Thursday, July 26, 2012

Elementary Activities: Math Game- Coins Under a Cup

by: Deborah Pace Rowley

The best math students can quickly add and subtract one-digit numbers in their heads. They don’t even have to think to rattle off 7 + 3 = 10 or 8 - 5 = 3. This quick mental calculation is immensely valuable once students start to learn more advanced math concepts such as 2-digit division and 3-digit multiplication. 

Making these calculations automatic doesn’t come naturally. It takes lots of practice. The most fun activity I have found to teach this skill involves 10 pennies and a large lid or wide-mouthed cup. (Make sure that the cup is not glass or clear plastic. That would be cheating!) 
Here is how you play: Lay out the 10 pennies on the table. Have your child turn his heard while you hide a few coins under the cup. When he looks back, he tries to quickly calculate how many coins are hidden by seeing how many coins are on the table. If there are 6 coins on the table- there are 4 coins under the cup. Remove the cup to check your answer. You are right! 
In the beginning, give your child as much time as he needs to come up with the correct answer. Then you can increase the fun and challenge by adding a time element to the game. Count to 10 in your head before picking up the cup. If your child hasn’t guessed the correct number of coins under the cup by the count of 10, you get the same number of points as hidden pennies. If your child has guessed the number of coins correctly, he gets that many points. The person with the most points at the end of the game wins. As your child gets faster, decrease how long you count, from 10 down to 5 then eventually down to 2 or even 1 second. Playing Coins Under a Cup for just a few minutes a few times a week will dramatically improve your child’s recall of these simple math facts. 

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