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Hello, this is a blatant plea for ideas from a parent helper! Maths, Y2.

(17 Posts)
Huitre Sat 15-Feb-14 21:50:40

Hi there. I have become involved in doing some maths activities with some children in my child's class. I have a small group of about six children who are considered by their teacher to be underperforming. They are lovely bright children, some of whom don't seem to get much encouragement or help from their homes. We started off working on number bonds and they are doing really well and I'm very proud of how far some of them have come since the beginning of last term. I'm now starting to work on trying to get them adding and subtracting larger numbers (more than 10 or 20, which most of them can manage reasonably easily) and I would love it if anyone has ideas for game-like activities that I could do with them.

I have been doing some word problems with them, playing shops (adding up how much various cakes, sweets, toys and activities cost), playing games like where I give them twenty counters, tell them to shut their eyes and hide some in my hand and then ask them to tell me how many I am hiding (they are bizarrely fond of this one). Their teacher gave me the word problems to work on with them but they are both a bit dull and a bit beyond their current level (multi-step problems which take a lot of leading through and prompting). I've also been doing a SPLAT game with them where I shout a number and they get a fly-swatter to splat the opposite pair of what we are adding up to (and shout it out, too). We've also done some jumping games where we need to jump onto numbers (I have them written on cards which I put on the floor) to get to exactly ten or twenty (or sometimes we mix it up and do seventeen or twenty three). I make them start on a different number each time.

I know that they like doing Maths with me (which I am so pleased about, got a 'yay' from a boy who I really wouldn't have expected it from last time I collected him) but I really want to make these sessions a lot of fun for them. I sort of feel that if I can get them more excited about Maths/learning in general that it will be of longer term benefit to them than just making sure they can perform the tasks that are expected of them. I hope this makes sense.

Does anyone know of anywhere I could look to get ideas for games and activities that would be enjoyed by Y2 children that might be suitable for addition and subtraction and very early multiplication? Or anything that might be suitable to introduce the idea of a multi-step problem a bit more gently? The ones from the old SATs papers I've been given are just too hard for them. I can lead them through it as many times as I like but until they can see where to go themselves, I can't see how they will really get the idea.

I'm not a teacher, as I am sure is obvious, but I do want to help and I hope I'm not being cheeky by asking.

GW297 Sat 15-Feb-14 22:10:35

Off the top of my head - my class love doing anything involving bingo! You could do 2, 5 and 10 times table bingo and number bonds to 20 bingo with a sticker for the winner!

I do small group Y2 maths revision sessions once a week. We have done time, money and shape revision activities and problem solving challenges too.

Huitre Sat 15-Feb-14 22:18:05

Thank you. I really appreciate the input.

Bingo sounds like a great idea. I generally see the children one to one but have been thinking that it would be fun to have a whole group session with a proper game (though I don't want to make the children who are doing less well at the moment feel discouraged). Time also sounds like something that we could make into a fun activity. I will think about that.

Thanks very much indeed. I do appreciate the help!

I do have sticker rewards (I give them out when I think somebody has been really paying attention and trying hard).

NotALondoner Sat 15-Feb-14 22:18:36

I am slightly alarmed that YOU are asking tbh - why isn't the actual paid teacher showing you the way? Or telling you what to do? Well done you by the way, but surely she is paid to know what to do, and has had extensive training?

Huitre Sat 15-Feb-14 22:40:46

Well, yes. I know. I see your point. She wants me to do word problems with them. I think the word problems she's given me are too hard atm (I am sure they won't always be) and we need to do something that will give them a bit more confidence to tackle stuff on their own. I did say this, btw, but she just asked me to press on with the word problems! I suspect the teacher is v focused on SATs but since I am there and helping, I'd like to do something that would be of more long term benefit to the children involved than SATs preparation. I would like to do something with them that is really fun and hopefully gives them some idea that learning and/or Maths can be something they enjoy (I think four out of six of them think school is for idiots at the age of 6 or 7, which is kind of sad). I actually think this being fun is more likely to translate into long-term success than just doing a bunch of boring word problems with them (which they mainly don't really get anyway).

To be honest, I am doing with these children the kinds of things I did with my own child when she was a bit younger. My DD loves Maths and I am hoping just to make them think it's as fun as she does. The problems the teacher would like me to work on are a) no fun, and b) way too difficult. I would just like to give them something really fun to do. I've detailed my own ideas so far in my first post but was hoping someone else could give me some more, or an idea of where to look for more. They are mainly really quite clever children, I think. They just don't get much input at home, or any idea that school is something you need to pay attention to.

I think the teacher's time is taken up delivering the curriculum to the whole class.

Maybe I should just carry on with the word problems, but I don't think we are getting anywhere with that. I think I want to give them something else. We can come back to the word problems when they have a better idea of what numbers do.

GW297 Sat 15-Feb-14 22:41:07

Very good point!

BouncyFun Sun 16-Feb-14 10:54:30

Can you act out the word problems with relevant props? That's a fun way to deconstruct the whole thing. And what are they like with one step word problems. Not much point doing 2 step word problems if they haven't grasped one step problems, is there? And is there a school method eg RUCSAC that you have to adhere to?

