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Math Food for Thought

Because I had surgery on my right hand, some of my fellow bloggers graciously agreed to be guest bloggers this month.  I hope you enjoy reading math articles from other teachers who just might give you a different perspective on how to teach math.


Brian's Blog

Hi!  I am Brian from Hopkins' Hoppin' Happenings.  I taught Kindergarten for three years, 2nd grade for five years, and did a short term in 5th grade.  I am currently a substitute teacher. Today, I would like to talk about how to make learning math fun in Kindergarten.

When I taught Kindergarten, I requested that each parent or guardian bring in food that we could use for math.  Examples included Cheez-Its, Cheerios, Trix, Skittles, colored Goldfish, etc.  Every Friday, I taught or reviewed a math skill using the food!  Two of many of the math skills covered were sorting and graphing. Let's say I was using colored Goldfish for the math lesson.  I generally placed the same number in each student baggie with the same colors of each so everyone would get the same answer. This also made it easy for me to check for accuracy. First, the students were asked to sort the Goldfish according to color. Then they would line the different colors up on a graphing grid I had made.  The students then removed one Goldfish at a time and colored in the space where it had been. Next, I asked the whole class questions such as, “Which color of Goldfish are there the most of?  Least of?  How many green Goldfish are there? How many green and yellow goldfish are there in all?” Afterwards the children were allowed to eat their goldfish!  I have also had students graph and sort different kinds of cereal, Skittles, etc.

Another important math skill to use with food is patterning. Give students different kinds of food of different colors and have them create patterns with it. I give them a piece of paper on which they glue down a couple of their patterns and then they are permitted to eat the rest.  The patterns can be simple or difficult depending on the age of the children.

Food also works well for identifying numbers. Show the students a flash card with a numeral written on it. The students must count out that many skittles, Trix, etc.

Food also works well to teach addition and subtraction facts. For example: 3 + 1. The student counts out three Cheez-Its (or whatever food you are using) and adds one more. Have the student solve the problem and write down how many there are all together.  Here is another example, this time subtraction: 4 – 2.  The student counts out four Cheez-Its but then eats two of them. This time the student answers the question, “How many are left?”
You can also use food for math in 1st or 2nd grade and do the same graphing activity, but then ask higher level questions such as:  “How many more orange life savers are than than green?”  You can also use stick pretzels and Cheerios to teach place value and two digit addition or subtraction. Let’s assume the Cheerios are the ones and the pretzels represent the tens.  When adding 18 + 13, the students would trade 10 Cheerios for a pretzel or if subtracting, trade a pretzel for 10 cheerios.

For older students, food can be used to make groups or arrays for multiplication or to figure out how many are in each group for division. You can also give the students two colors of some food to practice fractions.

Try using food in the classroom. Your students are sure to love learning and quickly grasp the math concepts because they are having fun! 


Free Graphing Activity

Brian is offering an exclusive freebie for all of you who read my blog.  It is entitled Goldfish Cracker Graphing Activity. Just click under the goldfish to download it.

Also, be sure to check out Brian's Store on Teachers Pay Teachers for more primary resources.  While you are there, check out his other 37 freebies.

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