# SchoolFamily Voices

Join our bloggers as they share their experiences on the challenges and joys of helping children succeed in school.

## Use Legos for Easy Math Practice

Colorful Legos have been a favorite of young children for a long time. They’ve also been a great holiday gift. Here’s a simple way to combine a classic toy, new or old, to practice Common Core math skills over vacation.

This game is for two players.
Materials needed:

• Number cards 3 through 10 from a deck of playing cards, for a total of 8 cards (any mix of suites).
• For each player, 10 rectangular interlocking Legos in two different colors of their choosing (for a total of 20 Legos each).

To play:

• Shuffle the cards and place them face down.
• First player turns over the top card and says the number—for example, “seven.”
• Then that player interlocks some of their different colored Legos to show the number—for example, three red Legos and four yellow to make seven. The player says, “3 + 4 = 7.” An adult can help, if needed.
• The second player uses her Legos to show seven in a different way: five blue and two green, “5 + 2 = 7.” Then each player disconnects the Legos and puts them back in their pile.
• The second player turns over the next card that shows the numeral 4. She uses three blue and one green to equal four, and says the number sentence. The other player shows 4 by using two red and two yellow Legos and says their number sentence. The players disconnect and put Legos back in the correct color pile.
• The game continues until all cards have been turned over and two different combinations of the number have been made.
• If a round two is played, reshuffle the deck and place face down. When a new card is turned over, challenge players to make a different combination then they did in round one to represent the number shown.

This simple game helps children increase math fluency by understanding different combinations of 10. It also uses all modalities to cover how your child learns best. By seeing the number on the card, hearing the number spoken, and interlocking the Legos to show the number, your child will be learning through visual, auditory, and hands-on experience.

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The National Common Core Standards are sequential skills from kindergarten through high school. They are comprehensive, purposeful instruction to promote student achievement in both English/language arts and mathematics. They have been adopted by 45 out of 50 states.

As a parent, you can do a great deal to prepare your child to meet these standards, and I’m here to help you do it! All summer, I will be sharing ideas, simple games, and easy activities to help your young child master important Common Core skills.

Here are 2 mathematics skills that can be easily practiced before your child enters kindergarten:

1. Orally counting to 100, by ones and tens: Time spent in the car provides a perfect opportunity for your child to practice orally counting to 100 by ones.  Start slow, have her count 1-10, then 1-20, then 1-30, etc. until she can do it by herself. At this point, she is not matching objects; she’s just counting numbers in a sequence. Practice often, so the numbers flow naturally.

Once she has mastered oral counting, make the counting meaningful and fun by counting “things.” Count objects such as shells collected on the beach, stones found in the backyard, Cheerios in the bowl, pumps on a swing, or choose a recipe to make with your kids and have them count ingredients, rolls of cookie dough, etc. Then advance to skip counting by 10s.  Ten, 20, 30…help your child count to 100 like this until he can easily recite the pattern on his own. At home, have your child gather Legos, blocks, crayons, puzzle pieces, etc. and put them in groups of 10.  Then count by 10s to find the total.

2. Have your child count forward (orally) beginning from a random number, instead of starting at one. Do this within the 1-100 sequence. For example, start at 22 and have him count forward to 53. Or, start at 66 and count forward to 99.

Easily counting numbers, particularly in sets of 10, will greatly benefit your kindergarten child. These skills form the basis for addition, subtraction and solving math word problems.

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