BouncyFun Sun 16-Feb-14 10:59:16

BTW, word problems are notoriously difficult for children to grasp. In my opinion, the teacher would be better off doing word problems in class, while you deal with the actual numbers stuff.

Huitre Sun 16-Feb-14 13:54:05

One step problems are fine. It's getting the idea of having to do two or more steps in order to get to the answer that they are struggling with. I don't know what RUCSAC is (about to google to see if it might be helpful!) and I don't think there is a particular method I am meant to be using - the teacher is happy for them to get to the answer however works for them. Props could be fun; thank you for that. We have tiddlywinks and Numicon and various other things, too, which we use as physical representations of the numbers in the problems. That is v helpful for them, generally, and I can imagine all of them enjoying some more specific props.

BouncyFun Sun 16-Feb-14 18:23:24

Yes, ask reception or nursery if you raid plastic fruits, cars, action men etc for the session (give them a little time for them to play with them though grin), grab books, felt tips, lunch bags (whatever they have lots of) from their own classroom and build the word problems around them.

A structured way of looking at solving problems is going to be helpful I think, as opposed to "get to the answer however works for them". hmm. Of course, they can come to an answer in different ways, but at least there is format for tackling the problem. Take an actual rucksack in and get them to take out the letters to spell rucsac and talk about what it all means.

BouncyFun Sun 16-Feb-14 18:24:43

*sorry about the grammar, it's been a long day blush.

Huitre Sun 16-Feb-14 19:12:34

I have tons of plastic fruit myself, which might be better employed teaching children maths than gathering dust in the corner of DD's bedroom!

I agree with the idea of a structured way of looking at problems and I have googled RUCSAC and think this or something like it could be a good idea. Thank you! A lot of the time, it's not so much that they can't do whatever it is but that they struggle to keep their focus on the eventual goal and get bogged down in counting out 10 counters to represent 10 apples or whatever, by which time they've forgotten that the apples cost 2p each and the thing we actually need to know how much change we are getting from our pound. Perhaps an approach like RUCSAC would help them remember what they're actually aiming for! It has been hard for me to come up with helpful structure ideas as I am someone for whom this kind of thing comes easily (and so is DD) so I have never had to work out what I am doing when I do a problem like this. I really appreciate your help. Thank you so much!

toomuchicecream Sun 16-Feb-14 19:33:42

Have a look at this: I think it's a really good way of helping them to visualise which operation to pick and what's going on in a word problem

BEAM have a list of problem solving strategies, which I sometimes have on cards and then when introducing a word problem either tell the children which strategy to use today or discuss which is most appropriate. They are:
Make a list, table or chart
Work backwards
Account for all possibilities
Make and test a prediction
look for a pattern or sequence
Use trial and improvement
Make a drawing or model
Look for important words or phrases
Solve a simpler related problem
See mathematical connections

Obviously some are more relevant than others, but make a drawing or model is the one I'd use most often. I've used RUCSAC in the past (with less able year 6 pupils) but they didn't seem to find it particularly helpful. The Singapore bar method that the link above demonstrates is the way forward, in my opinion.

Ilovemydogandmydoglovesme Sun 16-Feb-14 19:55:13

Have you access to a computer and projector? The website coolmathsgames is good fun. My dd1 is yr2 and they use this.

Huitre Sun 16-Feb-14 20:37:52

Thank you for the link there, toomuchicecream. I will investigate that further as it looks interesting. Drawings is something we have been doing, with a small whiteboard.

No access to a computer or projector. I do sometimes take in my Nexus tablet and let them play a maths game as a reward for a few minutes at the end of the session. I've been letting them play with Dragonbox and another app that just gives ten questions and I get to pick the operations and range of numbers so with these children it is just smallish numbers (up to about 20) and adding and subtracting so far. They do like it, though, and I set the difficulty for each child so they will get more right than wrong. I will take a look at coolmathsgames but they do already do maths activities on computers as part of normal class time.

FullOfChoc Sun 23-Feb-14 21:41:52

Maths story. Often I use superheroes, for example: Batman and Superman went to call for their friend Spiderman. Batman's mum had given them a packet of 15 biscuits, how many did they get each? Once they had eaten them all up they set of for the park at 9 am. It took them 10 minutes to get there, what time was it when they arrived?

Ask lots of simple questions to give them confidence and slip the odd tricky thing in. Pad the story out as you get more used to doing them. I often give them a small whiteboard and pen as I find they make any task more fun!

Word problems involving the actual children's name can charm them too!

Sounds like you are doing a lovely job with them.

Huitre Mon 10-Mar-14 11:14:59

Thanks so much, FullOfChoc, superheroes is a fantastic idea. And thanks for the encouragement. I have only just seen your message. We played Easter Egg hunts (and adding up the eggs etc) using the children's real names and those of their friends last week and it did go down really well (nice to hear that my ideas are on the right track, too).

I came back to report that we are going great guns and all but one of the children are really getting the idea of working with reasonably large numbers (up to about 30 or so at the moment). All of them have a much better idea of how to start looking at a word problem.

So thank you very much to everybody who has given me ideas. I am feeling much more confident that we are heading in the right direction and I am very grateful to every single one of you!

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