When it comes to those basic math facts, there's nothing like practice, practice, practice. But making them interesting is quite another matter. Here's an irresistible activity you can use with your second grader to send messages in “secret code.” Next time you pack a school lunch, for example, try putting in a special note with your love and good wishes … in a code that your child and her friends can decipher over their meal.
Write your message on the decoder key, by making a small line for each letter of the alphabet in the message. See our sample message as an example.
Write out your message lines, and then let your child take a whack at the math facts to decode your words. The sum of each pair of numbers appears under each line of the message, and matches up with a letter. For a child who is making good progress on math facts, this is a fairly fast activity … but one that will bring a sense of accomplishment that lasts all day and beyond!
Julie Williams, M.A. Education, taught middle and high school History and English for seventeen years. Since then, she has volunteered in elementary classrooms while raising her two sons and earning a master's in school administration. She has also been a leader in her local PTA.