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# Helping Your Child Learn Mathematics - Activities (page 2)

U.S. Department of Education
Updated on Feb 17, 2011

Learning to use a calculator can help children understand and apply estimation and mathematical reasoning skills, as well as learn addition, subtraction, division and multiplication.

##### What You Need
• Empty containers (cartons or boxes)
• Old magazines, books, newspapers
• Calculator
• Pencil or crayon
• Paper
##### What to Do
• Help your child collect empty containers so that you can play as if you were shopping at the grocery store. Gather the items and put them on a table. Help think of a price for each item. Mark the prices on the containers. You can even mark some items on sale.
• Pretend to be the customer while your child is the cashier. Ask questions such as the following:
• How much would it cost to buy three cartons of eggs?
• If the price of soap is \$5.00 for two bars, then how much does one bar of soap cost?
• If I don't buy the cereal, how much is my bill?
• How much more will it cost if I buy this magazine?
• Show your older child how math symbols (for example, +, -, /, x and =) are used on a calculator. Help her add the prices of each item on the calculator and total the amount using the (=) symbol. Have her write the total on a piece of paper, which will be your receipt.
• Have your child estimate the total cost of the items you are buying. Have her use a calculator to see if her estimate is correct.

#### What Coins Do I Have? Grades 2-5

Using mathematical reasoning skills to figure out the unknown is good preparation for understanding algebra.

##### What You Need
• Coins of different denominations
• Paper
• Pen or pencil
##### What to Do
• Choose coins so that your child can't see, then hold out your closed hand and ask her questions such as the following:
• I have three coins in my hand. They're worth 7 cents. What coins do I have? (a nickel and 2 pennies)
• I have three coins in my hand. They're worth 16 cents. What coins do I have? (a dime, a nickel, a penny)
• I have three coins in my hand. They're worth 11 cents. What coins do I have? (2 nickels and 1 penny)
• I have three coins in my hand. They're worth 30 cents. What coins do I have? (3 dimes) Ask your child to tell you how she knows the answer.
• Make the game more challenging by asking questions that have more than one answer:
• I have six coins in my hand. They're worth 30 cents. What coins could I have? (1 quarter and 5 pennies or 6 nickels).
• I have coins in my hand that are worth 11 cents. How many coins could I have? (2-1 dime and 1 penny; 3-2 nickels and 1 penny; 6-1 nickel and 6 pennies; 11-all pennies) Again, ask your child to tell you how she knows the answer.

You get the idea! Give your child coins to figure out the answers.

#### What Are My Chances? Grades 2-5

Playing games that involve chance is one way to introduce children to the meaning of probability.

##### What You Need
• Two coins
• Paper and pencil
##### What to Do

Play these coin games with your child:

• Flip one coin. Every time it comes up heads, your child gets 1 point. Every time it comes up tails, you get 1 point. Flip it 50 times. Tally by 5s to make it easier to keep track of scores. The player with the most points wins. If one player has 10 points more than the other person does, he scores an extra 10 points. Ask your child to notice how often this happens. (Not very often!)
• Flip two coins. If the coins come up two tails or two heads, your child scores 1 point. If it comes up heads and tails, you get 1 point. After 50 flips, see who has more points. Ask your child if he thinks this game is fair. What would happen if one player received 2 points for every double heads and the other player received 1 point for everything else. Would that be fair?
• Flip one coin. Then flip the other. If the second coin matches the first coin, your child scores 1 point. If the second coin doesn't match the first coin, you receive 1 point. Try this 50 times. Is the result the same as in the previous game?