SchoolFamily Voices

Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.

This Valentine’s Day, Keep Sugar Levels Low and Math Levels High

Young students love Valentine’s Day and all the treats that go with it. This year try something different. Instead of letting your child eat those small Conversation Hearts, use them for some easy, fun, and colorful math practice! Here are four ways to practice “Heart Candy” math:


1. Estimation. Empty a bag of small Conversation Hearts onto a plate or into a small clear jar. Have your child guess how many there are. Write down her guess, and let her count to see how close she came to the correct amount. Help her count if she has trouble. Then go to…


2. Skip counting. Put the hearts in sets of two. Let your child count by “two’s” to get the total. Ask him to tell you if the total is “odd” or “even.” Then take some away. Next, have him put the hearts in sets of five. Count by fives to determine how many are left. Take some more away. Finally, put the remaining hearts in sets of 10. Count by tens to get the new total.  Ask, “What was the fastest, most efficient, way to count the candy?” Counting by tens, of course!


3. One More, One Less. Use the sets of 10 hearts to help your child visualize easy addition and subtraction. Count the hearts by 10. Count forward to practice plus 10, and then backward to practice minus 10. Then try “one more, one less.” For example, if 20 plus 10 hearts equal 30, what would 20 plus 11 be? (20 + 10 =30, so 1 more = 31) Move the hearts to show the new answer. Conversely, if 20 plus 10 equals 30, how many do I have left if I give you one? (20 + 10 = 30 – 1=29.) Take one away to show 29.


4. Graph It. Group the remaining hearts into colors. Place one of each color across the bottom of a piece of paper. Stack the same color hearts above each other, in a column. When done, check the graph to see which color hearts were the “most,” and which were the “least.”


Use Valentine candy as an educational tool to help keep sugar level intake low, and math levels very high!



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