robotics, or who just needs some proof that STEM academics can be fun.

Parents and teachers both agree that this book is engaging, encouraging and enjoyable (for all ages!)

“… it encourages my daughter to read AND think about math, its a win-win in my book!..”

“…Such a fun and geeky book. It appeals to the kid in all of us, and my math-whiz kid loved the puzzles.”

7. Max’s Math by Kate Banks

Follow Max and his brothers as they set off on an adventure to find Shapesville. Their path is littered with numbers and shapes, and along the way they learn about counting, problem-solving, and basic geometry concepts.

The book is wonderful for the story itself, and presents numerous opportunities for parents to introduce new math games (such as finding hidden numbers).

8. The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos by Deborah Heiligman

A biography of the mathematician Paul Erdos, who was astonishingly brilliant with numbers, yet could not perform simple tasks like making his own bed. This story is for any child (or parent) who sees the world differently and strives to create their own learning environment.

The bright illustrations and joyful character can teach young readers that math is not something to be feared, since we see Paul so ecstatically happy about his numerical adventures.

One reader says:
“…thanks to this book, my child now dreams of becoming a mathematician.”

9. Math Curse by Jon Scieszka

“You know, you can think of everything as a math problem..”

That is the prompt that sets the book in action, as a student realizes she is “cursed” by being surrounded by math problems.

A clever and excellent way to drive home the importance of why math skills are important and how we use them everyday to solve a variety of issues. (And also some silly, yet charming, mathematical philosophizing as the narrator laments why a person who has 10 cookies must have 3 taken away as her whole life becomes a series of word problems.)

With the addition of some “silly math” the author also teaches readers that there are some problems that one cannot solve with math.

10. Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones

Again, a book that takes math beyond the school room and into real life. Cunningly hidden inside the story of a city girl who moves to the farm and rather reluctantly becomes a chicken farmer, are everyday math problems she must solve. Such as how to calculate the amount of water needed for a certain number of chickens per day, and how to measure for roosting poles.

For children who don’t dream of being physicists or engineers, its helpful to show how math is still useful in their own real world lives. Little math problems are just as important to your success, no matter which undertaking you choose.

Parents have described this book as funny, diverse, thought-provoking, powerful, and worth reading over-and-over.

11. Leonardo da Vinci Gets a Do-Over by Mark P. Friedlander

This is the book to perk up reluctant teen math students.

This adventure story links multiple academic subjects together (much as the Master himself did). Follow the three young characters as they help a resurrected da Vinci on his quest to better humanity.

“..a great book for merging math and science together. We read it as part of our homeschool curriculum, and my daughter loved it.”

Along the way the 3 young characters play the role of both students and teachers to the grand master; an empowering way to show children that what they learn today, they can use for teaching others tomorrow.

The Maths Insider Guide to the Best Parent - Tested Math Products

Join My FREE Maths Insider Facebook Group!

Do you want your children to build a lifelong love of math?

Are you a busy parent who wants to squeeze some extra math into your crazy schedule?

Do you want a safe place to share your kids challenges with math as well as their successes (sometimes you just can’t share stuff like that amongst your regular FB friends)?

Does that sound like you?

Join my new FB Group!

Maths Insider Community FB Page

We’ve had some great discussions about alternative methods for subtraction with borrowing, math ideas for kinesthetic learners and tips for preschool and teen mathematicians!

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Come and ask me questions!

Come and share and learn new tips!

Come and connect with like minded parents!

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Math Homework Without Confusion

How can I make sure I'm not confusing my child when they ask me to help with their math homework?

“The teacher didn’t do it that way!!”

“So which way did they do it?”

“I can’t remember!”

Find out how to rescue this frustrating situation and help your kids tackle their math homework without confusion with the 3 simple tips in the video below. The transcript of the video is also below. Click here to watch the video on You Tube complete with subtitles.

Hello, I’m Caroline from Maths Insider, www.mathsinsider.com and today I am going to answer a question from a Maths Insider reader who asked, “How can I make sure I’m not confusing my child when they ask me to help with their math homework?”

1. Find out what math they know

So I’ve got three tips, No.1, have a look at the homework and ask them to explain to you what they actually do understand, and if that draws a blank and they give you that look like, “I actually don’t understand anything, I don’t get it at all,” then try to ask them an easier example to see if they’ve got any understanding at all of the topic. For example if they come home with 247 divided by 23 and they don’t understand it, ask them, ”Okay so, how about if it were 24 divided by 3? Well how about if it were 243 divided by 3?” Try an easy example and see if they can actually explain to you how they would get the answer with an easier example. 

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2. Google the math

No. 2, the next tip, because sometimes even that tip doesn’t work, is to actually Google it and not just Google “long division” but actually put “long division year 4 Australian curriculum” or “long division year 5 UK curriculum” or” long division grade 4 curriculum” and you’re going to get some very good results hopefully. Now you’ll probably get some websites, but also look at the video results because you might get some good YouTube videos and click on images as well because especially the images result might bring in some really good results from Pinterest which might be just some visual short cuts of what method to use, so that’s another good tip.

