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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.

An Easy Game To Help Kids Practice Important Math Skills

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Games are an easy and fun way to practice important Common Core math skills. A good math skill for kindergarten and 1st grade students to know is different ways to get sums of numbers from 3 to 10.

Here is a simple, hands-on activity to help your young student practice and remember different addition combinations up to 10.

You’ll need:

  • A package of large index cards or 8 ½ x 11” computer paper, cut in half horizontally
  • Ten small objects, such as pennies, small board game pieces, etc.
  • A dark-colored marker

To get ready:

  • Take eight cards or half pieces of paper
  • In the middle of the card, the write one number, from 3-10 with the marker
  • Use one card for each number
  • The number should be written in the center of the card, from top to bottom. Space is left on either side of the number, for placement of the small object

To play:

  • Shuffle the cards and put them face down on a flat surface
  • The child turns over one card, so he sees the number. Have him use the small objects to show ways to get that number. For example, if he turns over a 6, he can put three pennies on the left side of the number and three on the right
  • Say, “That’s right! 3 + 3 = 6. Now show me another way to get 6.”
  • Then have him move the pennies to show another way—for example, two on the left side of the number and four on the right. Have him keep showing different ways, until he has shown all combinations of 6  (0 + 6, 1 + 5, 2 + 4, 3 + 3, 4 +2, 5 +1, and 6 + 0).
  • If needed, help him to show different combinations, until he can do them on his own.


Kindergarten students can also enjoy this game. Start with the numbers 3 through 6 until she is comfortable with these combinations. Then, add cards 7-10, one at a time. For 1st grade students, use all eight cards.

Play this game often to help your child develop strategies to automatically recall and understand different ways of making sums to 10!

> Improve Math Skills With a Deck of Cards

> Printable Math Activities

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