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Explaining the Difference Between Odd and Even Numbers

Sometimes we think everyone knows the difference between an odd and even number. When I was teaching my remedial math college class, we were learning the divisibility rules, the first of which is that every even number is divided by two. I wrote the number "546" on the board and asked the class if this was an odd or even number. I had one student who disagreed with the group answer of even. I asked him why he thought the number was odd, and he replied, "Because it has a "5" in it. " It was obvious this student got all the way through high school without a clear understanding of odd and even numbers. So the moral to this story is to be sure to discuss the difference between an even and an odd number with your students.
A good definition for an even number is that it can be put into groups of two without any left over, like giving each person a partner. But when you have an odd number of things and put them into groups of two, one will always be left out.
Try this approach. Make your hands into fists and place them side by side as seen in the illustration. Say a number. Now count, and as you count, put up one finger for each number said, alternating between hands, with fingers touching.

For instance, if you said “3”, you would count one, (left pointer fingerup) two, (right pointer finger up and touching the other pointer finger) three, (left middle finger up). Three is an odd number because one finger does not have a partner to touch.
Here is the sequence to use if the number given were "2". Two is an even number because each finger has a partner.

Repeat this several times, giving the students odd as well as even numbers. By always having a concrete visual (their fingers) will help the kinesthetic and visual learner to "see" the odds and evens.

Activities such as this can be found in a math booklet entitled Number Tiles for The Primary Grades.  It contains 17 different math problem solving activities that extend from simple counting, to even and odd numbers, to greater than or less than to solving addition and subtraction problems.

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