3. Phone a friend

And the last tip No. 3, which is kind of a last resort, but it might work, is to ask somebody. So ask on Facebook, because people like to be seen to be good at maths, and so if you just put a quick call out on Facebook to say “Hey, my child’s come home with long division and yea I know how to do long division, but it looks as if they’re using a division type of method and I don’t know what method they’re using” and you’ll likely get somebody, some people, who will respond and will know what current method is being used in schools. You can also look on forums as well or Facebook groups, but even amongst your Facebook friends you’ll likely to have somebody who may actually want to help out and say ,”Well, they’re doing this,” or “This is the method my child used last year.” So it’s always worth asking.

  • So tip No. 1. Ask your child to explain to you what methods they’ve been taught and perhaps with an easier example than the actual example they’re stuck on. Also have a quick look at the homework and see if there’s a question they’ve managed to do and ask them to explain it to you.
  • No.2. Google the topic plus the curriculum 
  • Number 3. Ask perhaps on Facebook

Learn These Math Skills First!

Which math skills does my child need to learn first?

“How can he be 13 years old and not know long division? How did that happen?”

That was an actual quote from a distraught parent whose child had just done “not so well” on the Diagnostic Test that Tabtor gives to all new students. It’s often the case that students struggle with a topic because they’ve either not had the chance to practice easier concepts or missed learning an easier concept entirely. So for this student, it may be that his times tables recall is weak or he’s making mistakes in subtraction or he just hasn’t learnt how to set out his log division work.

Math, like reading needs to build up from strong foundations.

Find out which foundationnmath skills your child should learn first with this video. The transcript of the video is also below. Click here to watch the video on You Tube “complete with subtitles.

Hello, I’m Caroline from www.mathsinsider.com and today I am going to answer a question from a Maths Insider reader which is, “Which math skills, and how to know which math skills my child needs to learn first?”

A logical order of math skills

So I’ll just briefly go over the kind of math skills that kids need to know. So they basically need to know how to count, then add, then subtract and then multiply and then divide and then work with fractions and then with decimals and then how to use all the skills with algebra. So it sounds really simple, but the school curriculum kind of chops and changes so they make sure they do simple addition in one school year and then they do harder addition the next school year and then they do double digit addition the next school year and triple digit addition the next school year and then they might introduce the times table this school year while they are still doing double digit addition, but they introduce it as number sequences and then they’ll do the times tables.

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So it’s no wonder that parents get confused, because after they’ve done the times table they’re going to do short multiplication and then they’re going to do long multiplication and then another year they are going to repeat the short multiplication as an introduction to long multiplication and so parents can be left thinking “What are they doing?” They’ve been doing multiplication for ever and you know that is true.

How Kumon Does the Math

A program like Kumon, what they do, they do, they basically do addition, addition, addition, 1 digit, 2 digit, 3 digit, 4 digit, yes they add and then subtract, well  they do addition and subtraction together, a bit of addition  a bit of subtraction, a bit of addition a bit of subtraction and then only after addition and subtraction are perfect for like 4 digits, plus 4 digits, and 4 digits, take away 4 digits, do they do the multiplication tables and then once they know those then they do the division facts and then short multiplication, short division, long multiplication, long division and so that’s how come Kumon students are able to seemingly move forward very quickly whilst the school will be doing all these things in a broken up way because then they have also fit in shapes and measurements and time and angles and all the other things that the curriculum decides. 

A Math Skills Strategy

But how does this help you as a parent when your child comes home with for example a question on dividing fractions?  So when I first meet a new student and the parents say they’re stuck on dividing fractions, first of all I want to know do they know their times tables. Well actually I want to know can they add and also subtract but it’s kind of more polite to say, “Do you know your times tables?” especially when you’re talking to a child who maybe 12 or 13 years old and often times they are really hesitant, they don’t know them. It is not a case of being really fast, a fraction of a second, they must know the answer straight away, but they should be able to give you the answer within a few seconds and not panic. So in order to access that dividing by fractions, they are going to need to be able to work with the times tables relatively quickly and relatively comfortably, so it is a case of making sure all the foundation skills are built up. So if you do have your child coming to you with a question to do with fractions make sure they do know their times tables and also before that make sure they do know their addition and subtraction fact relatively easy and not having to count on their fingers and their toes and your fingers and your toes. So it is actually worth taking the time out to do that.

Don’t skip the basic math

Often times I have parents who starts working with me and I start working with their child and they said well, they need to know their times tables which is fine I can give them lots of time tables practice, but actually they do need to be able to do the column subtraction because later on when they are doing  long division they’re going need to be able to subtract easily and accurately and times tables aren’t  actually that difficult to learn, they just need a concentrated amount of time and they don’t even need to be quick, quick, quick as I said before.  It’s the case to get the 4 times table, double and double it again and figuring out. Give your child the tools if they can’t memorize them then give them the tools to be able to get answers so that when later on they’re doing the long division, they are not having to count on to figure out how many times does four goes into 28. Then also they’ve got the problem they can’t subtract accurately, so they are making mistakes when they have to do the subtraction bit of the long division. So it is very important to make sure your child has all their foundational skills and it’s not that they have to be super speedy, that’s great if they can be, but they just need to be comfortable.