Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Teaching time, money, and place value everyday

When you read that title, you probably thought I was crazy, but I assure you, I am not. It seems like it would be silly to teach these skills everyday, but the idea is, with just 10 minutes or less each day on all three, you may find you don't need to teach them at all.

I'll back up and explain for you. I am working with 2nd graders this semester in my math practicum. I had noticed how everyday the students had a series of quick activities they do as a sort of warm up before they began their actual math lesson. Practicing telling time, and working with place value and money, among other things, were some of the things they did every day. The teacher explained that she hates teaching place value, time, and money, because it's something that you either get, or you don't, and many students seem to struggle with those topics a lot before finally "getting" them. Her solution, practice them, just a little, everyday. Personally I think it's a genius idea, and she said that once she started doing it, when she hit the units on time, money, and place value, her students flew through them with ease.

So let's start with time. It's pretty easy. She uses a smart board, so every day when she hits that slide, she just sets it to a random time and the kids figure out the time. Yeah, easy as that. Of course I knew not everyone has a smart board, but teaching clocks, or even a real clock will work just the same. The 2nd graders are just telling the time to the nearest "5" as in 7:35 and 3:10, but it will eventually progress to the exact minute. This is also a good time to practice counting by 5s as well as doing some quick addition and subtraction by asking questions like "If it is 7:35, how many minutes will it take to get to 8:00?" or "If it is 7:35, how many minutes ago was 7:30?"

Moving on to place value. This is a fun way to keep track of how many days your students have been in school, all while practicing a somewhat tricky skill. The teacher I am working with uses a pocket chart like this one, but for those of you who are handy, you could probably make your own if you wanted to. Each day you add a straw to the ones pocket, until you get ten. Then you bundle that group of ten, and move it to the tens spot, until you have 10 groups of tens, and move then to the hundreds. So if you have been in school 43 days, you would have no hundreds, four bundles of 10 straws in your tens pocket, and three single straws in your ones pocket. You want to use something 3-D (not something like strips of paper) so your students can really visualize what is going on. Again, take this moment to practice addition and subtraction by asking the students questions like, "If we have 7 straws in the ones pocket, how many days until we will have another bundle of 10?" You may also occasionally want to remove the hundreds, tens, and ones, labels and ask your student to help you put them back, or remove all your straws and have your students tell you how many straws/bundles should go in each pocket using the numbers above the pocket.

Lastly, we get to money. For money practice, you also use the number of days in school. So if you have been in school for 43 days, you are going to have your students make 43 cents. The great things about this activity is that there are lots of possible answers, which allows for lots of participation and really helps your students understand how there are so many ways to make up just one number. When you get to a number of days over 100, you will make say $1.28 for 128 days in school. The teacher I work with again uses her smart board, but you could easily use money made for an overhead or magnetic money.

Once your students get the hang of these activities, they will go pretty quickly. The class usually can get through these three activities in 10 minutes or less. There is nothing complicated about these activities, but it's the daily practice that will make the difference when you get to teaching these units and your students take your state's assessments.

Homeschoolers Hack
All of these activities can be easily be done in your daily homeschool routine, even with multi-level students. These activities could even be placed in a workbox as a quick warm up before the math lesson for the day.


KT said...

I did a similar routine with my first graders.

I wrote about it here:

I agree that doing a little bit each day really helps to build skills. It is great practice for those units that come more towards the end of the year.


KT said...

There's something for you over at my blog!


Sandy said...

So glad that I found this today, as I am continuing to work on lesson plans. I actually had just had them say exact thought, honestly! Thank you so much for your tips and your blog!