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how to explain ths basic maths to my 6 year old?

(15 Posts)
united4ever Thu 18-Feb-16 10:13:30

My son is really struggling with maths in year 2. got some extra homework but i find it difficult to explain it in a way that he understands.

How would you explain these sorts of questions?

? + 12 = 15

6 - ? = 5

It seems so obvious but when i try to explain it to my son we both end up frustrated and stuck. I know this sort of question comes up in SATS. So how would you explain it in a clear way? Any fun ways of learning it? Games/Activities. Before we get to practicing it though we just need him to get it first which is proving hard.

Many Thankssmile

lougle Thu 18-Feb-16 10:16:43

Use a number line.

The first question: "we started at a mystery number, then took 12 more jumps and landed on 15. Let's see what number we started on by jumping back 12 jumps" (3).

The second question: "how many jumps backwards must we do to get to 5 from 6?" (1)

lougle Thu 18-Feb-16 10:19:01

Or you could use lego. Stick 12 pieces together, and 15 pieces together. Compare the length. One length is 3 pieces longer than the other. Same method with the 6-5.

gymboywalton Thu 18-Feb-16 10:20:09

yes as above

i would also talk about number families- so once he has worked out the mystery number using his number line, show him how he can make the same caluculation the other way around iyswim. so 12 + 3=15, so 3 + 12 = 15, so 15-3=12, so 15-12=3

KateBeckett Thu 18-Feb-16 10:20:21

Google the Singapore bar method, hopefully it will help him 'visualise' what he is being asked.

united4ever Thu 18-Feb-16 10:22:03

thanks...the mystery number..i see how this would work if you choose the mystery number of 3 but how do they know to start on 3? If they choose 6 or 7 then how does it work?

irvine101 Thu 18-Feb-16 10:27:54

gymboywalton Thu 18-Feb-16 10:28:11

i'm not sure what you mean?

it works with whatever calculation you choose

so for example...6 - ? = 5

so you get your number line and point to the 6 and see how many jumps back until you get 5-it's one jump so the mystery number is one.

if the calculation was 7 + ? = 15 then you would go to 15 on your number line and count how many jumps between 7 and 15

do you see?

Flossiesmummy Thu 18-Feb-16 10:32:32

Ex primary school teacher here. Use these triangles.

The lower two numbers add to make the top numbers. The top number minus either of the lower numbers leaves the other lower number.

So, for your second example he can fill in 6 at the top, following the subtraction sign down to a lower space where he can input the answer of 5. From there he can make a new number sentence of 6-5=?

This is really useful for teaching that addition is commutative, meaning that the two lower numbers can be added in any order to reach the same answer. The same is true of multiplication and similar triangles can be made for this. (See second image).

Perhaps you could also try writing all four number sentences for the triangle eg.


Hope that helps!

united4ever Thu 18-Feb-16 10:39:30

Got it Gymboy! Thanks a lotsmile

TeenAndTween Thu 18-Feb-16 12:22:25

In general, I always try to use physical objects to start with, so in your case I would just get a load of 1p pieces, or lego bricks and do physical counting.

Then I move on to physical object but writing down at the same time, then written methods followed by the physical object, and finally throw away the physical object.

I've just explained basic algebra to my struggling y6 using kinder egg containers as 'y' and hiding pennies in them. Has worked surprisingly well.

Coins work very well for column addition and subtraction too - going to the bank to exchange coins.

Yokohamajojo Thu 18-Feb-16 14:33:01

If you need to count forwards, put one number in your head and use your hand to count forward. For instance 6 + ? = 9. Put 6 in your head, count forward and for each number get a finger out.

My DS2 struggled and I just could not find a way to explain. But with various methods and school practice it just suddenly clicked. I find it difficult as everyone seems to do it differently, so if you explain it 'your' way, you DS may do it differently in his head

Number lines have helped here too. Eventually he may get the jumps so can count in 5s or 10s

Good luck

OutwiththeOutCrowd Thu 18-Feb-16 15:31:08

I used weighing scales with two pans to look at these kinds of problems with my DS and he was able to 'balance' the two sides of the sorts of equations you are looking at in a very visual way by adding and removing appropriate weights to and from the pans and getting the scales to balance.

I actually used coins all of the same type as weights.

So, for example : 12 coins in pan 1, 15 in pan 2 - and then add 3 to pan 1 to achieve balance/equality.

Of course, you may not have two pan weighing scales to hand, but just a thought!

uhoh1973 Thu 18-Feb-16 16:05:30

DD1 seems to like number lines eg how many lilypads does the frog need to jump forwards to get to 10 etc. Her teacher recommends using physical stuff e.g. beads, pieces of lego / pasta etc. Good luck!

Ferguson Thu 18-Feb-16 16:49:58

Practical things are best for grasping number concepts - bricks, Lego, beads, counters, money, shapes, weights, measuring, cooking.

Do adding, taking away, multiplication (repeated addition), division (sharing), using REAL OBJECTS as just 'numbers' can be too abstract for some children.

Number Bonds of Ten forms the basis of much maths, so try to learn them. Using Lego or something similar, use a LOT of bricks (of just TWO colours, if you have enough) lay them out so the pattern can be seen of one colour INCREASING while the other colour DECREASES. Lay them down, or build up like steps.

ten of one colour none of other
nine of one colour one of other
eight of one colour two of other
seven of one colour three of other
then of course, the sides are equal at 5 and 5; after which the colours 'swap over' as to increasing/decreasing.

To learn TABLES, do them in groups that have a relationship, thus:

x2, x4, x8

x3, x6, x12

5 and 10 are easy

7 and 9 are rather harder.

Starting with TWO times TABLE, I always say: "Imagine the class is lining up in pairs; each child will have a partner, if there is an EVEN number in the class. If one child is left without a partner, then the number is ODD, because an odd one is left out."

Use Lego bricks again, lay them out in a column of 2 wide to learn 2x table. Go half way down the column, and move half the bricks up, so that now the column is 4 bricks wide. That gives the start of 4x table.

Then do similar things with 3x and 6x.

With 5x, try and count in 'fives', and notice the relationship with 'ten' - they will alternate, ending in 5 then 10.

It is important to try and UNDERSTAND the relationships between numbers, and not just learn them 'by rote'.

An inexpensive solar powered calculator (no battery to run out!) can help learn tables by 'repeated addition'. So: enter 2+2 and press = to give 4. KEEP PRESSING = and it should add on 2 each time, giving 2 times table.

There are good web sites, which can be fun to use :

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