In this issue of Class Ideas, educator and guest author Lynn Salvo shares her recipe for a successful summer math camp -- one that combines fun and learning in equal measures while planting the seeds for a lifelong love of math! As founder of the MathTree summer math camps in the Washington, DC area, Lynn has helped many children gain confidence in their mathematical abilities and achieve.
Teachers know that two months is too long to go without doing math. Research shows that
... summer learning loss equaled at least one month of instruction... [O]n average, children's tests scores were at least one month lower when they returned to school in fall than scores were when students left in spring. (Cooper, 2003)
Summer is an opportunity to focus children's attention on math without distraction from other subjects. For example, kids attend MathTree academic camps for two weeks (about three hours a day) and gain tremendous momentum from that kind of focus.
Divide and Conquer, one of the MathTree camps, features the Didax game Lynn authored, Product Parfait. This month we're offering a terrific special on Product Parfait, Place Value Safari, and a boatload of other math games ideal for summer fun. You can also check out the free online game Lynn developed, Apple-It, for summer practice with addition and multiplication facts.
We know you'll find some fresh and exciting ideas about how to multiply the fun and subtract the boring in Lynn's novel approach to teaching math in the summer. If you have additional great ideas for getting kids to do math in the summer that you'd like to share with our readers, we'd love to hear them!
Anyone who asks me why I created the MathTree summer math camps will probably get a variation of the same answer. I do it because I love watching the kids. It's just so exciting to see their expressions when they get it, to see that look on their faces -- the 'aha' moment."
In pursuit of these joyful learning moments, here's my recipe for a delicious summer math picnic!
1 dozen kids
2 adults (1 teacher, 1 assistant)
1 "stable" of "mathical" characters
1 playful atmosphere
0 distractions from other academic subjects
0 pressure to prepare for high stakes tests
2 solid weeks (for academic camps)
1 best camp for each camper based on where the child is mathematically, not necessarily by grade level. Readiness questions and games help parents pinpoint where their child should be. At MathTree, we've had 5th graders in Multiplication Matters camp (typically for rising 3rd graders) and 1st graders in Roots to Leaves camp (typically for 5th through 7th graders).
MANY "Aha!" moments
1 power-packed curriculum (for each level) emphasizing the critical concepts of the upcoming school year
OODLES of manipulatives, plus the training to use them and packaging to assist managing them
TONS of games and activities
PLENTY of dedicated, caring, supportive parents who want this for their child and are willing to make the investment of time and money.
MULTIPLY the fun with games and manipulatives.
SUBTRACT the boring by sharing math stories featuring mathical characters such as Princess Kris-10, Grouper the Regrouper, and Numero the Number Wizard.
ADD activities that set kids up to make mathematical discoveries and experience "aha" moments (from the pattern that occurs when you add a single digit to 10 to finding the cube root of a 6-digit number).
DIVIDE into smaller groups as needed.
About the MathTree Summer Math Camps
Three principles guide our MathTree camps:
1. Teach concepts deeply, not just how to do math. We go really deep and we conceptualize, because if you go deep and you understand something, you don't have to memorize it.
2. Represent concepts in multiple ways -- in real-life situations, through pictures, using manipulatives, with words, and finally with numbers and math symbols. We want six-year-olds to know that there are at least five ways of thinking about the number 152!
3. We set kids up to make discoveries. When we ask kids to do a series of calculations they might find tedious, it is usually for the purpose of discovering a generalization, such as 6 times an even digit always ends in that digit.
Here's a video that provides an overview of our camps.
A long-time MathTree parent tells what it's like from a parent's point of view in this video.
A Cool Way to Teach Six Times an Even Number
Here's an activity we use in our Multiplication Matters camp called "6 x Even" that uses hand configurations. It's easy to teach and can be used in any setting.
Using whatever methods they know -- counting, adding, or other -- children find the answers to 6 x 2, 6 x 4, 6 x 6, and 6 x 8.
To teach the strategy, put the following problems on the board. Be sure to mix up the order of the problems and the order of the factors. I recommend this order, but it is not rigid.
6 x 4
2 x 6
8 x 6
6 x 6
Next, ask children the answers to these problems. Write their answers with the problems.
6 x 4 = 24
2 x 6 = 12
8 x 6 = 48
6 x 6 = 36
Ask the children to look for patterns. These are some of the things they are likely to say. Acknowledge each.
"All the problems have 6 as a factor."
"All the answers are even."
"If you put them in numerical order, the answers end in 2, 4, 6, 8."
Another pattern we really want them to notice is that the final digit of the product matches the non-6 factor. If the class has not noticed it on their own, underline the units digits of the products in red. Ask if they see those digits anywhere else. You should have them on the verge of an "aha" moment. That final digit is the non-6 factor!
6 x 4 = 24
2 x 6 = 12
8 x 6 = 48
6 x 6 = 36
They should notice that 6 x an even digit always ends in that digit.
Next, take them to another pattern. Look at the digits of the products. Find a pattern. This should be easier. The units digit is twice the tens digit.
You can utilize these two patterns to find products of 6 x an even number this way:
For 6 x an even digit, move the even digit to the ones place. Then think what number doubled equals the digit in the ones place. That will be the tens digit. Note: As adults we are likely to say, take half of the units digit to make the tens digit. However, children at this grade level are more comfortable with doubles than halves.
You can also play this out on your hands. Using the fingers of both hands, create the non-6 even digit. Split it evenly on both hands. For 6 x 8, put out 8 fingers. When split evenly, there are 4 fingers on each hand. Put your hands thus configured in your lap. Bring up your left hand. You see 4 fingers. That is the tens digit of the product. Now bring up the right hand TOGETHER with your left hand. You see 8 fingers. This is the units digit of the product. Catch a glimpse of the 6 x Even trick in this video.
In closing, I'll just say: whether your child or student is attending math camp this summer or having fun with numbers at home, let's hope the "aha" moments abound!
Sources and Resources:
For more information about the MathTree summer camp programs or to contact Lynn Salvo directly, click below:
MathTree's fun online game Apple-It is an ideal way to build kids' automaticity of addition and multiplication facts. For every correct answer, a juicy red apple grows on the tree. Detailed stats at the end of the game show the facts that still need work and give kids a chance for a do-over. (Warning: It's habit forming!)
Class Ideas will be back in September with lots of ideas to help you launch the next school year. In the meantime, be sure to watch your inbox for Didax's midsummer sale featuring back-to-school savings on some of our most popular products. Have a restful, fun-filled, math-happy summer, and see you back here soon!